An interview with: TODD BODINE MIKE HILLMAN, JR. KERRY THARP: We're pleased to be joined by tonight's race winner, Todd Bodine. His crew chief is Mike Hillman, Jr. Todd, four straight wins at Superspeedway races. Two straight wins here ...
An interview with:
MIKE HILLMAN, JR.
KERRY THARP: We're pleased to be joined by tonight's race winner, Todd Bodine. His crew chief is Mike Hillman, Jr.
Todd, four straight wins at Superspeedway races. Two straight wins here at Daytona. First time ever done in the 10th year of racing here at Daytona. Your thoughts?
TODD BODINE: Man, I don't know what to think. It's just incredible. Terry hit it right. It's the truck. That thing, it drives so good. Especially here at Daytona, it's all about getting your truck to drive good, not bounce through the bumps, not be loose, not be tight. That truck just does whatever we ask it to do.
Junior made some calls during practice. We didn't change a lot from what we normally run, just a couple little odds and ends. Made all the difference in the world.
I was following those guys and racing with them, watching their trucks bounce and go sideways and all over the track. I was just sitting back there riding like I had a Cadillac. That's a testament to how good that Tundra really is.
KERRY THARP: Mike Hillman, Jr., what was your view atop the pit box tonight?
MIKE HILLMAN, JR.: It was pretty awesome to win four of threes races in a row, and two at Daytona. We work really hard on our Speedway program. Like I told the guys on the radio, we got the best team when it comes to Speedway racing, and the best driver. I'm just glad to be part of it.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Todd or Mike.
Q: Being a former champion, sort of being an old timer in this series, you probably got a little bit of pull with NASCAR and the officials. Do y'all need a safety barrier on the outside of the back straightaway? Would it be possible to put a safety barrier back there?
TODD BODINE: You know, normally I'd say it's not really needed, but Daytona is such a different animal. Along with Talladega. You know, if you start spinning off of the corner, you could hit a couple hundred yards down just as hard as you'd hit in the middle of the corner.
I don't see any reason to not put one down a lot further. It's easy to do. It makes it a lot safer.
Q: Would it take away racing room?
TODD BODINE: It wouldn't take away racing room. Through the corner is where you need that racing room. Down the straightaway you don't. Where the wall drops off now, the SAFER barrier stops. You're pretty much going straight line. You wouldn't really even notice anything there. It really wouldn't take away from the racing groove at all.
Q: Todd, at what point in the race did you figure out that we can work with J.R., push him around a little bit, use him, have him push us? At what point did you decide you could trust him?
TODD BODINE: Well, the first I got to race with him was right there toward the end when he was leading, and watch him. I tell you, to be totally honest with you, his truck wasn't handling very good. That kid was just driving it. I mean, he was hanging on for dear life.
I knew once Kyle or myself or whoever got up there behind him could root him out of the way, he was going to go backwards a little bit just because he was having such a hard time hanging on. I mean, he drove his tail off. You just can't imagine how hard that kid drove.
The reason I said he did such a great job is he didn't wreck. He hung on to the lead and he drove his tail off and he didn't wreck the thing with Kyle Busch behind him. He didn't panic. That speaks volumes for how calm, cool, and collected he was up there.
You know, I was very impressed with him.
Q: Can you address the sponsor situation.
TODD BODINE: When you're out there doing what we do, as soon as they drop the rag, you don't think about those things. You just think about one thing, and that's getting to the finish line first.
You know, we've got such a good race team, you know. It's a crying shame that it doesn't have something on the quarter panels. Like Junior said, we just got to go out and do what we know how to do. We can win races, run up front.
It's a great opportunity for some corporation that's looking to get involved in our sport. It's a great opportunity for them to get involved with a great race team.
It's not often you can come into the sport with a team right off the bat. We took Lumber Liquidators our very first race at Atlanta, won the pole, won the race, won the championship that year for a first time sponsor.
We still have that capability to do it for anybody else that wants to come in the sport and be a part of it.
Q: Todd, what happened with the penalty, and then what happened in the wreck with the 10 car?
TODD BODINE: Well, the penalty deal, NASCAR has made this thing cut and dry. No going below the yellow line. That's easy for them to sit there and say. When we took off on the restart, Colin didn't get going real good. I just went below him. He came down to block me. I was already beside him.
If I did not go below that yellow line, Colin Braun was going to end up sideways down through the grass. It's great to have a rule like that. You have to enforce it to a certain degree. You got to have a little common sense if knowing when a guy is going below there to stop from wrecking somebody else.
