BNS: Rich Bickle Dover is like home

MOORESVILLE, NC (May 30, 2000) - Rich Bickle grew up in Wisconsin, but he'll be making a trip "back home" when he competes in the MBNA Platinum 200 at Dover Downs International Speedway Saturday. "Dover is just like a track I used to...

MOORESVILLE, NC (May 30, 2000) - Rich Bickle grew up in Wisconsin, but he'll be making a trip "back home" when he competes in the MBNA Platinum 200 at Dover Downs International Speedway Saturday. "Dover is just like a track I used to race at a lot in Slinger, Wisconsin," said Bickle, driver of the #91 Aqua Velva Pontiac in NASCAR Busch Series competition this season. The only difference is Dover is a lot bigger. Slinger is a high banked, quarter-mile that we used to get around in just over 11 seconds. You really fly there. Dick Trickle once told me it was like flying jet airplanes in a gymnasium. He wasn't too far off. "Dover's like that too," Bickle continued. "We're talking a one-mile track with nine-degree banking - and that's just on the straights. You are really whistling when you get into the corners at Dover. Trickle won the pole for the Busch race there last spring at more than 155 miles per hour. That's unbelievable for a 3300-pound stock car on a one-mile race track." Bickle has had his share of ups and downs on Dover's famed "Monster Mile." His most memorable and forgettable events at the track came in the same race, the 1995 MBNA 200 NBS event. Bickle, then driving the #54 Terminal Trucking Motorsports Ford, qualified sixth and was in position for a top finish when he suffered one of the hardest wrecks of his 24-year driving career. "We had a great car that year," said Bickle. "Fred Wanke (now crew chief for the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Truck Series entry) was our crew chief and he really had me hooked up. We blew an engine in the last practice session before qualifying and the team got it changed just in time for me to go out last in the first round. They changed it right on pit road in front of the whole crowd and they went crazy when we qualified sixth. "About 30 laps into the race, we were running third or fourth when Jimmy Spencer got into the back of me coming off Turn 4. Before I knew it, I was backwards in the fence. The impact beat the heck out of my ribs and legs and I came out of the car wanting to beat the heck out of Jimmy. NASCAR was so ticked they parked him for the day. My car was totally junk and Jimmy was out of the race. I guess you could say it wasn't a very good day for either of us." Bickle has had just one NASCAR Busch Series event at Dover since that day finishing 28th with engine failure in the 1998 MBNA 200. He has also had a handful of NASCAR Winston Cup starts there including two in 1999. In both instances, mechanical problems sidetracked his efforts producing 33rd and 36th-place finishes. "I haven't had much luck in a Cup car at Dover," said Bickle. "That's why I'm looking forward to returning there in a Busch car. You can really romp a Busch car into the corner at Dover. Even though the turns are banked higher than the straights, the line and transitions into the turns force you to drive down the track into the turns. It's like falling off a three-story building heading into the Turns 1 and 3. "When your in the turns, the groove moves around all day long, so you'll have guys running all over the place," Bickle continued. "Coming off the turn, you actually drive back up the hill out toward the retaining wall. It's a real roller coaster ride, especially at more than 160 miles per hour." This year's MBNA Platinum 200 will be one of five events Bickle flies the Aqua Velva colors in NBS competition this season. The other six races on his select event schedule will feature Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits sponsorship. Included in those six races will be the second Dover event this season on September 23. "When we were looking at races before the season, I really made it a point to get both Dover events on the schedule," said Bickle. "I just feel at home there. I've always felt very comfortable on fast, tight, high-banked tracks. I guess that goes back to my days at Slinger. I won three track championships and the Miller Nationals there. I'm hoping a little of my Slinger winning luck will wear off at Dover." Bickle's #91 NBS entry operates out of Bickle/Smith Motorsports, 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. For more information about Bickle and the team, log on to

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Drivers Rich Bickle , Dick Trickle , Richard Petty
Teams Richard Petty Motorsports