Former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle found dead after apparent suicide

April 19 2002: Dick Trickle stands next to his ride during qualifying for the Aaron's 499 at Talledega Superspeedway - Getty Images

Racing fans mourn a legendary driver on Thursday.

Former NASCAR driver and legendary short-track racer Dick Trickle, 71, has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Lincoln County (N.C.) Sheriff's Office and first reported by WSMV-TV.

In a statement from Lincoln County Communications Center, the sheriff's office received a call, apparently from Trickle, at 12:02 p.m. from Forest Lawn Cemetery stating "there would be a dead body and it would be his."

When emergency personnel arrived they found Trickle's body lying near his pickup truck.

Though he was never able to win a Sprint Cup Series race, with a funny name that made him a popular reference on SportsCenter along with a jovial personality, Trickle became one of NASCAR's most popular drivers throughout the 1990s.

Born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Trickle won more than 1,000 short-track races in his career and numerous championships.

Trickle was the 1989 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year and last competed in NASCAR in 2002. In his career, he made 303 Cup starts with a best finish of third. He also competed in 158 Nationwide Series races collecting two victories.

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