He may not be quite old enough to drive on the road just yet, but Stephen Kopcik is certainly making a name for himself on the racetracks. Kopcik, 15, drives too fast for the road anyway; he averages around 80 miles an hour, and tops out at about 90 when he’s in a race.
On June 19, Kopcik was not only fast — he was the fastest on the track, earning his first Legend Car race under the lights at Waterford Speedbowl.
Kopcik credits a combination of confidence created by some track experience and adjustments to his car for the driving force behind his checker flag-clinching drive. Among the tweaks was the installation of a lighter front right spring, he said.
The 15-year-old is in his second season of Legend racing, and won the 25-lap race by establishing a sizable early lead and then holding off the competition to get across the finish line just a half-second faster than his closest competitor.
“It’s a big rush,” Kopcik said of racing. “But you’re focused on your line and what you’re going to do to the guy in front of you, how you’re going to get around him; how you’re going to hold off the guys behind you,” Kopcik said.
After turning some of the fastest laps of the night in practice, he started on the outside pole and took the lead coming out of turn two. Despite several cautions and a red flag stop during the race, he was able to maintain the lead. At one point, Kopcik had a six-car lead on the pack, yet fought hard to keep the lead for the last three laps, with another car essentially glued to his rear bumper.
The win jumps Kopcik into fourth in the points standings among competitors from all divisions in Wednesday night racing at the track
He also races at Bethel Motor Speedway in White Lake, N.Y., and came in third overall, second in his division, in the June 22 race. Kopcik earned a divisional win in an earlier-season race at Bethel Motor Speedway, and was second overall in that race.
In the Young Lions Division, Kopcik is the points leader in the state and ranks 14th in the nation on asphalt tracks. He’s had 13 top-ten and nine top-five finishes.
Kopcik has several sponsors that help offset the expense of racing and maintaining his No. 21 car: Newtown Pools, Hocon Industrial Gas, Sign Depot, Glen Road Auto Body, Tommy Adams, NJK Automotive, David Smith Racing, and Gervais Brothers Roofing.