Third-place finish solidifies Roper’s bonafides as a serious Truck competitor

One thing that could be taken away from the last lap of Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona is that Cory Roper did not show up to stroke around in his underfunded Roper Racing Ford. He saw the opportunity come to take the lead at Daytona late in the going, took it, and almost pulled off the upset win on the final lap before being passed on the final stretch by Ben Rhodes and Jordan Anderson and ultimately finishing third.

“I knew I was a sitting duck whenever I didn’t feel a push,” Roper said in Zoom media availability post-race. “I knew I got too far off out coming off of (turn) 2 and got too big of a gap. I’m still learning where I need to position things in the truck to be able to race something like this different than anywhere else. I wish I had another shot at that, but you gotta be grateful for what you’ve got, we’ll take it, move on and build from it.”

The Vernon, Texas native made his national touring debut in Spring 2018 at Martinsville in his No. 04 F-150, finishing 13th after starting 17th. From there he proceeded to have several strong runs such as climbing to second at Daytona in 2019 before contact with the wall ended his day, or a fifth-place qualifying effort at Las Vegas in late 2019 (that was derailed in an early incident with Matt Crafton).

Roper also proved himself to be a stout qualifier, having posted three top-15 qualifying runs including his top-five appearance at Las Vegas, despite limited sponsorship and limited equipment. Regardless, incidents involving the No. 04 Ford have been few and far between, as Roper doesn’t seem to overdrive himself or his truck’s limitations. That, along with his stout runs, managed to help Roper Racing land sponsor opportunities from CarQuest Auto Parts and Alliance Aviation, who adorned his truck Friday night.

This has come quite a long way from the group who used to camp out at Texas Motor Speedway every time NASCAR came through Fort Worth. It’s only fitting that Roper ended up earning his first top-10 ever at Texas, a ninth in June 2019. Granted that was an attrition-filled event, but it only backed up the notice that Roper takes care of his equipment and has a tendency to keep his truck out of trouble.

All said, Roper’s presence in the garage serves as a reminder to the old-school racers of the sport’s history. He hasn’t bought out another ride with family or sponsor money; rather, he took his money and decided to start and build a team from the ground up. At first it was with old equipment bought from Brad Keselowski Racing and Shane Whitbeck as the Crew Chief, but as time has gone on he’s managed to build his team and his group up and just like fellow underdog owner/driver Anderson, Roper found himself in the spotlight at Daytona.

Rhodes expressed admiration for Roper in Victory Lane, saying that there was a need for more guys like him and his Roper Racing group in the NASCAR garage. Given the outcome Friday night and what led up to it for Roper and Roper Racing, that’s a valid statement to make.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

Joseph Shelton
Joseph Shelton
Husband to Stacie and Daddy to Dexter, Aeris, Meredith, and furbabies Lola,Tiny, Lucy, Genesis, Lily, Tommy The Cat, and Ace. Ardent race fan and serious Braves baseball lover.

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