What looked to be a Cinderella story in-the-making during Friday night’s NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona came up short for Cory Roper.
Roper passed Sheldon Creed on the frontstretch after pushing him to the lead with one to go. Roper lead coming out of turn four before getting slingshotted by Ben Rhodes for the win and falling behind Jordan Anderson to finish third.
For Roper, the third-place finish is his best career NCWTS finish. His previous best was a ninth-place finish in June 2019 at Texas Motor Speedway, his home track.
As an owner-driver, Roper has run NCWTS part-time since 2018. 2021 is his team’s first full-time season, which was not lost on Roper when thinking about what the third-place finish does for the team.
“It’s huge for us. We’re still trying to build a team, get a shop completed. We’ve got great equipment… The last three years we’ve been trying to build a team, now we’re going to run the full thing if things go well.”
When asked if the third-place finish felt like a win, Roper stated, “Absolutely. Being an owner, I look it as my family’s team, my brother’s team. What a great feeling for them to have such a good feeling.”
Race winner Ben Rhodes also expressed his excitement for Roper’s third-place finish.
“Cory has an awesome thing going,” Rhodes said. “I can’t begin to express how happy I am for him. I don’t think there’s enough guys like him in the series.”
Roper was one of four drivers to earn their best career NCWTS finish in Friday night’s race. Carson Hocevar (fifth), Drew Dollar (10th) and Kris Wright (12th) each earned their best career NCWTS finish, as well.