Pocono Rich Bickle Preview

BICKLE TACKLES POCONO TRIANGLE June 15, 1999 -- "I've probably raced at Pocono a half dozen times and I still havent quite figured out how many turns that place has." If Rich Bickle sounds a little confused about the next track on ...

BICKLE TACKLES POCONO TRIANGLE

June 15, 1999 -- "I've probably raced at Pocono a half dozen times and I still havent quite figured out how many turns that place has." If Rich Bickle sounds a little confused about the next track on the NASCAR Winston Cup schedule Pocono International Raceway its because he and a host of other drivers have had trouble mastering the 2.5-mile layout since stock cars started coming to the track in 1974. "Okay, so I do know there are three turns at Pocono," chided Bickle. "Its not your normal racetrack by any stretch of the imagination. Its the only oval track we race on where you shift the car like you do on a road course. Pocono has long straights and corners that range from wide and sweeping to tight and narrow. Its a real challenge to race there." The unique Pocono track features the longest straightaway in NASCAR racing a mammoth 3,740-foot stretch of asphalt wide enough for six cars to race side-by-side. The track narrows down quickly to a 14 degree banked turn that leads to the Long Pond Straight, a 3,055-foot run to the most dangerous part of the race course, the Tunnel Turn. "While you can race six-wide on the main straight, you can only race single file through the Tunnel Turn," stated Bickle of the corner named for the infield access tunnel located under it. "That turn might be the most difficult on any track we race on because you carry a whole bunch of speed down the Long Pond Straight. You have to get in line pretty quick because if you get caught on the outside there, youre most likely going to end up in the wall." The North Straight, a 1,780-foot run, and Turn 3 make up the rest of the Pocono oval. "You really have to get a good run down the North Straight because that sets you up for the long front straight," said Bickle. "A lot of the speed you carry there is started in the North Straight and Turn 3. If you dont get a good run heading into Turn 3, youre going to get passed coming down for the start/finish line every time." Last year, Bickle competed in two Winston Cup events at Pocono posting 32nd and 28th place finishes. This year, he hopes to do much better in the 10-10-345 Pontiac. "This team has a chance to be much better than the one I was with last year," said Bickle. "Were still basically a first-year team and weve been running some older equipment. Were taking a new car to Pocono and all indications are its going to be the best car weve had all season. Its very trick and the guys at the shop have worked very hard to raise our competitive level. The week after Pocono, were headed to the wind tunnel for aerodynamic tests and Im very excited about that. I know were going to make some big strides in the next couple of weeks."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rich Bickle