After personally securing his own sponsor, Purolator Filters, for the 1990 Daytona 500, Cope was a force to be reckoned with on the track, with his checkered No. 10 car was running up front all day. Although Cope led laps throughout the race, Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the man to beat and certainly the favorite. At the end of the race with Earnhardt and Cope running first and second it looked like Earnhardt might finally win the most sought after race – one that had eluded him throughout his career.
On the final lap, Earnhardt’s famous No. 03 car faltered. Cope quickly chose the bottom line and passed the celebrated driver, crossing the finish line in first place, causing one of the biggest NASCAR upsets in history. Dale Sr. was overheard a few weeks later saying to Derrike, “Hey, you were there all day. It’s not the Daytona 499.”
As a youngster, Dale Earnhardt Jr would often hang out at Cope’s hauler with the Purolator/Whitcom team – and later the pair would become competitors on the track, cementing the Earnhardt/Cope connection for life. In a tragic twist, Cope would be a TV host for Fox Sports Net on the sad day that Earnhardt Jr. lost his father and NASCAR lost its most iconic figure, Dale Earnhardt Sr.
COPE AND EARNHARDT CONNECTION TODAY
In 2018, Jeffrey Earnhardt, the grandson of Dale Sr. and nephew of Dale Jr. will make his debut with StarCom Racing at the Daytona 500 – the same race in which Cope first made an imprint on the Earnhardt family and the tragic course on which his grandfather perished. Continuing the Earnhardt/Cope connection, Derrike Cope manages the StarCom team and will be guiding Jeffrey during his debut.
Spanning three generations of Earnhardt’s, the story continues with Jeffrey, who like Cope and his grandfather is a humble but incredibly talented young driver. He is about to burst onto the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup scene in the No. 00 car. Will history reverse itself? Will Earnhardt reclaim victory on the final lap? At this race, anything can happen.