GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Bodine, a 51-year-old Chemung, N.Y., native, will return to action on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Injured in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in February at ...
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
Bodine, a 51-year-old Chemung, N.Y., native, will return to action on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Injured in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in February at Daytona International Speedway, Bodine will make his 539th career start at Richmond. He has 18 career victories, 99 top fives and 188 top 10 finishes in 538 starts. The 1982 NASCAR Winston Cup rookie of the year will drive the same Monte Carlo chassis at Richmond that he scored a third-place finish with last October at Martinsville. Three different drivers -- Ted Musgrave, Dick Trickle and Rich Bickle -- have subbed for Bodine in the No. 60 Power Team Monte Carlo owned by Joe Bessey this season.
"The doctor released me a couple of weeks ago, and I was planning on racing last week at California," Bodine said. "We tested at Richmond a couple of weeks ago, and everything went great. I'm a lot better now mentally and physically. I'm looking forward to getting back and helping the Chevy cause. Things didn't go well for the Monte Carlo drivers last week at California. Hopefully, we can help change that on Saturday night at Richmond.
"We tested there with Ken Schrader and Ward Burton and ran faster than both of them. I felt real good about the test. It was a little uncomfortable getting in the car with my back brace on, but once I fandangled my way into the car, I was 100 percent. We're going to run the same chassis we had at Richmond in the second race last year when the car ran so good. We ended up having engine problems and didn't get a good finish, but I'm really excited about running this car. I'll go the distance. I've been working out really hard for the past six weeks. I've got good endurance, and I don't see any problem. I was in pretty good shape before the accident, and I'm close to where I was.
"My arms may not be as strong because I had a cast on my wrist for awhile. I might have lost some arm strength, but it won affect the way I drive the car. My legs might be stronger. I focused on getting my legs stronger the first few weeks.
"Never once did retirement run through my mind. When I was in the hospital the first day, I was talking about running a couple of laps the next week so I could get the points. I realized pretty soon that I couldn't do that, but I never considered retiring. I'm ready to get back and start racing. I love what I do, and that's still what I do. I've been doing it for 46 years. I've been racing since I was five years old. My grandfather built a race track when I was a year old, and I started racing micro midgets when I was five. I've been around racing all my life. It is my life, and I feel like I've got a lot of good years left.
"I'm not coming back just to ride around. I won't be happy just making laps out there. I want to go fast, and I think we've got a chance to win at Richmond. We're going to have a very good car and Hendrick engines. Richmond has been one of those tracks that has eluded me. We've had chances to win there, but we haven't been able to capitalize. It seems like something stupid always happens. Last year we had a great car there and broke a rocker arm. Richmond is a fantastic track the way it's laid out. It has short track characteristics and you need a lot of horsepower for that long frontstretch. You can really build up some speed."
"As far as wanting to drive a race car, that hasn't changed. I still want to be there. I feel really good, and I have no apprehension about driving again. I survived one of the worst accidents in NASCAR history and came out of it with very little injury. I had some deep bruises in my muscles and joints, but I survived by God's grace. He reached down and saved me, and that's all there is to it. I'm not afraid of getting back in another wreck.
"There's no apprehension whatsoever. It might be normal to have some apprehension, but racers aren't normal. Racers have to have competition in their lives to feel fulfilled, at least I do. The drive is still there, and the determination is still there. I haven't lost any of that.
"I knew I couldn't race, and I didn't miss it while I was injured. The last few weeks I've been better, and after I tested at Richmond, I really started missing it. I'm pretty much on a normal schedule now. The time has gone by quickly, and the recuperation has been tough. At first I was on my back for two weeks and couldn't get up. Then I got more active, and by the fourth week I started working out again. The third day I worked out, I almost passed out, but I've been training five days a week.
"Angela (Crawford) has massaged me every day and sometimes twice a day to loosen my muscles. At first it took me all morning to get mobile, and that's no exaggeration. I was eating right and doing everything properly to recover. I'd get in the whirlpool, whatever it took until about 5 o'clock every day. People wouldn't believe how hard we worked and how much time we put into this recovery. It was a full-time job.
"The last two weeks, I've gone to the shop and pretty much been on my normal schedule. It's been one of the most difficult things I've ever had to deal with. I was totally focused on my recovery, and it's made us better people. I was saved by God's grace, and I feel very privileged to have that happen. I've always worked hard, but this has been more on a personal level. I'm not glad it happened, but I'm glad I had this healing period. Angela is my mate, and she seldom left my side. There was a lot of dedication and love from her. You can't repay anyone for that.
"The team is real excited. They were a little disappointed I didn't go to California. I watched that race on TV, and I felt bad for Matt Kenseth. He should have won, but I'm happy for Jeremy. He didn't give up, and he was determined to win.
"We're going to Richmond determined to win. It sure would be great to be the 11th different winner in 11 races. I won't be satisfied with not running good at Richmond. I never have been, and I won't be now. I really expect to be competitive. You have to have so many things go right to win. I just hope and pray we have a perfect race and run up front and have a chance to win. The team has had a really tough time since I haven't been in the car, but it's a good race team. I think we know what it takes to make it happen. Now all we've got to do is make it happen."