Christian Copley has been steadily improving in the NASCAR Late Model division at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. He has finished in the top 10 in each of the first four races of the season and is third in the Late Model standings at the track.
Christian Copley said he was asked by Tommy Rizzo to drive his Late Model car at Irwindale
Christian Copley won the West Coast Pro Truck Series championship in 2009
"I started working my way up," said the 18-year-old from Santa Ynez. "I started sixth place first race. All right, I need to improve a little bit. Got fifth place, need to improve a little bit. Now, last race, we got third. We finally got on the podium for the first time. We've just been working our way up, closer and closer to the top spot. The competition level is very, very high."
He had his first setback on Saturday night, finishing ninth after narrowly missing a collision late in the race that took out two cars. He is 32 points out of first place in the Late Model standings after four races at Irwindale.
He is also one of two rookies in the top three in the Late Model standings and one of three teenagers in the top five in points. The youngsters have been making an impact at the track in the first two months of the season.
The Late Model division at Irwindale has its share of newcomers and veterans, two past track champions and three rookies are in the field of 20 cars that race regularly at Irwindale.
"I think anyone in this series can win a race," Copley said. "Lot of good cars, lot of past champions, lot of multi-winners, like (Mike) Johnson and (R.J.) Johnson, and everyone is good."
Despite his recent ninth-place finish, Copley said he is beginning to feel more comfortable in his car and with the drivers around him and that's the reason why he was been able to improve through the first three races of the season.
"It's definitely not the car," Copley said. "I think it's more that I've got more affiliated with the racers and I learned the car a little bit more and I was able to know when to push it and when not to. The more seat time I get in this car, the better I become. I better not jinx myself."
Copley started his racing career in go-karts. What began as a hobby with his grandfather, Mike Kappmeyer, has turned into a championship career for Copley. Kappmeyer is no stranger to building race cars. He was an off-road racer and competed in his share of Baja 250s and 500s. Kappmeyer also put together open-wheel cars for teams, most notably for Robby Flock in the Toyota Atlantic Series.
Copley moved up from go-karts to the West Coast Pro Truck Series. When he was 14 years old, he won a junior midgets championship and rookie of the year at Ventura Raceway. The next year, he started racing in the West Coast Pro Truck Series while returning to Ventura Raceway to continue in the junior midgets.
"I did a couple races here and there," Copley said. "My first race in a West Coast Pro Truck I finished fourth. I was like, wow, maybe I have a little potential here. As my career progressed, I started getting better and better like anyone else would with more seat time."
He won the West Coast Pro Truck Series championship in 2009. The series has switched its name to the South West Tour Trucks and still races regularly at Irwindale.
During the off-season, Copley said he was asked by Tommy Rizzo to drive his Late Model car at Irwindale. Copley said he jumped at the chance to race a stock car.
"It was like driving a pony stock and going to a Cadillac," Copley said about making the switch from the trucks to a stock car. "It was just so much smoother to drive and so much easier. There's a lot of difference between the two, but I like this one a lot better. This one you have more options to adjust here and adjust there, rather than the old trucks, put a round in here, a round in there, that was about it. It's a lot easier to drive these cars because of the adjustments that you can make."
K&N has been associated with Copley since his days of running in the West Coast Pro Trucks.
"They support us with product sponsorship, but we also built partners with them in Make-A-Wish Foundation," Copley said. "We help raise money for cancer and help the less fortunate."
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