BUSCH: Bodine to #30

Bodine returns to Team 34 Shawn A. Akers HARRISBURG, N.C. (July 14, 1998) Team 34 brought in its second big name in less than a month Tuesday when it hired ex-NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Todd Bodine to take the reins of the No. 30...

Bodine returns to Team 34 Shawn A. Akers

HARRISBURG, N.C. (July 14, 1998) Team 34 brought in its second big name in less than a month Tuesday when it hired ex-NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Todd Bodine to take the reins of the No. 30 Slim Jim Chevrolet. Bodine returns to the team he drove for in 1997, when he placed second in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division final standings.

Bodine, who was recently released from his duties as the driver of the No. 35 Tabasco Pontiac in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, replaces Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Mike Cope, who was let go by Team 34 late Monday.

It will be the third go-round for Bodine at Team 34. He drove for the team, which was originally owned solely by current partner Frank Cicci, full-time from 1991 to 1993. After two-plus seasons in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (two full seasons with team owner Butch Mock, 10 races with Mock in 1993 and 10 as a fill-in in 1996), Bodine returned to the NASCAR Busch Series in 1996 with new team owner Ron Neal. He rejoined Team 34 behind the wheel of the No. 36 Stanley Tools Pontiac in 1997, when he was runner-up in the standings to old friend Randy LaJoie.

Bodine will be reunited with former teammate Mike McLaughlin, driver of the No. 34 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet. His first race with the No. 30 Slim Jim team will be this weekend's Kenwood Home and Car Audio 300 at California Speedway in Fontana, a race where he earned his only NASCAR Busch Series victory in 1997.

He'll also join forces with David Green, the driver of Bodine's former ride, the No. 36 Pontiac. Green also recently signed on with Team 34 after being let go from his NASCAR Winston Cup team earlier this season, and has produced three top-fives in his first three races.

Green formerly drove the Slim Jim Chevrolet in the NASCAR Busch Series and won the series championship with that sponsor in 1994 for Labonte Racing.

Bodine was fired as the driver of the No. 35 Team TABASCO Pontiac after failing to qualify for eight of the first 16 NASCAR Winston Cup races this season.

Cope, a two-time Slim Jim All-Pro Series, NASCAR Touring, champion, was second in the NASCAR Busch Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award race to Andy Santerre. In 17 starts in 1998, Cope managed only two top-10s -- seventh at Hickory, N.C., and ninth at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo.

"Mike, of course, was pretty devastated," said Dick Conway, public relations representative for the No. 30 Slim Jim Chevrolet team. "He's not sure what he's going to do at this point. I'm sure with David getting in the 36 car and doing as well as he's doing put a lot of pressure on Mike, and that factor was involved in the team owners' decision."

Cope is the second rookie driver to be let go this season by Team 34. Matt Hutter was released from his duties as the driver of the No. 36 Stanley Tools Pontiac in June after a shaky start to the 1998 campaign.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike McLaughlin , David Green