MOORESVILLE, NC (May 27, 2003) -As tough as the competition is in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series it is even tougher for an independent team without significant factory support. At Billy Ballew Motorsports the mountain is always harder to climb,...
MOORESVILLE, NC (May 27, 2003) -As tough as the competition is in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series it is even tougher for an independent team without significant factory support. At Billy Ballew Motorsports the mountain is always harder to climb, and the funding is never quite enough. Perseverance however seems to pay off as the No. 15 VOKAL Ford F-150 currently sits ninth in the NCTS owner's standings ahead of some pretty well heeled competition. Two straight top ten finishes, both on the lead lap have driver Rich Bickle excited about the team's potential.
" We had a super run going at Martinsville until we got into an incident with about 30 laps to go or we might have had a spectacular finish," Bickle said. "At Charlotte we had a brand new truck and we didn't get any happy hour practice and we still finished 10th, that's not too bad. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is rough going with a lot of good teams to contend with each week. This team is capable of top-five finishes. If we can get some more dollars coming through the door then we will be that much better. This is the best that I have seen Billy Ballew Motorsports run on a consistent basis. Hopefully we can turn this VOKAL team into a great race team."
Owner Billy Ballew knows the trials and tribulations of running a truck series operation. One of the keys is to have the right people in the right place and let them do their job. With Bickle and veteran crew chief Gary Showalter, Ballew thinks he has finally hit the right combination.
"Rich and I have been good friends on and off the track for years, and I know what he can do behind the wheel," Ballew said. "Most of my best finishes have come with Rich in the truck. I brought Gary in late last year and he has been a big plus for my operation. To a certain extent I think this team has turned a corner. We have never had two straight top-ten finishes, and now with these guys I have gotten to where I expect to finish up front. I know if things go right, we can challenge these other teams even if we don't have the funding or support that they do."
Showalter has had the privilege to both work and win with several different drivers in the NCTS. He has guided Kenny Irwin, Terry Cook and Randy Tolsma to victory lane and hopes to do the same with his veteran driver Bickle.
"I have known Rich for years and admired his career but have never had the chance to work with him," Showalter said. "He is very easy to work with and as we spend more time together I think you will see our performance improve. These guys on this team work so hard. Even though we don't have what some teams have, these guys have been very creative about finding ways to go fast. Billy Ballew has done amazing things with what he has had to work with. If he ever gets the funding that these other guys have, then this team will be really competitive.
For Bickle, just having the chance to race week in and week out is a saving grace. Despite posting some impressive runs in both the NASCAR Winston Cup and NCTS divisions, he has not had a chance to secure a full time ride.
"If I didn't think that I was as competitive as these other guys then I wouldn't be in the truck," Bickle said. "I am actually shocked that I haven't had a ride. I am sick of watching races on television. I would really rather be behind the wheel. Hopefully with all the things that Billy and I are working on we can continue to grow this team and stay on the racetrack. Billy has given everything he has to go racing, and often times he gets the short end of the stick. I hope we get the chance to go racing full time."
The MBNA Armed Forces Family Truck 200 at Dover International Raceway is scheduled for Friday, May 30. The event will be broadcast live by the Speed Channel and MRN Radio at 4:30 pm ET.