In the wreck, when I got into the 10, I'll be honest, I was scared to death to go below that yellow line. When I went below it with Colin, it wasn't intentional. I just turned down for a matter of 20 or 30 feet just to make sure I didn't wreck him.
It's not like I had all four tires below passing him. They had me scared to death to go below that yellow line. When I got close to it, I turned back just a little bit. When I did, the 10 was down there, up there. Ron had already moved down.
Got us out of position, and I hit the 10. You know, that's my fault. I'll take the blame. No problem with that. It was my fault.
But I was scared to death to go below the yellow line. Plain and simple.
Q: Todd, how dire is your sponsorship situation? Is it going to be one of those things where if you hadn't won, maybe you might not go to California? What's the progress in terms of a sponsorship search?
TODD BODINE: Honestly, I don't know how dire it is. You know, the Germains are great people. They love the sport. We're very dedicated to Toyota, what they've done for us.
We're going to go as long as we can go financially. It takes a lot of money to run these trucks, just like the rest of the series. To come out of your own pocket is hard.
I guess you could say it was dire straits. We've got to get a sponsor to continue for the season. We were going to California no matter what. Winning this race doesn't make that decision for us. But it's definitely not a good situation to be in.
We are talking to a few corporations. But, you know, Lumber Liquidators kind of caught us off guard waiting till the middle of December to decide they weren't going to come back. You can't expect a corporation to step up to the plate in a matter of three or four weeks and decide to spend millions of dollars on a program. It takes a while for them to make that decision.
We have to live with that and understand that as we go forward in trying to acquire a sponsorship. We can't rush a company into anything.
So hopefully we can weather the storm for a couple of months until we can secure sponsorship.
Q: Going into the last lap, into the third corner, Kyle Busch drove in real hard. Could you talk a little bit about what was going through your mind on that last lap?
TODD BODINE: Well, I knew he was going to do something. That's what his job is, to try to pass me to win. We went down into one. I let off the gas a little bit, kept him behind me. Didn't let him get a run. Down the back, he started pushing me.
I didn't know if he was just going to try to push me out of the way or if he was going to hit me or what he was going to do. I was ready for it when we got to the third turn. And he did hit me, got me a little sideways, but corrected right back.
The truck is so stable, it corrected right back. I never even got out of the throttle. When he hit me, evidently it got him sideways and got everybody jacked up behind us, gave us enough breathing room to get to the line without worrying about it.
Q: Todd, how do you explain your mastery now of these big tracks? Four in a row for you.
TODD BODINE: It's like I said earlier, I mean, the truck's just so phenomenal. It's the same truck we've won all four races with. If I'm not mistaken, we were gonna win one other one with it, and we got shuffled on the back straightaway at the end.
The thing just drives so good. You know, it's fast. It doesn't like to lead real well, but it will suck up. It does everything else but lead real well. Fortunately we got ourselves in a position that we could use what we had.
I don't know, you get lucky a lot of times. I feel like I've been lucky with these Speedway races, being able to put ourselves in the right position to capitalize on it.
Running around there at the end, leading the thing, one thing that kept crossing through my mind is, Do I really want to be leading? Do you want to be second or do you want to be leading? My philosophy is make them pass you, so get the lead and do what you can to hold them off.
Q: Mike, what does this do as far as your team, your psyche? Does it make your team bring out a second truck at all over the next few races?
MIKE HILLMAN, JR.: We are gonna run a second truck. Max is going to run the GEICO truck at California. We'll have the 9 and the 30 there.
The problem is, being a crew chief and having the guys I got, the sponsorship thing's out of my hands. We got to work just as hard no matter whether we're sponsored or not. We're getting ready to go to California. We'll go home and work this weekend, get the same truck ready we won Homestead with. We've worked on it over the winter and made it a little better. Hopefully we can go and win California, too.
Q: Todd and Mike, I wanted to get your overall impressions about the new pit rules, having to come in twice under most cautions. I also was curious to ask how you would have managed the pit stop at the end of the first fuel run there if there hadn't been a debris caution and you had to make a choice between tires and fuels at that point, what you would have done. Kyle said he was on cords at that point. How would you have managed that?
MIKE HILLMAN, JR.: We'd have had to get fuel. You had to take the chance with your tires. But a green flag pit stop comes because you're out of gas, so your first option is to get fuel.
We had planned on hanging on till everybody else pitted and come back with some guys and get tires if we had to make a green flag stop. It's going to take us a couple weeks to get used to it. It's going to be even more interesting when we get to the mile and a half and the two mile racetracks.
KERRY THARP: Guys, congratulations. Great show. Congratulations on your success. Good luck in California.
TODD BODINE: Thank you.
MIKE HILLMAN, JR.: Thank you.