HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 28, 1999) -- Derrike Cope, one of only nine active drivers to win the Daytona 500, is free to negotiate with any team regarding driving opportunities for the year 2000. Cope is under contract to drive for Bahari'-Eel ...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 28, 1999) -- Derrike Cope, one of only nine active drivers to win the Daytona 500, is free to negotiate with any team regarding driving opportunities for the year 2000.
Cope is under contract to drive for Bahari'-Eel River Racing the remainder of this season. Eel River Racing, owned by Jack Birmingham, announced earlier the purchase of the Bahari' Racing team owned by Chuck Rider, which fields the No. 30 Pontiacs.
Cope is committed to driving for the new team and turning his performance around in the final 15 races this year. At the same time, Cope is considering all possible options in 2000.
"I was in a three-year commitment with Bahari' Racing, but with the circumstances the way they are, we've been able to come to terms on my being released from any 2000 commitment," Cope said. "I'm free to look for new opportunities at this point."
Cope, 40, is a two-time winner on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. He also won the 1990 Budweiser 500 at Dover Downs International Speedway. He won his first career pole last year when he took the top starting spot for October's UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Cope has six top-five and 32 top-10 finishes in his career.
"I want the car owners that are looking for drivers to know I am available next year and not under any commitment," Cope said. "I can test and look at auditioning for jobs, basically. That's what I'm looking at right now. I just want to get my name out there. A lot of people thought that I was tied up for three years, which I was, but now I have the opportunity to look for a new ride. That's what I'm actively pursuing."
Cope will work diligently to get Bahari'-Eel River Racing on competitive track for the remainder of the 1999 season. But Cope and the team want it known they both are free to explore their options for the 2000 season.
"I just think it's important for people to know that I'm not bound to anyone except for the remainder of this season," Cope said. "I want to make sure everyone is aware of that and I want to see what's available out there."