BICKLE ROLLS TO FIFTH-PLACE FINISH IN MANSFIELD TRUCK SERIES CLASH MANSFIELD, OH (May 16, 2005) -- Rich Bickle showed that there was still plenty of fuel in the veteran racer's tank as he drove to a solid fifth-place finish in the UAW GM 250 ...
BICKLE ROLLS TO FIFTH-PLACE FINISH IN MANSFIELD TRUCK SERIES CLASH
MANSFIELD, OH (May 16, 2005) -- Rich Bickle showed that there was still plenty of fuel in the veteran racer's tank as he drove to a solid fifth-place finish in the UAW GM 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Sunday at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway Sunday.
"I guess this just proves you can be older than 18 and still drive a race car," said Bickle, who turned 44 on Friday. "A lot of sponsors and team owners seem like they don't even want to consider having a veteran driver like me anymore. Everything is all about the youth movement and the 'young guns.'
"Fortunately, the Truck Series is still a great place where a veteran driver can get a ride. I just took a look at the point standings and the first eight guys are just about 40 or older than 40. The Truck Series has teamslike Greenlight Racing and partners like the VFW Hidden Heroes Fund that are willing to put veteran guys like me, Bobby Hamilton, Ted Musgrave and Jimmy Spencer in the seat. Today, that experience paid off."
Bickle qualified his No. 08 Chevrolet Silverado 22nd in the 36-truck field after an all-day rainSaturday and immediately set said for the front at the drop of the green flag Sunday.
A winner of more than 250 short track stock car races in his career, Bickle worked his way into the Top-15 on the Mansfield half-mile paved oval before pitting under caution on Lap 90. There, the front air gun broke forcing Bickle to return to the pits a second time for left-side tires.
On the restart, Bickle was now back in 23rd position, the last truck on the lead lap.
"You hate when something like that happens, but there's nothing you can do about it," said Bickle about the pit road incident. "You just have to make the best of it."
Over the final 160 laps, Bickle made themost of his opportunities weaving his way through traffic and missing all of the 13 incidents that slowed the race for 86 caution-flag laps.
The final caution period of the day set up a green-white-checkered flag finish where Bickle was unable to pass Todd Kluever for fourth but managed to hold off a hard-charging Rick Crawford for fifth. Hamilton won the race with last year's winner Jack Sprague and Shane Hmiel completing the Top-3 finishers.
"We were just a tick tight at the end of the race and the truck wouldn't roll through the center of the corner in the high groove the way I wanted it to," said Bickle. "I really think that ifwe could have done that,we might have been able to win the race."
The solid effort was the 22nd time in 76 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career starts that Bickle has finished in the Top-5 (29 percent).
"It was really satisfying to come here with no provisionals or points guaranteeing us into the show and finish as well as we did," said Bickle, who had competed in just one other Truck Series event since the division's season finale at Homestead, FL in 2003. "Gary and Rusty Roulo and the rest of the Greenlight Racing Team worked their guts out under some pretty lousy, rainy conditions Friday to make this happen. They did an awesome job. Hopefully, we can be as competitive at Charlotte again next week."
Bickle and the No. 08 VFW Hidden Heroes Fund Chevrolet will take the green flag in the next event on the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tour -- the Quaker Steak and Lube 250 -- on Friday, May 20 at 8:45 p.m.
The event will be telecast live on Speed Channel and broadcast worldwide on MRN Radio.
ABOUT THE VFW HIDDEN HEROES FUND --
The VFW Hidden Heroes and Wounded Warriors Fund is a program that will directly benefit the families of American service people. Donations collected through the VFW Departments' Hidden Heroes and Wounded Warriors Fund will be used to provide VFW departmental development programs, emergency grants, rental/grocery/medical expenses, support for widows and orphans of American soldiers/veterans, aid and comfort items for wounded and injured soldiers and veterans in military and veteran's hospitals. Contribution levels to the VFW Hidden Heroes and Wounded Warriors Fund begin at as little as $5, are tax deductible. Donations to the fund can be made with a Visa, Master, American Express or Discover Card at www.vfwhiddenheroes.com.