Derrike Cope: History Relived in Darlington

If you’re around anything long enough, history will always repeat itself. This weekend in Darlington will be no exception. When NASCAR moved the track, “Too Tough To Tame” back to Labor Day weekend, the competitor’s embraced it with open arms, like parents whose children had come home from too long of an absence.

This weekend when the NASCAR Xfinity and Sprint Cup series take to the track there will be many cars with “throwback” paint schemes. Jeremy Clements will bring back his family paint scheme, “The Black Widow.” Austin Dillon & Ryan Newman will bring back the Piedmont Airlines scheme that Ricky Rudd won the first race for RCR in.

Of all these there will be only one driver throwing back to a scheme he ran. You have to be around a long time to be able to throwback to something you ran. In the world of NASCAR, it is practically impossible to be around the tracks and series that long. Competition is so great and the competitors so fierce, you have to love to race and be willing to put in long hours, sleep in the garage with the car, turn the wrenches yourself. Not many drivers still do that.

This special throwback paint scheme ran 25 years ago. It was such an iconic paint scheme that when toys came out for the movie, “Days of Thunder” this paint scheme was included. I know this because at 11 years old, I got that toy from Hardee’s restaurant. That was back when kid’s meals still had a toy worth playing with!

On the morning of February 18, 1990 at the age of 32, Derrike Cope likely never imagined he would be able to beat some of the best drivers in NASCAR history and win the Daytona 500.

“Here comes Derrike Cope down on the inside of Dale Earnhardt!”

Ned Jarrett’s first reaction was of total surprise after talking just seconds before about everyone wanting to improve position. That brief moment in time, less than 30 seconds, completely changed everything. Dale Earnhardt had a flat left rear tire. Few recall that Cope also had picked up a piece of debris and his tire would go flat a short time later, but not until he sealed his first win. The Daytona 500.

That race lives on whenever someone watches, “Days of Thunder.” Derrike’s day was truly that, a clap of thunder. The man from Spanaway, Washington went from young driver of the number 10 Purolator sponsored Whitcomb racing Chevy Lumina, to an instant star and people the world over heard the name, Derrike Cope, thunder through their television sets.

June 3, 1990 Derrike would again see Victory Lane in the Budweiser 500 at Dover Downs, Delaware. These wins forever cemented that red front, white back, checkered center and blue numbers paint scheme in pop culture.

September 3, 2016 at 3:30pm ET Derrike Cope will once again bring back this iconic paint scheme that he ran in 1990. The VFW SportsClips Help a Hero 200 will introduce new fans to a timeless paint scheme as one of the last of the gentlemen drivers takes to the track.

One of only 2 drivers to be entered into the 1990 Southern 500 who still race full time today, Derrike is the only man who can claim to throwback to his own former paint scheme.

Monday night, while working on the #70 Camaro for Darlington, Derrike took just a few moments from race preparations to reflect on this.

“I loved the color scheme that ran for those years! To be able to bring it back and drive it one more time is truly special for me. My wife encouraged me to do it and I am looking forward to sharing this throwback to a period in time that was so instrumental in my life with her. It is remarkable how recognizable it continues to be and we cannot wait to share it with a lot of race fans that never were able to see it run. My wife and I are excited to bring it back to Darlington this weekend.

To win in this sport is a goal, to win the “Daytona 500″ starts out as a dream, for some an unreachable one. That very special day, combined with enormous passion for this racing has provided longevity for me in this sport. Being one of only two left really is difficult to believe. I have been blessed to have raced alongside some of the greatest to have ever raced in this sport and who have made it what it is today! To still be a stable fixture in the sport and continue to drive is something that pleases me each and every day of my life.

Time goes by so fast, especially in this sport! 1990 feels like yesterday, I guess because of the magnitude of that life changing moment.

The reason I am still here is because I love this…
and I probably always will…
till the end.”

A man of action, a man who bridges the gap between so many years and so many fans, will once again sport the colors made famous by the last lap pass that put him in the history books as a Daytona 500 champion.

Derrike Cope drives The Derrike Cope Racing #70 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series sponsored by; To The Point Apparel, E-Hydrate, Ice-Frost, and Sammi’s Best.

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