Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Stephen Kopcik




“Digging Deep With Denise” is a semi-regular question and answer feature with local racers and racing personalities produced by RaceDayCT’s Denise DuPont


Stephen Kopcik – There is a lot more to look forward to …

The racing career of Stephen Kopcik of Newtown was born in his dad’s service station. His race competition started with Motocross and moved to Go-Kart’s where after five championships he jumped in the seat of a Legend car. He was Stafford Speedway’s SK Light Modified Rookie of the Year in 2014 and captured the SK Light Modified championship at the track the next year. Graduating to the SK Modifieds, he was Rookie of the Year in that division at Stafford in 2016. Kopcik made his debut in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford’s 2021 NAPA Fall Final 150 filling in for Chuck Hossfeld in the No. 2 Gershow Recycling Chevrolet owned by Joseph Bertuccio. Along with excelling on the track, Kopcik has also established himself as a top crew chief and setup man in the Modified field. At 23 years old Kopcik has built an impressive resume to date. We will watch how he grows from here.

What made you get interested in racing?

“I have always been involved with cars and motorsports. And my father owns a service station. I started racing Motocross earlier on. I started riding quads and dirt bikes when I was three. One thing led to another and we got into Go-Karts, then Legend cars. Next it was SK Lights, the SK Modifieds and now the [Tour Type Modifieds]. It is pretty cool. I was 14 when I started racing SK Lights. I raced in the division for two years and in the second year we won the championship. Then we moved to SK’s.”

Which type of racing do you like the best?

“The SK racing is the best. I think that it is the most competitive. I am learning as I drive more and more cars and equipment. I think that they are one of the hardest cars to drive. So I would say one of those is the most fun and provides the most competition.”

Would you say racing is your hobby? Your Work? Your Life?

“Racing right now is a job. I set cars up and work on cars for a living. Maybe someday that will be different but for right now it is working and I am enjoying it and I am going to keep doing it.

“There is some satisfaction in running good. I was fortunate to crew chief for Ryan Preece who is a phenomenal driver. He makes any crew chiefs job easy. We got a couple of wins with him on the [Whelen Modified Tour] and it is satisfying. You work on the car all week and you see it go and win a race it really means something to you.”

What type of Modified chassis do you like?

“There is a style of chassis that I like which is built by two different companies. I take their chassis, either one of them, and place my twist on it and that is it. So I guess you can call it an SKM.”

Do you work on your own car?

“Sometimes my own car comes last because I am working on everyone else’s. But I have been trying not to let that happen lately and we have been getting it all done.”

Your most memorable race experience?

“Probably being the crew chief for Chase Dowling and the No. 15 team with the Whelen Modified Tour [in 2018]. We were in contention to win everywhere that we went. We had a lot of fun traveling and that was so far the best year.” (At the Stafford NAPA Fall Final 150, Chase Dowling was Kopcik’s crew chief)

What are the challenges that driver’s have at different tracks?

“I have been fortunate enough to work with experienced drivers. But adapting to the race track is definitely key and it is not easy to do. I have not really raced a whole lot of different tracks so I cannot answer that personally.”

Your thoughts on Stafford Speedway?

“Stafford is my favorite track. Thompson was a great track when the [Whelen Modified Tour] used to go there four times a year. That was always a blast. On a weekly basis, you cannot beat Stafford. There is a great family running the track, the Arutes, there is good officiating by Scott Tapley and a unique playing field. You really have to work to excel at Stafford, it is its own animal.”

What was your goal for 2021?

“Run good, win races. Somebody told me the other day, cars that come out of my shop, cars that we turn wrenches on, we have had almost 30 wins out of our garage. That is huge because we have more wins than some of the big distribution companies. We are just going to keep chugging and wrapping them up.”

Thoughts on winding down race season 2021?

“I think that 2021 has been a good year. It also has also been a treacherous year. I do not know if everyone can say that or is it just me. I have hit so many races, I do not know how many I have gone to. It seems like last week we were just in Florida for Speedweeks and now Stafford’s [season] and the Whelen Tour’s 2021 race season is over.”

Which do you like better, turning the wrenches or turning the wheel?

“A little bit of both. You need to have all the right pieces of the puzzle. I do not like turning wrenches if I do not have a driver. And I do not like driving if you do not have someone turning the wrenches. You really need the whole package to make it work. You have to have everything. ”

If you had to do this all over again, would you?

“Yes, I absolutely would. I would not change a thing. There is a lot more to come and look forward to.”

What are your plans for 2022?

“I am just going to focus on the business and service. I do not think that I am going to work with anyone in particular. I think that I am going to just step back and try and grow something for myself.”

Comments

  1. knuckles mahoney says

    Softball questions, like the one’s they throw Bidens way. How about asking what happened with the shocks?

  2. getserious says

    Well, ok, but the title needs to change from “Digging Deep…” to “A Basic Introduction…”
    At the very least a question could have been “Would you mind talking a bit about the shocks?” And if he didn’t, he didn’t. C’mon.

  3. Exactly, how do you have an interview without asking about cheating with the shocks?

  4. Let’s talk about the cheater shocks. Inquiring minds want to know…..

  5. So I have a Hampke car. If I buy that and put a Acell Decell rod in it can I call it a SWR Chassis? 😂 Where can one go to purchase a SMK chassis? Oh the millennial mindset is so special. “More wins than most larger distribution companies.” When I ran Modifieds I purchased parts from Oval Speed. They sell Troyer and LFR. So how many wins does Dennis have this year? Think he counts? Hundreds if he did. Maybe he should put a biscuit bar in the RR and call it a Oval chassis. 🤔 So which larger distributors are we talking? Northeast? Fury? Hirschman Speed? Fuller and TFR? We are not going near the illegal shock issue either??? Really??? Oh the mountains to climb…….

  6. Just Me - The Original says

    I have to laugh on his answer to – Your most memorable race experience?
    He was crew chief on paper, he was more of a car chief. Fuller told him what he wanted for a set-up, what springs and shocks to bolt on, when to pit, what adjustments to make, when to put on tires etc…..

  7. It’s a friend of the publisher doing an unpaid extra for the love of the sport.
    In spite of feel good tone the last question and answer was interesting wasn’t it? Normally wouldn’t a driver say he or she is will be back next year to try to win the championship. Stepping back to focus on his business. What exactly does that mean with regard to the 21? Sounds like we have another KRR or Chassis Pro in the works.

  8. Mike Stone says

    Kopcik is getting ready for 2022. He will work at Midas as a shock technician.

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