Trickle 'Too Tough'...
...At DarlingtonDarlington, S.C. - March 15, 2000
Dick Trickle visits Darlington Raceway this weekend, a track that over the years has earned the title, "Too Tough To Tame" for the running of the SunCom 200 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division event on Saturday. Trickle's last win came at this track where he edged out Dale Earnhardt Jr. in September 1998. Trickle's NASCAR Busch Series performance numbers in the No. 5 Schneider National Chevrolet clearly show that he has found a way to tame Darlington. In Trickle's last eight series starts here, he has posted one win, five top-5s and six top-10s. His average starting position has been eighth.
Trickle's average finishing position was 3.67 prior to last season, when he crashed while running third in last year's race. In the 1,176 laps that were contested in those races, Trickle completed 99 percent of those laps. Trickle comes to Darlington this weekend with Bryan Shaffer, his crew chief for the past four years and who set-up the cars for Trickle in the last eight races at Darlington. Trickle and his team come to Darlington with some momentum, after posting their season-best performance last weekend at Atlanta. They started 39th and finished eighth in the Aaron's 312 and moved-up 12 positions in the standings.
Darlington is definitely a driver's track, and that's probably why I've had so much success there. Darlington is a place that you've got to respect, but yet be aggressive and you must take care of your equipment. Bryan Shaffer and I have enjoyed a lot of success at Darlington, and maybe we can find a way to further elevate our program this weekend, and move the Schneider team closer to our goal of winning the championship. Everybody on this team including my car owner Jimmy Spencer are so focused on winning this year, and I think we've got the car and the team to beat this weekend.
If Trickle can win the championship this year, he would be the oldest driver in NASCAR history to win, at the age of 59. Trickle has won seven Bud Poles and two wins in 129 career starts in the NASCAR Busch Series and finished 11th in the points last season, Trickle's best championship finish in a long NASCAR career. Bud Pole Qualifying to set the 43-car field for the SunCom 200 is Friday afternoon.
Top 15 Qualifying Run Gives Trickle New HopeDarlington, SC; Sunday, 3/19/2000; by Larry Woody; The Tennessean
Dick Trickle is smokin'. That's hardly stop-the-presses news when it comes to Trickle, a 59-year-old racing throwback. He is the only NASCAR driver who smokes in public, openly flaunting health warnings, political correctness and NASCAR's carefully-cultivated choirboy driver image. Trickle smokes in the garage. He smokes in his motor home. He smokes in restaurants. If they don't have a smoking section, they don't get Trickle's business. He has even been know to sneak a butt in his race car during caution laps. If an autograph seeker wants Trickle's signature he or she generally has to endure a puff of second-hand smoke to get it. Some wonder if Trickle smokes in his sleep. Some also wonder if there is still a place in today's slick, polished world of stock car racing for an uncompromising old dinosaur like Dick Trickle.
He answered that question resoundingly Friday when he qualified 12th for today's Mall.com 400 at Darlington Raceway. Trickle was faster than a lot of young NASCAR hotshots less than half his age, kids who were toddling in diapers when Trickle was winning over 1,200 races on tough little Midwest bull rings around his home in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
It's unbelievable that we were that close to where we want to be, said Trickle after his amazing first outing as A.J. Foyt's new driver.
Foyt — another crusty old racing fossil — got fed up with young driver Mike Bliss after he failed to qualify for the third straight race last week. "Something's gotta change," Foyt said. And something did. Foyt put Bliss on hold and hired Trickle to drive today's race and next week's race at Bristol. Trickle last season ran nine Winston Cup races for four different teams. He found himself out of a ride at the start of the season, and was resigned to competing in the second-tier Busch Series. Then came Foyt's offer. From one old racer to another. Foyt said he liked Trickle's grit and moxie. He also liked Trickle's experience on the rugged tracks of Darlington and Bristol, where drivers have to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.
It's a great opportunity for me. And it's good for the sport. It's good to have a mix of old boys and young guys. One day down the road there ain't gonna be many of us old guys out there.
