BUSCH: Todd Bodine Returns To Michigan

Todd Bodine Returns To The Site Of His Favorite Racing Memory BROOKLYN, MICH. --- There is one race that every driver remembers as if it had happened yesterday. One that is considered special. For some drivers it is their first start behind the...

Todd Bodine Returns To The Site Of His Favorite Racing Memory

BROOKLYN, MICH. --- There is one race that every driver remembers as if it had happened yesterday. One that is considered special. For some drivers it is their first start behind the wheel of a stock car, or their first career win. It may be competing against a family member whether it be a brother, father or son. Each scenario has a common thread in that it usually is a defining moment in the driver's career.

Todd Bodine considers his defining moment to be the first race he ran at Michigan Speedway. The driver of the Phillips 66 Chevrolet participated in the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division event at Michigan in 1992. Bodine won the inaugural event after starting 12th, for his third career win. While most drivers tend to pay more homage to their first career win, Bodine considers his win at Michigan to be his best.

"That was the first time anybody had raced at Michigan," Bodine explained. "It was only my second full season racing any kind of race car. There were a lot of Winston Cup regulars in that Busch race. We finished first and like the next 10 cars were Winston Cup regulars. That was a pretty awesome feeling."

Bodine finished ahead of quite an elite group of drivers. The second-place finisher in that event was Hut Stricklin, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott and Harry Gant.

"That is by far my favorite racing memory," Bodine recalled. "I had been racing in the Busch Series for not quite two years. Plus, I hadn't had a lot of experience behind the wheel of a race car. I have been working around racing just about all my life but I haven't always been driving race cars. I had only been driving race cars for two years when we raced at Michigan.

"Anyway, to go into an event racing against people like Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin is really a test of skill. You have to be pretty sharp to beat those guys. After that day, I knew I had what it took to race with the big boys and be competitive."

Since that first win, Bodine has made four more starts at Michigan Speedway in the NASCAR Busch Series. In addition to the win, Bodine scored a seventh-place finish there in 1993 and a sixth-place finish at the two-mile superspeedway in 1997, his last full season of Busch Series competition.

Bodine says racing at Michigan is comparable to racing at California. Both tracks are two-miles in length and Bodine has experienced success at both tracks - winning the inaugural race at California in 1997.

"Michigan is very fast," Bodine explained. "It is a fast and big facility. Both Michigan and California are two miles in length. The track at Michigan is pretty wide so there is plenty of room for two-wide racing. There aren't a lot of cautions because there is a lot of room for racing. In essence, you have a larger margin for error."

Crew chief Donnie Richeson added that two of the key elements to success at Michigan are a strong motor and aerodynamics. "The key to being successful is horse power and aerodynamics," Richeson explained. "The straightaways are so long that you have to have a lot of power to get down the front and back stretches. Because it is such a big track, you have to have a car with good aerodynamics.

"It's one of the shortest races on the circuit. It's only 100 laps, and if you don't get a lot of cautions it will be over in about an hour and a half. So, you have to have your car right from the beginning because you only have a limited amount of time in which to get the set up that will put you in position for a win."

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Todd Bodine , Hut Stricklin , Harry Gant , Mark Martin