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Derrike Cope

3rd November 1958 (Age 62)
San Diego, California
Most recent race (in database):

"You always dream but that was a little far fetched" was the immediate post-race thoughts of 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope. His victory that day was one of the most surprising results in modern stock car racing history.

Cope’s early experiences were at the local Yakima Speedway before racing in the Late Model Sportsman and the Winston West Championships. An accomplished baseball player in High School, any thoughts of turning professional in that sport was ended by an injured cruciate ligament.

NASCAR debut

Instead he followed his brother and father (an engine builder) into stock car racing. Cope made his Winston Cup at Riverside in 1982 but his was a stuttering start to his career until he joined Bob Whitcomb’s team in 1989. Immediately more competitive, he enjoyed his day of days at the start of the following season.

Surprise Daytona 500 success

Dale Earnhardt entered the final lap of the 1990 Daytona 500 half a lap ahead of Cope’s Chevrolet Lumina but his tyre had been damaged by debris and it blew with two corners to go. Cope withstood Terry Labonte’s late charge to claim his unlikely victory.

Cope won again at Dover that year and finished 18th in the overall standings. But it was an isolated successful season during a career on the fringes, especially after Whitcomb closed his team two years later. Second in the 1995 Dura-Lube 500 at Phoenix in Bobby Allison’s Ford was Cope’s next best result as he finished a career-high 15th in the NASCAR Winston Cup.

Cope hopped from ride-to-ride thereafter and ran a team in the second-tier stock-car series from 2001. That closed in 2017 and, after six years away, Cope returned to the Cup series as a driver with Premium Motorsports. Team and driver parted company in September and Cope started three Cup races in 2018 for StarCom Racing.

Despite this longevity, nothing has come close to matching Cope's 1990 achievements to date.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup 43rd 8
2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup 37th 42
2009 Sprint Cup 66th 37
2006 Nextel Cup 52nd 317
2005 Nextel Cup 81st 64
2004 Nextel Cup 40th 1058
2003 Winston Cup 46th 822
2002 Winston Cup 53rd 361
2001 Winston Cup 60th 91
2000 Winston Cup 57th 198
1999 Winston Cup 44th 915
1998 Winston Cup 37th 2065
1997 Winston Cup 27th 2901
1996 Winston Cup 35th 2374
1995 Winston Cup 15th 3384
1994 Winston Cup 30th 2612
1993 Winston Cup 26th 2787
1992 Winston Cup 21st 3033
1991 Winston Cup 28th 2516
1990 Winston Cup
Whitcomb Racing
2 0 2 2 18th 3140
1989 Winston Cup 28th 2180
1988 Winston Cup 31st 1985
1987 Winston Cup 39th 797
1986 Winston Cup 50th 400
1985 Winston Cup Grand National 59th 224
1984 Winston Cup Grand National 51st 303
1982 Winston Cup Grand National 117th 55