NASCAR BGN Food City 250 Preview: #36, Todd Bodine
21 August 1997
#36 Todd Bodine, Stanley Pontiac Grand Prix NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Food City 250 Advance Bristol Motor Speedway BODINE LOOKS FOR HAT TRICK ON HIGH BANKS OF BRISTOL BRISTOL, TN - Todd Bodine, driver of the #36 Stanley Pontiac, returns to Bristol Motor Speedway in search of his third victory at the famed highbank short track. "We (Team 34) won the fall races of 1992 and '93," Bodine said. "I can't believe it was four years ago. It's definitely time to grab another victory here." As typical Bristol races go, Bodine's two runs for the checkered were full of drama and excitement. Bodine clearly remembers the final 20 laps of his first win at Bristol in 1992. "First, I remember the new concrete surface," recalled Bodine. "Before, we were used to racing wherever we wanted to on that track. With concrete, you pretty much had one line to work with. Jeff Burton and I were racing pretty hard and he got me loose. I just barely missed smacking the turn two wall. I saved it, came back, and did the same thing to Jeff, except he didn't save it. Everyone thought I hit him. It was very controversial at the time." If anyone was uncertain if Bodine deserved the win, he removed all doubt after his second victory at Bristol in August of 1993. However, the drama for that race occurred before the green flag ever had a chance to drop. Many remember a tremendous thunderstorm during the afternoon, only hours before the race was scheduled to begin. That simply added to the bad luck for what was then known as the CicciWelliver Racing team. The crew had just begun to change motors after experiencing engine troubles in the morning practice. The torrential rains quickly resulted in the cancellation of qualifying. "The winds were so bad, I was just hanging on to our tent while the crew worked on the engine," crew chief Clyde McLeod explained. "We were standing in at least a foot of water. The infield was completely flooded. "Then, all of the sudden, I felt a tingle like I had been shocked. I let go of the tent and told the guys I thought the lightning went through the metal pole of the tent. Nobody believed me! But, when it happened a second time I said, 'That's it, I'm leaving!' The crew guys thought I was crazy, but I didn't care." Once the storm passed by and the team recovered all their equipment that had floated from their pits in turn two all the way over to turn three, Bodine went on to beat Joe Nemechek by two carlengths. "Not bad for an engine that didn't have a lap on it and for a track that, after the rain, had no rubber on it," commented McLeod. Although Bodine captured his Bristol victories on the concrete pavement, he still considers it one of the many factors that play into winning this year's "Food City 250." "The tires can lose their grip on either asphalt or concrete," Bodine explained. "But if the grip doesn't return on concrete you have to slow down quickly or you'll lose control." Besides keeping an eye on the car's ground clearance, and setting up the car for a strong qualifying run, Bodine says there's one other key thing to keep in mind at Bristol: a driver's reaction time. "Having a quick reaction time is crucial at Bristol," stated Bodine. "Obviously, since the track is so short, a wreck can initially occur two turns in front of you. But, you can come up on it so quickly, you better have a plan on how to avoid it or you'll end up being a part of it. To me, reaction time is like a sixth sense it's not something you can teach." None of these factors keep Todd Bodine from being a big fan of Bristol. "Bristol is intense," Bodine described. "All of your senses are heightened and the adrenalin levels are always pretty high. That's what makes some drivers dislike it and exactly why I love to come back for more." By Events & Outings, Inc.