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 saw Cope standing there, and he waited for me to walk over to him. We talked, 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.

I sat there in suspense, hoping he'd win and make me look good. He did kick their butts, of course. 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, but it was a big one. In 1998, I was writing an advance for the Daytona 500 for a startup web site. 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, of course, it was.

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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