(June 1, 1999) -- Jimmy Dean Pontiac driver still displays the never-say-die attitude that led one of his past crew chiefs to nickname him that "little Tazmanian Devil." Relentlessness is a trait the determined Cope is never in short supply of.
(June 1, 1999) -- Jimmy Dean Pontiac driver still displays the never-say-die attitude that led one of his past crew chiefs to nickname him that "little Tazmanian Devil."
Relentlessness is a trait the determined Cope is never in short supply of. The same can be said for Bahari' Racing owner Chuck Rider, who announced another hiring today to help restore momentum to his team.
Rider has hired Corrie Stott as team manager, the former crew chief for Sterling Marlin at Sabco Racing. After coming aboard mid-season last year, Stott helped Marlin rally from 31st to a finish of 13th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. Dayne Pierantoni has been given a new title on the team -- general manager.
The addition of Stott gives Bahari' Racing four former crew chiefs on its roster -- Stott, John McQueen (shock specialist), Ernie Cope (car chief) and current crew chief Dan Glauz.
"Corrie worked nearly three years under Ray Evernham and has learned a tremendous amount of organizational skills," Rider said. "He'll make us a little more detailed in each area. He respects Dan's ability and they will be able to work well together. We've really got a good nucleus together."
Cope echoed Rider's comments.
"I think we've taken a significant leap in an upgrade of personnel," Cope said. "That's hard to do at this time of the season. This shows we're working hard to turn things around."
Cope enters Sunday's MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway as an underdog, but he won in that role in the 1990 running of the race. Cope found that triumph even more satisfying in some ways than his shocking Daytona 500 victory earlier that year. Both victories came under Parrott's guidance.
"That was really the race that reinforced my belief in myself, my team and my abilities," Cope said. "It proved I know how to win. Dover is a tough track on race car and driver and it remains so today. To go up there and flat whip 'em, just flat whip 'em, proved we were the best team on that Sunday. We were the best in the world on that Sunday."
Parrott mistakenly ran Cope out of gas during the race. Cope doggedly stuck to the tail end of the lead lap as Rusty Wallace tried in vain to put him a lap down. Cope eventually worked his way around after a couple of caution periods and ran away with the win.
"I proved I can run 500 miles as good as anybody, and when push came to shove I was able to run one of the best in the business down in Rusty Wallace," Cope said. "The way I look at it is I can drive one of these things. It proved I know how to win."
Cope knows the Jimmy Dean Racing team faces a stiff challenge at Dover. The one-mile track's concrete surface is unforgiving and makes for a rough ride. The superspeedway's 24-degree banking in its turns can wear a driver down physically. Yet Cope relishes the formidable task.
"You just have to go out there and initiate a learning process, an apprenticeship of Dover," Cope said. "You try and gain confidence. It's a mindset. I broke loose one time there and I knocked the fence down. I had a good race car that day, too. That kind of thing can make you wonder,
'Do I still have it?' I feel the best way to approach Dover is to gradually work up to that level of confidence. You're just on the edge of your seat while you're on top of the wheel, a lot more than you want to be. But when you gain confidence in the car, then it becomes like any other race track."
Under the same tough Dover circumstances, Cope is out for vindication in Sunday's MBNA Platinum 400. The "little Tasmanian Devil" is ready to go for another whirl.