BUSCH: Todd Bodine Prepares For Daytona

Todd Bodine Will Tee Off The 1999 Season In Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --- Todd Bodine will tee off at the first stop on the 1999 NASCAR Busch Series schedule when the green flag drops at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, signaling...

Todd Bodine Will Tee Off The 1999 Season In Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --- Todd Bodine will tee off at the first stop on the 1999 NASCAR Busch Series schedule when the green flag drops at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, signaling the start of yet another season of competition. This will be the first contest on the 32-event course for the NASCAR Busch Series in 1999. Bodine hopes to shoot par at every stop in his quest for the first NASCAR Busch Series championship for himself and Cicci-Welliver Racing. Bodine made his return to NASCAR Busch Series Racing about midway through the 1998 season when he took over the driving duties of the No. 30 Chevrolet Monte Carlo fielded by car owners Frank Cicci, Scott Welliver and Jeff Welliver. Phillips 66 joined Bodine at Cicci-Welliver Racing for the 1999 championship quest. "We know right now that our goal this year is to go out and try to win every race and win the championship," Bodine said. "Every member of this team is committed to winning the championship." Bodine's last NASCAR Busch Series start at Daytona International Speedway was two years ago. The final outcome of the season opener found Bodine finishing a close second to Busch Series rival Randy Lajoie. That one-two start set the tone for the remainder of the 1997 season as Bodine and Lajoie battled it out for the ‘97 title the entire season. The two of them finished in the top two positions when the season ended in November. "I like speedway racing," Bodine said. "Good speedway racing tends to depend on the capabilities of the car and the motor, but I've always ran well, drafted well and did the right things on superspeedways. Hopefully when we go back we'll have a good car that will allow us to run up front." A lot of emphasis is placed on the annual season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. Just about every team in the NASCAR Busch Series stable will spend at least one full day testing their superspeedway entries prior to the beginning of speedweeks, all in preparation for a win. While getting a good finish is important to Bodine, he says a bad finish at Daytona does not mean total destruction for a championship dream. "Getting a good finish at Daytona is important, but it's not critical," Bodine explained. "Look at Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. He got caught up in a wreck at Daytona and finished near the end last year but came back to win the championship. We finished 34th at Daytona in 1996 and finished the season third in the points. A bad finish at Daytona is a setback but it doesn't destroy your championship hopes. It forces a little more of an uphill climb and you have to work real hard to get out of that deficit. But, you work hard all year regardless of where you finish at Daytona." The 1999 season will mark Bodine's fifth season with Frank Cicci and Scott and Jeff Welliver. Bodine drove for Cicci-Welliver Racing from 1991 to 1993, then drove for the New York natives again in 1997 when he finished second to Lajoie in the season points standings. Bodine says his best success in NASCAR racing has occurred while driving for Cicci-Welliver Racing, and he looks forward to duplicating that success in 1999. "The comfort level with Frank and Scott is extremely high and that's important," Bodine said. "I've been in this sport long enough now to know that the comfort level with the car owners and the people you are surrounded by is extremely important. If you aren't comfortable with those people, you will not have any success. "I think that's why we've always experienced success here at Cicci-Welliver Racing. I have been comfortable with everyone in this organization since the beginning. Frank and Scott are not only car owners, they're friends." While he has had considerable experience and success in the NASCAR Busch Series, Bodine finds himself in unfamiliar territory as the 1999 season gets set to start. His experience level places him a shade beyond the young gun category, but not to seasoned veteran status. "I am somewhere in the middle right now," Bodine explained. "I'm not considered a young gun anymore but I'm not considered a veteran. It's a tough spot to be. It's like if you don't do well now, you're never going to do well. Fortunately, I've already proved I can do this." Shooting par on the Busch Series championship course means consistent top-five and top-10 finishes throughout the 1999 season. Bodine may not be Arnold Palmer on a golf course, but he is a championship contender on the race track. He may not land a hole-in-one every time, but he knows that shooting par will bring him his first NASCAR Busch Series championship.

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Drivers Todd Bodine , Randy Lajoie