Josh Wise, an up and coming NASCAR driver, and D.J. Copp, tire changer and contributor to ESPN’s NASCAR Now, got to talking on pit road while working together at JR Motorsports. That friendship has now blossomed into a different sort of relationship, that of fielding a Nationwide car together at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend.
Wise will be behind the wheel of the No. 43 Dodge Challenger and will run under the auspices of Baker Curb Racing. D.J. Copp will help support the venture with sponsorship from his own company, OTWCrew.com. in partnership with Ingersoll Rand. Copp will also be serving atop Wise’s pit box as crew chief, supervising his company’s all volunteer pit crew for the race.
While Wise is an up and comer in the sport, Copp has been around the NASCAR garage for many years. Copp has been a professional pit crew member and tire changer for several different teams, including Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Carl Edwards to name a few, for the last 15 years.
Copp recently started his own company, OTWCrew.com, with the innovative notion to lease out pit crews, particularly to teams that cannot afford to keep full-time over the wall staff on their payroll. He also sees this model as the ideal way to not only groom pit crews of the future but also to introduce pit crew wannabes to the sport.
“OTW.com is a company I started about three years ago,” Copp said. “It is pretty much to give people opportunities in the sport of NASCAR.”
“This also gives people a truly realistic view of the sport,” Copp said. “When you don’t have unknowns jumping out at them, you get better quality out of them.”
Copp’s newest venture is getting a car to the race track, which he will be doing this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway in partnership with Baker Curb and Josh Wise.
“I’ve put together a Nationwide car and we are going to help Baker Curb Racing get this car to the race track,” Copp said. “And it’s strictly through volunteers that are a part of OTWCrew.com that will be pitting the car.”
“I changed tires for JR Motorsports and that relationship has allowed me to meet Josh Wise,” Copp continued. “I talked to the guys at JR Motorsports and they have allowed me to have Wise drive my car at Charlotte.”
While Copp has invested much of his own money, sweat and tears in this deal, he sees this as the next step for his company.
“This gives me an opportunity to go do this race and then see what the best new direction is for OTWCrew.com,” Copp said. “This will keep giving people new options in the sport.”
Copp also has arranged for his company’s title sponsor, Ingersoll Rand, to be involved in the race deal with Baker Curb Racing and driver Josh Wise. Ingersoll Rand makes 90% of the pit guns that are used on pit road by the race teams in the sport so is a familiar company at the track.
Again, it was all about relationships in forming this unique sponsor partnership. Copp met the Vice President of Ingersoll Rand on pit road, got to talking, met for lunch and the sponsor deal was sealed.
“The way we’ve been growing, Ingersoll Rand has been really supportive,” Copp said. “So, they’ve jumped on board and will be sponsoring the race car along with OTWCrew.com this weekend.”
In addition to his relationship with his sponsor, Copp is also leveraging his relationship with JR Motorsports driver Josh Wise.
“The reason we went to Josh Wise is because of the relationship we had at JR Motorsports,” Copp said. “He doesn’t tear up equipment, he gets the most out of his equipment, he gives good feedback and he’s great with sponsors.”
“When you look at all the different aspects that teams need from their drivers, he has it all,” Copp said. “I need to put my best foot forward this weekend and Josh Wise is my best foot forward behind the wheel.”
From Wise’s perspective, he could not be more pleased with this newest opportunity. If he qualifies his way into the show, Wise will be making his 24th Nationwide start of the season.
“It’s really cool for me to be a part of this,” Wise said. “This is something to build on for sure.”
Wise admits that he has had a bit of a “crazy” season this year, but his prime goal has been to get whatever seat time that he could. To that end, he has worked with Specialty Racing, has done some start and parking, and most recently has raced the No. 7 JR Motorsports car, taking turns behind the wheel with Danica Patrick.
“My goal at the beginning of the season was to do whatever I had to do to stay in the seat,” Wise said. “It’s all kept materializing and opportunities like this one that D.J. is giving me just keep cropping up.”
“We were riding back from the race at Richmond and he mentioned that he was trying to work on a ride for Charlotte,” Wise continued. “I said jokingly that I’d drive it and a week ago he saw me in the shop and said that he was doing it.”
“That’s how it all got started,” Wise said. “It’s something that he has worked really hard on and I want to do a good job for him.”
Wise and Copp will attempt to race their way into the Nationwide Dollar General 300 under the lights on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. The race will be covered by ESPN2 at 7:30 PM ET.