Friday, January 1, 2010

Derrike Cope

Derrike Cope grew up in Spanaway, Washington; he currently drives the self-owned #73 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He owns a part-time entry in the Camping World Truck Series and also co-owns Cope/Keller Racing which fields the #75 BluFrog Energy Drink Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series.

When Cope was growing up racing was just a hobby he enjoyed, while he was a very good catcher on the Bethel High School baseball team; he attended Whitman College to continue his baseball dreams. Cope was such a good baseball player that he was being recruited by major-league teams such as the Chicago Cubs and the Baltimore Orioles, but the dream of being in the big league was crushed when he suffered a knee injury in 1978. Forced out of baseball Cope dedicated himself to racing full time.

Cope soon progressed through the short-track ranks in the Northwest, and later made his Winston (Sprint) Cup debut at Riverside International Raceway in 1982. Cope's #95 car finished 36th because he had an oil leak, he won $625. After that race he ran a part time schedule for the rest of the season.

He attempted the Rookie of the Year battle in 1988 with owners Jim Testa and Dave Fuge until he gave up on that goal due to bad finishes mid-season.

In 1989, he signed with Bob Whitcomb to drive the #10 Purolator Pontiac which mid-season changed to Chevrolet, posting four top-10 finishes.

In 1990, Dale Earnhardt Sr. was well on his way to winning his first Daytona 500 when on the third turn his tire blew due to debris and Derrike passed him and won his very first race, becoming only the fourth driver to get their first Winston (Sprint) cup race in the Daytona 500. At Dover later on in the season he won again. He ended up winning twice and finishing 18th in the points in 1990.

At the end of the 1992 season Bob Whitcomb shut down his team forcing Derrike to move on. In the 1993 season he drove for Cale Yarborough in the previously #66, #98 Bojangles Ford.

During the 1994 season Jeremy Mayfield took Cope’s ride forcing Derrike to move on to another team in just short notice, T.W. Taylor let him drive one of his car until Bobby Allison offered him the #12 car he owned and of course he accepted. In this year he won his first and only career Busch (Nationwide) series race while he was driving the #82, Ford Thunderbird for Ron Zock at Loudon, New Hampshire.

In 1995 he had eight top 10 finishes, and finished 15th in points, his best year so far. He was also featured in a commercial for a NASCAR credit card with drivers such as the greats Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Rusty Wallace.

Allison’s team shut down prior to the 1997 season, and Cope signed on to MB2 Motorsports; he drove the #36 Skittles Pontiac during the 1997 season to a 27th place finish in the points.

In 1998 he drove for Bahari racing #30 Gumout car, after getting replaced by Ken Schrader in the #36. He missed a few races due to injury, but still won the pole position at Lowes Motor Speedway.

Bahari got Cope back in 1999, except this year with Sara Lee as his sponsor. Cope failed to qualify for ten races which led to him being released from his contract. He made a couple random starts for a couple car owners until he signed on with Fenley-Moore Motorsports to drive the #15 Ford Taurus. He didn’t like that Fenley-Moore Motorsports only let him run a limited schedule so he quit after a few races and spent the rest of the year watching from the pits. At the end of the season he joined Impact Motorsports to drive the #86 R.C. Cola Dodge in the Craftsman (Camping World) truck series.

In 2001 Cope and drag racer Warren Johnson announced the formation of their new team, Quest Motor Racing. The team didn’t start a race all year, and Derrike’s first and only start of the year was with CLR racing. Also in that year he started four races in the #94 owned by Fred Bickford in the Busch (Nationwide) series. He also became an editor on FOX Sports Net when he wasn’t racing.

Derrike finally got his team qualified for 18 races in 2003 driving the #37 Friendly’s Ice Cream Chevy. He then merged his team with Arnold Motorsports.

After several starts with his newly merged team in 2004, he was released and he took back his equipment, he then signed a contract to drive the #49 Advil Ford for Jay Robinson in the Busch (Nationwide) series for the 30 remaining races.

In 2005 Cope was going to merge his team again with Larry Hollenbeck, but since he didn’t qualify for the Daytona 500 that chance was broken. He attempted a couple more races but failed. His only start in the NEXTEL (Sprint) cup series was at Martinsville driving the McGlynn Racing #08.

McGlynn ask Cope to drive for them full time in the #74 car in 2006, he agreed and signed the necessary contract; that ride was later cut down to a part-time ride.

He signed to drive for Means Racing in 2008 in the Nationwide Series. Mid-season he quit Means Racing and went to drive for James Finch and Jay Robinson, but later on he started driving his own team in the Nationwide and Craftsman (Camping World) truck series. He also began fielding his cars in the nationwide and truck series.

In the 2009 season Cope announced he would field cars in all three series with BluFrog Energy Drink coming aboard, and he would be a part of that in the top two series, Nationwide, and Sprint cup.

In 2010 Cope will team up with Dale Clemons as the co-owners of the new racing team Stratus Racing. The team plans to race all the races in the Nationwide and truck series with Derrike as the driver, and a limited schedule in the ARCA Remax series for his nieces Amber and Angela Cope, and will also run a part time schedule in the Sprint Cup series. Sponsorship is said to have already been wrapped up but will not be announced until later on.

When Derrike is not racing, he presents motivational talks to school age children on such subjects as the importance of staying in school and never taking drugs. He is also actively involved in the March-of-Dimes, the DARE program, and supporting various charities. Being a positive role model and setting a good example is very important to Derrike. Derrike also enjoys golfing in charity tournaments and racing remote control hydroplane boats during the summer. In the winter, he hunts duck and pheasant with his father.

Derrike also runs C2P Suspension. C2P is a company that sells shocks for motorcycles, dirt cars, ATV’s, midget cars, modified cars, sprint cars, snowmobile, and many more vehicles; they are also made for stock cars, but are not approved for the top three series of NASCAR, they are approved for most of the local tracks though.