Derrike Cope Looking Forward to Rockingham

Cope to debut Bryan Pontiac at The Rock ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 17, 1999) After two pressure packed weeks at Daytona, there will be a more relaxed Derrike Cope at North Carolina Speedway this weekend when the 1990 Daytona 500 champion makes his...

Cope to debut Bryan Pontiac at The Rock

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 17, 1999) After two pressure packed weeks at Daytona, there will be a more relaxed Derrike Cope at North Carolina Speedway this weekend when the 1990 Daytona 500 champion makes his debut in the Bryan Pontiac for Sunday's Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 at "The Rock."

Bryan Foods is one of four Sara Lee companies rotating as primary sponsors of Chuck Rider's Bahari' Racing team. The other companies are Jimmy Dean, State Fair and Rudy's Farm.

Cope struggled in qualifying and was in danger of missing the Daytona 500 until he drove a masterful Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race, finishing 10th. In the 500, he was running 14th on the lead lap when a tire blew. Cope skillfully avoided the wall, but lost a lap while his Dan Glauz-led crew applied fresh rubber.

Over the final 375 miles, Cope ran with the leaders, however, a lap down. At one point he came within passing two cars of regaining his lap, but couldn't get any closer. He finished 18th, but was heartened by the performance.

"It was a good effort," Cope said. "It's unfortunate we had that flat, otherwise, we would have had a top-10 car. Closer to the end of the race we got out of the way of the leaders and let those guys race. We didn't want to cause them any misfortune."

Two of Cope's 32 career top-10 finishes have come in this race. He finished eighth in the 1995 500-mile version of this event and eighth in the shorter 400-mile race in 1996. Cope says drivers have a more relaxed attitude following the two intense, exhaustive weeks at Daytona.

"You go to Daytona with such anticipation," Cope said. "Depending on how you perform, it can become really pressure packed. As much as I like racing there, it's nice to get it over with and get back to racing like normal. Everybody is on edge at Daytona. Rockingham kind of marks the start of the rest of the season where everyone looks at it like we're back to business as usual."

Cope, who finished 15th in this race last year, is ranked 18th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. After only one race, that surpasses his peak in the driver standings last season.

"I'm planning to continue that trend in the Bryan Pontiac," Cope said.

Source: NASCAR Online

Be part of something big

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