DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 21, 2002) - Todd Bodine is well aware of how Bristol Motor Speedway can play with a driver's emotions. Conquering the .533-mile, high-banked bullring brings waves of jubilation and exuberance as a result of a physical...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 21, 2002) - Todd Bodine is well aware of how Bristol Motor Speedway can play with a driver's emotions.
Conquering the .533-mile, high-banked bullring brings waves of jubilation and exuberance as a result of a physical and mentally draining victory. Enduring an arduious day in an ill-handling car with the heat and frustration mounting on every lap can be one of the most torturous days at a race track.
Bodine will be one of six NASCAR Winston Cup regulars who will take two shots this weekend at taming Bristol Motor Speedway - beginning with the NASCAR Busch Series' Food City 250 on Friday evening and closing with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series' Sharpie 500 the following night - and is hopeful they are not inviting double trouble.
"This is a tough track and you're either going to have a great night or a night you would rather forget," Bodine said."That's just the way it is, there isn't anything in between."
Bodine (No. 92 Excedrin QuickTabs Chevrolet) will be joined by Jimmy Spencer (No. 1 Yellow Chevrolet); Mike Wallace (No. 4 Biagi Brothers Chevrolet); Jeff Green (No. 21 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet); Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Sylvania Chevrolet); and Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Aaron's Chevrolet). All but Harvick, with two starts, maintain regular operations in the NASCAR Busch Series, with each having run a minimum of 11 of the first 23 events.
"I think you get a little advantage by running both because you can learn how the track will be, how the tires will react, what adjustments you can make, and you get all that extra practice," Bodine said."I've won two Busch races there and I've had some good runs in (NASCAR Winston) Cup there, too. If you have a car that handles well, it can be a lot of fun there. But even if it handles well, it still is a lot of work. It will definitely be physically demanding doing the (NASCAR) Busch and the (NASCAR Winston) Cup race."
Among that group, Bodine has enjoyed the most success - and most starts (20) - in the NASCAR Busch Series season and also is one of two multiple Bristol winners.
Despite missing the first three races of the season as he stepped in at Darlington to replace Andy Houston at Herzog Jackson Motorsports,
Bodine is 15th in the championship race. He is the only driver among the top 19 in points who has not had the benefit of starting all 23 races.
Bodine has moved into that position courtesy of eight top-10 finishes, including six among the top five. The highlight was his win at Kentucky, the 14th of his NASCAR Busch Series career. Inconsistency, however, has plagued Bodine with nine finishes of 18th or worse.
"That is the one thing that we are trying to make better," said Bodine, coming off a fourth-place finish at Michigan."There have been times we've been running good and we let it slip away. We need to get more consistent because it is a key to success."
Bodine has found that key to success at Bristol over the course of his career. In 17 starts, he has nine top-10 finishes, including seven among the top five. He has been particularly strong in the Food City 250. In eight starts, he has finished half among the top five - which includes his wins in 1992 and' 93 - and five among the top 10. Harvick, the two-time defending Food City 250 champion, is the only other driver among the NASCAR Winston Cup regulars competing this weekend with multiple NASCAR Busch Series wins at BMS.
"I have been lucky through the years and have managed to stay out of trouble and be around at the end. That's the key, really," said Bodine, who finished eighth in the spring NASCAR Busch Series race at Bristol."You've got to have a good race car there, but I think the track suits my style. It's a' get up on top of the wheel and get after it' type of track and that suits me."
Bodine, however, has not been as fortunate on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series side at Bristol. In seven career starts, he has one top-10 finish (eighth in August of 1994). In his last two starts which both came in 2001, he qualified among the top 10 but suffered DNFs and finished 32nd in both. On the season, he has three top-10 finishes, including a season-best of sixth at New Hampshire, and a pole at Las Vegas in 12 starts.
"We've struggled some, but we've had some top 10s and have showed signs of what we can do," said Bodine, who drives the No. 26 Discover Card Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series."The thing we have not been able to do is have two good cars in same weekend when we have Busch and (Winston) Cup. We're trying to get there."
