COPE GOES CALIFORNIA DREAMING (April 27, 1999) -- Jimmy Dean Pontiac driver Derrike Cope is hoping some sunshine will peep through the smog around California Speedway and put some light on his NASCAR Winston Cup fortunes in Sunday's California...
COPE GOES CALIFORNIA DREAMING
(April 27, 1999) -- Jimmy Dean Pontiac driver Derrike Cope is hoping some sunshine will peep through the smog around California Speedway and put some light on his NASCAR Winston Cup fortunes in Sunday's California 500.
And if last year's run at California is any indication, Cope isn't just dreaming. After starting 32nd, Cope moved up to 12th and was closing in on the top-10 when he was sidelined by an accident on lap 153 of the 250-lap race. Cope wound up 39th.
"Chad Little was coming up on a slow car and the car below him moved up," Cope said. "He moved up into me and I crashed when I was forced up into the marbles in turn two. I had a good run going. We had an opportunity for a good finish. That's why I'm really looking forward to going back to California."
Reminiscent of famed Richard Petty's trademark characteristic of running the high groove, Cope found success on the top groove at the two-mile superspeedway.
"We kept making runs to the front," Cope said. "The car worked very well on the outside. I was really disappointed after the crash. I drove aggressively and looking back on things, maybe that wasn't the best time to press the issue, but we were in desperate need of a good run and I was going to give it my all."
This marks NASCAR's third visit to California and Cope still marvels at Roger Penske's speedway bastion in a land known for its industrial look.
"There's really not much to look at around that region, and then, all of a sudden -- boom -- there's this beautiful race track," Cope said. "It's just a real industrial area and the race track is the prettiest piece of real estate around. I have enormous respect for Roger Penske. His attention to detail is uncanny. He has a first-class track. I think it's a dynamite facility."
And Cope certainly hopes to finish with a bang in the Jimmy Dean Pontiac.