Mike Cope Racing’s Championship Chase Begins at VIR

October 6, 2022

Mike Cope Racing’s Championship Chase Begins at VIR


Only sixteen points separate the top three in the TA2 championship race

Clearwater, FL (October 5, 2022)— It has been a year of high highs and low lows for Thomas Merrill and the #26 Bridgehaul LLC/HP Tuners/ Cope Race Car. The 2022 Trans Am TA2 season for Thomas Merrill and Mike Cope Racing has aligned with the popular Ricky Bobby quote, “if you’re not first… you’re last.” With 10 races completed of the 12-race schedule, Merrill has found himself on the podium 7 times with 2 back-to-back wins; however, unfortunate breaks at Charlotte, Laguna Seca and Nashville has Merrill chasing the championship only 12 points shy of points leader, Rafa Matos, as we enter round 11 at Virginia International Raceway, this weekend.

“We led a lot of laps, scored some good points [and came out of Watkins Glen with a P2 finish,” explained Merrill. “[Now it’s time to] keep pushing to get back into the lead in the championship.”

Joining Merrill under the Mike Cope Racing tent are series veterans and rookies alike.

Keith Prociuk in the #9 HP Tuners Ford Mustang is the longest Mike Cope Racing banner driver. His progression through the years has been phenomenal and he continues to pick up speed every race. We look forward to seeing Prociuk and his #9 break into the top 10 this weekend at VIR.

Jim Gallaugher, the 2020 TA2 Westcoast Champion, has seen his share of bad luck in 2022. It is time to get this monkey off his back and show VIR what the #16 Waypoint Ford Mustang is capable of. Gallaugher’s improvements as a driver in the National tour have been steadily consistent and the goal is keeping the nose clean this weekend to score a solid finish in round 11.

The Mike Cope Racing rookie contenders Ty Young and Darin Mock are eager to take on VIR.

Ty Young in the #22 Ty J. Young Investments Ford Mustang is always ready to tackle the next obstacle in front of him. His background as a professional athlete gives Young the fire to learn and improve every race weekend. Young is an adaptive individual and with the guidance of driver coach, Thomas Merrill, he gets better and better every time he straps in. Our goal for VIR… consistency.

Darin Mock is the youngest driver under the Cope umbrella. With VIR being a remarkably familiar track to Mock, he hopes that his logged miles will pay off as he heads into the second to last race of the 2022 TA2 season. Family and friend support is a necessity to most young drivers and that is something Mock does not lack.

“Quite a few of my friends and family are making their way to VIR to see the race,” said Mock. “[It is] always a good feeling knowing you [have] so much support during a race weekend. It helps quite a bit, actually. [I have] learned a lot this year and am looking forward to closing out the season on some good notes with strong runs.”

A top 10 is absolutely on the horizon for Darin Mock and the entire Mike Cope Racing team is eager to help get him there.

Last, but certainly not least, Jeffrey Birdwell joins the Mike Cope Racing team for the final two races on schedule. Birdwell purchased a Cope Race Car last season and has been running sporadically on a solo team basis. Last month, Birdwell delivered his #38 Hartman Davidson Ford Mustang to the Cope Racing facility for preparations and made the commitment to join the team for the remainder of the season. We are excited to have Jeffrey onboard and look forward to getting him up to speed at VIR.

None of this would be possible without the dedication of the entire Mike Cope Racing team. Travis Cope and Jason Bowser are both back trackside. Jason gave us a health scare at the end of the 2021 season, but thanks to the good Lord he is back to health and back to his happy place, the racetrack. Rebecca Catarelli, MCRs only female crew member, continues to shine as the crew chief of the #16. Hunter Fox is a valuable new addition to the team. Coming straight out of college, this young man is ready to grow, and we are ready to grow with him. Truck drivers, Gary Salvatore and Mark Keller, can’t be thanked enough. These guys put in the long hours to get these cars to the track— their worth is valuable and appreciated.

Then we have the “road warriors.” These gentlemen travel to our events as weekend help and give it their all. Former NASCAR crew member, Jeremy Bowser, brings his truck series experience to the Mike Cope Racing team. The brother of Jason, Jeremy has been associated with the Mike Cope Racing family since inception.

NASCAR veteran, Butch Miller, brings his knowledge to the MCR team. Miller collaborates with team owner, Mike Cope. Miller’s role as of late has been focused on the improvement of driver Ty Young. His calming voice is an asset to the radio communication factor for Young and the team.

A special addition this weekend is a TA2 competitor himself. Luke Rumburg joins MCR as a crew member floater, helping all drivers where necessary. Luke was set to compete at VIR in his very own Cope Race Car; however, preparation was not complete in time for the event.

Cope Chassis makes up 38% of the field for this weekend’s Trans Am presented by Pirelli TA2 event at Virginia International Raceway. This is round 11 of 12 for the TA2 series. Practice and Qualifying is on the books for Friday, October 7th with the main event on Saturday, October 8th at 11:40am EST. Watch LIVE as Speedtour.TV streams on YouTube. Subscribe to www.youtube.com/thetransamseries or www.youtube.com/speedtourtv to cheer on the Mike Cope Racing team and ALL of the Cope Race Car drivers in the field!

#MikeCopeRacing #CopeRaceCars #CopeChassis #GoTransAm #TA2 #VIRNow #Speedtour

About Mike Cope Racing Enterprises, Inc: 

Perhaps no other team has worked so diligently to achieve success over the course of 30 years as MCRE. Over the years, they have successfully launched corporate sponsorships in national series, developed short track and SCCA Road race champions and mentored young upcoming drivers. Lead by Mike Cope, he brings the same enthusiasm, dedication and knowledge to his race team that made him victorious in his own racing career. MCRE offers a variety of services for drivers interested in the Trans Am Series’ TA2 program, including custom builds, arrive and drive programs, maintenance programs, consulting, driver mentoring, set-up, and shock dyno.  Mike Cope Racing Enterprises is based in Clearwater, Florida.  Learn more at www.mikecoperacecars.com

Mike Cope Racing Enterprises partners include:   Keyser Manufacturing, FiveStar Race Car Bodies, Wilwood Brakes, ProMotor Engines, Bassett Wheels, Penske Racing Shocks, Patterson Drysump and Tilton.

Parties interested in the upcoming 2023 MCRE “Arrive and Drive” Program in TA2, or would like to purchase a Cope Race Cars Chassis can contact the team office at 727-201-8910 or email megan@mikecoperacecars.com


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