TO TOP OF HUNTER INDEX
Series Leader Continues Domination
your season is just reaching the first week of July and it’s already
drawing comparisons to the historic achievements of the late Larry
Phillips and Greg Biffle, you know you’re doing something right.
There’s very little Keith Rocco hasn’t done right in 2010.
In recognition of his incredible performance on the asphalt short
tracks of Connecticut, Rocco is a near unanimous choice for the top
spot in July’s edition of the Hunter Index.
Rocco has 16 wins in 28 starts racing his Modified at Thompson
International Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford
Speedbowl. Over the past month, the 25-year-old, from Wallingford,
Conn., has piled up six wins and eight top fives in 10 starts to
further cement his hold on the No. 1 spot atop the NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series national standings.
The Hunter Index is a new feature in 2010 on NASCARHomeTracks.com
that will spotlight the top 10 drivers in the NASCAR Developmental
Series in a monthly power poll. Drivers are ranked on their
performance over the previous month. The rankings are compiled by a
panel of auto racing writers and NASCAR representatives.
Rocco collected five of the six first-place votes to take the top
honors after being voted second in each of the two previous months.
“At Stafford Motor Speedway, considered the deepest and most
talented SK Modified field of the three tracks Rocco competes at
regularly, he has been virtually unstoppable this year and won all
four SK Modified races over the past month,” said Shawn Courchesne
of the Hartford (Conn.) Courant. “At the Waterford Speedbowl, unless
he breaks and gets wrecked, he wins. It's been no contest at either
track for Rocco this year.”
Fourteen of Rocco’s 16 wins have come with a maximum 20-car field,
leaving him just 22 points shy of a perfect score of 810.
The last drivers to record a similar season under the NASCAR
championship format were the Phillips and current NASCAR Sprint Cup
Series driver Biffle in 1995. Phillips and Biffle achieved the
maximum points under the system at the time; Phillips won the crown
by virtue of more overall wins (32-27).
Even more impressive, because of the handicapping system at the
tracks he races at, Rocco routinely starts back in the pack and must
sprint to the front.
Adding to the difficulty, Rocco’s main rival at Thompson and
Stafford, Ted Christopher, checks in at No. 6 in the NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series national standings and No. 4 in July’s Hunter
Index on the strength of three wins and six top fives in seven
starts. Christopher has also been impressive on the NASCAR Whelen
The other first-place vote in the Hunter Index went to Andrew
The 23-year-old from Roxton Pond, Quebec, has found success all over
the map. Literally.
Ranger, the two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil
1 champion, took over the No. 35 Waste Management Chevrolet in the
NASCAR K&N Pro Series in May. He drove it to the win in the K&N Pro
Series East event at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma and was ninth in the
East race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He also finished second
in the Canadian Tire Series race at Mosport International Raceway.
And then came July 3.
Ranger won the K&N Pro Series East race at Lime Rock Park in
Lakeville, Conn., hopped on a helicopter to Quebec, and then drove
from the rear of the field to finish ninth in the Canadian Tire
Series race at Autodrome St. Eustache that evening.
“It’s easy to dismiss Ranger’s success as road-course related,” said
Jason Christley of NASCAR. “Certainly his two wins can be owed to
his success in that area. But his impressive runs earlier this
season at Martinsville and then New Hampshire in the K&N Pro Series
car, and then arriving at St. Eustache in time for driver
introductions, hopping in a car he hadn’t touched all day, and
pulling out a top- 10 finish, speaks volumes toward Ranger’s
acclimation to oval racing.”
Ryan Truex, who won the K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire
and finished fifth at Lime Rock, came in third in the voting,
followed by Christopher. In addition to his NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series success, Christopher finished second to NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman in the Whelen Modified Tour
race at New Hampshire.
Marty Ward, who has won the last four Late Model races at Greenville
(S.C.) Pickens Speedway, rounded out the top five.
Ryan Preece (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series) was sixth, followed
by Brett Moffitt (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East), DJ Kennington (NASCAR
Canadian Tire Series), Auggie Vidovich (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West)
and Craig Von Dohren (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series).
JR Fitzpatrick, who won at Mosport and is second to Kennington in
the Canadian Tire Series points, was one of three drivers to earn
The Hunter Index is named for Jim Hunter, NASCAR’s vice president of
corporate communications and a longtime supporter of the weekly and
touring series that make up the NASCAR Developmental Series.
The Index was designed in the off season as an opportunity to
compare the top drivers from the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
all the way up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. It will also encompass
drivers from the NASCAR Mexico Series, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series,
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified
The NASCAR Mexico Series did not hold events since the previous
Index was released.
The panel also included media members Courchesne representing the
Northeast, Adam Fenwick of National Speed Sport News from the
Southeast, Tim Haddock of haddockinthepaddock.blogspot.com from the
West Coast, and Spencer Lewis, representing the Canadian publication
Inside Track Motorsports News. They are joined by Brett Bodine, who
is the chairman of the NASCAR Resumé Committee and represents the
NASCAR competition side on the panel, and Christley, the NASCAR
public relations representative.
JULY HUNTER INDEX
1. KEITH ROCCO
NASCAR All-American Series
Why he’s here: It’s hard not to be impressed with Rocco’s old school
mentality – he works on all his own cars and races three nights a
week. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal because, well, that’s just
how his father did it and the way it’s always done. The most
interesting fact in Rocco’s dominance: Only 13 other drivers have
run more races this season than Rocco has won this year.
2. ANDREW RANGER
NASCAR K&N Pro Series / Canadian Tire Series
Why He’s Here: He won in California and Connecticut, and almost won
in Ontario. And he’s proving pretty adept at the oval racing, too.
3. RYAN TRUEX
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Why He’s Here: Defending champion moved to top of the points with an
impressive win at New Hampshire and backed it up with a strong run
at Lime Rock.
4. TED CHRISTOPHER
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series / Whelen Modified Tour
Why He’s Here: Christopher is just about the only thing keeping
Rocco from completely dominating at all three Connecticut short
5. MARTY WARD
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
Why He’s Here: Four straight wins has Ward in line to become just
the second driver to win six Late Model titles at the historic
Greenville Pickens Speedway.
6. RYAN PREECE
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Why He’s Here: A pair of top five runs at New Hampshire and Lime
Rock have kept Preece in the pack of drivers chasing Bobby Santos
for the Modified crown.
7. BRETT MOFFITT
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Why He’s Here: Moffitt appears to have put his early season bad luck
behind him with top-five finishes at New Hampshire and Lime Rock,
and he’s keeping Truex in his sights.
8. DJ KENNINGTON
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
Why He’s Here: Late pass for the win at St. Eustache helped
Kennington wrest the series lead away from Fitzpatrick.
9. AUGGIE VIDOVICH
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
Why He’s Here: A completely dominating performance at Toyota
Speedway produced Vidovich’s first series victory.
10. CRAIG VON DOHREN
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
Why He’s Here: Three wins in four starts on the Pennsylvania dirt at
Grandview Speedway gives Von Dohren the momentum in a tough track
JR Fitzpatrick (NASCAR Canadian Tire Series), John Smith (NASCAR
Whelen Southern Modified Tour), and Ron Sheridan (NASCAR Whelen
Source: Jason Christley / NASCAR