Rich Bickle to Drive for Tyler Jet in 1999

Bickle signs with Tyler Jet for 1999 By Dave Rodman HARRISBURG, N.C. (Nov. 25, 1998) Rick Bickle, who has hung out on the fringe of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series for 10 years, will have an opportunity to prove he belongs in 1999 with the ...

Bickle signs with Tyler Jet for 1999 By Dave Rodman

HARRISBURG, N.C. (Nov. 25, 1998) Rick Bickle, who has hung out on the fringe of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series for 10 years, will have an opportunity to prove he belongs in 1999 with the announcement Wednesday that he will drive Pontiacs next season for Tyler Jet Motorsports and owner Tim Beverley. According to a team spokesman, Beverley's organization is also on the verge of making a sponsorship announcement for next season. "Rich Bickle is a young, competitive, aggressive driver," Beverley said of his 37-year-old pilot. "We feel that he will be a perfect fit for our team. Rich's track record has been impressive wherever he has raced." Ironically, the deal brings Bickle back to the facility -- the former Darrell Waltrip Motorsports -- where he was supposed to compete in NASCAR's premier series in 1998. However, sponsorship difficulties ended Waltrip's aspirations for Bickle, who finished second in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1997, winning three races while driving for the former three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion. More important to Bickle and Beverley, the deal reunites the native of Edgerton, Wis., with crew chief Phil Hammer. Bickle and Hammer joined forces in their native Wisconsin and combined for more than 230 short-track main event victories during an 18-year span. "Since 1989, I have been running a limited NASCAR Winston Cup schedule," Bickle said of the 56 starts he has made through the end of the 1998 season. "It's great to be able to go into a full season, especially with a crew chief who I've worked with for 18 years. "Phil and I are like brothers. During our short track program, he knew what I needed in the car before I told him. We were just so dominant that we had the set-up ready and hardly changed anything when we got to the track. We just know how to communicate and that comes with the amount of time we've worked together." That could be critical in maintaining the momentum Bickle had established at Cale Yarborough Motorsports. Over the last 10 races of the season, Bickle had six top-20 finishes in the seven races he qualified for, including a career-best fourth-place finish on the half-mile Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. Bickle spent the majority of the 1998 season with Yarborough's operation, filling in behind the wheel of the Thorn Apple Valley Ford after regular driver Greg Sacks was injured at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Bickle made 21 starts for Yarborough and ended up 39th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. His season winnings of $589,841 eclipsed by more than $150,000 his total in his 35 starts prior to this season. Yarborough's team, however, has been partially disbanded after losing its sponsor. Bickle also ran selected races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, some of those with his own Bickle-Smith Racing machinery. In 1999 his primary concentration, however, will be on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, which opens with the 41st annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 14 at Daytona International Speedway. "I'm excited about the opportunity to work for Tim Beverley," Bickle said. "Tim, Phil and myself are all about the same age and the three of us want to go to the front. Tim is an intense person and he's very committed to making this work. He attends all the races and he stays in touch with everything that's going on at the shop during the week. He gives the team whatever it needs to be successful. "We will have some growing pains, but Tim and Phil have assembled a good team. I'm confident that we will be successful." The signing of Bickle and the anticipated sponsorship deal are the latest steps in the re-vitalization of the program that began when Beverley, an aircraft dealer from Tyler, Texas, purchased Darrell Waltrip Motorsports in March. The team endured a season's worth of ups and downs, including initially failing to find sponsorship; a sometimes contentious "merger" with ISM Racing's Bob Hancher, which brought the operation Tabasco backing for the final four months of the season; and having to use 20 "past champion's provisionals" with Waltrip to make races.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rich Bickle , Darrell Waltrip , Greg Sacks , Cale Yarborough