Cory Roper – JAG Metals 350k Advance
Truck: No. 04 Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc. Ford F-150 for Roper Racing
Crew chief: Shane Whitbeck
JAG Metals 350k Notes of Interest…
- As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway, Cory Roper and the Roper Racing team are looking to capitalize on their home-state advantage in Friday night’s JAG Metals 350k and score a solid result. The event will mark the team’s fifth series start of the 2018 season.
- Short Trip…While traveling to Texas Motor Speedway is a 16-plus hour drive that clocks in at more than 1,000 miles for the majority of competitors, for the Roper Racing team, based in Baytown, Texas, the commute is a relatively short trip. The commute from Baytown to Texas Motor Speedway is just a 4.5-hour drive for the Ropers and they’ll log less than 300 miles getting to the 1.5-mile track.
- Local Driver…While he’s a newcomer to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Roper is no stranger to racing or Texas Motor Speedway. He grew up just 150 miles from the speedway in Vernon, Texas, and has attended races at the facility for years. After watching his dad, Kenny Roper, compete over the years, Roper got his first racecar at age 14 and started racing on a local and regional level at short tracks in Texas and Oklahoma. Roper now resides in Mont Belvieu, Texas with his wife, Cherie, and daughters Megan and Britney.
- Home-Field Advantage…As the Roper Racing team prepares to compete in their home state for the first time in the NASCAR Truck Series, a crowd of Roper fans will be onsite to cheer them on. Roper Racing will host more than 50 friends, family members and customers at Texas Motor Speedway for Friday’s race.
- Back to a 1.5-Mile Track…On Friday, Roper will make his fifth NASCAR Truck Series start and his second on a 1.5-mile track. Last month he started 19th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, ran inside the top-20 for much of the night and was scored as high as 13th before contact with a fellow competitor ended his race early and relegated the team to a 25th-place finish. Racing in front of a home-state crowd this week in Texas, Roper and the No. 04 Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc. Ford F-150 team will be looking to improve upon that performance.
- The Team…Roper Racing fields the No. 04 Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc. Ford F-150 out of Baytown, Texas. The 2018 season marks the team’s first foray into competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and they are slated to run a limited schedule.
- The Crew Chief…NASCAR veteran Shane Whitbeck serves as crew chief for the No. 04 Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc. Ford F-150. The Sarasota, Florida, native previously worked at Brad Keselowski Racing for 10 years. Whitbeck is based in North Carolina and consults with the team during the week and serves as crew chief on race weekends.
- About Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc.… Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc. is a global industrial construction, fabrication and maintenance company, headquartered in Baytown, Texas. The company executes turnkey construction projects from scope development, safety management, project controls, project management, procurement, staffing, fabrication
andconstruction. Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc. serves the power, chemical processing andrefining industries.
Cory Roper, driver of the No. 04 Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc. Ford F-150
What were you able to learn at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that will help you as you prepare to compete on another 1.5-mile track?
“Mainly, it was just getting used to the speed. We were getting faster toward the end of the race. It took me a while because all during practice and qualifying the focus was on holding the throttle to the mat. It took me a while to get comfortable with the speed and how to work the throttle to not be wicked loose. I really got comfortable there toward the end of the race in Las Vegas and then we just had bad luck that ended our night early. It was really good for me to experience just how fast those tracks are and how slowly the trucks react to what you’re doing in there. It was different. I’m excited about getting to Texas this week because I’m not starting from scratch. Turns 1 and 2 are difficult to get through, but I’m excited to get there and get on track. We’ve got a really good truck for this weekend and a really good team. I’ve just got to learn my part and we’ll be fine.”
What is your strategy for the weekend ahead at Texas Motor Speedway?
“Realistically, I just want to finish the race without tearing anything up and finish on the lead lap. A top-15 would make me happy. Our goal is to have some speed and learn how to work the traffic a little better than I did in Las Vegas. We were a lot faster than a lot of people we were running around. That was a bigger learning experience than I could have ever imagined. Toward the end of the race I learned how to setup passes a little better and where to be and where not to be when I’m chasing someone down. I hope to use that at Texas to try to get a better finish. I want to have a good race. We’ve got more than 50 people coming on Friday and I want to put on a good show for them.”
Friday’s race is basically a home game for you. What does it mean to you to be racing on a national stage in Texas?
“It’s kind of surreal and almost feels odd, I guess you could say. I’ve had some good seats in Burnout Alley for the last three or four years, but racing at Texas Motor Speedway is something I’ve watched for years and always thought I could do this one day if I could just get my foot in the door. I live farther away from the track now than I did growing up. I used to be just 150 miles away in Vernon. It was amazing to go to the speedway and watch the races and dream about being out there in the show one day. I’m not sure it’s really sunk in yet that I’m going to be racing there on Friday.
“Earlier this week marked one year since I was first down in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage talking to Jeremy (Thompson, former general manager at Brad Keselowski Racing) and the guys at BKR about racing in the series. Now we have a 20,000-square-foot shop, 16 trucks and one of the nicest rigs out there. So, I’d say we’ve definitely come a long way in a year. Friday will be our fifth race of the season. We’re planning to run Homestead in a couple of weeks and have a game plan in place that will hopefully put us in the series for the full season next year.
“Everyone at Texas Motor Speedway has been great to me over the years. We’ve sat there and watched races at Texas for so long and now me and my family get to go there and compete. It’s going to be a special night.”
Shane Whitbeck, crew chief of the No. 04 Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc. Ford F-150
What were you able to learn or help Cory learn at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that will benefit the team this week in Texas?
“The biggest thing we learned is that Cory has raced for a long time, but in that time, he’s never experienced the aerodynamic challenges a 1.5-mile track presents a driver. It was important for him to feel how loose the truck needs to be to run well and to gain some experience on a track like that.”
What are your goals for the race at Texas Motor Speedway?
“We’re taking a truck that used to be a part of the BKR (Brad Keselowski Racing) stable and I’m confident Cory will keep learning things quickly, so that should help us. We plan to build off of our solid qualifying performance from Las Vegas and improve to a top-15 or top-12 starting position. We’ll have the same pit crew we had in Las Vegas and they did a good job of keeping us up front there. So, overall our goal is to put together a solid race, without any bad luck, and end the race on the lead lap with a top-15 finish.”
Friday’s race is a home-state event for Cory. Does that bring any added pressure?
“Racing in Texas does add a little pressure and added significance to the weekend. There will be a lot of friends and family members out to support Cory on Friday, which is great. We’ll keep our eyes on the prize and stay focused on what we’re there to accomplish, just like every other race weekend, and take it one step at a time.”
You’re scheduled to run this weekend and Homestead to round out the 2018 season. How will those races help you prepare for 2019?
“The biggest thing is getting Cory comfortable with the aerodynamic challenges tracks can present a driver, getting him more seat time around other trucks and getting him used to racing in packs so he’s ready when we get to Atlanta and Vegas next Spring. There’s just a comfort factor when you go into the corner and know what to expect and we want to try and help Cory get that experience as best we can this year to prepare for 2019. Also, Homestead is a track with an older surface where the tires wear out, which should help us learn a little bit and help bridge the gap when we get to Atlanta as well.”