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.