Tocc Bodine, Travis Carter interview

Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 66 Route 66/Kmart Taurus, has won two NASCAR Busch Series races this season and was in the hunt last week at Las Vegas in the NASCAR Winston Cup event before finishing fifth. Bodine, who is in his first season with...

Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 66 Route 66/Kmart Taurus, has won two NASCAR Busch Series races this season and was in the hunt last week at Las Vegas in the NASCAR Winston Cup event before finishing fifth. Bodine, who is in his first season with Haas-Carter Motorsports, qualified third for tomorrow's Cracker Barrel 500 and spoke about his recent hot streak.

TODD BODINE --66-- Route 66/Kmart Taurus --
YOU'RE OFF TO A GOOD START IN BOTH BUSCH AND CUP SO FAR.

"The Busch situation is a pleasant surprise. We didn't even plan to run Busch races this year, so to do what we've done is pretty neat. I knew when I got called up and Buckshot's team told me they wanted to run Daytona and Las Vegas, I knew it was a good situation to be in. I've known those guys for a long time and knew we were gonna be able to go out and be competitive right off the bat, but to go out and do what we've done I never would have dreamed it. This shows what the right combination can do."

WHAT ABOUT ON THE WINSTON CUP SIDE. ARE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW WELL YOU AND THE TEAM HAVE CLICKED?

"No, not really. We missed Daytona, not because of our own doing. We did everything right and just got taken out. At Rockingham we stumbled real hard. We all were pretty hard on ourselves about it, but at Las Vegas we went and tested, so we knew we were gonna be good. We knew coming here we were gonna be good. There are certain tracks that we know that we're gonna be good at, but then there are certain tracks that we're gonna stumble again. We still consider ourselves a new team because with a new driver you have to start over, so in a way I am surprised and in a way I'm not because we have everything it takes to do it. Now it's just up to us to do it."

IS IT SURPRISING TO SEE HOW PEOPLE HAVE REACTED TO THIS HOT STREAK OF YOURS?

"I won't say it's a surprise because anybody that comes into Winston Cup and does well like this, everybody starts looking at you. But if they paid attention over the past 10 years, they would have known -- particularly when I started in Winston Cup in '94 -- that I've always run good. I just have never been that consistent because of the situations I was in, but anytime I've gotten the opportunity in Winston Cup I've been able to show that I belong here and this is something I can do in the right situation and be competitive. Now with a full time ride which is a good ride, we have to prove we can be consistently good."

AFTER THE TABASCO SITUATION, DID YOU WONDER IF YOU WOULD GET ANOTHER CHANCE AT THIS LEVEL?

"I never doubted myself. I knew that eventually I would get another shot, but I had to basically start over again. That whole situation, whether it be my fault or not, a lot of people look at the driver and make him the fall guy. I took a majority of the blame and had to rebuild the confidence or image of being able to drive these cars and be successful. The people in the garage area that know this sport and know what's going on, they knew what the deal was and knew it wasn't me, but yet there's always that lingering doubt in the back of their minds. So, to a certain degree I had to prove myself within the community again."

IS THE MINDSET FOR TOMORROW A CASE OF 'WE CAN WIN THIS RACE'?

"We all come here to win, but we have to be realistic in our goals. I set a goal at the beginning of the year to run in the top 15 every week. This week I feel like we should be top 10 without a problem, but to say we're gonna go out and win the race, we don't want to get cocky about it. We want to just go out and do the best we can and learn some more. I think we've got just as good a shot as anybody else in the top 10, but we do have to be realistic. Realistic is top 10 and for this team a top-10 run is almost as good as winning right now and that's what we've got to do."

YOU ALWAYS SEEM TO RUN WELL HERE AT ATLANTA.

"Atlanta has always been good to me for some reason. I really don't have a specific reason, but I've always run well here. I enjoy the race track, it's a fast track and you've got to have every piece of the puzzle to work. You've got to have a good car, horsepower, and the driver's got to do his job. If we can put it all together, stay out of trouble and have good pit stops -- do everything right -- there's no reason we can't have a top 10 and possibly a top five and if we keep the car adjusted with the race track and keep it up front, we could possibly get a win out of it."

WHAT DID YOU SEE IN THIS RACE TEAM LAST YEAR WHEN YOU JOINED?

"As in any organization, it all starts at the top. Travis Carter and Carl Haas are two of the best car owners we have in our business. Carl's success in CART and Travis has been around NASCAR forever and they give you everything it takes to win. They're racers and they know what it takes to do it and they understand the philosophy that you've got to have to do it and that's where it starts. I knew when I took this ride that it was the right opportunity for me because of that and with that said, they've put all the pieces of the puzzle together. They've got good crews. They've good race cars. We've got Yates Motors. We've got everything it takes and now it's up to us to put it all together and go do it."

TRAVIS CARTER, Car Owner --66-- Route 66/Kmart Taurus --
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WAY THE 66 TEAM HAS STARTED THIS SEASON?

"If we consider Daytona it wasn't good, but I think the team has picked up a lot. When you get in a situation where performance starts to improve, you hopefully build momentum and I think it's a little bit like a domino effect where things fall into place. That's where confidence is built in the people and within the team, especially the people in the shop because they're the real backbone of these teams. Those guys have a different attitude and work with a renewed interest. They're not doing it just to do it, but they're doing it because they see improvement and want to get better. That's how you build and that's what those championship teams are capable of doing."

DOES THE 66 TEAM FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVE?

"I think so. They took a pretty good beating (the first two years) and when you do that over the period of a couple of years, I think that you have a tendency to question yourself and your capabilities and there's an erosion of confidence. Now I think we're seeing a reversal of that. These guys walk in with a little different step and have an attitude like 'I know what I'm doing. I know how to do this job and I can do it well.' I think that's what we're seeing in our people now and that's very important."

HAVE YOU RE-EVALUATED YOUR GOALS FOR THIS SEASON AFTER THE START YOU'VE HAD?

"I think it may be premature for that, but my philosophy has always been -- and this may sound ridiculous -- but my goal is to always win the championship. If you finish third or fifth in points, you always set your goal to be the champion and everything you do works to that end. I think that's the ultimate goal for all of these race teams and I think we have to set our goal for that. We don't want to say, 'If we don't win this, we're gonna quit.' That's not the attitude you take, but you're always reaching and reaching for that championship."

DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE CLOSE TO WINNING A RACE WITH EITHER JIMMY OR TODD?

"That's hard to tell. I think, first of all, I go back to 30 years of experience here, you have to be in the hunt consistently to have a chance to win. I think right now we need to position ourselves to be in the hunt more often and that gives you a better chance to win. If you run well enough long enough, you'll eventually win and I think we need to establish ourselves as a team that can do that first. We've made some gains into that. I'm kind of a pessimist anyway and one good race doesn't make a season. My philosophy has always been to let our performance do our talking, so we want to do the best we can. Even in today's world, I think qualifying is important. It's a little easier to run up front if you start up front and that's very important. We've been able to improve that and I think that's the first step towards building a more competitive team that has a chance to win."

-FRT

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Todd Bodine , Carl Haas