Video: Derrick Cope walks away after terrifying explosion during Watkins Glen Xfinity race

Derrick Cope, best known for winning the 1990 Daytona 500 saw his day end 23 laps short of the NASCAR Xfinity series Zippo 200 Saturday at Watkins Glen International.  Cope, who had just reported possible brake issues on his No. 70 Chevrolet, slowed and bypassed the inner loop area of the road course and began to slow.

Suddenly the front of his car exploded in a cloud of black smoke. The front bumper and the hood were mangled as was the two front tires. After a tense few moments, Cope climbed from the car uninjured.

Onlookers, Cope and crewmembers were baffled as to exactly what happened.  NASCAR later said the car would be impounded and taken to NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in North Carolina.  Cope was scored 31st in the race won by Joey Logano.

“In my 35 years of racing, I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Cope said after being released from the infield care center. “It blew up in my face.”

The team later said that a broken brake caliper built up heat and when the car was coming to a stop, the heat that had built up caused the right front tire to explode.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.