Rich Bickle Hopes Experience Will Pay Off With Victory in Inaugural Pennzoil 400 HOMESTEAD, Fla. (July 28, 1999) -- Rich Bickle has run more NASCAR races than any other competitor at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On November 14, he's hoping that ...
Rich Bickle Hopes Experience Will Pay Off With Victory in Inaugural Pennzoil 400
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (July 28, 1999) -- Rich Bickle has run more NASCAR races than any other competitor at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On November 14, he's hoping that experience will pay off with a victory in the inaugural Pennzoil 400, the debut of NASCAR Winston Cup racing in South Florida.
Bickle has raced in seven NASCAR events at the state-of-the-art Speedway, including three starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series; two races in the NASCAR Busch Series; and one race in the NASCAR Slim Jim All-Pro Series.
"Even though the finish (41st) doesn't show it, I think we ran pretty good there last year in the NASCAR Busch Series car," said the 38-year-old Wisconsin native. "I think running that race will really help us when we return with the NASCAR Winston Cup car. I've got a pretty good idea what I want for a setup.
"I've run in every NASCAR class that's run at Miami, and I've run each of the different track configurations. It's a great facility, and I enjoy racing there."
Bickle's best finish at Miami was sixth in the 1998 NASCAR Slim Jim All-Pro Series race. His best showing in three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series appearances was 11th in 1997, while he qualified third for the 1998 Florida Dodge Dealers 400. He also finished 11th in the NASCAR Busch Series race in 1995.
Bickle is coming off his season-best finish in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, placing seventh in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono driving the 10-10-345 Pontiac fielded by Tim Beverley's Tyler Jet Motorsports.
"I think this just goes to show how good this team can be. We've been getting better and better each week, showing this garage area what we can do. At Pocono, we showed all the fans how good we are. We had a finish worthy of that effort everyone has been putting in. We still have some things to work on, but you feel that way no matter where you finish. Pocono was a great run for us. Everyone definitely knew we were there."
"We went through two crew chiefs early in the year. Since James Ince took over as crew chief 10 races ago, we've taken on stability, and the team is getting better and better. We moved from 40th to 27th in the car owner's points over the past 10 races since James took over. We think that's pretty spectacular!"
The winner of more than 230 short track races, Bickle moved to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1996, finishing 11th in the standings driving
for Richard Petty. He drove for another NASCAR legend the following year, finishing second in the points in a Darrell Waltrip-owned entry, winning three races. While Bickle's NASCAR Winston Cup experience includes a handful of rides for various car owners dating back to 1989, he got his first full-time ride in the middle of the 1998 campaign, and rewarded Cale Yarborough with a fourth-place finish at Martinsville.
"I don't want to sound boastful, but I think we can win at Indy," said Bickle, who was third in the GM test and fifth overall in testing for the upcoming Brickyard 400. "Why not? We've got a good car -- we proved that in the test -- and our team has been proving that every week lately. James (Ince) has been a huge addition to the Tyler Jet team, and he knows what it takes to run up front at Indy.
"We've been waiting for the second half of the year. We've been running alright, but we've just got to get a little bit better. We hope to be running up at the front when we come to Miami."
A limited number of reserved grandstand seats and reserved recreational vehicle locations remain on sale for the Pennzoil 400. For tickets, call (305) 230-7223. For additional information, visit the official Homestead-Miami Speedway web site at www.racemiami.com.
Rich Bickle on South Florida "People are going to see a great show when NASCAR Winston Cup racing comes to Miami. Any time you go to a new market, you get new blood, and new people coming out that never even thought of going to a race before. There are people in the Miami area that are going to be shocked when they see our show. I think even the fans who traditionally follow the CART and sports car races will be back next year when they see the show we put on. I can't wait to get back to South Florida, so I can lay back and have fun fishing in Islamarada."
Editors' Note --Ninth in a series