LOS ANGELES (Jan. 6, 2000) Todd Bobine Todd Bodine, who has been in and out of the Busch series for the past nine years, will walk across the stage for the sixth time after finishing fourth.
When he has driven a full season in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, Todd Bodine has been effective, competitive and, in most cases, a winner.
He fulfilled two of those three goals in 1999 and perhaps it was the failure of the No. 66 Phillips 66 Chevrolet team to win any races that grated on him the most. But with the exception of failing to make it to Victory Lane, the 35-year-old Chemung, N.Y., veteran's trip to fourth place in the NASCAR Busch Series standings in his third go-round with Cicci-Welliver Racing had to be considered a success.
"At the beginning of 1999 we established a goal that we wanted to go to every race track and have a car capable of running in and competing in the top-5," Bodine said. "Except for maybe a few events, we did that."
Indeed he did. Paired with older brother Brett Bodine's brother-in-law Donnie Richeson as his crew chief, Bodine scored 10 top-5 and 21 top-10 finishes in 32 races. Each figure was only one number shy of his career bests.
"The only thing we didn't have enough of was the luck and in this sport you have to have both skill and luck," Bodine said, shaking his head with a smile. "But, that's out of our hands."
What was in Bodine's and Richeson's hands was their qualifying performance and that was another bone of contention for the team. While his average finish was just over 13th, his average start ballooned to over 20th. More than anything that kept the team's finishes less than what they could have been, but even at that Bodine was able to convert a 19th place start to a fifth at Atlanta, a 38th and a 35th to fifths at Bristol, a 37th to a fourth at Richmond and 17th and 15th to thirds at Dover and Pikes Peak, respectively.
His best outing came on the "rub-em-up" short track at Indianapolis Raceway Park, where he started seventh and finished second. However, runs to fifth at Rockingham and fourth at Memphis, in the home stretch when he was still fighting to hold on to the top-5 in the points, bolster his hopes for the NASCAR 2000 season.
"We had a good season with the Phillips 66 car and we're looking forward to 2000," Bodine said. "We have a strong foundation to build on and we're going to do what we have to do to get the championship in 2000."
Previously Bodine has had best finishes of second in the points in 1997 and third in both 1996 and 1992. He could be right when he calls NASCAR 2000 his best shot yet.
"We just didn't have any luck on our side, which has pretty much been the story of our season," he said. "But we're keeping the same team together for next year, same crew chief and same sponsor. We'll just take the time we've got and get prepared for 2000."