Wednesday, June 26, 2024

1977 - Trickle Capture I-70's Triple Crown

Dick Trickle is congratulated after winning the Triple Crown 300 at I-70 Speedway in Odessa. 

Odessa, Mo. (June 26, 1977) – The competition bordered on the fantastic Sunday in the Triple Crown 300 at I-70 Speedway, with unbelievably close finishes in two of the three 100-lap features. Neither of the first two 100-lappers was actually decided until the checkered flag was waving.

Dick Trickle of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., won two of the three features, taking the first 100 in a tight race to the checkered with Joe Shear of South Beloit, Ill., then beating Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., by two and one-half seconds in the final 100.

Shear won the second 100-lapper in a finish that topped the first one.

Trickle, the fastest qualifier in 17.84 seconds, or 108.969 miles per hour for the banked .54-mile asphalt speedway, in his 1977 Firebird, jumped into the lead at the start of the American Speed Association program, but was overtaken by Dave Watson of Milton, Wis., on lap 4. It would be the first of eight lead changes.

Watson’s 1977 Camaro was in the lead until lap 10, when Trickle scooted back in front, only to have Shear’s 1976 Camaro ahead for the first time on the 20th circuit.

Trickle regained the top spot on lap 35 and stayed there until lap 69, dueling with Shear all the way.

Shear took over on lap 70 but Trickle got it back five laps later, this time staying there until Shear pulled in front on lap 98.

Going low, Trickle regained the lead as the pair came to the white flag, and things came to a climatic finish as the two cars approached the finish line with a slow car in front of them.

Under ASA’s no move over-flag rule, it was every man for himself, and Trickle dove for the inside and Shear went high.

Trickle’s margin as three cars flashed across the start/finish line was just about a half-car length.

“Man, Trickle said during the break, “that was racing.”

The same two drivers were involved in the finish of the second 100-lapper with the position reversed and no slower car being involved.

At the start, with the cars still running at the end of the first 100 inverted, Vester Cates of Lawson, Mo., got in front for the first six laps, when 18-year-old Mark Martin of Batesville, Ark., managed to take over.

The youngster’s lead lasted only a lap as David Goldsberry of Bolivar, Mo., took over and led until the 17th circuit, when Watson took over the lead.

Goldsberry got it back for one lap, the 42nd, when Shear powered his way to the top spot and Trickle moved into second place shortly afterwards. Trickle then took the lead on lap 69 and had his hands full for the better part of 30 laps as Shear repeatedly applied pressure to Trickle’s rear bumper.

When the 10-lap signal went out, Shear appeared to have resigned himself to another second-place finish, but he began a last push as the white flag came out, and he dropped the nose of his Camaro under Trickle’s Pontiac as they went into thee first turn.

The two cars roared down the backstretch side-by-side, and a slower car dropped down on the banking in the third and fourth corners, giving Shear the opening he needed.

Shear, a three-time Rockford National Short Track champion, won a drag race to the flag by two feet. Shear later explained that he literally had to “cool his tires” for a while, and felt the strategy paid off.

“My tires were heating up, so I let Dick lead for a while without pushing too hard,” he explained. “I think I almost waited too long, but because my tires had a chance to cool off, I was able to pass him.”

The third 100 might have provided another charge to the checkered if Shear hadn’t been eliminated in a spectacular accident which also took out four other cars.

The trouble started when David Hall broke a sway bar in his Torino entering the first turn just as the leaders were completing lap 18. Hall was just about to be lapped by Trickle, Watson, Shear and others. The high-speed traffic found it impossible to avoid the sliding car.

“I got there but had no place to go,” Shear said.

Trickle suffered slight damage, which resulted in his losing the lead to Watson. The cars of Goldsberry, Bill Sanders and John Behee were taken out in addition to Hall and Shear.

Most of the frontrunners were forced to change tires on the red flag stop, due to the broken glass from Hall’s broken windshield.

Watson had the lead on the restart and the current ASA point leader held on the top spot until Trickle worked his way around Watson on lap 60. From there to the finish it was relatively easy for Trickle, so much that he lit up a cigarette during the last caution five laps from the end.

“The only thing wrong with smoking on the track,” he said, “is you can’t bum cigarettes out there.”

Trickle’s two feature wins paid $2,425, while Shear collected $1,560. Watson, who faded to sixth in the final 100 with hub problems, made $1,150 for the day.

Results –

Feature #1 –

1. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
2. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.
3. Jim Pierson, Janesville, Wis.
4. Dave Watson, Milton, Wis.
5. Rusty Wallace, St. Louis
6. David Goldsberry, Bolivar, Mo.

Feature #2 –

1. Joe Shear
2. Dick Trickle
3. Dave Watson
4. Larry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
5. Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark.
6. David Goldsberry

Feature #3 –

1. Dick Trickle
2. Larry Phillips
3. Mark Martin
4. Terry Brumley, Springfield, Mo.
5. Ron Jones, Muskogee, Okla.
6. Dave Watson
7. Bill Crane, Claycomo, Mo.
8. Raymond Pattison, Tulsa, Okla.
9. Jim Pierson
10.Vester Cates, Lawson, Mo.

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