Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 54 Army National Guard Taurus, will not be behind the wheel this week during Daytona testing as he continued his recovery from off-season back surgery. Bodine, however, is on hand as older brother Geoff handles the...
Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 54 Army National Guard Taurus, will not be behind the wheel this week during Daytona testing as he continued his recovery from off-season back surgery. Bodine, however, is on hand as older brother Geoff handles the on-track duties. He spoke about his timetable for getting back in action and his new sponsor.
TODD BODINE - No. 54 Army National Guard Taurus:
HOW IS YOUR BACK? "I'm feeling great. I got my release from the doctor yesterday. It was something I had to do after blowing it out in Homestead, but it's good. It's always sore a little bit, but it's always gonna be sore because of the nature of it. I just have to do my exercises and it doesn't really bother me."
NOT DRIVING AT THE TEST THIS WEEK ISN'T REALLY THAT BIG OF A DEAL IS IT? "No, it's not. Daytona testing is all about just running the same line and holding it wide open. Being in this situation with my back and just getting the release yesterday, we felt like it was better for Geoff just to come down here and drive it to keep me out of that pounding. At Daytona there's a lot of pounding you take and it gets to your back a little bit. It's not as bad as it used to be, but it's still pretty rough. He's actually gonna do the Busch test for me next week, so it gives me two more weeks to stay out of the car and not have to take the worst part of the testing and the pounding. We're gonna go out to Vegas and I'm gonna drive it out there, so that will be my first time back in the car."
WHAT ABOUT HOW THIS DEAL CAME TOGETHER. "Sam and Travis have been working together on it for awhile. Sam had this deal last year and it was kind of a unique situation. Sam had a sponsor and no race team while Travis had a race team and no sponsor. It's kind of ironic because toward the end of last year when Travis didn't know what was going on, I actually talked to Sam about driving for them. It just turned around and Sam joined us. It's a really good partnership. Everybody knows Travis and knows what a racer he is and what kind of person he is. You can't ask for any better and Sam fits right in that mold. He's a great guy. He really cares about this sport and his team and taking care of the sponsor. It's a really good match for both and the Guard is thrilled to death with this whole thing. They can't wait for the season to get going because they've got a lot of plans for the program. I think it's a good situation for everybody."
DOES THIS FALL INTO THE CATEGORY OF WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES? "Yeah. Coming down here last year we knew we were losing a sponsor, but coming down here this year we're gaining one. It's definitely a turnabout and it makes going into the season a whole lot more enjoyable."
IS THIS KIND OF A REBUILDING SITUATION? "It's a building situation, but at the same time it's not because Derrick Finley has a lot of experience as an engineer. In this day and age you look at all the really good crew chiefs that have come along in the last five years or so, they all have an engineering background and that was one thing that intrigued Travis and myself. We wanted to take the team into more of an engineering direction and to have an engineer as a crew chief leads in that direction. We felt it was a good thing to do. We actually talked to a couple crew chiefs who were very good and very competent and we would have loved to have them, but in the end we just didn't feel it would be best for the team. With that said, Derrick came in here at the end of last year when we lost Donnie (Wingo) and he picked the ball up and started running. He did a tremendous job and we both felt like he was deserving of the opportunity. We both felt like he could do the job, so we're doing it a little differently. We lost some crew members, but Derrick has hired a lot of guys that have good experience and are good people, so even though we've lost very good people we've managed to hire very good people so that's not gonna hurt us that bad. It remains to be seen if things turn out the way we hope, but I think it will. I think we've got a good situation. I'm as excited now going into this season as I have been in a long time."
SAM SAID THE THING HE LIKED ABOUT YOUR DRIVING IS YOUR AGGRESSIVENESS. AFTER THE PROBATION LAST YEAR WILL YOU CONTINUE TO DRIVE THAT WAY? "That whole probation thing was a farce. I made a mistake and I basically got the death penalty for jaywalking. There were guys involved in the wreck - that my mistake cost them a good run - told me that it was not the right thing, so I know I have the support of my peers on it. I'm gonna drive like I've always driven, but with the reins pulled in just a little bit. If we're in a bad situation and we don't have a good car, I'm going to just want to make the best of what we've got. This year I feel like we can go into this thing and have a real good shot at a good points finish and possibly winning a race. We ran so well last year. We had a lot of blown motors that took us out of top five finishes. We had nine blown motors and I had seven of them myself. Out of those seven, five of them were gonna be top five finishes and the other two were top 10 finishes, so we ran really well and didn't get the results we deserved. I know coming into this season we have the opportunity to run well and to have a good points finish and that's our goal."