5k to Win – 75 Lap SK Modified Race Brings Preece and Yuhas Back to the Bowlwaterford
WATERFORD — More laps, more money and more prestige.
All those factors will be riding on the final SK Modified race of the season this weekend at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
The 20th annual Modified Nationals, with a $5,000 payoff to the winner, will be part of the season-ending Bemer’s Big Show, which will be taking place Saturday and Sunday.
Fifteen divisions will be competing, including the Tri-Track Series Open Modified series and the Granite State Pro Stock series.
The 75-lap SK Modified Nationals, however, will be one of the weekend’s most important events. Not only does it carry a $5,000 jackpot, the most lucrative purse of the season, to the winner, but the race also will decide the 2016 track championship.
Keith Rocco started the final weekend with a four point lead over Joe Gada, an 11-point edge over Dennis Perry and a 23 point cushion over Ted Christopher. All four drivers will have a chance to win a title — plus 5 grand.
“I’m just going to go out and try to win the race, it will be much easier to figure out the math,” said Rocco, who will be going for his fifth SK Modified crown at the Speedway.
Rocco says he hopes the extra laps will work out to his advantage.
“Basically, the more laps there are, the more patient you can be in getting to the front,” Rocco said. “You don’t have to worry about making your move too quickly. You can keep your nose clean.”
Rocco won the event in 22012 and 2013 when it was a 150-lap race and was the winner last year under the current 75-lap format.
“My car has always been good in longer races,” Rocco said. “You can take your time in picking your lanes.”
While Rocco is competing against Gada, Perry and Christopher for the track title, Rocco says he will only be concerned about one thing Sunday — winning the race.
“I want to cap off the year on a high note,” Rocco said. “You win the race, and everything else will take care of itself.”
If Rocco finished third or better, he will lock down the title, regardless of what his competitors do.
Rob Janovic Jr., one of the Speedbowl veterans, will be looking for his first Modified Nationals win.
“This race presents a unique challenge,” Janovic said. “It’s 75 laps, not a traditional long-distance race where you have time to strategize. “And it’s not 35 laps, where you have to get to the front as quickly as possible. You have to find a happy medium between charging to the front and conserving your car.”
Janovic has won several 100-lap features at the Bowl, but never the Modified Nationals.
“I’ve had some heartaches, but overall, my batting average is pretty good in long races,” Janovic said. Your crew comes into play during the entire day. There’s more emphasis on working with tires, working with the set-up, making sure you have the correct fuel load, making your you make weight at the end of the race. There are some interesting dynamics.”
One of those dynamics is that no one has to save their car for next week — there is no next week.
“I don’t think anyone is going to be reckless, but you do want to end the season on a positive note,” Janovic said. “If that means sticking your neck out to gain a position, you’ll take that chance.”
And that will make the race fan-friendly.
“The cool thing is that the race is for the same amount of money that the 150-lap race was,” Janovic said. “I think it makes for a more exciting race. The race is short enough to make it exciting and long enough to make it unique.”
And lucrative enough. With a $5,000 grand prize, to make it a race everyone wants to win.
Among the newcomers expected to compete in the SK race is Ryan Preece, who has a week off from NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. He will be driving the No. 40 Modified owned by Mike Paquette and will also be competing in the Tri Track race with his No. 6 Tour car,
“We’ve practiced the SK, and we should be pretty good in both races,” Preece said.
Former SK Modified champ Ron Yuhas is scheduled to return to the Speedbowl for the first time this season. Yuhas won back-to-back Modified Nationals in 2009 and 2010.
Also expected to make his Modified debut is three time Limited Sportsman champ Al Stone, who will be driving a team car for VoJan Motorsports.
The Modified Nationals is one of 15 features scheduled for an incredible weekend. Joining the SKs, the Tri-Track Open Modifieds and the Granite State Pro Stocks will be the NEMA Midgets, the NEMA Lites, the Pro Four Modifieds, the SK Modifieds, the Magnus Racing Products SK Lites, the Sunoco Late Models, the Limited Sportsmen, the Mini Stocks, the Joie of Seating Legends, the Micro Blue Bandoleros, the X Cars, the Super X Cars and the Speedbowl and New England Trucks.
For more information, go online at speedbowlct.com.
Tickets for the weekend are $40. Youths 13-16 tickets are $10 and children 12 and under are free