BUSCH: Charlotte; Rich Bickle hopes to rev up fortunes

MOORESVILLE, NC (May 16, 2000) - In 1995, Rich Bickle stunned the NASCAR Busch Series ranks by winning the pole position and finishing eighth in the Red Dog 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Five years later, both the name of the event and the...

MOORESVILLE, NC (May 16, 2000) - In 1995, Rich Bickle stunned the NASCAR Busch Series ranks by winning the pole position and finishing eighth in the Red Dog 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Five years later, both the name of the event and the speedway have changed, but Bickle's goals haven't as the veteran NASCAR driver hopes to repeat his 1995 Charlotte performance in the CarQuest 300 May 27. "Winning the pole at Charlotte in '95 might be the highlight of my NASCAR career," said Bickle, who will pilot the #91 Aqua Velva Pontiac NBS entry at Lowe's Motor Speedway this time around. "I've done other stuff like make the Daytona 500 in a home-built car and win three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, but the pole at Charlotte stands out because it got me noticed by a lot of people. The races at Charlotte are so important because it's the center of the NASCAR universe. If you do well at Charlotte, you get noticed, plain and simple." Bickle's 1995 Busch Series efforts in his Terminal Trucking Motorsports #54 Kleenex Ford Thunderbird proved to be a springboard to a two-year Truck Series stint driving for the likes of Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. Success in those mounts then led to Winston Cup rides for Cale Yarborough and Tim Beverley over the next couple of seasons. This year, Bickle is fielding a select event Busch Series effort out of his own Bickle/Smith Motorsports shops. "In some regards, this new Bickle/Smith team is a lot like the Busch Series effort we put together in 1995," said Bickle, who just launched a new Internet site - www.richbickle.net. "That was an 11-race deal and this is an 11-race effort. With the Kleenex car, we were strong all season finishing fifth at Daytona, winning the pole at Charlotte and scoring seven Top-15 finishes in just 11 events. Everyone kind of hated to see us show up at the race track because we always seemed to run good." To date, that hasn't been the case for Bickle's new NBS effort. "We've struggled, no doubt about that," said Bickle, who has competed in just one Busch race this season producing a 29th-place finish at Darlington. "We missed the races at Atlanta and Las Vegas by a combined four one-hundredths of a second and we missed out at Texas when we cut down a tire in practice and destroyed our primary car. To say we haven't had luck on our side is an understatement. Hopefully, our luck will turn for the better at Charlotte." Bickle, a graduate of the hotly contested Wisconsin short-track circuit that has produced the likes of Dick Trickle, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Alan Kulwicki, Ted Musgrave and Matt Kenseth, is considered to be a master at chassis set-up. It's a skill he says will come in handy in the CarQuest 300. "Charlotte is one of the most temperature sensitive tracks in all of NASCAR," said Bickle. "Everyone gets pretty excited about running 180 miles per hour there, but the key to going fast at Charlotte is being able to get the car to handle in the corners. Qualifying is a banzai deal where you never lift in Turns 1-2 and you just crack the throttle a hair in Turns 3-4. If we can get our Aqua Velva car to do that in both qualifying and the race, I think we'll be pretty tough. "A lot has changed since 1995," Bickle continued. "The track has a different name, so does the race. I've got my own deal now too. One thing that hasn't changed is I've always done pretty well at Charlotte. A great run there would do a lot to get this new team established and get us pointed in the right direction for the rest of the season." In addition to the Charlotte CarQuest 300 event, Bickle will compete in NBS events at Dover, DE (6/3, 9/23), Milwaukee, WI (7/2), Madison, IL (7/29), Brooklyn, MI (8/19), Richmond, VA (9/8), Charlotte, NC (10/7), Phoenix, AZ (11/4) and Homestead, FL (11/11). The schedule will feature split primary sponsorship from Aqua Velva and Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits. Bickle/Smith Motorsports operates out of a 22,000 square-foot facility located in the Mooresville (NC) Motorsports Center. The shop is open for visitors Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Rich Bickle , Darrell Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Dick Trickle , Rusty Wallace , Ted Musgrave , Richard Petty , Cale Yarborough , Mark Martin , Alan Kulwicki