Counting his thousands of weekly short-track races, Trickle has logged more laps than any active NASCAR driver with the possible exceptions of Dave Marcis and Darrell Waltrip. But since running his first Winston Cup race in 1970, Trickle has never won one of NASCAR's big-league events. He's not kidding himself — he probably won't win today. But on Friday he out-drove all but 11 of NASCAR's finest. He proved that he can make the show, and that's something to crow about. When Trickle says he's got a lot more racing left in him, NASCAR's senior citizen is not just blowing smoke.
The Only Winston Cup Race I Like Better Than The Spring Race At Bristol, Is The Night Race At Bristol In The Fall.Bristol, Tn - March 22, 2000; Team Conseco; The Racin' Network
Dick Trickle will make his second start in the No. 14 Conseco Pontiac this weekend in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Trickle drove A.J. Foyt's Conseco Pontiac this past weekend in Darlington posting the 12th fast time during qualifying and finishing 31st. Dick Trickle has 20 career starts at Bristol. His best start was third (8/23/97) and his best finish was third (8/25/90). Throughout his storied career, A.J. Foyt has competed at nearly 200 race tracks around the world. But in all those years, he never visited "Thunder Valley." When A.J. walks under the stands in turn three, he will see the track for the very first time.
Trickle, who is credited with winning more than 1,200 short track races in his career, is looking forward to the challenge of racing on the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.
I really like running at Bristol. It's one of my favorite tracks. You know when you go there you'd better get ready to do some racing. Bristol is the kind of place where the driver is a bigger part of the equation. I've had a lot of good runs at Bristol over the years. The only comparison you could make between Bristol and any other track we race on is to say that Bristol is a half-mile Dover, and Dover is a mile-long Bristol. I hear that Goodyear has developed a new tire for Bristol. It's supposed to be a half-second faster than before. Sounds good to me!
Team Conseco Crew Chief Terry Wooten has worked with Trickle before. Wooten and a friend were attending an ASA race in Cincinnati, OH in the early 1980' s. Trickle had wrecked his car during practice and was repairing the car when Wooten and his friend wandered up. Trickle immediately put the two to work. They helped fix the car. Trickle went on to win the race. Over the next four years, Wooten served as a member of Trickle's road crew. "I've known Dick for a long time. He is one of the most talented drivers I've ever seen. The thing about Dick is that he can go out, make a lap, and as he is coming back into the pits he's on the radio telling us what the car was doing. He is very specific about what the car is doing every inch around the track. And before he comes to a stop in the garage stall, we're throwing different ideas back and forth at each other over the radio and putting together a game plan. We're able to make the changes and get him back out on the track fast. That's key during practice. Working with an experienced driver like Trickle allows us to make more changes and learn more about that race car in a shorter period of time."
Foyt Fine Tuning NASCAR Team For Directv 500Fort Worth-Dallas; March 23, 2000
Native Texan A.J. Foyt made quite a name for himself driving every sort of race car one could imagine. Most noted for his unequaled success in open-wheel racing, Foyt is pouring his energy into an added venture this year - NASCAR Winston Cup racing. He is owner of the #14 Conseco Pontiac, a new team which has struggled in the early portion of the 2000 season. Foyt originally hired Mike Bliss to drive for his Winston Cup team, but after qualifying for just the Daytona 500 in the first four races of the season, Foyt replaced the rookie driver with veteran Dick Trickle for races at Darlington and Bristol. "We are just trouble-shooting the program right now to find out all the things that need to be changed or worked on," Foyt told media during a stop at Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday prior to flying to Bristol, Tenn., for Sunday's Winston Cup race. "Dick (Trickle) gave us some experience immediately and we were able to qualify 12th at Darlington. We are just looking to see what we need to do from here."
