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Doctor or Driver: Decision Looming for Staropoli

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RICHMOND, Va. – Patrick Staropoli might be the smartest driver in NASCAR, and he’ll have the degree to show for it in a year and a half.

Staropoli is a Harvard graduate and is currently a third-year medical student at the University of Miami. In June of 2017, he will have earned his degree. In the meantime, Staropoli continues to pursue his racing career. Thursday at Richmond International Raceway he’ll be back behind the wheel in the K&N Pro Series East for Bill McAnally Racing.

At 25 years old, Staropoli has already won in practically everything he’s sat in while juggling his education. The time is coming he realizes when he might have to choose one profession over the other.

“I feel like that fork in the road is definitely coming at some point,” Staropoli said Thursday afternoon. “I love racing. I’m so passionate about this, and I’ve love doing it since I was 12 years old and got in my first Go-kart.”

Having catapulted himself into the national spotlight in 2013 thanks to the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge. It earned him a role with Michael Waltrip Racing as a development driver, escalating to being able to compete in the K&N Series. In his third K&N Pro Series West start, Staropoli won at Irwindale in March of 2014.

Having grown up at the racetrack with his dad, Staropoli made his way through Go-Karts, the Fastruck Series, late models and anything else he could drive. And he’s won in all of them. Since 2013, Staropoli has been dipping his toes in the NASCAR water.

While doing so though, he’s been earning his degree, and racing is scheduled around his classes. At Harvard, Staropoli was in the Top 10% of his class and graduated with honors.

“Anytime I have to get behind the wheel of a racecar I’m going to take it,” Staropoli said.

For Richmond, Staropoli shuffled around his school schedule to be able to compete in the UNOH 100. It’ll be his fourth career K&N Pro Series East start and first this season. School, however, won’t be far from his mind as Staropoli and AutoNation, who have also signed on with the No. 99 team for Dover, race for awareness.

With his pink Toyota, Staropoli hopes to bring awareness to the Cure Bowl, a college football game in December. Additionally, it’ll be a fundraising effort for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

It’s the best of both worlds for Staropoli, which right now he can have.

“Hopefully we keep running good, keep getting more opportunities,” Staropoli said of his future. “Racing is what I love so I would go for it in a heartbeat.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall

Popular Speed

POPULAR SPEED is a Social Media driven website featuring exclusive content, photographs, news and pointed editorials. It’s makeup consists of veteran motorsports journalists as well as the unique voice of developing young talent. POPULAR SPEED was launched in 2013 under the direction of former Sprint Cup Series spotter, Mike Calinoff.