Derrike Cope Las Vegas Preview

COPE WON'T FLIRT WITH LADY LUCK (March 1, 1999) -- State Fair Pontiac driver Derrike Cope would certainly welcome a fling with Lady Luck as the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit hits Las Vegas, but he isn't counting on such a rendezvous. Cope knows...

COPE WON'T FLIRT WITH LADY LUCK

(March 1, 1999) -- State Fair Pontiac driver Derrike Cope would certainly welcome a fling with Lady Luck as the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit hits Las Vegas, but he isn't counting on such a rendezvous.

Cope knows the only one way he and the Bahari' Racing team will become a competitive force in Sunday's Las Vegas 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is to roll up their sleeves and go to work.

"I try not to put too much emphasis on luck, just hard work," Cope said. "First of all, we're going to concentrate on qualifying for the race. Hopefully, we'll be able to have a productive run and continue some of the momentum we had secured at Daytona when we ran so well with the leaders."

Las Vegas marks the debut of State Fair Brand Corn Dogs as the primary sponsor on owner Chuck Rider's Pontiac. State Fair is "The Corn Dog of NASCAR." It's also one of four Sara Lee companies rotating as primary sponsors on the car this year. The others are Jimmy Dean, Bryan and Rudy's Farm.

Las Vegas is also the starting point for all four brands' "Taste of the Race" sponsorship package with ESPN and ABC. Those networks will combine to televise 17 races this season, and Cope will run an in-car camera featuring the primary hood sponsor in each. In addition, five cars from each race will feature a telemetry statistics graphic, again featuring the primary hood sponsor, which will indicate a car's speed, RPMs, gear and brake light. The primary hood sponsor will also be featured on the networks' half-hour sports tickers. Finally, each brand will receive internet sponsorship banners throughout the season on ESPN.com, the most-visited sports site on the world wide web, as well as NASCAR Online.

The aggressive marketing sponsorship will produce 510 million impressions through the racing season.

"This is the first year for our sponsors in a primary role and it's programs like this that prove what an incredible job State Fair, Jimmy Dean, Bryan and Rudy's Farm have done in such a short period of time," Cope said. "I'm sure there's a lot of anticipation to see those things on TV and how they're displayed.

Cope believes the in-car camera is one of the primary television creations that has pushed the NASCAR Winston Cup Series to its current popularity heights.

"In my opinion, all the television coverage has escalated the notoriety of the sport," Cope said. "The in-car cameras and the different telemetry things, all the different aspects that they give the fan, gives them a perspective of what its like to be inside the car. It's just a wealth of knowledge that has been delivered to the fan. It's brought them a lot closer to relating to what's going on during a race."

Cope qualified ninth for last year's inaugural race at Las Vegas. But NASCAR was still tinkering with its rules for the various manufacturers and Fords ruled on race day.

"If your car didn't have a blue oval on it on Sunday, under those old rules, you didn't have a chance," Cope said. "It was pretty bad, kind of like auto racing's version of Custer's Last Stand. Ford had everybody outclassed because the rules were just so lopsided. Ford drivers took the first seven positions and 13 of the top 14 finishes. I've been driving full-time for 11 years on this circuit and I had never seen such a rout. It was ridiculous. NASCAR, unbeknownst to them, had the Fords set up pretty well. Ford knew what they had and they had positioned themselves very well. I had never seen anything like that before. I hope I don't see it again."

While his racing brethren might take in a few casinos for a roll of the dice while in Las Vegas, Cope will spend his spare time differently.

"I'm not much of a gambler," Cope said. "I like shows and what I like most in Las Vegas is the shopping. They've got great stores for clothes. They have a nice Armani store and they have some outstanding stores that carry Versace' and different dress clothes that I like to wear. So, more than likely, Las Vegas is going to get some money from me, I can guarantee you that. I'd sure like to get some back on Sunday in the State Fair Pontiac."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Derrike Cope