News & Media

From the notebook: Bodine plays den mother

March 10, 2011, Dave Rodman,

Consistency pays for Crafton; points idiosyncrasies; Danica clarification

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Two-time Truck Series champion Todd Bodine has 730 starts in 25 years in NASCAR's three national tours -- and 36 victories in the Nationwide and Truck series to go with his 2006 and 2010 titles in the latter.

While his achievements put Bodine on an elite plateau in relation to his fellow competitors, it puts him in a position to give back to them and the sport -- particularly with his three Germain Racing teammates, who total just 212 Truck Series starts between them -- though Max Papis (21 starts) and Justin Lofton (27) are just beyond rookies.

"I'm fortunate that a lot of the rookies have always come to me because they know I'll shoot 'em straight and I will tell them the truth of what to do and try to help them."


"I was fortunate, when I started [racing] to have two brothers that I learned by watching," said Bodine of his older brothers, Geoff and Brett Bodine. "I learned by example."

Geoff Bodine, the 1981 Cup rookie of the year who has 687 career national series starts, and Brett Bodine, now a NASCAR executive and the Sprint Cup pace car driver on weekends, both scored wins in the Cup and the then-Busch series, a total of 30 between the two of them.

Todd Bodine really got going in NASCAR in 1991, when he raced his first full-time Busch schedule. And he had his own personal ace in the hole, he says.

"If [my brothers] weren't around I was fortunate to have Mark Martin around every week, when I started racing in Busch Grand National," Todd Bodine said. "The way he treated me and the things that he did for me is something that I'll always appreciate and I'll never forget. And for me to have the opportunity to sort of pass that legacy down to the next generation -- I enjoy it.

"I understand the position [young drivers] are in and the learning curve they're going through and I try to help them through it. A lot of people ask me, 'How can you help your competitor to be better?' Well, you know what? It's still just a game -- it's just a race and we're all people that have got to live on this earth together. And to me, it's just trying to help somebody out and to make them a better person or a better racer.

"If I can do that I'm lucky to have the opportunity. I'm fortunate that a lot of the rookies have always come to me because they know I'll shoot 'em straight and I will tell them the truth of what to do and try to help them."

Lofton, who's starting his second full season in the Truck Series, began to develop a closer relationship with Bodine early this past summer that's blossomed into a friendship that in part led to the Californian joining Germain Racing for this season.

"It was around Dover that Todd started helping me out," Lofton said. "I started spending time at the track with him and he's been giving me all kinds of advice, so it's definitely something cool and it helps me out, big time."

Crafton's consistency pays

Whatever the points system, two top-10 finishes would get you near the top of it, and as the 2011 season gets rolling, Matt Crafton's ThorSport Racing team is the only squad on the Camping World Truck Series to have done that this season. So it's no surprise they're leading the championship -- albeit by a single narrow point -- over surprise Clay Rogers.

"It's about to get real busy," Crafton said of the Truck schedule.

"Without a doubt, being consistent is business as usual for our team, and I think that consistency is going to pay big dividends this season," Crafton said. "And that's what our race team's been, so we've got to make the best of it and if we can do that again this year, we definitely can win a championship."

Crafton and crew chief Bud Haefele scrambled to gain a seventh-place finish at Phoenix after making a late two-tire pit call. Cup regulars took the top-two spots and it remains to be seen what kind of effect non-championship drivers, who don't get points themselves but keep regular series contenders from grabbing the highest points and erasing a leader's advantage, will have.

New points idiosyncrasy

It's way too early to tell what the bottom line on NASCAR's new points system will be, but an interesting aspect came to light after the third Cup Series event of the season at Las Vegas.

With only a single point separating each position in the running order, there were eight ties in the Cup drivers' points, compared to only three ties last season, when there was a greater disparity in points, particularly among the top-10 positions.

Ironically, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin are tied in the standings this season, just as they were last year after three races. However, last year they were tied for 21st, and this year they're tied for seventh.

Another aspect that remains to be seen as to how it'll play out is how far a bad finish can drop someone in the standings, while at the same time seeing how far a good finish can pull a driver up the points table. A year ago after the third race the greatest gain or loss in the standings was 10 positions -- with one driver going each way. After Las Vegas, three drivers -- Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and David Gilliland -- had double-digit position losses. Again, only one, Marcos Ambrose, who jumped 10 spots, had a double-digit gain.

Patrick not only woman driver

In the wake of Danica Patrick's record-setting, fourth-place finish at Las Vegas, which was a high-water mark for a NASCAR national series event by a woman, a lot of people got caught in the semantic snare of calling it the highest NASCAR touring finish or the highest NASCAR finish by a female -- and it was neither.

Shawna Robinson, the 1988 Goody's Dash Series Rookie of the Year, won three races in that NASCAR touring series, which was the equivalent of the current K&N Pro Series or Whelen Modified Tour. Karen Schulz had a second-place finish in the series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.