FROM THE NO. 54 NATIONAL GUARD COCKPIT: DRIVER TODD BODINE Last year at this event you tied your best finish of seventh at Daytona. At the 500 this year, you were looking to better it but weather stepped in and wiped out your chances. What...
FROM THE NO. 54 NATIONAL GUARD COCKPIT: DRIVER TODD BODINE
Last year at this event you tied your best finish of seventh at Daytona. At the 500 this year, you were looking to better it but weather stepped in and wiped out your chances. What is it about restrictor-plate racing at Daytona that you like?
"With restrictor-plate racing a lot of it has to do with being at the right place at the right time. My role really is to mash the pedal down and to avoid braking at all costs. A big asset to me in February was actually my spotter, Cal Lawson. He's new to the team this year and has turned out to be a real asset. One of the things he kept watching was the high and low lines on the track. He would keep guiding me into the fastest line, which for me was the high line. When I could keep my car tucked in line and into that groove, it was one of the quickest cars on the track. Cal also kept a watchful eye for cars that were dicing things up a bit. It's no secret that restrictor-plate racing can wreak havoc so it's best to try and avoid situations that could lead to the 'big one'. I think spotters play a key role here and have their work cut out for them."
Besides your spotter and your ability to avoid the brakes, what else do you need here?
"It's pretty simple ... a good aero and engine package. For some reason our cars race very well here, but in qualifying trim, we've struggled a bit. Qualifying here on time will be very important to this team. We've got some good cars planning to make the trip down here that are not with us on a regular basis. This is not a place where you can safely count on a provisional. You can't afford to because you may find yourself missing the show."
This race has always been fun because of it falls during the 4th of July holiday. Will it mean more to you this time since you have the National Guard on board with you?
"Absolutely! It's been a special year for this race team because we haven't been advertising a product. We have been representing the efforts of over 350,000 Guard members. It's been especially important to recognize them during wartime and now during their peacekeeping efforts. I think I can speak for this entire National Guard race team, we no longer take for granted what we have because if it wasn't for our military --- past and present, we wouldn't be able to enjoy simple freedoms and that includes racing. I have had the privilege of meeting so many members of the military and it amazes me how they are so proud of what we do and how we represent them. They are to be commended for what they do, not us. Their commitment to this country and what it stands for truly puts things into perspective for me. If I can turn in a good performance for them this weekend then I feel that's the least I can do. They are the true heroes and I'm proud to have them on board my No. 54 race car."