Geoff Bodine: Daytona and Beyond
All pictures used with permission from Geoff Bodine / geoffbodinefanclub.com
By Dominic Aragon
TheRacingExperts.com Lead Reporter
BOLD = The Racing Experts
BLUE = Geoff Bodine
Heading to Daytona, and getting your first lap on track, what was it like to be back behind the wheel of a Sprint Cup car?
I buckled in, got my helmet on, and it was a great feeling. It felt like I hadn’t been away from [NASCAR]. It felt like it was yesterday the last time I drove.
What was your reaction when Tommy Baldwin came over the radio and said ‘you’re in’?
Relief! We are not in the top-35. We have to go fast enough to get into the races. When you’re at Daytona, you are at the mercy of the car. When Tommy said ‘hey, you’re in,’ I said thank you Jesus, and I thanked all the guys on the crew for the hard work.
When the green flag dropped, what went through your mind to try and find a drafting partner?
We worked with Andy Lally. He came back and we found each other and started to work together. That style of racing was different. Being pushed is OK, because you can see where you’re going. The first time I pulled behind Andy to push him, I couldn’t see where I was going. That was kind of a weird feeling. A race driver always wants to see where they’re going. When you get the trust and comfort factor going, it was pretty easy.
You ran as high as the top-15—how was it to run up front with the two car draft?
We had a really fast car. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a fast teammate. I worked with Lally for a while, and we were really fast. Something was wrong with Dave Blaney’s car, so I helped him because he was slow. I lost Andy as a partner. After Dave was out, I worked with Robby Gordon. But the two of us weren’t fast enough to stay on the lead lap. The car was fantastic—it stuck like glue. I was having a lot of fun [early on]. It wasn’t any fun just pushing someone, knowing you weren’t fast enough. It was frustrating.
Bringing it home 38th, was that your expectations for your finish?
No, we wanted to finish better, and we thought we could. That front wheel baring burnt out, and that’s a RARE occurrence. We were disappointed with the finish, but, on the other hand, had the wheel baring not burnt out, and not pulled off the track, I could have possibly be in one of those wrecks at the end and wrecked the car. We ran good, [but] it could have been worse.
So, did you like the two-car drafting at Daytona?
I don’t any driver that does. After this weekend, a lot of drivers have spoken about it. You have to be careful what you say, and we all know how that works. The media changes what you say sometimes, so some drivers aren't willing to say anything. But even Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke out about how silly it was and that it was not real racing, and that’s how I feel. But, if that’s the way it is, I’m going to be there and do it, participate, and do the best I can. I've raced long enough to know, if you don’t like something, if you don’t like the rules, if you don’t like what’s going on, don’t show up! Go someplace else! I’ll do whatever they tell us to do—I’ll race the way they instruct us to race.
Is there a possibility that we might see you in the 35 car at more races then the scheduled sponsorship from Luke and Associates? Would those races involve starting and parking?
Yes—I talked with Tommy Baldwin and our first event will be Pocono [without sponsorship]. It will be a start and park style event. Unless we come up with sponsorship between now and then, which we’re trying [to secure], that will be our first scheduled race back.
Earlier in the season, Tommy Baldwin said that he didn’t want to bring a second car to the track until “we figure out” the first, or unless the resources were lined up. Do you think with what he is doing now, that it could start paving the way for a full-time car in 2012?
Well, let’s hope so. Let’s hope Luke and Associates can do the whole program next year. That’d be fantastic. I’m hoping and praying about that all the time. Tommy’s always looking for sponsorship, just like we are. They were really happy after one race, and hopefully, after we get a few more races under our belt, they’ll be even more happy. We have five, maybe six more races with Luke this year, and some start and parks. We’ll see what happens from here.
If L&S or another sponsor would like to see you run full time next year, would you be up to par to run all 36 races?
Oh, I’m ready, I’m ready right now! If I didn’t want to race, I wouldn’t have been in Daytona! I’m looking forward to ‘real open racing’ like Pocono, Atlanta, Charlotte … I’m ready to race, everywhere, anytime, all the time.