‘Don’t Have to Prove Anything’ – NASCAR Veteran Derrike Cope Keen on Enjoying the Upcoming Daytona 500 Race

Published 02/07/2021, 8:45 AM EST
Derrike Cope, driver of the #70 SWAE Watches/Trayvax.com Chevrolet, greets fans during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


The world of sports knows no age, and veteran NASCAR campaigner Derrike Cope is showing why that is the case. At 62, he will start off as the oldest competitor on the grid for the 2021 Daytona 500 event, but he shows no specific concern towards that.

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Having spent more than 30 years racing across the three divisions, there is nothing that Cope has to prove to anybody. But with all his experience accumulated over the decades, he will aim to make, what will probably be his final Cup Series race start, count.

Cope stated, “I really don’t care what other people think. If I did, I probably wouldn’t be in this position. So, honestly, it’s really about what I want.

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“Going to a place like Daytona, certainly I think is a lot more mental and understanding the air and what type of runs, what type of surges the car will get, assessing your car, making good conscious decisions, driving within yourself.”

Will just go down there and have fun and race the car, says Derrike Cope

Cope will now pilot the No.15 Chevrolet Camaro for Rick Ware Racing, which currently shares an alliance with the veteran’s co-owned venture, StarCom Racing. But more than anything, he wants to dedicate his attention to enjoying the upcoming edition of the ‘Great American Race’.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL: Derrike Cope poses with his car, Daytona 500, NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL, February 1994. (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)

“That’s the biggest thing. I think we obviously have a lot of guys that don’t do that.”

Cope continued, “I don’t have to prove anything. I don’t have to go down there and worry about anything. I will just go down there and have fun and race the car and hopefully get to 180 laps (of the 200-lap race) before I have to go to battle.”

Cope’s efforts resulted in a shock 1990 Daytona 500 victory

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Maintaining the pressure behind NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt heading into the final lap, Cope driving the No.10 for Whitcomb Racing did not expect a victory by any means. However, after Earnhardt ran over some debris which led to a tire failure, Cope assumed the lead and went to win the race.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – JULY 06: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

21 years later, he now returns to the track of his victory’s site, where he will surely cherish some golden memories. Only this time, Cope will yearn to have a good race and look to enjoy competing in the Daytona 500 to the fullest with no pressure of expectations.

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Bhargav Gopal

927 articles

Hailing from Bengaluru, Bhargav is an F1 and NASCAR author for EssentiallySports. He is a huge fan of Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. Bhargav also has an MBA in Sports Management from the Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences, Pune.

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