Daytona Rich Bickle Preview

BICKLE HOPES FOR DIFFERENT RESULTS AT DAYTONA June 28, 1999 Rich Bickle vividly remembers his first-ever NASCAR Winston Cup event in the 10-10-345 Pontiac. "I felt like I was on a Tilt-A-Whirl at the county fair," said Bickle, whose Daytona...

BICKLE HOPES FOR DIFFERENT RESULTS AT DAYTONA

June 28, 1999 Rich Bickle vividly remembers his first-ever NASCAR Winston Cup event in the 10-10-345 Pontiac.

"I felt like I was on a Tilt-A-Whirl at the county fair," said Bickle, whose Daytona 500 effort ended when he was caught up in a grinding, multi-car wreck on Lap 136. "We were battling for the 15th spot and before I knew it, there were cars crashing everywhere in front of me. I went to the bottom of the race track and thought I had it missed when I got hit. After that, it was just hold on tight and hope for the best. I must have spun around a dozen times. It wasn't exactly the kind of debut I was looking for in the 10-10-345 Pontiac."

The accident ended Bickles day and saddled the 38-year-old driver with a 33rd-place finish in the event. Despite the hair-raising finish, Bickle is looking forward to going back to the 2.5-mile Daytona oval this weekend for the Pepsi 400.

"A lot of guys don't like the big, superspeedway ovals," stated Bickle. "I've always enjoyed the big tracks despite the fact the driver has little to do with how you finish. Sure, you have to make the right decisions in the draft. You never know what that is going to be like because its nothing more than a big guessing game. One time, a guy will go with you in the draft, another time hell hang you out of the draft and a dozen guys freight-train by you. The key is to guess right most of the time and miss the big wreck. In the 500, we got it half right. We just didn't miss the big wreck."

Since the advent of the restictor-plate racing in the late 1980s, almost every speedway race has been punctuated by a big, multi-car wreck. According to Bickle, accidents are part of racing, especially on the superspeedways.

"It's pretty much inevitable that there's going to some crashing in every race, but there always seems to be at least one big multi-car wreck in the restrictor-place races," said Bickle. 'In the regular races, you get spread out a bit, so you have two- and three-car wrecks. In the restrictor-plate races, the whole idea is to pack up in a draft to run faster. If somebody makes a mistake, there can be as many as 20 cars involved. Theres just no place to go. You're toast."

Bickle is hoping not to get burned by the Daytona restrictor-plate demons two races in a row.

"Aerodynamics are the key in restrictor-place racing," said Bickle. "If you have a slick race car and a good plate motor that makes plenty of horsepower, youre in good shape. The car were taking to Daytona is the same one we raced to a 14th-place finish at Talladega. We've since taken it to the wind tunnel for some fine tuning. That, along with the great motors Claude Queen has been giving us, could put us in the hunt for a Top-10 finish this weekend."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rich Bickle