Rich Bickle Pocono Race Notes

POCONO, PA (July 25, 1999) Sometimes, it is better to be lucky than good. In the Pennsylvania 500, Rich Bickle and the 10-10-345 Pontiac proved to be both. Bickle and his Tyler Jet Motorsports team took care of performance part, bringing a...

POCONO, PA (July 25, 1999) Sometimes, it is better to be lucky than good. In the Pennsylvania 500, Rich Bickle and the 10-10-345 Pontiac proved to be both. Bickle and his Tyler Jet Motorsports team took care of performance part, bringing a fast car to the second NASCAR Winston Cup Series race of the year at Pocono Raceway. Combined with some solid strategy and a dash of luck, the recipe produced a seventh-place finish in the event, a season-best for the 10-10-345 team. "I think this just goes to show you how good this team can be" stated an elated Bickle after the race. "We've been getting better and better each week, showing this garage area what we can do. Today, we showed everyone else how good we are. We had a finish worthy of the effort everyone has been putting in. We still have some things to work on, but you feel that way no matter where you finish. This was a great run for us. Everyone definitely knew we were here today." Bickle guided his 10-10-345 mount to a 13th-place effort in qualifying before spending the first half of the 500-mile event on the Pocono oval battling a tight handling condition. "The car just didnt want to turn in the early portion of the race," said Bickle. "Fortunately, there were a number of yellow flags allowing us to come in to make some adjustments." Still running in the Top-15, Bickle again headed to pit road for a routine stop for tires and fuel on Lap 143. Back under green, Bickle noticed a severe vibration from the rear of his Pontiac. Again, good fortune smiled on the Edgerton, WI. driver as the yellow flag flew allowing Bickle to pit under caution. "That caution saved us," said Bickle. "If we would have had to pit under green, we would have lost any chance of a good finish. We were very lucky to get that yellow flag when we did." A quick visit to pit road revealed the left rear tire on Bickle's 10-10-345 Pontiac had vibrated loose and damaged the drive plate in the car's rear end. While the team relayed a new drive plate from the team transporter, Bickle went back on the track and idled around another lap keeping pace with the leaders. With the field still under caution, he again headed for pit road where crew chief James Ince led the charge on the repairs. Keeping Bickle on the lead lap, Ince made one last call bringing the car back into the pit one final time to top off with fuel. The move came one circuit before several of the lead cars also topped off. When the dust finally settled, Bickle was in eighth spot with just over 40 laps remaining. "That was incredible," said Bickle. "It was like ballet watching the guys fix the car. James has raced at Pocono a bunch of times, so this wasnt his first rodeo. He was able to diagnose the problem right away and the guys did a terrific job in getting it fixed. To have all that happen and still be eighth on the lead lap was really something." Another caution a few laps later had the rest of the leaders heading to the pits for fuel. That cycled Bickle up to the second position, where he stayed for next 10 laps. Eventual race winner Bobby Labonte dropped Bickle to third on lap 175. Nursing the fuel to the finish, Bickle stayed in contention over the final 20 circuits taking the checkered flag seventh, the best finish of the season for the 10-10-345 bunch. "We got a little tight again at the end of the race," said Bickle, who earned $45,815 for the effort. "We knew it was going to be close on gas, but James had that deal figured to perfection. Things here are just getting better and better. We moved up another two spots in the points to 27th, just 80 out of 25th. Thats pretty spectacular considering we were 40th just 10 races ago. Man, Im pumped. What a great day for Tyler Jet Motorsports and our sponsor, 10-10-345." The solid Pocono effort came on the heels of a stellar test session for the upcoming Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway August 7. Bickle posted the third fastest speed in General Motors brand testing last week and the fifth fastest speed overall in preparation for the race. That, combined with Sundays finish, has Bickle looking forward to the Indy event. "I don't want to sound boastful, but I think we can win at Indy," Bickle stated. "Why not? We have a good car. We proved that in the test. Our team has been proving itself every week lately. James has been a huge addition to Tyler Jet Motorsports and he knows what it takes to run up front at Indy. At this point, I dont think too many people would be surprised to see us run with the lead pack and contend for the win. We've certainly proven were capable of that." The Brickyard 400 will open with practice and qualifying on Thursday, August 5. ESPN will telecast qualifying live from 2:30-4 p.m. that day. The sixth annual Brickyard 400 will take the green flag on August 7 at 1 p.m. (EDT) and will be telecast live on ABC.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rich Bickle , Bobby Labonte