Foyt has not indicated who will be behind the wheel of the #14 car for the NASCAR Winston Cup DIRECTV 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 2. He is waiting until the outcome of the race this weekend in Bristol. "I like to stay busy, always have," Foyt said. "Now is the most feasible time in my career to do something like this (start a NASCAR team). I have surrounded myself with good people in both my Indy car operation and in Team Conseco. Now, I can enjoy working with the race cars and the drivers."
Foyt Ponders Driver Choice
Bliss put on probation' as Foyt figures out next moveBy Mark Ashenfelter; NASCAR Winston Cup Scene; March 23, 2000
Ted Musgrave and Randy LaJoie have been contacted about driving for A.J. Foyt Racing if the team decides Mike Bliss won't remain as its full-time driver after the March 26 race at Bristol. Dick Trickle drove the car to a 31st-place finish after qualifying 12th at Darlington. He will again pilot the car at Bristol. Foyt plans to evaluate the team at that time to decide whether to retain Bliss or go in a different direction. If that's the decision, Musgrave has already received feelers from the team. "Not A.J. himself, no," Musgrave said March 18 when asked if he'd spoken with Foyt. "They've talked about it. We're not really sure what's going on over there. I haven't really taken a look to see what kind of program it is. But a name like A.J. Foyt, he's going to have it right sooner or later. It's not going to just die off. I think they're committed to make it right somehow. It may be time is all they need over there. ... Internally, I don't know what the program is. But I know A.J.'s not going to stand still."
Musgrave is currently driving the Bessey Motorsports Chevrolet until Geoffrey Bodine recovers from injuries suffered in the NASCAR Craftsman Thick Series race at Daytona. Co-owner Joe Bessey said March 18 there was no set timetable for Bodine's return. "It depends on what's going on here," Musgrave said of how seriously he'd consider a formal offer from Foyt. "I'm pretty much committed to keep going until Geoffrey's ready. That's the number one thing right now, before anything else." Foyt is also believed to have contacted Rick Mast, but the Larry Hedrick Motorsports driver declined comment March 18 Trickle could be an option, but he is committed to Jimmy Spencer's Busch Series team, meaning he couldn't drive the entire Winston Cup schedule. Foyt would like to pick a driver and stick with him if he makes a change. LaJoie said March 20 that he'd received a call about the Foyt ride, but declined because he was already working on a couple of other part-time Winston Cup opportunities. "I don't like to jump around. I like to get settled with one guy if we're going to do something like that," Foyt said March 18. "My partner Conseco and I would have to tall that over with who they want to put in it. It's got to be agreeable to both of us. I know they want somebody they can market. As far as me saying yea or nay, or as far as me talking to anybody like that, I haven't."
Foyt believes he has a top-10 car and wanted the perspective provided by a veteran such as Trickle. "Dick's been around for a long time and he's had a pretty good track record here and at Bristol," Foyt said. "I've known him for a long time. I think he'll be honest with me and tell us what he thinks is wrong. I feel like we have atop-10 car, but you never know, Right now, it hasn't showed that." Bliss was with the team at Darlington, but was unsure of his status. "From what I've been told, Trickle is going to run this race (Darlington) and Bristol and I'm still on the payroll and I'm still the driver, but we're evaluating after that", Bliss said March 17. "That means I'm on a two-week probation right now, I guess. It's no fun not making the race and something had to change. I didn't think it needed to be the driver, but they did. "If we came here and didn't change nothing, it wouldn't be no fun, because we'd probably be where we are every weekend. Something had to change and they felt it was the driver. That's fine. Maybe someone else can help them out. I hope they can ... It's going to take somebody that they respect to tell them what's wrong with the team, if there is any thing." Trickle said his job was to serve as the team's computer, providing feedback to team manager Waddell Wilson and brew chief Terry Wooten. Wilson was thrilled with the results. "You always wonder where you are, but until it gets verified, you don't know," Wilson said March 17. "(Qualifying) says that it's a decent car, there is speed in the car and we were wondering what was wrong and questioning what we were doing. ... It wasn't like the boys, as a group, didn't know what they were doing building engines or working on the car."
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