Daytona II: Todd Bodine preview

A high speed chess game in the works at Daytona. It's known as the biggest crapshoot in motorsports-- restrictor plate racing at Daytona International Speedway. Saturday night's running of the Pepsi 400 marks not only the halfway point in the...

A high speed chess game in the works at Daytona.

It's known as the biggest crapshoot in motorsports-- restrictor plate racing at Daytona International Speedway. Saturday night's running of the Pepsi 400 marks not only the halfway point in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season, but the return of the high-banked, bumper-to-bumper racing at the' world center of speed'. For Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 26 Discover® Card Ford, he sees this event not as a game of craps, but instead a game of chess.

"Someone once described racing at Daytona like a high speed chess game," remarked Bodine. "They couldn't have depicted it better. This form of racing is more than mashing down on the pedal and turning left. Daytona requires a driver to be so incredibly calculating. For 200 laps, you must anticipate what is happening in front of you, pick and choose who you run best with aerodynamically, and determine the right time to pull out of one line in the draft to race in another. It's one of the most taxing races on a driver's mind."

Since the beginning of the season, Ford drivers have been talking about a downforce deficit that drastically reduces the car's competitiveness against the Chevrolet, Pontiac and Dodge teams at superspeedways. NASCAR has been listening. This time the sanctioning body has ruled in favor of a rear spoiler reduction from 6 inches high to 5 7/8th inches high. The smaller spoiler is in effect for only the Pepsi 400. In retrospect, the Fords' rear spoiler was 5 3/4 inches tall in February at the Daytona 500 and 6 inches tall in April at Talladega Superspeedway. Regardless, Bodine finds the new rule promising. "You are not going to get any complaints from me. I applaud NASCAR for looking at the wind tunnel data and analyzing it properly. We have been battling this issue all season long. Our downforce numbers are not equivalent to what the other cars are registering. We aren't lobbying for an advantage; we just want to be brought up to par with the other manufacturers. A decision like this is a win-win situation for everyone. The Ford teams will hopefully be move competitive and the fans will see a better race."

Regardless of the calculating mindset required by the Discover Card driver at Daytona, one goal has already been predetermined," to get to the front as fast as I can." Bud Pole qualifying for the Pepsi 400 is on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. ET. It will air LIVE on FX. Saturday's green flag waves at 7:30 p.m. ET LIVE on FOX and MRN radio.

-h/cm-

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Todd Bodine