For the first time in team history, StarCom Racing will field two cars in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. The team will run both the #00 and the #99 for Landon Cassill and Derrike Cope in Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway, with the latter entering his first race of the 2018 season.
“Back in the seat with StarCom Racing this week in the 99, with teammate Landon Cassill in the 00!” Cope posted on Facebook. “Excited to continue the growth of the team week in and week out.”
The 59-year-old Cope joined the newly-formed organization late in the 2017 season after running thirteen races that year for Premium Motorsports. StarCom Fiber, which sponsored Cope for two races during his tenure with Premium, formed StarCom Racing in October and hired Cope to drive their #00 car. In his StarCom debut at Kansas Speedway‘s Hollywood Casino 400, the team finished fortieth after retiring for handling problems. He later ran the Phoenix (now ISM Raceway) race, finishing thirty-second.
At the start of the 2018 season, StarCom hired Jeffrey Earnhardt to drive the #00, while Cope became the team’s manager. However, he and the team parted ways after the first five races, and Cassill was brought in to take his place. The former Front Row Motorsports driver scored the team’s best run with a twentieth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. Joey Gase, bringing sponsorship from Sparks Energy, took over the #00 at last Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, where he finished twenty-seventh. After ten races, the #00 is thirty-fourth in the Owner’s Championship.
Cope is no stranger to success at Dover. In 1990, months after scoring an upset victory in the Daytona 500, he won his second race of the year at what was then Dover Downs. He ended the season a then-career-best-eighteenth in points. In twenty-five career races at the Monster Mile, he has four top tens, while his most recent Cup start at the track was a forty-third-place finish in 2006. Cassill’s best finish at Dover is nineteenth in the 2016 spring race.
Despite the #99 not possessing a charter, Cope is guaranteed a spot in the field as only thirty-eight cars are entered for Sunday’s race.