Trickle Tames The Lady
Trickle Seeks To Extend Darlington StreakDarlington, S.C. (Sept. 3, 1998)
Dick Trickle and the Schneider National Chevrolet team enter Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Dura-Lube 200 presented By Bi-Lo at Darlington Raceway looking to continue a streak of four consecutive third place finishes at the famed 1.366-mile speedway — or to better it.
Trickle has six top-10 finishes in seven starts there dating back to his first start in 1991. Since Darlington is one of the hardest tracks on the series to get around, Trickle attributes his success to having a good set-up and also that Darlington is a racer's track.
Darlington is very unforgiving and if you make the smallest mistake it will cost you big-time. It is one of my favorite tracks that we get to because the driver and the way you drive the track really comes into play.
Earlier this year when the circuit made its first visit to Darlington, Trickle also had a second-place starting position. Like a lot of tracks on the circuit, track position is also a key factor to success at Darlington.
You have to pick and choose the right time to pass cars. Track position is definitely important, especially as the race winds down and you have lapped cars to deal with.
With the season winding down, the Wisconsin driver is looking for his first Bud Pole and win in the 1998 season and believes that Darlington is the place at which both could happen.
Anytime you enjoy going to a particular track and have had success in the past, it definitely gives you and the team added confidence going into the race.
Light rains in the morning pushed the practice and the qualifying schedule back on Friday for both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Winston Cup teams. NASCAR Busch Series Bud Pole Qualifying, which was scheduled to get under way at 2 p.m. EDT, was pushed back to 3:50 p.m. Both the NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series teams got in more than an hour of practice prior to their qualifying runs.
Trickle Wins First Race Of 1998 SeasonDarlington, S.C. (Sept. 5, 1998); By Rick Houston NASCAR Winston Cup Scene
It would've been nice had Dick Trickle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. been chasing each other rather than the pace car to the checkered flag of the Dura-Lube 200, but the way it worked out was probably the next best thing. They blew off turn four racing to a yellow flag that would eventually end the race under caution, and crossed the line almost dead even. Trickle got there first by about a fender. Trickle takes checkered flag at historic Darlington Raceway by holding off a furious challenge edging out the hard-charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a thrilling tight race to the yellow flag trickle beats Little E by 0.883 seconds to win the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Dura Lube 200 presented by Bi-Lo at Darlington Raceway the track "Too Tough To Tame". A late-race accident caused the event to end under caution.
Trickle, in the Schneider National Chevrolet, earned his first series victory of the year after an exciting photo-finish. Trickle had taken the lead on lap 124 of 147, but has to use all of his experience to get his first win of the season and hold off Earnhardt Jr., who had taken four fresh tires during a late-race pit stop. The win was the second of Trickle's NASCAR Busch Series career.
It was oh so close, but yet at the same time, oh so far. Second place is second place whether it's by a fender or 20 seconds. At any rate, Earnhardt's charge from eighth place on a lap-137 restart and the heart-pounding race under the starter's stand made ending under caution almost worth it.
The win was the second of Trickle's NASCAR Busch Series 90 career starts, and first since late March, 1997, at Hickory Motor Speedway. In winning at Darlington, the soon-to-be 57-year-old Trickle broke his own record as the series' oldest winner. Someone pointed out after the race that Trickle was the only driver in the Dura-Lube 200 older than the race track itself. Darlington Raceway is NASCAR's oldest superspeedway, opening in 1950. Trickle made his debut in the world on Oct. 27, 1941, less than two months before the United States entered WWII.
Trickle, NASCAR Winston Cup regular, will be seeking his first Winston Cup victory Sunday in the Southern 500, took the lead for the first time on lap 124 by passing the event's polesitter, Mike McLaughlin. Trickle, who started fourth, was loose for about 100 laps. Elton Sawyer spun in turn four to bring out the caution on the 114th circuit, and when the green flag came back out at lap 120, Trickle was fourth in line behind Mark Martin, Mike McLaughlin and Matt Kenseth. Martin got a terrible start, his engine apparently having some sort of vapor lock. McLaughlin, Kenseth, Trickle and Robert Pressley's lapped car quickly got by Martin beginning in turns one and two. Trickle got under Kenseth for second on the frontstretch to start the 123rd circuit, and then he took the point from McLaughlin in turn two. He led the final 24 laps. A late caution flag set up a 12-lap shootout, with Trickle lining up in front of McLaughlin, Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett. The leading four cars, choosing to not change tires, lined up in front of Earnhardt Jr., whose crew decided to take on four new tires.
Bryan (Shaffer), the crew chief, messed with the air pressure a little bit the first stop, but I said, 'lt ain't no better,' Trickle said. So I don't know what he did with the tires the second stop, but he also put a turn of bite in. It was just enough where I could take it a little bit harder. For some reason, on that get-go, I had a car that could turn a little bit and get on the gas.
Earnhardt, pitting on the backstretch after an uncharacteristically poor 34th-place start, took on four fresh tires during the caution that followed Jeff Fuller's crash in Turn 1. Eighth on the restart 11 laps from the checkered flag, Earnhardt was a sight to behold coming through the field. Call it fourth-and-one late in the game — and Earnhardt was going for it.
Earnhardt was coming real strong, but I had a little leeway. I thought those new tires might get us. ... Bryan (Shaffer), the crew chief, told me that everybody from fifth on back were pitting and putting on four new tires for the last few laps. I knew we were hurting there at the end, but after third, third, third, third, the only places to go were second and first. I knew those cars that got new tires were going to be coming up to the front fast and trying to take the lead.. Starting with lap one on the restart, I knew I couldn't miss an inch and that's what I tried to do. I think Darlington's a driver's racetrack and I think this old boy can still drive. It's still what I love to do.
