BUSCH: T. Bodine Memphis preview

MEMPHIS, TENN. --- It's the one that got away. That is how the Phillips 66 Racing Performance Team reflects on the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division event at Memphis Motorsports Park. Todd Bodine was considered the driver to...

MEMPHIS, TENN. --- It's the one that got away. That is how the Phillips 66 Racing Performance Team reflects on the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division event at Memphis Motorsports Park. Todd Bodine was considered the driver to beat in the event after two days of practice at the one-mile facility. He was considered the one to beat until misfortune stepped in the way. The Phillips 66 Racing Team qualified fifth for the inaugural Sam's Town 250. Although Bodine was not the fastest qualifier, he was the fastest in race set-up, which was displayed in the early going of the 250-lap event. "The car was just incredible last year at Memphis," Bodine said. "I could put it anywhere I wanted it and we were still the class of the field." At one point in the event Bodine had carved out a three-second lead on the rest of the competitors. As Bodine recalls, the Phillips 66 Chevrolet was on cruise control. "I really was just driving and not even pushing the car hard," Bodine recalled. "That's a pretty good feeling to be out in front like that and look in the rearview mirror to see them scrambling for second behind you." Everything was under control for the Phillips 66 team until a late race caution provided the final opportunity for pit stops. Service on the Phillips 66 Chevrolet had been completed and Bodine was down and away when a car heading to the exit of pit road tagged the right front side of the No. 66 which required repairs. Bodine lost valuable track position during a series of stops that followed during the caution so the Phillips 66 team could tape the right front corner of the car and lift sheet metal from the tire. "That incident still disappoints me," Bodine grimaced. "The pit road is pretty narrow at Memphis. We were leaving our pit just as Bobby Hillin was pulling alongside us and he got the right front pretty good. The team did a good job of fixing the car but we were so far back in the running order that we just ran out of time to get back to the lead." Bodine was in 23rd position when green flag racing resumed after the incident. He was quick to make up the ground he lost. As the race laps started to wind down it became evident that Bodine's Chevrolet was still the fastest horse in the race. With less that 50 laps to go, however, fourth place was as far as he could get before race winner Jeff Green took the win. "I just recently watched a replay of that race," Bodine said. "It's still pretty sickening to watch." The team's prowess at the west Tennessee facility was carefully developed during a two-day test session prior to the race weekend. Crew chief Donnie Richeson hopes the information learned last year at the track will translate into success during the 2000 Sam's Town 250. "It isn't often that you take a car to the track and it's pretty close to perfect as soon as you unload it from the hauler," Richeson recalled. "The race will be a little different this year as it has been at just about all the tracks because of the changes in the Monte Carlo body. Memphis is a lot like Richmond and this team is pretty capable of fielding a good car at that facility. Hopefully, between our notes from Memphis last year and our notes from Richmond this year, we'll be able to figure something out." Another thing that will be different for the 2000 Sam's Town 250 is the car with which Bodine will compete. "Twister" is the machine Bodine ran in 1999, but it's "Fido" that will take to the track on October 29. "Fido" is the same machine that Bodine won the pole with and finished fourth with at Richmond in early September. Bodine believes that the team is capable of duplicating its 1999 performance despite the changes made going into Memphis for the 2000 event. "This team is a solid and competitive team," Bodine explained. "We've done a lot of good things this year despite all the bad luck we've had. If we just stick to our game plan, we should be able to get the win that we should have had last year at Memphis."

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Todd Bodine , Jeff Green