NASCAR's Rookie Of The Year
Dick Trickle, 48, officially became the oldest Rookie of the Year in the history of NASCAR Winston Cup racing. The driver from Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., who has won more than 1,200 feature races, most of them on short tracks, led most of the way and finished his first full season in NASCAR's premier series with 295 points in the rookie competition sponsored by Champion Spark Plug Co. and Sears Roebuck and Co. Trickle, driving for the Miller-Stavola Brothers team, was the highest finishing rookie in 11 of the 27 races he ran as a registered rookie. He had three third-place finishes, was fourth once and fifth twice.
This is an honor we really worked hard to win. When I joined with the Stavola team this year, we felt we had a shot at it if I stayed around the whole year.
Opportunity Calls Wisconsin Rapids' Trickle Makes Most Of Chance To Compete On NASCAR CircuitPublished on Sunday, April 9, 1989; Madison Newspapers, Inc.; By Roy Hinz Sports reporter
The events of March 3 are forever etched in the mind of Dick Trickle. It was on that day the world's winningest stock car driver was given the biggest opportunity in his 30-year racing career. Stavola Brothers Racing team needed someone behind the steering wheel of its No. 84 Miller High Life Buick for the NASCAR Winston Cup Goodwrench 500 at Rockingham, N.C. The SOS went out to Wisconsin Rapids two days before the race. Trickle made it to Rockingham, started 42nd and finished 13th. He drove in the next three NASCAR races and finished third, 25th and 11th, respectively, quickly establishing himself in the eyes of those who matter - car owners. Trickle, who has won more than 1,000 races, but never one in NASCAR, time has come.
It's the biggest break I've had. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get the chance. I did have my doubts.
Trickle's opportunity came at the expense of two accidents. A crash at Pocono, Pa., last year put NASCAR veteran Bobby Allison in the hospital and moved Mike Alexander of Franklin, Tenn., into the No. 84 car. Alexander, who has 66 NASCAR starts, crashed in a non-Winston Cup event late last year and crashed again at the Daytona 500 this year. He finished 27th at Daytona and was set to race at Rockingham but was physically unable. Miller Crew Chief Jimmy Fennig knew just who to call on short notice.
I knew Jimmy from when he was the crew chief for Mark Martin in ASA. He called me on a Friday and wanted to know if I could get down there that day. I wasn't feeling very good. I had bronchitis, a lung infection, an ear infection and it was the day we had that snow storm. But none of that was going to stop me. There was only one flight out of 11 that got out of Central Wisconsin (Airport) and I was on it. I would have drove down there if I had to.
Trickle saved his driving for the track. His third at Atlanta was his best finish in 18 Winston Cup starts going back to 1973. He's earned almost $55,000 this year and is in the battle for rookie of the year honors at age 47. Entering today's Valleydale Meats 500 at Bristol, Tenn., Trickle has amassed 37 rookie points. He didn't get any points from Rockingham because he wasn't registered for them, otherwise he would be closer to leader Larry Pearson, who has 52. Rick Mast is second with 50 and Ben Hess third with 44. Trickle doesn't concern himself with his rookie status or his NASCAR future. He's assured of at least four more races with Stavola Brothers Racing. If Alexander should come back, there is a chance Trickle could catch on with another team and finish out the 29-race season.
It's been a race-by-race thing since I've started. I'm just concentrating on doing as well as I can and would like to even win a race. I've done pretty well so far. I've opened a few eyes down here. A few teams have talked to me, which makes me feel good.
Trickle feels good because he's simply racing. It's a bonus to be doing it with the big boys and on their turf. It's a double bonus to get a ride with an established team.
That's been the key. Getting the chance to compete in the car that Bobby Allison drove and to get with a team of this caliber is what made this all possible. My experience helped, but it probably wouldn't have been the same with a different team.
The two-time American Speed Association champion contemplated several times putting together a team to compete in NASCAR. But it never got to the point where he had enough backing to produce a team that could run with the lead pack.
I would have liked to have gone NASCAR full-time years ago but I just never had the right opportunity arise. I could have probably put something together or gotten a ride with a smaller team but then you're probably not going to be good enough to ride up front. And if that's the case, why do it? It had to be the right situation, where I could be competitive, and that's where I am now. I haven't been sitting around, waiting for a ride. They called me.
And off he went.
Trickle Makes Mark In NASCARPublished on Thursday, June 22, 1989; Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Dick Trickle has been racing 30 years, claims more short-track stock car victories than anybody and ran his first Winston Cup race 16 years ago. But the 47-year-old driver remains a rookie in NASCAR's eyes, so he signed up to challenge for rookie-of-the-year. The title earns $20,000, plus a $1,000 sponsorship for each race the driver runs next year.
I've got to go to all the rookie meetings. Why not get some of the benefits?
In two more races, Trickle will have doubled in one season the number of races - 14 - he had run in Winston Cup competition since his first, a fifth-place showing at Charlotte, N.C., in 1973. And the Wisconsin Rapids driver is leading for rookie-of-the-year as a substitute for a substitute in the car that Bobby Allison might have driven this year. In 12 races he has posted four top-five finishes, but none above 24th in his last five races heading into Sunday's Miller 400 at Brooklyn, Mich. Trickle stepped into the No. 84 gold Buick in the second race of the year after Mike Alexander drove it in the season-opening Daytona 500. Alexander, who had replaced Allison at mid-season last year after a racing crash critically injured the veteran, was critically injured himself in a race in December. Although Alexander came back to race at Daytona, he had not fully recovered, so Trickle has held the wheel since.
