NASCAR's Solution to Ending Jimmie Johnson's Title Reign: Cole Trickle (Humor)

Rob TiongsonSenior Analyst INovember 1, 2009

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 15:  Actor Tom Cruise poses in front of the car used in the film 'Days of Thunder' on track prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2009 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

Fans, all that fretting and worrying over who will dethrone Jimmie Johnson from the top of the NASCAR heap has come to a screeching and merciful halt.

For those who watched NASCAR during the 1989 and '90 Winston Cup seasons, there was a driver who hailed from California and possessed so much God-given talent instantly praised by the likes of Harry Gant, Rusty Wallace, and the late Neil Bonnett.

He was Jeff Gordon before the young sensation joined the Cup circuit, often cited by the four-time series champion as his motivation into defecting from the open wheel ranks.

Yes, indeed folks, that individual is 47-year-old and former Daytona 500 champion Cole Trickle, who has decided to make a triumphant return to stock car racing.

Trickle, along with long-time tire changer Buck Brotherton, will join the Sprint Cup ranks in 2010 with their world famous green-and-yellow No. 46 City Chevrolet Impala SS.

With Rick Hendrick providing technical assistance to Days of Thunder Motorsports, similar to his partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing, the expectations are high for the former auto racing sensation.

However, Trickle sees this opportunity as his ultimate chance to prove himself as a bona fide NASCAR superstar, licking his chops for his return to NASCAR racing.

"A lot of people screwed me over with my last deal," Trickle said during the unveiling announcement at the Daytona International Speedway infield media center.

"From Tim Daland, who was like the girl giving me empty promises, to even that doctor girl, what's her name? Oh, forget about it. I'm just ready to race."

It seemed like yesterday when the Californian was ready to establish his place amongst the NASCAR gods, dominating at circuits like Darlington and Daytona before he inexplicably walked away from the sport for the spotlight.

Trickle's last appearance at a NASCAR race was his 1990 Daytona 500 victory, when he was spotted having a footrace with crew chief Harry Hogge to the winner's circle.

That's when his world started to crumble and fall apart.

From his former crew members bolting from Daland's organization to sponsor Mellow Yellow flocking to Felix Sabates' No. 42 Pontiac team (piloted by Kyle Petty), the writing was on the wall for this incredible racer.

Daland assured his young driver that he was a part of his team's future, even with the arrival of teammate Russ Wheeler and sponsor Hardee's.

Unfortunately, those assurances proved to be fruitless as Wheeler's constant betrayals, claiming that Trickle was afraid of racing, prompted Daland to release his star driver.

"He promised me that I was going to drive his car for as long as I wanted," Trickle sternly recalled. "But what a monkey fart he was, electing to go with that 'Blondie' and abandoning me."

Despite Trickle's unwarranted release and his horrifying crash in the 1989 Pepsi 400, when his No. 46 SuperFlo Chevrolet barrel-rolled down the backstretch at full speed, he overcame the traumatic physical and psychological damage from those incidents by winning the '90 Daytona 500 in an independent ride.

"Yea, that was a heckuva deal, that crash in '89," he said with a slight grimace. "For a moment there, I thought I was really dead. It's like I said back then, this is the only thing I knew how to do."

Apparently, Trickle found other things to do after his Cinderella-like victory 19 years ago. He quietly hung up his helmet and walked away from the sport that he had began to love much like his open wheel career.

"I tried getting into Hollywood and I got a few roles, but they confused me for this guy named Tom Cruise," Trickle said with his recognizable laugh. "You know, that man does bear a striking resemblance to me."

Serving as Cruise's stunt double in the Mission Impossible series to his surprise appearance in last year's comedy, Tropic Thunder , Trickle said he felt the sensation to drive in NASCAR again "after I saw how boring it became with that Johnson fella winning all the time."

"I raced against guys like Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Harry Gant, and Richard Petty," Trickle confidently said. "And I knew how to beat them.

I look at today's racers and I know I can beat the crap out of a guy like Jeff Gordon, the Busch brothers, and Jimmie Johnson. Those guys don't stand a chance against me at all!"

With his near two-decade long absence from the sport, Trickle has decided to enter the last three races of the NASCAR Nationwide Series as well as the season finale for the Sprint Cup division.

Leading Trickle's efforts will be crew chief Buck Brotherton, who assumes the role once run by the late Harry Hogge. Their pit crew includes former Cup champion Rowdy Burns, who will serve as the captain and jackman of the No. 46 team.

"He may have been a bit of a jackass back then, stealing my ride and motorcycle," Burns said with his now-gruff voice. "But the kid deserves another chance in Cup racing. After all, he did win me a Daytona 500."

Whether or not Trickle successfully completes his comeback in NASCAR, one thing can be assured: all eyes will be on the man once hailed as the next best thing for stock car racing in 1990.

As the series heads into 2010, NASCAR needs a new face atop the game. Perhaps, Trickle and his No. 46 Chevy will answer the calls of fans who long for the ending of Jimmie Johnson's title reign.

After all, Trickle puts it best when he was asked about his return to the Sprint Cup Series: "I won't make a fool out of you."