NASCAR WCUP: Derrike Cope and Dave Fuge both look forward to revisiting some Daytona magic
4 February 1999
The duo will join forces starting in Daytona for a limited-schedule of Busch Series, Grand National Division races in 1999. Cope will drive the No. 61 IWX Motor Freight Pontiac lead by crew chief Fuge.
The 1990 Daytona 500 is Cope's biggest victory in his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career thus far. He spent the entire day in contention for the win and when leader Dale Earnhardt cut a tire on the final circuit Cope was in the perfect spot. The victory established the Spanaway, Wash. native as one of an elite group of drivers to win NASCAR's most prestigious event.
"I always believed the given the right equipment, I could compete with the best in NASCAR," said Cope of that Daytona win. "I had a good enough car to stay up front and take advantage of someone's misfortune. It was really unbelievable. It's such a historic race, and I feel like I'm a real part of NASCAR history because I've won the Daytona 500."
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is a race in itself. Qualifying is done eight days prior to the event, so winning the pole puts a great amount of attention on a team and driver.
In 1994, Loy Allen qualified a Tri-Star Racing car to the pole position in "The Great American Race". Crew chief, and part owner of that team, was Dave Fuge.
"I take a lot of pride in winning that pole at Daytona," said Fuge. "It is a track where everything has to be perfect. The engine has to perform, the chassis has to be tuned properly, and the car has to aerodynamically be sound. If these things all happen then a crew chief and his team have done a very good job."
While Cope and Fuge look back at past success at Daytona with pride, they realize the most important event at the historic speedway is their next race - the NAPA 300.
"I love returning to Daytona, it is such a special place for me," said Cope. "But, we have to be looking at this years races there. What my past success and what Dave's past success mean is we are capable of running well there.
"We need to work hard," he continued. "We need to take what I'm feeling in the car and transfer that information to Dave so he can make the car perform better. If we can successfully do that, we should be able to have a strong run to start our season."
"We've tested at Talladega (Ala.) and Daytona already this month," said Fuge. "We have two cars that we've been testing. We have another test scheduled for Talladega and I believe everything here is in place for us to be competitive.
"I know that Derrike can get the job done, and I have a lot of confidence in the information he is getting back to me" he continued. "We are really close to hitting the right combination of engine, chassis and aerodynamics. I think we are capable of a great run at Daytona.
"I don't know if winning a NAPA 300 will top the Daytona 500 win for Derrike, but I do know that it will become my Daytona highlight," concluded Fuge.
The NAPA 300 is the first of 32 events on the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division tour this season. NASCAR and Anheuser-Busch have announced a program to greatly enhance the Busch Series, Grand National Division in 1999. The program includes a new series logo, a complete marketing platform including Busch Series advertising and an increase in the point fund from $650,000 in 1998 to $1.5 million in 1999.
IWX Motor Freight will sponsor the team throughout the 1999 season. IWX Motor Freight is a Springfield, Mo. based trucking firm with a fleet of over 400 trucks. IWX serves 48 states and annually the trucks will log over 100 million miles. The company also has terminals in Columbus, Ind. and Kingman, Ariz.