Phoenix: Todd Bodine race report

The desert rose full of thorns for The Discover Card team. The track known as the desert rose was more like a thorn in the side of the No. 26 Discover' Card Taurus. After qualifying 30th, Bodine was forced to drop to the back of the field for...

The desert rose full of thorns for The Discover Card team.

The track known as the desert rose was more like a thorn in the side of the No. 26 Discover' Card Taurus. After qualifying 30th, Bodine was forced to drop to the back of the field for today's running of the Checker Auto Parts 500 because of an engine change on Saturday. Despite the set back, the Haas/Carter Motorsports crew worked together to end their day a respectable 22nd-place after a month filled with competitive runs but disappointing finishes.

"We really needed to finish the race," said Bodine after the race. "It's hard to believe how competitive we've been but our finishes just do not reflect it. To say we've had bad luck is an understatement. This is such a good team and I know I say this every week, but we really do have a good group of guys. Carl and Travis were both here to support the team this weekend, and that means a lot to all of us. Hopefully we'll get some good news over the next couple of weeks and if I have it my way, we'll have a win to close out the season in Miami."

After dropping to the back of the field, Bodine gradually worked his way up to 36th place when the caution came out on lap 25 after Jamie McMurray crashed. It set up the first round of pit stops and for the No. 26 crew, their car needed to be loosened up in the middle and back to the throttle. So on lap 28, the team made a track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments along with changing four tires and adding fuel. The service took just 16.8-seconds and allowed Bodine to pick up two positions on the race track to retake the green in 36th position. During the stop, the car driven by Steve Park struck the No. 26 front tire changer Mark Cass. Cass was checked out by the emergency crew and was able to continue.

This next run saw teams making green flag pit stops. Bodine was able to drive the No. 26 machine to the 29th running spot however, the car was still handling too tight in the middle and loose off the corners. Crew chief Donnie Wingo chose to short pit the car on lap 104 in hopes of regaining track position. In a blistering 15.75-second pace, the crew made track bar and air pressure changes plus bolted on four tires and added gas. Then 32 circuits later, the race was slowed when rookie Scott Wimmer was turned around by Robbie Gordon to bring out the second caution of the day. This time, the No. 26 crew took a more aggressive approach by adding a spring rubber to the right rear as well as lowering the track bar. The crew also put on four fresh Goodyears and fuel. The service took just 18.5-seconds.

A quick caution flew on lap 141 for debris. Over the radio, Bodine reported to Wingo that the car seemed better and he was right. Shortly after the race restarted, the Discover Card machine took off. By lap 206, the No. 26 was in 23rd position and recording lap times as fast as the leader, Kurt Busch. All and all, the car was handling well and the only change Bodine wanted during the next pit stop on lap 223, was a minor air pressure change.

The final stop of the day came under caution after Jason Leffler got together with Christian Fittipaldi. Bodine brought the No. 26 down pit road in 21st position. In 17-seconds, the crew made another minor air pressure adjustment as well as put on four fresh tires and added gas. Unfortunately during this run, the car did not handle as well forcing the Discover Card machine to ride out the remainder of the race in 22nd place. Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag.

"We didn't take off as fast as we would have liked," said Bodine. "It certainly didn't help that we had to go to the rear after changing engines yesterday, but we had a good car, it just started out way too tight. Early on, the 8 car checked out and I had to do everything I could to stay on the lead lap. We managed to dodge the bullet for a while but eventually we got a lap down. We kept digging though. We added a spring rubber to the right rear and that really helped us. I think we could have had a shot at a top-15 but the last set of tires we put on didn't seem to help us. We'll take the finish and head to the last race of the season. Homestead."

-hcm-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Todd Bodine , Steve Park , Jason Leffler , Kurt Busch , Christian Fittipaldi