Cope picks up Icehouse truck ride By Dave Rodman MONROE, Wash. (May 7, 1998) Gloy-Rahal Racing crew chief Ernie Cope, a West Coast stock car driving veteran, will "jump across the pit wall" and pilot the team's No. 55...
Cope picks up Icehouse truck ride By Dave Rodman MONROE, Wash. (May 7, 1998) Gloy-Rahal Racing crew chief Ernie Cope, a West Coast stock car driving veteran, will "jump across the pit wall" and pilot the team's No. 55 Icehouse Ford truck in Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series NAPACARD 200 at Evergreen Speedway.
Cope, 29, finds himself in the seat of the truck for what may only be a one-race deal after the team owners released driver Dave Rezendes after four races in the 1998 season. Rezendes was 19th in the point standings.
The cousin of NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Derrike Cope, he had worked at length to fashion a driving career in the Northwest. He has 81 starts in the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, a NASCAR Touring Division, with a single Bud Pole, 24 top-fives and 40 top-10s. Later, Cope finished as runner-up to Doug George in the 1995 NASCAR Winston West Series, in which he won twice.
Cope made five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts in 1996, with a best finish of 19th at Portland Speedway, in a truck he owned with his wife. He relocated to Charlotte, N.C., that season from the Northwest, but could not assemble the finances to race, so he went to work as a mechanic for Geoff Bodine Racing's truck team, which included drivers Rezendes and Tammy Jo Kirk.
At the beginning of 1997, Cope served as crew chief for Kirk's program, but when its sponsor left the team, and the program disbanded, he was looking for work again. He hooked up with team owner Tom Gloy for one race at Watkins Glen International, with road racer Dorsey Schroeder at the wheel. Although the truck blew up, Schroeder qualified second and Gloy was impressed enough to hire Cope as his crew chief later in the year when, ironically, he named Rezendes -- a three-time series winner -- as his driver.
Cope finished 28th in the 1996 NAPACARD 200 at Evergreen.
He apparently landed in the No. 55 when a limited "driver screening" at Concord (N.C.) Motorsport Park and Charlotte Motor Speedway did not reveal a scintillating candidate for the ride.
Due to its Miller Brewing backing, the team was committed to appearing at Evergreen so Cope, with his experience there, was happily drafted. Source: NASCAR Online