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At 62, Derrike Cope brushes off concerns ahead of Daytona 500 return

At 62, Derrike Cope isn't afraid of taking on young chargers.
At 62, Derrike Cope isn't afraid of taking on young chargers.
ANALYST

NASCAR veteran Derrike Cope is set to turn a few heads at the Daytona 500 come Feb. 14. Cope will get behind the wheel of the No. 15 Camaro for Rick Ware Racing (RWR) to give a strong field of 40 cars a run for their money.

The 62-year-old will become only the second-oldest driver in history to attempt the Daytona 500 after Mark Thompson (aged 67 during the 2018 edition).

Quite nonchalantly, in conversation with Bob Pockrass, Derrike Cope brushed off criticism and stressed the need for adopting a measured approach while being mentally strong.

This year's Daytona 500 will mark Derrike Cope's first race at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) since 2004. However, with 25 starts so far in the Great American Race, it is safe to say that the NASCAR veteran knows a thing or two about racing at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Derrike Cope's famous victory at the event in 1990 automatically springs to mind, when he persisted against Terry Labonte to secure his only Harley J. Earl trophy.

The only other instance where Derrike Cope collected the checkered flag in all of his 427 Cup Series races combined, was at the Dover International Speedway that same year.

However, it has to be borne in mind that the Derrike Cope has not been in a Cup car for a good two years now. His last race in the series was back in Sept. 2018 at Darlington Raceway in the Bojangles' Southern 500 where he finished 33rd.

Derrike Cope is the General Manager of StarCom Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Also Read: Kyle Larson's Hendrick Motorsports team adds two primary sponsors for 2021 NASCAR season

NASCAR veteran Derrike Cope claims "I'm not your average 62-year-old"

While Derrike Cope sees his age as no big deal, it's hard to ignore the fact that he is a good 17 years older than Kevin Harvick. And Harvick, at 45, is the oldest active full-time Cup driver at the moment.

And if that was not startling enough, Derrike Cope is also good 40 years older than the current Cup champion Chase Elliott.

Also Read: NASCAR: Everything we know about Pitbull serving as Grand Marshal for Daytona 500

If ever there was anyone who lived by the old adage that age is just a number, it is NASCAR veteran driver Derrike Cope. Brushing off any concerns, Cope said:

"I'm not your average 62-year-old. I think I'm pretty young at heart. I'm in pretty good shape. Obviously, I've lost about 20 pounds over the winter working out, so I feel good about going to Daytona. I think Daytona really is a thinking-man's race."

NASCAR's season opener is not a race that will fluster Derrike Cope too much, for, he has been vocal about not having to go to Daytona to prove anything to anyone more. Instead, he will just be going out there to enjoy doing what he does best, and like he did 31 years ago, perhaps even do it better than everyone else once more.

Also Read: Should Brad Keselowski prepare any differently for this year's Daytona 500?


Edited by Sandeep Banerjee

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