Lee and Struck knew each other for more than 10 years and had been engaged for 2 1/2 years. They had just moved in together two weeks prior to the accident. They were aiming for a winter wedding date.
“I told her I was going to win this race for her,” said Lee, who now wears Richelle’s engagement ring on a necklace.
“I don’t think there’s any way to describe it,” he added. “She was my best friend for 10 years.
“I knew she would’ve wanted me to keep racing.”
It wasn’t easy, though, getting back in the car as Lee was trying to do something to help get back to some kind of normalcy.
“I was very nervous; I was more nervous than ever,” he said.
Not a day has passed where he hasn’t asked: Why her?
Parts of his memory is still cloudy when trying to recall the details, including how and when he was told Richelle had died. He vividly recalled it taking place on the Flight for Life helicopter as he kept screaming for Richelle, desperately wanting to know if she was OK.
Without any surprise, the past two months have been nothing but “hell” for Lee.
“I just keep thinking about her,” he added. “It’s the worst thing I could’ve ever imagined.”
He wishes it was him who died and not her.
In addition to wearing the engagement ring around his neck, he has a decal on the car that says, “In Loving Memory of Richelle Struck.” He also has “Give It All We Got Tonight” etched on his dashboard. It was the couple’s favorite song by George Strait.
Kenny Richards and Todd Ascherien, the two drivers battling for the division championship, finished second and third, respectively, in the feature. Normally, Richards has no problem finishing second to Lee because Lee is such a savvy veteran, a tough driver to beat. On this night, there was no exception.
“Roger needed this,” Richards said.
“I’ll finish second to Roger any day,” he added. “Roger’s a veteran racer. He’s one of those (drivers) when you finish second to him, it’s like winning.”
Everybody at Beaver Dam felt like a winner because Roger won.
At the track, Struck helped with the car setup, cleaned his helmet and was always there to give a good luck kiss before Lee went on the track.
While it was hard to be back at the track, it was a bit of a relief.
“It’s nice to see all the drivers again,” Lee said. “I have to thank (the drivers and fans) for all their support.”
Lee is still battling soreness with his chest and ribs. He had no idea what to expect in his first night back.
“I wasn’t sure if I could finish the race,” Lee said. “If I couldn’t finish it, I’d just pull into the infield.”
Struck wasn’t going to let him.