Sweeps Round 1 of Miller Lite Nationals!
June 10, 1998; Slinger, WI - Rich Bickle (Concord, NC) dominated Round 1 of the 19th Annual Miller Lite Nationals of Wednesday night, June 10th at the Slinger Super Speedway. Bickle claimed both 100 lap late model features that made up the first of the two round series on the Worlds Fastest 1/4 Mile Oval. He would lead the most laps in each of the features as well as take home the Mac Tools Half-Way Challenge of both races as well.
Bickle would move away from Scott Wimmer (Whitefish Bay) in the nightcap after caution on lap 78 ate up the lead that Bickle had worked his way to. Wimmer, who is a regular on the Jackaroo Pro Cup Series, made the most of the chance by sticking to Bickles rear deck, pulling to the outside with notions of overtaking the lead. He would have to back off in his quest for the lead as veteran Slinger Speedway racer, Tony Strupp (West Bend) moved up to challenge for the runner up spot. The battle for second allowed Bickle to slowly pull away as he finished some 12 car lengths ahead of the side by side fight for second.
Wimmer and Strupp waged a fierce battle over the final 17 circuits, as the two crossed the line with the advantage going to Wimmer by less than a car length. A short distance behind the race for second and third, ASA driver Scott Hansen (Concord, NC) and 5 time late model track champion, Al Schill (Franklin) hooked up in a fight for fourth and fifth. The two battled with 25 laps remaining and traded places on the scoreboard, with neither driver able to pull ahead. At the line Hansen would claim 4th, while Schill Sr. settled for 5th. Bickle, who started thirteenth, quickly moved to the front working lap 34. Wimmer followed tightly behind him and into second nine laps after the Winston Cup driver passed Gary St. Amant (Columbus, OH), for the lead. St. Amant, who is the point leader for the ASA Series, would experience problems with the car that is maintained out of the same shop as the Bickle ride. Bickles car would not falter in any way as he lead the final 66 laps.
In the first 100 lapper, Bickle would not have the leisure of motoring to as easy of a victory. Bickle and Wimmer would again find themselves in a heated battle for the lead as the final 5 laps ticked away. Wimmer would run out of time when the checkered fell as it took him 20 circuits after the fifth and final caution waved on lap 75 to make up the deficit Bickle gained at the drop of the green flag. Wimmer, who has finished in the runner up position the last four feature races at the track, had been painted to the rear deck of Bickle prior to reaching the 75 lap mark. Bickle benefitted from a sub-par qualifying effort which placed him outside of row two.
He would only have to make up three positions and gained the lead working lap 32. Following Bickle and Wimmer were Tony Strupp (West Bend) who started eighth, Al Schill (Franklin) who finished fourth and Cindy Peterson (Butler) finishing fifth. Peterson gained 15 positions in the race after she earned her way into the main by winning the 35 lap late model semi-feature. The race experienced four cautions collecting strong contenders for the Miller Lite Nationals Crown.
The list included fast qualifier for the event Brad Mueller (Random Lake), Conrad Morgan (Wales), Lowell Bennett (Neenah), and Hansen. Mueller turned a lap of 11.591 seconds, the fastest on the track this season. Other visiting ASA regular Mike Garvey (Suwanee, GA) finished 10th and 7th and St. Amant finished 12th and 14th. Morgan whose car was minus the front body work rebounded to finish 6th in the nightcap.
Overall point leaders heading into Round 2 of the Miller Lite Slinger Nationals Tuesday night, July 14th are Bickle (2434), Wimmer (2110), Strupp (1957), Schill Sr. (1650) and Zimmerman (1619).
SEMI FEATURE - 35 laps
1ST 100 LAP FEATURE
2ND 100 LAP FEATURE
OVERALL SLINGER NATIONALS POINTS AFTER ROUND 1