AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
Bodine Puts Family Name Back On Top At DaytonaRyan Newman receiving a tearful hug from his father and a phone call from his overjoyed mother wasn't the only family moment in Victory Lane at Daytona last weekend. In Friday's Craftsman Truck Series race, Todd Bodine helped celebrate his biggest win with older brother Geoff, a guy who knew a little about how to get around the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway. "It's special that he did it. It was the only event that I hadn't won," said Geoff Bodine, the 1986 Daytona 500 champion and a winner of the old Busch Clash, a Nationwide Series race, a Daytona qualifying race and IROC event at the track. "Todd, he finished it off. He gave the Bodine family every one you can win on the oval. That's pretty good." Pretty good, like the younger Bodine's prowess on superspeedways in the truck series. The 2006 series champion won last year at Talladega and in six combined starts at Daytona and Talladega he has never finished worse than fifth. "It is a knack, you've got to learn it and understand it. I had some good teachers, a couple brothers who were pretty good at it," said Bodine, now with 13 truck wins in 91 starts. "I've always tried to pay attention and learn as I'm driving, not just go in circles." With an excellent Germain Racing Toyota, Bodine was able to stay ahead of several messes that took out a number of expected contenders. A 10-truck melee just 19 laps into the race took out former champions Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague, Ted Musgrave and others, and moments after the green flag flew again after that caution, another wreck broke out and sidelined five more trucks. Before and after all that, Bodine held the lead. He led for 49 of 100 laps in all, then held off Cup regular Kyle Busch and Bill Davis Racing's Johnny Benson at the end. Unlike other Daytona races through the years, this one didn't get away. Bodine had run at Daytona since 1991 in 33 races between all three of NASCAR's top series, never approaching Geoff-like success. There was a 1997 Busch race when he made a mistake with about 20 laps remaining, allowing Randy LaJoie to take the lead for good. There was also last year's truck race, where he picked the wrong line on the last lap and ended up fifth instead of grabbing a piece of the three-wide finish won by Jack Sprague. "I knew from the end of last year's great finish that before the finish line a lot of things can happen," said Geoff Bodine, who survived a horrible crash in the 2000 Daytona truck race. "I knew those guys would try to make some moves. I was confident Todd would be able to block them all. "I was pretty darn calm [watching], while everyone else around me, my fiancée, my friends, they're all jumping up and down, yelling and screaming. I'm just sitting there, I thought he was going to make it, though I've seen enough to know anything can happen."
Busch League?Kyle Busch's second-place night at Daytona wasn't exactly quiet. He was roundly blamed for the big early accident, when his Toyota appeared to get loose and drift down the track into Mike Skinner, setting off a chain reaction. After the wreck, some of the victims didn't hide their disdain for the 22-year-old part-time Billy Ballew Motorsports driver, who of course runs a Nationwide and full-time Sprint Cup schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing. "Kyle just said, 'I'll race tomorrow.' He doesn't care about this. It's his fun time," said Circle Bar Racing's Brendan Gaughan, who finished 34th. There's two ways to get on fellow competitors' nerves: allegedly crash them, and repeatedly beat them. In the past five races dating to the end of last season, Busch (with his nickname "Rowdy" on the truck) has two wins and two seconds. "If that didn't get under your skin, then you wouldn't be a good enough racer," said Todd Bodine, who held off Busch at Daytona and said he considers the fellow Tundra driver a friend. "When you get a Cup guy coming over and winning a lot, it can get under your skin. He's a great competitor with a good team. Unfortunately, some guys can't handle it." John Schwarb is a freelance journalist covering motorsports and a contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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