Milwaukee: Rich Bickle race report

Mishap jades Bickle's hopes for great hometown showing Milwaukee, WI (June 28, 2003) - After running up front all day in the No. 15 VOKAL Dodge, Rich Bickle hopes for a strong finish in the GNC Live Well 200 at the Milwaukee Mile fell short by a...

Mishap jades Bickle's hopes for great hometown showing

Milwaukee, WI (June 28, 2003) - After running up front all day in the No. 15 VOKAL Dodge, Rich Bickle hopes for a strong finish in the GNC Live Well 200 at the Milwaukee Mile fell short by a few laps due to engine failure. Bickle never fell below the 11th position, peddling towards a season high NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series finish and a great hometown show.

"I had a great truck all day long," Bickle stated. "The No. 5 GMAC/CARQUEST Busch Series team was pitting us to day and picked me up quite a few positions on our pit stops. It felt great to be running up front all day with the leaders, I felt for sure that we had a truck that could finish in the Top 5 or Top 10 at least."

Longer runs were in Bickle's favor, with only one caution for five laps. The caution allowed the No. 15 VOKAL Dodge to get the service needed to finish out the race. Yet after the green flag was shown it took Bickle a few laps for the truck to come back around.

"It was strange the way that the truck was working this weekend," the Edgerton, WI native stated. "It would run great on long runs and thankfully that is what happened all day, but after the restart it took a good 20 laps for the truck to perform the way it was."

Closing in on the end of the race, Bickle came on the radio and stated that the truck was performing the best that it had all day. His lap times confirmed this statement, with times that matched those of the leader. With just over 30 laps to go, Bickle was running down the leaders and climbing the charts.

"Closer to the end of the race, the truck was the best that it had been all day. I asked Gary (Showalter) to count out the times for me so that I would know how I was doing. When I heard that I was running times that matched the leaders I knew that I was running a great line. I just stuck to it and started running my race, I had been too busy racing other trucks when I should have been racing the track."

Climbing the charts to a Top 10 finish was a short lived glory for Bickle and the No. 15 Dodge when he lost a cylinder going down the front stretch with 25 laps to go. Giving it all he could Bickle continued down the backstretch with the motor expired. After running in the 10th position, Bickle came to a halt and parked his No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Dodge for an upsetting 27th place finish.

"It's a disappointing end to what seemed a great day. We were running down the guys up front and then out of nowhere I lost a cylinder. I thought that I would be able to handle it and still finish the race when going down the backstretch it the engine blew up bad. Thankfully I was able to make it into the garage area and not cause a caution. Things like this happen to the best of them, and it's just frustrating when it happens to you. Every race you learn something new, and this time we learned something about our motor, we'll take it back and tear it apart and hopefully find the culprit."

The frustration won't last long, the No. 15 VOKAL Dodge drives into Kansas Speedway for The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Bickle certainly hopes that fireworks will fly this independence weekend for him and his team as he seeks a finish that is worthy of their performance. The Kansas NCTS event is scheduled for Saturday July 5th and will be broadcast live by the Speed Channel and MRN Radio at 2:00pm ET.

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rich Bickle