RPW Column By: TOBY LAGRANGE / RPW – POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – When you look at a list of drivers competing in the Sportsman ranks within the Capital Region of New York State, you will see his name and likely not recognize it.
However soon the name Joseph Coppola will roll off your tongue like clay off a Hoosier Racing tire.
A resident of Poughkeepsie, New York by way of Highland, Coppola is a regular at the Valley of Speed – the Lebanon Valley Speedway. The 2019 season would see Coppola earn a great point finish, travel a bit and bring home the golden hardware from one of the bigger Sportsman events at the Howard Commander owned dirt oval.
“We finished seventh in the final point standings at Lebanon Valley,” Coppola said. “Along the way we also won the Sherman Memorial race. We also raced at Albany-Saratoga where we picked up a top ten finish during the Sportsman portion of Brett Hearn’s Big Show.”
Coppola also took some laps in a Modified later in the season.
“We made the trip down to the Accord Speedway for the Gobbler event,” Coppola said. “It was our first time with the Small Block motor and we were able to qualify for the feature.”
A 17th place finisher in the overall LaGrange Media King of the Capital Region standings in 2019, Coppola got his start in racing in a unique way – without an engine and on two wheels.
“I got started in racing at a young age,” Coppola Said. “I started on bicycles and then progressed into Motocross and later small amounts of Auto-Cross. Growing up my father raced Pure Stocks at Lebanon Valley and at the Orange County Fair Speedway, so we wanted to get off the asphalt and back onto the dirt. Two years ago I started my career as a rookie at the Accord Speedway and moved up halfway through the season and started racing full time at Lebanon Valley.”
For the 2020 racing season, the team will continue to call the high banks on Route 20 home and are hungrily hunting for a better points finish.
“Our plans for 2020 are to run Lebanon Valley, hunting for a top five in points and would like to travel a bit and run a few races at Albany-Saratoga, Fonda and Orange County,” Coppola said.
The goals that Coppola and team have laid out are simple yet challenging.
“In 2020 we would like to finish in the top five in points at Lebanon Valley, improve our equipment program, secure a few new sponsors and possibly move up to the Small Block Modifieds by the end of the season,” Coppola said.
Coppola owns the team and receives help from some dedicated sponsors. Those sponsors include J&J Fabrication, Ruges Chrysler Dodge and Jeep, Mac Tools (Ric Dieckmann), Family Tree, Hudson Valley Interior and Exterior and Gary’s Auto Detailing.
When the final checkered flag waves on the 2020 season this fall, do not be surprised if the name Joseph Coppola is not only one you recognize but one you have seen sitting in victory lane.