Stricklin’s best finish wrecked

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 24, 2002

After running in the top 10 most of the day, Calera native Hut Stricklin had hopes of a NASCAR win dashed with 14 laps to go at the New England 300 in New Hampshire Sunday.

Stricklin and Ricky Rudd traded paint following a wreck involving Dale Earnhardt, Jr., sending Stricklin into the wall and out of contention.

&uot;Really, I’m unsure what happened,&uot; Stricklin said. &uot;Dale Jr. had a wreck ahead of us, and I went high through the smoke to get away from it. When I came through the other side of the smoke, everything looked fine. The next thing I knew, (Ricky) Rudd was coming up the track at me at a 45-degree angle. He hit me in my left front and sent me into the wall.&uot;

Stricklin, who was in 12th place at the time of the incident, finished the race in the 31st position.

&uot;Rudd probably got bumped by someone trying to avoid the Earnhardt, Jr. wreck,&uot; Stricklin said.

Stricklin said his team has been working hard, but cannot seem to catch a break.

&uot;This team has really come together this year, but we just aren’t able to put together the finishes. It’s a real shame. We had a very good car, and it was odd, because we seemed to do better on older tires than new ones, which really helped us out with track position.&uot;

Stricklin, who races for Bill Davis Racing, said he is still unsure what is in store for him next season.

&uot;Right now, I am in limbo,&uot; Stricklin said. &uot;Hills Bros. has yet to make a decision about which way they want to go, and until they do, I just have no way of knowing what is going to happen. Right now, Ricky Rudd holds the trump card, because he has not decided whether he is going to stay with Robert Yates Racing or not.

&uot;There are about five teams interested in Ricky if he decides to leave, and that puts a lot of us in limbo. I should know something by the end of the month or so.&uot;

The 31st-place finish earned the Calera native $43,625. Stricklin remains in 32nd place in the Winston Cup Championship standings.

The next race will be the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday