Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 66 Blue Light Special/Kmart Taurus, will start from the outside of row one in tomorrow's UAW-GM Quality 500. Bodine, who will be making his fourth start of the season from the front row, spoke about the race and his...
Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 66 Blue Light Special/Kmart Taurus, will start from the outside of row one in tomorrow's UAW-GM Quality 500. Bodine, who will be making his fourth start of the season from the front row, spoke about the race and his hopes for backing up a solid qualifying effort.
--66-- Blue Light Special Taurus --
YOU'VE BEEN ON THE FRONT ROW A COUPLE OF TIMES THIS YEAR. CAN YOU TAKE ANYTHING FROM THOSE EXPERIENCES THAT MIGHT HELP TOMORROW? "Not really. You pretty much know what you've got to do at the beginning of the race and that's get in line and assess what kind of car you have. From there you have to work all day to try to get the right adjustments so it's right at the end. Keep good track position and stay towards the front. You want to try to put yourself in the right position for the end of the race. You can't worry about leading every lap or leading the first one. You just have to get in line and run some laps off."
YOU GUYS HAVE STRUGGLED IN THE RACE AT TIMES THIS YEAR. IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIFIC YOU'VE LEARNED TO FIX?
"It's a little of everything. Throughout the whole season we've made mistakes and we've made different mistakes. There have also been some times when we've done the right things. A lot of it has been a learning process of what adjustments to make to the car depending on what tire we're on, figuring out what kind of adjustments I like, me communicating to the team what I think we need to do. It's been a learning process and we've made some mistakes, but we've had some bright spots too. This is one tire we feel we kind of have a handle on with what we need to do and, hopefully, we can do all the right things and stay around the front all day. Our pit stops have gotten a lot better and, hopefully, we can do all the right things."
YOU LOOK AT TOMORROW FEELING YOU CAN WIN?
"Oh yeah. That's what we're here for every week. We don't come to finish fifth, but, at the same time, we have to be realistic. If we don't have a car that's capable of winning the race, we've got to just get the best finish we can. That's been my whole mindset the last few years. I was like all the other young kids when I first started. You want to run wide open every lap and get all you can get and win the race. Well, a lot of times that can get you in trouble. You've got to go as fast as it's gonna go, but you've got to stay out of trouble and get the best finish you can get. That's part of learning how to race and learning what to do during the race as a driver. Over the last two years, I think I've shown that's been one of my strongpoints. In the Busch Series, we've only had one win the last two years, but we've had over 30 top-five finishes. That's pretty good, so I've learned how to race and to keep it there for a whole race."
IT SEEMS MOST OF THE TROUBLE YOU'VE HAD HAS BEEN IN MID-PACK.
"Yeah, that's where the problems will start, but we've been in the front and had problems happen too, so you're not totally safe up front but that's definitely a better place to be. Usually, when you're in the front you're running with better cars that are handling better and have a tendency of getting in less trouble. That has been part of our problem is that we've gotten good cars, but we've put ourselves back in the middle of the pack and got in trouble like that. Like I say, you don't have to lead every lap, but you need to stay towards the front."
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 02 ALLTEL Taurus, sat on the pole the last time he was here at Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600. He ran into trouble, however, on lap 12 when he came out of turn four and spun before hitting the wall. Newman, who qualified fourth for tomorrow's event, spoke about that experience and what he learned as a result.
RYAN NEWMAN --02-- ALLTEL Taurus -- WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR LAST CHARLOTTE RACE THAT YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO USE TOMORROW?
"I think what I learned here in Charlotte in May I've applied ever since then. As far as going to Michigan and finishing fifth and the experiences I've had in Busch, I've learned a lot more about patience. We always talked about patience before the May race, but I think after that I learned about. As a team, we've come back stronger and with more information. We've also had more track time and more seat time for me, and I'm just looking forward to having more experience to be able to apply to another race weekend."
WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED HERE IN MAY AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THAT?
"I was just flat trying too hard and I didn't have the patience to go ahead and let (Jeff) Gordon go, knowing he was a little faster. I was just pushing too hard and I lost it. That just plain ended our day. I never let the pressure get to me when we were here in May because we had the pole and because we were so fast in practice and qualifying. I think some of that is gone now in the back of my mind, knowing that we didn't get the pole. We've got a good starting spot and maybe we can be in the position Jeff Gordon was in May -- being up there putting a little pressure on somebody."
DID THAT RACE IN MAY VALIDATE IN YOUR MIND THAT YOU BELONG AT THIS LEVEL?
"Oh definitely, not just for me but for the whole entire team. We're a bunch of rookies put together and by being put together we're no longer rookies. We're all experienced in our own fields and I think that answered a lot of feelings for everybody on the ALLTEL team, especially me because it takes the driver to help us perform. It's just a good feeling to know, especially after Kansas, that we can run with them and we can beat them. It's just going to be a matter of time."
WHEN THE GREEN FLAG FLIES TOMORROW, YOUR MINDSET IS TO WIN -- NOT JUST TURN LAPS, RIGHT?
"The best way to get experience is to do it when you're up front racing with the best. You leave yourself less vulnerable when you're out front and away from the traffic and tighter racing that goes on back there, especially with the dirtier air. If we can be up there, I think we can learn better and learn faster at the same time."
WILL YOU FOLLOW GUYS WITH EXPERIENCE TO TRY AND LEARN OR WILL YOU JUST RUN YOUR RACE?
"It's somewhat of a learning tool when you follow someone, but more so just as a reference for later in the race. 'How is this guy driving so I know how to pass him?' You find different ways to approach different drivers and by watching what they do during the race, that can help you later."
ARE YOU HAVING FUN WITH THIS STUFF?
"Oh yeah, I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm just blessed to have the opportunity with Penske and to be here in Charlotte for the Winston Cup race. This is something a lot of kids dream of and I'm fortunate to actually be living it."
- Ford Racing -