A race car driven by Derrike Cope, 57, spontaneously explodes in the middle of Zippo 200 XFINITY Series race at Watkins Glen International. Cope is best known for winning the 1990 Daytona 500, pulling off what many fans believe to be one of the greatest upsets in NASCAR history.
Cope was driving the No.70 car that burst into flames with 23 laps to go. Seconds before the frightening explosion, the car appeared to encounter mechanical trouble so it slowed to a stop. Suddenly, the entire front of the racecar went up in flames; plumes of black smoke billowed in the air. Watch the video here:
Luckily, no one was hurt from the incident.
Initially, neither NASCAR nor Cope knew what caused the explosion but the former decided to impound what's left of the vehicle for investigation.
But upon further review, Cope's race team was able to determine what happened and shared the details on Twitter.
According to NASCAR Vice President of Officiating and Technical Inspection Elton Sawyer, the result of the inspection, noting that the explosion was a result of tire failure due to excessive brake heat.
There is an increased risk of tire failure if a vehicle is driven at full speed. As Cope slowed down and pulled off on the track, the airflow within the brake was reduced, creating a dramatic blast. The tire was literally roasted due to high heat, causing a dramatic explosion.
After the inspection, the mangled remains of the car was returned to Cope's team. Cope finished 31st.
In a statement, Cope said in his 35 years of racing, this was the first time that such accident occurred.
"We were just trying to survive and get through this thing so next week we could kind of work on this thing," he said. Cope said he lost the brake pedal as he approaches Turn 1 and immediately knew something was wrong with the piston so came to a stop.