BUSCH: Rich Bickle chases another top five at Myrtle Beach

MOORESVILLE, NC (June 12, 2000) - In the movie Animal House, the boys from the Delta fraternity solved their problems with road trips and toga parties. Now that Rich Bickle has cured some of the ills of his Bickle/Smith Motorsports team...

MOORESVILLE, NC (June 12, 2000) - In the movie Animal House, the boys from the Delta fraternity solved their problems with road trips and toga parties. Now that Rich Bickle has cured some of the ills of his Bickle/Smith Motorsports team with a road trip that produced a strong fifth-place finish at South Boston, VA last weekend, can a toga party be far behind? "Probably not," said Bickle. "Then again, if we score another Top-5 at Myrtle Beach this weekend, I'm not ruling anything out." Bickle had every right to be in a joking mood following his run at South Boston last weekend. After not making five of the six NASCAR Busch Series events he entered this season, Bickle was looking for anything to get his team headed in the right direction. That meant a trip back to the short tracks where the Wisconsin native has scored more than 250 victories in his career. "I can't ever remember when I struggled this much, not even when I first started out racing," said Bickle, a 10-year NASCAR Winston Cup veteran with 80 career starts to his credit. "I mean, Winston Cup racing was never this hard. To go to South Boston and run well was a huge boost for everybody. Now we have to keep it going with a good run at Myrtle Beach." Bickle should have a better shot at a good finish at Myrtle Beach than he did at South Boston. Bickle was not even entered for the Textilease Medique 300 and didn't decide to go to the race until the day before the event. The team's transporter driver, Jeff Mangum, carried Bickle's event registration form to the track and was instructed to call the shop and tell everybody to stay home if NASCAR wouldn't allow the entry. "We didn't even know if they would let us run," said Bickle. "We didn't have hotel rooms or anything. Since it was a one-day show, we all got up at 4 A.M., drove to Virginia and raced. It was just like my old short track days where you'd drive all day and night to get to a race and then turn around and drive back home. Fortunately, the results were like the old days too." Things are more ordered for the Bickle in the Myrtle Beach 250 this weekend. First, the team filed an entry on time for Bickle's #91 Aqua Velva Pontiac and they already have hotel rooms booked. Unlike South Boston, which Bickle had never seen before last weekend's race, he has wheeled a NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro stock car several times at the .538-mile Myrtle Beach oval. The last time he visited the track was behind the wheel of the Richard Petty owned #43 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry when that team conducted a test there in 1996. "Myrtle Beach is my kind of track," said Bickle, who has raced at more than 150 different speedways in his 24-year career. "It's a tough short-track that's hard to get a hold of. I seem to do well at tracks like that - places like Nashville (TN) and Pensacola (FL). I'm looking forward to having another good run." Bickle will also be looking forward to having Fred Wanke on top of his Aqua Velva pit box again this weekend. Wanke first teamed with Bickle in 1995 producing a pole position at Charlotte (NC) and seven Top-15 finishes in 11 NASCAR Busch Series events that year. Saturday's fifth-place effort at South Boston tied an NBS career best for Bickle set in 1995 at Daytona. Wanke also served as Truck Chief for Bickle when he steered Darrell Waltrip's #17 Chevy to three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories in 1997 and a second in season points that year. Wanke rejoined Bickle captaining his South Boston effort last weekend after relinquishing the crew chief reigns at the #43 Petty truck two weeks ago. "Fred's a racer," said Bickle. "We communicate well and I think we'll be on the same page again at Myrtle Beach. I think we have a pretty good idea what we need to run there to be successful. It'll be a lot like the South Boston race - a fram, bam, wham affair where you'll pretty much have to cut the body off and throw it away when you get home. I think we can get another top finish as long as we can miss the wrecks." And if that happens, what about the toga party? "I've been known to attend a party or two in my time," said Bickle with a smile. "Winning a Busch Series race at Myrtle Beach or in Milwaukee a couple of weeks from now would require something pretty special. A toga party might not be a bad idea." The NASCAR Busch Series Myrtle Beach 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway is set for Saturday June 17. The event will be telecast on TNN beginning at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The race will also be broadcast live on MRN radio.

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Drivers Rich Bickle , Darrell Waltrip , Richard Petty