On the restart, Earnhardt Jr. began picking off spots. A little more than a lap into the run, Earnhardt got under Dale Jarrett in Turn 2 for fourth place. Next to fall was Mark Martin off the fourth turn a lap later. On the 141st circuit, Earnhardt dove under runnerup Mike McLaughlin between Turns 3 and 4, clearing him in Turn 1 on lap 142.
Behind Trickle and Earnhardt just an instant later, though, Elton Sawyer, Chad Little and Berrier crashed between Turns 1 and 2. The race stayed green at first, but when Berrier limped around the track, the outer part of his tire came off and came to a rest in Turn 4 with three laps remaining bringing out the fourth and final caution flag of the day. As the caution flag waved, Earnhardt Jr. and Trickle came to the flag side-by-side in a photo finish. The cameras at the start/finish line showed Trickle winning by a mere four inches.
Trickle didn't take on new tires, he just needed his worn ones to last a half a lap more. Earnhardt ducked under Trickle's Shoemaker Racing Chevrolet in Turn 4, and they drag raced door-to-door to the stripe. There they were, racing each other as hard as they could — Trickle, who'll turn 57 Oct. 27, and Earnhardt, who'll be 24 Oct. 10.
I knew I couldn't give up an inch. . .we needed every inch we could get, and we didn't have many. The fact I didn't give up an inch in the last laps allowed me to win by inches. ... I figured I beat him by about four inches, but sometimes, it doesn't seem like I get the call the right way. It was a photo finish, but I had to beat him. Junior didn't do too bad. I like this sport. I think I've still got what it takes and I can contribute to a team. I'm just hoping to be around for a few more years. As soon as I lose the desire to race and have fun and compete up front, then I'll quit.
Replays showed the nose of Trickle's car barely — just barely — beating Earnhardt's across the line. With cars bumping the walls of Darlington Raceway and debris scattering the track, Trickle stayed in front of a charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. long enough to be credited with the lead when caution was displayed on Lap 144. Despite coming up short after diving to the low side exiting the fourth turn on the 1.366-mile oval, Earnhardt convinced Trickle that fresh tires were an asset.
From the looks of Saturday's race, it'll be a long time before Trickle loses that ol' fire in his belly. For Trickle, the win ended a streak of three consecutive Grand National races at Darlington in which he's finished third. It also helped erase a trend of disappointing finishes. In his past four races, he had been 39th, 11th, 39th and 41st.
Earnhardt was pretty pumped up himself, despite coming up short of his sixth win of the season. He's not quite got qualifying figured out at Darlington, having started 37th in the spring, his worst time-trial effort of the season, and 34th this time around. But he races well at the track where his father has captured nine NASCAR Winston Cup Series victories. He scored a 10th-place finish in the 1.366-mile facility's March 21 event and now this. In addition, Earnhardt used his afternoon's work to open up a little more ground on Matt Kenseth, who finished the sixth, in the championship chase. Earnhardt is now 115 points in front of Kenseth, up from 95 going into the event. "We made several calls today on the car that helped it out," Earnhardt said. "I'll tell you what, this Chevrolet Monte Carlo has been strong all year long. I didn't expect better than a top-10, and we got a second-place finish. "Tony (Eury Sr., crew chief), Tony (Eury) Jr. and the guys made some calls early this morning on some stuff underneath the car. We changed some stuff today and put on tires that last stop. That was definitely the way to go."
Then came the duel with Trickle to the yellow flag. "They said the caution came out and to race back to the flag," Earnhardt said. "If we beat him, we beat him. If we got second, we got second. I'm just happy to gain some more points on the championship. This is one where I didn't figure we'd get a break, and we did. That's what this year's been full of. We've had some great times and we've had a lot of good luck, too."
McLaughlin finished third, followed by Kevin Lepage and Todd Bodine in the top-five. Kenseth, Jarrett, who has the pole Sunday as he attempts a sweep of Darlington's two Winston Cup events this year, and Martin were sixth through eighth, respectively, the last cars on the lead lap.
Robert Pressley and Ken Schrader rounded out the top-10. Chevys took the first six positions, the only Fords among the top finishers were Martin, who led twice for 56 laps and came in with a Busch series-record five victories and five poles at Darlington, and Jarrett.
Trickle had a pretty good idea he'd beat Earnhardt, but figured he'd need to wait for an official verification before beginning his celebration.
I felt I won. I ain't got nothing to do but hold it to the floor and shoot straight for that line. It ain't much work, so I'm able to just kinda watch. When we crossed the line, I felt that I had about four inches on him. But in my short track days, I've figured I've had leads of about six inches and they gave it to the other guys. What's the call gonna be? I felt that I had it at the line. My crew didn't say nothing. My spotter said, You had him at the line. Until we took the white flag, none of the team said a word. Who knows? The engine could blow. You can't count chickens. It ain't over 'til it's over. When we came across on the white flag lap, the crew went crazy. They didn't say a word prior to that.
It took Trickle 1 hour, 37 minutes and 46 seconds to complete the race at an average speed of 123.233 mph.
There were six lead changes among four drivers and four caution flags that slowed 19 of the event's 147 laps.
Trickle, who started in the fourth position for the event, led the final 24 laps and earned $24,850 for his efforts.
Much of Saturday, it was Mark Martin and pole-winner Mike McLaughlin who took turns battling for the lead.
McLaughlin led the most laps (66), Martin was second (56) and Trickle third (24).
Of the top-10 finishers, six are NASCAR Winston Cup Series regulars.
Results And Race Statistics
Shortly after the race, Trickle hit the third-turn wall with his Winston Cup car. He was not injured, but was forced into a backup car and will have to go from 19th on the grid to the end of the field.
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