MOORESVILLE, NC (June 14, 2002) - Veteran NASCAR driver Rich Bickle will return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series behind the wheel of the No. 15 Dickies Ford F-150 in the O'Reilly 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park, Saturday, June 22. The 1997...
MOORESVILLE, NC (June 14, 2002) - Veteran NASCAR driver Rich Bickle will return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series behind the wheel of the No. 15 Dickies Ford F-150 in the O'Reilly 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park, Saturday, June 22. The 1997 NCTS championship runner-up will replace Trent Owens in the Countryman-Ballew entry.
"Rich is an excellent driver and someone who has competed and won in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in the past," said Billy Ballew, one of the team's co-owners. "It's no secret we've been struggling. Trent is a young driver with a lot of potential and he did an excellent job for us. At this point, we just felt we needed to bring a veteran driver in like Rich would help our young race team. We're thrilled Rich has agreed to come in and try to help us."
The first-year Countryman-Ballew team has struggled this season failing to qualify for the first race of the season at Daytona. Since then, Owens has posted a 17th-place finishing average in six events with his season-best a 14th in the Rocky Mountain 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
"It would be very unfair to place the blame on Trent," said Preston Countryman of his team's early season performance. "We've had a lot of bad luck this season and even the most experienced driver can't overcome that. Hopefully, those kind of things are behind us."
Bickle broke into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1996 behind the wheel of the No. 43 Richard Petty Dodge and paid immediate dividends giving the brand its first NASCAR pole position in more than 20 years. Considered one of the best-ever pavement late model specialists with more than 250 career wins including a record five Snowball Derby titles, Bickle steered to three NCTS wins and a second-place finish in the 1997 championship chase while driving for Darrell Waltrip.
In all, Bickle's career Truck Series record includes six pole positions and 21 Top-5 finishes in just 52 starts. His last start came in 1999 when he finished seventh at Richmond (VA) International Raceway.
"The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is a great place to race and I'm really happy to have this opportunity to go back to it with the Dickies Ford and Countryman-Ballew Racing," said Bickle, who also lists 85 NASCAR Winston Cup and 53 Busch Series career starts on his racing resume. "Guys like Ted Musgrave, Mike Bliss and Robert Pressley have gone back to the series and have had a lot of success. Hopefully, I can do the same."
Bickle will make his debut in the red and yellow No. 15 Dickies Ford F-150 in the O'Reilly 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park Saturday, June 22. The 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time event will be televised live by ESPN and broadcast by MRN Radio.