July 14, 2001 (Joliet, IL) -- Derrike Cope and the ...
July 14, 2001 (Joliet, IL) -- Derrike Cope and the #94 Coinstar team came to Chicago with the hopes of putting together a top-20 finish in the Hills Brothers 300 to give the team a boost of confidence. Instead the team had to witness fire crews put out a fire on the #94 Coinstar Chevrolet as it caught on fire on pit road.
Cope was able to qualify the #94 Coinstar Chevrolet in the 32nd position for Saturday's Busch Series event. However the team had to drop to the rear of the field for the start of the race because if an unapproved engine change.
Derrike advanced from 43rd to the 30th spot just 18 laps into the race, but the car became very tight in the turns. Cope tried to keep the car on the lead lap in hopes of using adjustments to get the car where it would turn better. "The car was pretty good at first, then it developed a bad push that just got worse as we went on. We made some adjustments in our first pit stop, and we were hanging on in 24th on the lead lap. We felt like we had a top-20 car here, but we just needed another pit stop or two to get the car adjusted so that it turned better," said Cope of Saturday's race.
After battling to stay on the lead lap, Cope began to notice he was losing fuel pressure on the #94 Coinstar Chevrolet. He knew they still had plenty of gas in the car, but he brought the #94 down pit road on lap 84, while in 24th position, to check the problem as the needle continued to fluctuate on the fuel gauge. What happened next was something totally unexpected. "We came down pit road to see what the problem was, and we found there was a leak in the fuel line. It looked like the fitting was broken where the line and the fuel pump came together. The fuel started backing up in the line as we sat on pit road, then it just caught on fire. We had Coinstar on board this weekend, and it is really unfortunate for them. Maybe we will be back at Gateway," remarked Cope.
The problems on pit road ended the day for Cope and the #94 Coinstar crew, putting the team in the 37th finishing position. The team plans on attempting to run several more races for the rest of the 2001 Busch Series season, while seeking sponsorship in the process. Cope continues to seek financial backing for his #37 Chevrolet in the Winston Cup Series for later in the year.