Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Good timing for Derrike Cope

In 1990, Derrike Cope surprised the racing world by winning the Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt had busted a tire while leading on the last lap, and everyone thought it was a fluke.

And that burned Derrike.

At Charlotte that spring, I talked to Cope, and he said that, one of these days, we're going to kick their butts and show them it wasn't a fluke. Not in those words, but that was the idea.

I didn't run the column on Derrike that week. I had plenty of stuff that weekend, so I saved it for the next week — Dover.

I watched the Dover race with mounting excitement. Cope was leading late in the race, and I was rooting for him. Obviously, it would look good to have him win right after saying he was going to kick their butts.

He did kick their butts. When I returned to work that week, I ran into my boss on the street. He smiled and simply said, "Good timing."

I only did that one more time. In 1998, I was writing an advance for the Daytona 500. I interviewed a few people, then wrote that it was Earnhardt's year to win the Great American Race. He did, of course. No one smiled and told me I had great timing.

But I knew that, in this case, I did.

More blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal:
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

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