BUSCH: T. Bodine on the perils of Nazareth

NAZARETH, PA. --- Nazareth Speedway serves as the source of frustration for a number of drivers in the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division. Although not a road course, the one-mile track provides twists and turns not only in its ...

NAZARETH, PA. --- Nazareth Speedway serves as the source of frustration for a number of drivers in the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division. Although not a road course, the one-mile track provides twists and turns not only in its configuration but also in the race. Nestled deep in the Lehigh Valley, the NASCAR Busch Series makes its annual visit to the one-mile oval on July 18 for the running of the Econo Lodge 200. Todd Bodine, driver of the Phillips 66 Chevrolet, has developed a system for getting around Nazareth Speedway. It's a system that has given the Chemung, N.Y. - native a win and a pole as well as two top-five finishes and three top 10s in six starts. The system Bodine developed has worked nicely not only for him but also for other Nazareth Speedway winners including teammate Tim Fedewa, the track's only two-time winner in NASCAR Busch Series competition. "Some people look at Nazareth as having only four corners," Bodine explained. "I look at it as having five because of the fifth turn is right before you get to the start/finish line. The first year I competed at Nazareth I had a hard time with the track. The next year I came back I figured out a good line for getting around the track. That was the year we won the race." Bodine's win at Nazareth Speedway was during the 1992 Busch Series event and was the second of his NASCAR Busch Series career. He followed that performance up by sitting on the pole the following year. Four years later in 1997, Bodine started second in the Busch Series race and finished second to Elliott Sadler, another individual who benefitted from Bodine's Nazareth expertise. "Elliott (Sadler) is really good on the short, flat tracks," Bodine said. "He won three races that year and they were all flat tracks. But, when he first started practicing at Nazareth he was having a hard time adjusting to the track because it is very different than other one-mile ovals. I showed him the line to take and he ended up winning both the pole and the race." Since joining the Busch Series schedule in 1988, only one major item has changed about Nazareth - the date of the Busch Series event. Typically run in May, the day after NASCAR's all-star race The Winston, the Busch Series event in Nazareth is in July this year. Although the change of date may not affect the drivers, crew chief Donnie Richeson believes the set-ups used in the past will be affected. "I believe it has to affect the way the cars will handle some," Richeson explained. "Going into the race, regardless of whether it's in July or May, the set-up changes because of the new Goodyear tire and the new bodies on the Chevrolets. Plus, it is going to be hot in Nazareth in July, so that throws another factor into the mix. "Tim (Fedewa) and the 36 team tested there and picked up a few things that we'll be able to use. Tim gets around that place pretty good so I think the information they learned will help us out a lot." Being that the new weekend for the Busch Series event is also an off-weekend for Winston Cup, Richeson believes some of the Winston Cup regulars may make the trip to Nazareth to compete in the race. "Some of those guys may have sponsor obligations they need to fulfill because they may have missed a race or because of the race location," Richeson said. "So, we may see one or two of those guys at the Nazareth race this year." Regardless of the changes, Bodine and the Phillips 66 team are looking to duplicate their past success at Nazareth for 2000. "Nazareth is a track where I have done, and can do, well," Bodine said. "If we can duplicate some of our past performances then we have an opportunity to gain some ground in this championship battle. It will take a lot of work on our part, but I believe this Phillips 66 team is up to the challenge."

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Todd Bodine , Elliott Sadler