(Stafford Springs, CT)—The Valenti Modified Racing Series returns to Stafford Speedway Friday, May 20th, and Keith Rocco and the #68 Wheelers Auto team have shown that they will be among the contenders for the win. In 12 career VMRS starts at Stafford, Rocco has 2 wins, 6 top-5 and 8 top-10 finishes. Rocco will be looking for his third Stafford checkered flag in this Friday night’s VMRS 80, which would tie him with Tommy Barrett, Jr.
“We’re usually pretty good at Stafford,” said Rocco. “Last year we had a valve spring break or something stupid, but we’re usually right there in the top-5 and in contention for a win. I think the track will probably be pretty close to what it was at the Sizzler®. We haven’t raced in three weeks so the track will probably be pretty green with a lot of grip.”
One reason why Rocco has been so strong in the VMRS events is a combination of his experience and knowledge of the Stafford half-mile layout. In the 14 races VMRS races that have been held at Stafford since 2010, 10 races have been won by drivers who have weekly modified experience at Stafford. Rocco says that experience still gives drivers like himself, Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat, and Rowan Pennink an advantage over the rest of the field when it comes to racing at Stafford.
“I think it’s an advantage just because of the amount of laps we have around the place and we know how the track changes going into night,” said Rocco.
While Rocco may hold an advantage over others with his track knowledge, he says that winning a VMRS race can be a tricky proposition because drivers have only one set of tires for qualifying and the 80-lap feature and you have to make the tires last to be in position to race for the win as the race begins to draw closer to the checkered flag.
“You have to be there at the end of the race and hope everything stays together,” says Rocco. “The biggest thing will be keeping the tires and the wheels on the car. If we can do that, we should be among the contenders for the win. It’s very important to have something left for the end of the race. You don’t want to burn up the car or the tires early in the race or in the heat race. It’s definitely a challenge and it’s a different style of racing.”
In addition to his VMRS duties, Rocco will be looking to get things on track with his SK Modified® effort. The opening NAPA Spring Sizzler Weekend proved to be a rough start for Rocco and the #88 Wheelers Auto team as they got caught up in a wreck in their qualifying race and also caught in a wreck during the feature. Despite all the troubles they encountered, they still managed a 10th place finish. Rocco will be looking to build on that finish and pick up some momentum that will last throughout the 2016 season.
“We’re putting the Sizzler® behind us,” said Rocco. “We’re going to start over and hopefully we can come out with a good finish. I think our SK program is going to be very good this year.”
The May 20th VMRS 80 will be the first of three Valenti Modified Racing Series events to be held at Stafford during the 2016 season. The VMRS returns to Stafford June 24th and September 2nd. Tickets for all three VMRS events are available and on sale now. Tickets for the May 20 VMRS 80 are priced at $27.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Reserved seating is $30.00 for all ages. For the 26th consecutive season the month of May is Youth Organization Month at Stafford Speedway. All children 14 and under are admitted FREE when wearing a youth organization team shirt or uniform and accompanied by a paying adult.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.