(Stafford Springs, CT) — In only his third full season of modified competition at Stafford Speedway, Newtown native Stephen Kopcik has shown to be a quick study as he is once again proving that he is a driver to reckon with during his rookie season in the track’s premier SK Modified® division. Kopcik made the move from Legend Cars to SK Lights for the 2014 season and he raced his way to the SK Light championship in just his second season behind the wheel of a modified before moving up to the premier SK Modified® division this year. In only his fourth start, Kopcik recorded his first SK Modified® top-5 finish last Friday night and has scored 2 top-10 finishes in the first four races. Kopcik is currently leading the NAPA Rookie of the Year honors behind the wheel of the #31 Hocon Industrial Gas Chevrolet.
“The season has been about what we expected it to be,” said Kopcik. “We figured it was going to be tough and difficult, but I feel like we’ve done all right so far. I didn’t expect to be showing the results we’ve had and be running with the top guys so soon. It feels good to be the leading rookie driver, we moved up with D.J. Burnham and Nick Salva, and Joey Muccicciaro is new this year from Late Models down south so it really means something to be the leading rookie driver. We know we can be a contender and it all comes down to being consistent like we were in the SK Lights. Last year, we only won 1 race but we had 18 top-5 finishes and won the championship. We started off with a wreck at the Sizzler® and the following race we went from 27th up to 6th. Week 3 we were on old tires, struggled a bit, finished 16th and then last week we finished 5th. It really hasn’t been a bad year at all for us.”
Not only was the June 3rd SK Modified® feature Kopcik’s first top-5 finish, it was also the first race where he found himself leading one of the top racing divisions in the country. Kopcik took the lead on lap-4 and held the lead until lap-20. Kopcik says that the performance showed the #31 team that they are getting closer to a setup that will see them as front runners each and every Friday night at Stafford.
“It was a pretty cool feeling to know that we can be up front with those guys,” said Kopcik. “We are really close and we know it’s just something small with the car from being able to run up front every week. While the season has been about how we expected it to be, it was definitely a little surprising to be running up front. The next thing you know we were pushing down the straightaway with Keith [Rocco], Woody [Pitkat], and Rowan [Pennink]. To think we started the season off with the goal of just getting a top-10 finish and figuring things out, now we’re running up front with those guys. Everyone was ecstatic and excited because they know we can be right there. Our goals were to just finish races and have fun and now we’re looking to be a little better than that.”
Now that Kopcik and the #31 team have had a taste of running up front with the division veterans, he feels like the team could be a top-5 contender each week and could even find themselves in NAPA Victory Lane before the end of the season.
“I think we’ve changed our goals a little bit,” said Kopcik. “We’re still going to be satisfied with keeping the car together and finishing in the top-5 and if we could get a couple of podium finishes, that would be great. How could you not be happy leaving the track with a podium finish? I think we’re getting that close with the car and with the team behind me and my sponsors, I don’t see why we couldn’t do that. I have to give a big thanks to Hocon Industrial Gas, they’re a huge reason why we’re able to race every week, NJK Automotive, Newtown Pools, and David Smith my car owner. I really think people are going to see that we can run up front every week, we just have to keep on doing what we’ve been doing.”
This Friday night’s Summer Blast-Off / SK Modified® Xtra Mart Xtra D feature event has over $10,000 in total posted awards up for grabs to SK Modified® drivers along with a fireworks presentation at the end of the show. Tickets are priced at $17.50 for Adult General Admission, $5.00 for Children Ages 6-14 General Admission, and $20.00 for Reserved Seating. Tickets can be ordered by calling the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or by logging onto the Buy Tickets section of www.staffordspeedway.com.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.