BRISTOL, TENN. --- Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the smallest race tracks on the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division circuit. The track is more notoriously known as "Thunder Valley" because of how it's nestled between the Tennessee...
BRISTOL, TENN. --- Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the smallest race tracks on the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division circuit. The track is more notoriously known as "Thunder Valley" because of how it's nestled between the Tennessee hills and the monsterous noises produced by 43 race cars competing on its half-mile oval. Nothing in racing thrills Chemung, N.Y.'s Todd Bodine more than winning at NASCAR's famed bull ring after an afternoon of slugging it out for position during the 250-lap Busch Series event. With two career Busch Series wins at Bristol, the driver of the No. 66 Phillips 66 Chevrolet is itching to score his third win at the track.
"It's been a while since I've won at Bristol," Bodine grinned. "Anytime you win at Bristol it is usually hard-fought and well-deserved. Anytime you race at Bristol, the driver takes a beating as well as the race car. That's just the nature of the track. But I love it."
In his last two outings at Bristol, Bodine really took a beating as he started from 38th during the '99 spring race and 35th at the fall event. Despite the slight setback, Bodine powered his Phillips 66 Chevy to the front to become a contender for the win on both occasions.
"Anytime you start that far back at Bristol it's a disadvantage," Bodine said. "You don't have the luxury of being able to lay back and stay out of trouble because if you do that, there's a real good chance your going to get lapped and any possibility of a win goes out the window.
"From the beginning you have to be aggressive and pretty darn lucky so you don't get caught up in the accidents that are inevitably going to happen when you put 43 racers on a high-banked short track like Bristol. That's just a fact of racing."
During Bristol's spring race in 1999, Bodine avoided several close calls and pulled himself into contention for the win, despite starting in the back and pitting on the backstretch.
"Lynn, my wife, was spotting for me during the race there last spring," Bodine recalled. "She always does a good job. The team made good adjustments and she helped keep me aware of what was going on around me. We were able to make up the ground we lost by starting 38th and be contenders for the win at the end of the race. That was a pretty awesome race for us considering what we overcame."
Both of Bodine's two wins at Bristol have been won during the night race that usually takes place in late August. Bodine won back-to-back Food City 250s in 1992 and 1993. In his last four races at Bristol, Bodine hasn't finished lower than eighth place. He's hoping the upcoming Cheez-it 250 will be his first win under the sun at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"You have to have a little bit of luck if you're going to do well at Bristol," Bodine said. "Success at the track is inevitably linked with being able to stay out of the accidents, as well as having a good race car and good pit stops. With a little bit of luck, we'll have our third Bristol win this year."