NEWS OF NOTE
Vickers brown bagging it... Food City grocery shoppers in Blountville, Tenn. on Wednesday may not be able to tell by his bagging skills, but it is doubtful they will find any faster 18-year-old in the country. NASCAR Busch Series rookie Brian Vickers (No. 40 EMP/Food City/U.S. Army Dodge) will appear at the Food City store (1921 Hwy. 394) from 11 a.m.-noon ET and spend the time bagging groceries, handing out 10th anniversary Food City 250 posters, giving away three pairs of race tickets to some lucky shoppers and talking racing with fans. It is part of a partnership between BLV Motorsports and Food City Stores that also will include the sponsor being added to the car for this event." For a young driver trying to compete in a very competitive series, there's a responsibility that goes along with that investment that I don't take lightly," Vickers said."So when the opportunity comes along to get involved with a sponsor away from the track, especially one like Food City, I look forward to having fun like this as a way to give back to a sponsor that's been a major supporter of Busch Series fans for almost as long (16 years) as I've been alive!"
TV timeout... According to the overnight numbers by Nielsen Media Research, Saturday's Cabela's 250 at Michigan International Speedway that was televised by TNT attracted more than 1.5 million households. The audience was a 20 percent increase from last year's race.
Etc... There have been 14 different race winners and 12 different Bud Pole winners in the first 23 NASCAR Busch Series races.... Greg Biffle (No. 60 Grainger Ford) leads the NASCAR Busch Series in top 10s (16) and laps led (672). He is the series co-leader with Jason Keller (No. 57 Albertsons Ford) for wins (4) and top-five finishes (13), and shares the lead for poles (3) with Jeff Green (No. 21 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet).... Randy LaJoie (No. 7 Kleenex/Nortel Networks Chevrolet) leads active drivers with a consecutive-race streak of 207. The streak, which began Feb. 17, 1996 at Daytona, ranks second in NASCAR Busch Series history to Tommy Houston (360).... Chevrolet has won 10 consecutive NASCAR Busch Series races at Bristol and 13 of the last 15.... Kenny Wallace (No. 48 Stacker 2 Chevrolet) celebrates his 39th birthday on race night Friday.... Tim Sauter (No. 19 Mac Tools Chevrolet) has landed a one-race sponsorship deal with Mac Tools for this race and that is good news in more ways than one. In five events this season that the car has picked up a marketing partner, Sauter has scored four top-10 finishes.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Sylvania Chevrolet) is the two-time defending champion of the Food City 250 and is entered in this weekend's event. He won the 2000 race from the pole and last season from the outside pole. He also ranks second to Mark Martin in career laps led at Bristol with 414.
Kenny Wallace (No. 48 Stacker 2 Chevrolet) is the career leader for most top-10 finishes at Bristol with 16 in 20 starts. He is a former winner of the Food City 250 (1994) and has finished among the top six in his last eight appearances at Bristol.
Jeff Green (No. 21 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) has finished among the top three in his last two Food City 250 starts. He was third in 2000 and runner-up last season. Overall at Bristol, he is tied for second all-time with eight top-five finishes and fourth in laps led with 361. He won this season's spring event at Bristol, but the odds of sweeping are a long shot. The only driver to sweep at Bristol was Steve Grissom in 1995.
WHAT'S THE WORD?
"I cannot wait to get back to Bristol! It's always a really wild and exciting race, for both the drivers and the fans, and racing there at night makes it all that much more wild. It is absolutely unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen there. Not one lap is boring. As a driver, it's both physically and mentally draining, but you don't notice it until the race is over. As soon as the adrenaline wears off you realize how worn out you are." - Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford).
"We need to find a pot of gold or something because I don't know what else to do. I always ran good there in the (NASCAR Craftsman) Truck Series and the track seemed to like me back then. Bristol's a typical short track, but with awesome banking and speed. Obviously, we need to improve on everything right now and Bristol might be a good place to do that." - Jack Sprague (No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet), a former three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion currently third in the NASCAR Busch Series points race, on his recent struggles.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
No driver has swept the NASCAR Busch Series pole positions in the same season at Bristol Motor Speedway, but the Bodine brothers enjoyed a sweep of sorts in 1986. Geoff Bodine won the pole for the Budweiser 200 (spring) and Brett Bodine earned the Tri-City Pontiac 200 pole in the fall.