CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 5, 2000) NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Mike Cope was released Friday afternoon as the driver of the No. 86 Royal Crown Cola Dodge. Impact Motorsports released Cope just prior to the team's departure for the Ram Tough...
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 5, 2000) NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Mike Cope was released Friday afternoon as the driver of the No. 86 Royal Crown Cola Dodge. Impact Motorsports released Cope just prior to the team's departure for the Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis.
"It is beyond me as to why this has happened," Cope said. "This is a relatively new team with a new driver and a new crew chief and this team has simply not been given the chance to show what it is capable of achieving. I am very, very disappointed for my sponsor, Royal Crown Cola.
"They are a great sponsor for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and they deserve better. Our major associate sponsor, Florida Auto Auctions of Orlando is very displeased with the way that Impact Motorsports has chosen to do business. Given enough time to develop as a unit I know that this great group of guys would have accomplished tremendous things as a team."
Virtually all of Cope's crew quit as a result of the decision, including crew chief Bryan Berry.
"That is the only reason that all of us were there was because of Mike Cope," Berry said. "None of us would have gone to work there had it not been for Mike. We knew that there were some problems with the situation before the season started. Impact Motorsports did not hide that from us.
"We tried very hard as a team to overcome most of those problems. There are too many more important things in life than this and friendship is one of them. We all still believe in Mike Cope."
Cope replaced Stacy Compton as the driver of the Impact Motorsports entry after Compton left for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Berry replaced Kevin Cram as crew chief when Cram also left for NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition.
"Out of six races this year we have had parts failures that led to DNFs in three of them," Cope said. "I don't see how that can be the crew's fault or the driver's fault. Our guys have poured their hearts out for this team. They could not have tried any harder given the circumstances.
"We had great support from Dodge and from Joey Arrington's engine program, we just were not in a position to take advantage of their support. We were trying to race on a Roush level with substandard equipment."
Cope is a two-time Slim Jim All-Pro, NASCAR Touring champion, winning the series title in 1994 and '96. His best finish this year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was a 12th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 250. He is a native of Pinellas Park, Fla.
"I just want to thank all of the guys on this team," Cope said. "They have stood behind me all year long and I am extremely grateful for their friendship and support. I simply cannot tell you how much that means to me."