Basically it's the same thing I've done only I'm meeting a lot of new people and get a lot more attention. When it comes down to the racing it's what I've been doing for 25-30 years. It's a somewhat higher level. What you could do with yourself and maybe four or five guys now takes you and 20 guys. Eighty percent of the tracks that Winston Cup runs on I've never seen, and that's a slight disadvantage. Mike's recuperation is a bit slower than anticipated. Mike made a statement that he did have a concussion and he wanted to be fully recovered (before racing again). I think that's going to run out through this year.
At Pocono International Raceway, brake problems got his Buick off to a bad start in the Miller 500 and he finished 24th, 10 laps down. The competition is tougher, Trickle, who continues racing his own cars on short tracks in the eastern United States and Canada, can bank on the experience that built more than 1,000 short-track wins, including 67 feature victories in 1972 alone. But some of the younger drivers can get one edge on him - for now. Trickle, is steadily reducing that edge with each race as he subs for Alexander.
Nearing the mid-point of the season, Trickle leads Larry Pearson 133 points to 127 for the top spot among nine drivers for the rookie title. Hut Stricklin is third at 101. Points are based on the top 15 finishes for each driver. Trickle figures the second half of the season will go better for him because he will have seen many of the tracks before. After this weekend, all but two of the remaining 15 races will be second visits for this year's Winston Cup circuit. Trickle didn't race at one of them, Daytona, but showed with third-place finishes at Atlanta and Martinsville, Va., that he can contend. Not that he didn't know that already. Although he had run only 14 Winston Cup races before, Trickle had raced many of his current competitors before - even Bobby Allison.
The greats are here. I've raced 'em here, there and everywhere off the Winston Cup circuit. That's one of the reasons I've been accepted. Darrell Waltrip and (Dale) Earnhardt and Rusty (Wallace), I've run against 'em. When they come to my field I tend to beat them. I think we're pretty competitive already, but I think we can be more competitive.
Now, his challenge is do do it on their turf.
After Paying Dues, Trickle Moves UpPublished on Friday, August 4, 1989; Madison Newspapers, Inc.; Byline: Howard Thomas
He may be a rookie on the NASCAR Winston Cup auto racing circuit, but Dick Trickle has been around long enough not to get caught up in the rumors. Trickle, 46, is well on his way to winning NASCAR's Rookie of the Year Award. He got his first full-time NASCAR ride in the second race of the season when Mike Alexander was injured in an accident. Alexander had been filling in for the injured Bobby Allison in the Stovola Brothers Buick Regal. Now, as the season's second half gets into full swing, Trickle's name is being mentioned by a couple of teams for a ride of his own for next season. Trickle said Thursday from his home in Wisconsin Rapids, where he is preparing for Saturday night's CWRA Summer Championships at the Dells Motor Speedway in Wisconsin Dells,
It's definitely gossip season. There's a lot of kicking the can here and there, but it's nothing solid. There are a lot of 3-year (driver) contracts ending this year so there could be a lot of movement.
The big-money teams will be attempting to lure the big-name drivers and Trickle hopes he can catch on somewhere amidst the shuffle. The all-time winningest short-track driver has already posted a pair of third-place finishes on the circuit this season along with one fourth and one fifth-place showing, improving his stock dramatically. After paying his dues on the short tracks for years, Trickle says he's ready for a NASCAR ride of his own.
But I'm not going to run with inferior equipment just to have a ride. A lot of people said I should have been down here full-time 10 years ago, but I have no regrets. I wanted to make sure I was getting into the right situation like I have with the Stovola Brothers. I wouldn't be completely unhappy to return to the short tracks full-time.
Trickle plans to complete the season with the Stovola Brothers and then just let things happen as they may. If he doesn't get a ride for next season, he says he'll continue doing what he likes best. If he continues enjoying the success he's had so far this season, don't bet on seeing Dick Trickle back on a consistent basis anytime soon.
A Rookie Of The Year SeasonBy Tom Roberts, Tom Roberts Public Realtions
The 1989 season...spent working with Dick Trickle...along with Mike Alexander, Bobby Hillin and Alan Kulwicki...is one of the most memorable years of my career. Mike had gotten injured in the Snowball Derby at Pensacola, Fla., in December 1988 and pulled himself out of the ride the weekend of the February Rockingham race. Team owner Billy Stavola called in the services of Trickle and then the fun and games began for this motorsports PR practitioner. I'll never forget the first race working with Dick. Trickle pulled into the Rockingham pits and crew member Kenny Freeman climbed into the cockpit. "What's that all about?" a concerned media member quizzed. "Must be major chassis adjustments?" he continued when I didn't respond. That's what was reported...major chassis adjustments made. I just couldn't tell him that the real reason was because Dick's cowboy boot was making his right foot swell and Freeman was sent in to get it removed.
The remainder of the season spent with Dick included some of the most interesting...and entertaining...experiences of my career. I wish that I had written down all of his special "sayings" that he had for most every occasion. "Trickle-isms" I called them. Dick got the most possible out of the situation that year...almost winning a couple of races and recording six top-fives and nine top-10s...and taking the Cup Rookie-of-the-Year award at age 47. We had so much fun that season with all the ESPN attention. Dan Patrick was doing sports on an Atlanta radio station, too, and that made for a great Atlanta "media blitz" prior to the season finale. Soon-to-be-Rookie-of-the-Year Dick Trickle and soon-to-be-series-champ Rusty Wallace crossed paths many times and it was a thrill to witness it all unfold first-hand.
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