From the No. 54 Army National Guard Cockpit Driver Todd Bodine: You will be making your fourth appearance in the Budweiser Shootout this year, are you excited about this unique race? "Absolutely. Being invited to the Budweiser Shootout means...
From the No. 54 Army National Guard Cockpit
Driver Todd Bodine:
You will be making your fourth appearance in the Budweiser Shootout this year, are you excited about this unique race?
"Absolutely. Being invited to the Budweiser Shootout means your team was able to accomplish something that not every team in the Winston Cup Series was able to do last year and that's winning a Bud Pole Award. So it's nice to be singled out that way. Plus, the Shootout marks the debut of the No. 54 Army National Guard Ford. We've got quite a few distinguished guests coming in to kick-off our season. It means a great deal to the entire BelCar Racing organization to have them on board with us. We have every intention of running a great race and to give all the members of the National Guard something to cheer for."
"Running under the lights has a tendency to bring out the best in all of us. It raises the bar a bit in excitement and for the fans, it will be the first time they've had a chance to watch us race since November. It's going to be a lot of fun out there and I'm glad to not only be a part of it, but also bring my new advertiser along for the ride. It should be a lot of fun out there."
What are your expectations for Daytona Speedweeks?
"Ideally, I would like to have a strong qualifying lap during the first round to take the pressure off of having to race our way in. However, we'll just have to see how the week progresses to see where we stand in comparison with the other teams. If we have to race our way in, so be it. I've done it before. We've built a new speedway car since last month's Daytona test and we've had a chance to shake it down a bit at Talladega before coming here.
We've made some gains and we know what direction we need to keep going in to be competitive in Daytona. Plus, we're back with Robert Yates Engines so we know we'll have the horsepower needed to go fast."
"Making the Daytona 500 will be a tremendous accomplishment for BelCar Racing and the entire No. 54 Army National Guard team. It will be an awesome payoff for the dedication everyone has put forth so far because when that green flag drops for the 500, there is no other feeling like it. I hope we all can be a part of it."
What is it like for you to race at Daytona?
"My favorite way of describing Daytona is by comparing it to a high-speed game of chess. It requires the driver to do more than just mashing down the gas pedal and turning left. Daytona requires a driver to be so incredibly calculating. For 200 laps, you've got to anticipate what is happening in front and beside of you, pick and choose who you run best with aerodynamically, and determine the right time to pull out of one line in the draft to race in another. It's one of the most taxing races on a driver's mind. I am exhausted when it's over."
How's the relationship between you and your new crew chief, Derrick Finley?
"What's nice is Derrick and I are not totally new to each other. Yes, we've had to adjust a bit on the way we need to communicate with one another as driver and crew chief but, the more we are together the easier it gets. Derrick also has an advantage of having worked closely last year with Donnie Wingo and me. He already has an idea about what I like and what I don't like when it comes to car setup. What I am hoping is that his engineering expertise and my input on chassis from a driver's perspective will make a good combination and more importantly, translate well on the track. "
What is your opinion of NASCAR's common-template ruling for this season?
"It's another step toward leveling the playing field between manufacturers and it makes it easier for NASCAR to police the bodies in the inspection process. Unfortunately, it has been an added expense and headache for all teams, multi-car or single."
From The No. 54 Army National Guard War Wagon
Crew Chief Derrick Finley:
Some teams dread running both races at Daytona? Do you feel the same way?
"No, not at all. The time we spend on the track for the Bud Shootout is extra time for us to practice our set ups in race trim and apply that information to our 500 car. Plus, during the actual Bud Shootout race, we hope to test a few things out that normally we wouldn't risk trying in the 500. It's time well spent."
If you qualify for the Daytona 500, what will be going through your mind when the command to start engines happens since this will be your first race as crew chief?
"I can only imagine that it will be one of the most exciting moments of my life, personally. However, once Todd takes the green flag, I'm going to approach the Daytona 500 like any other race I've been a part of. It's a prestigious race, but we're here for the entire season. It pays the same amount of points as all the other races. So, we're shooting for a good result. I'll be happy if we can leave Daytona with a 10th-place finish."