NASCAR Media Conference
March 26, 2008
DENISE MALOOF: Clay, thank you for joining us today. Good luck this weekend.
For those who are on the phone, we're now joined by former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Todd Bodine. The driver of the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota. Todd, a native of New York, actually grew up in Rocky Mountain, Virginia, just a bit north of Martinsville. Todd, welcome.
TODD BODINE: Thank you.
DENISE MALOOF: Both of your brothers, Jeffrey and Brett, have won NASCAR National Series race at Martinsville. If you would follow suit this weekend it will be the first time three siblings have won a National Series race at the same track. How important is that?
TODD BODINE: Well, it's important. But more important is to get another win for the Lumber Liquidators Tundra. But, like you said, I graduated high school from Rocky Mountain, about 45 minutes north. And I've been going to Martinsville since I was seven years old, been there watching my brothers race and win races. And I was there as a crew member changing tires on modifieds. I've been there in every series that's raced there, Cup, Busch and the truck.
And to win at Martinsville is a very gratifying accomplishment. Because it is like, if there's such a thing as a home track, I would call that one of my home tracks. I love it there. And Clay has always done a great job. It's just a place that I really want to win. It's very special to myself and my family.
DENISE MALOOF: Questions.
Q. Todd, really, I don't have a question for you. I have a comment. And I truthfully mean this. I've been covering NASCAR now for about 30 years. But it's people like you and your family that southern hospitality that has made this sport grow to what it is. That's my own opinion. People ask me, how did NASCAR get so big. My first response is: The southern hospitality of not only the people but of the drivers especially. So I just wanted to say thank you.
TODD BODINE: Thank you. We were brought up to try to be good people and do everybody the way you would want to be done. And we grew up in this sport. It's all we've ever done. And, of course, I think if you ask my brothers this question they'd say the same thing: We learn by example.
I learned from my brothers and they learned from guys like Richard Petty and David Pearson. And especially Richard, just appreciative of the fans and always signing autographs and smiles.
You learn by example. And I think that some of that has been lost in racing. I think some of these new kids need to learn a little bit of that. But I really appreciate it. Being part of this sport is very important to my family and always has been. And we're proud to represent the sport the best we can.
Q. I think you hit it on the head when you said Richard Petty and the other drivers and your brothers and so forth, because so many of the young drivers in my opinion, today, don't even understand what the word "public relations" means and you guys still do. So thank you.
TODD BODINE: Thank you, we appreciate it. Like I said, you learn from example. And Richard Petty was the best example we could all have and try to emulate ourselves off of what he did for the sport and for the fans. And we try to do it the best we can.
Q. I wanted to ask you, with the trucks having lost a little bit of horsepower now, how does that impact you what you do at Martinsville and how does that change? I think I heard at testing some guys said they were going a little deeper drive it a little different than they were and they were happy with the test because at first it was throwing them off a little bit.
TODD BODINE: Yeah, the thing about that spacer -- it's a tapered spacer, it doesn't hurt the bottom end torque of the motor. It's meant to take top-end horsepower, top-end speed, off of the motor. And it's exactly what it's done at all the tracks. And Martinsville, I was very surprised, it didn't slow us down hardly at all.
If you think about it, the fact that we still have that bottom-end torque. We do get up off the corner almost as well. They did take some gear away from us, so that hurt us a little bit. But where it slowed us down was the last 100 feet of the straightaway. Martinsville top-end speed is only like 100 feet long, because it's such a short track.
So it really didn't slow us down a lot. But it did exactly what you heard: You end up driving it in the corner just that smidgen deeper because you know you have that little bit of speed left. The one thing that did hurt us was taking the gear out of the trucks. It's going to be hard on brakes. Because now we don't have the motors to help slow us down as much.
So I think Martinsville, it's all about getting under somebody up off the corner. And I think that you're still going to see a great race because that didn't hurt the bottom-end torque of the motors.
So I'm very pleased with the spacer. Even at all the other tracks we've raced at. Like California, it took about six miles an hour off the top end of the straightaways but we still had the lift in the corner because you can only go through the corner so fast. And I think it's worked out really well.
Q. Can you define a few of the best things that have happened in the Truck Series say in the last five years that have attracted so many veterans and rookies to the series?
TODD BODINE: I don't know if there's one or five particular things. I think that the series itself has evolved into a very competitive, the manufacturers have gotten involved with the onset of Toyota, it made the other manufacturers step up their programs.
And I think the fact that we do have a lot of veterans has made this series very interesting, because the fans can relate to the drivers that are involved. Guys like Skinner and Hornaday and Sprague and Rick Crawford and guys like Rick who have made their careers in the Truck Series and David Starr and guys like that.
Then we've got a great crop of rookies and we've had a great crop every year. We've had a tremendous group of kids. And the trucks are a great place to learn because they're a lot more forgiving than a car. It's just evolved because of a lot of circumstances and become an incredible series to watch.
We do autograph sessions a lot. And we get to talk to the fans. I love talking to the fans. And the one thing that is a constant that we hear every time is how they love the trucks over the cars because it is so competitive. The races are shorter. We have to -- when they drop that flag, we have to go. We can't ride around for 400 laps.
So they understand that and they appreciate it. I think it's drawn the fans to the series, and it's made it an incredible place to be and guys like myself and Skinner and guys up in their careers and only have probably five, six, 10 years left, it's a great place to be and earn a living and enjoy what we do.
Q. Todd, I was talking last night about Colin Braun and how he has come in so quick in the Truck Series. What's your opinion on him?
TODD BODINE: Well, I'll tell you what, he's got a tremendous amount of talent. I haven't gotten to know him that well. What little bit I have talked to him, sounds like a really good kid. But he's got a tremendous amount of talent. A lot of guys will come in from other series and just not get it. Just not understand how to drive these trucks and the cars even. Because it is different than road racing and kart racing and the open wheel stuff.
So you have to change how you do things, how you drive them. And he's adapted incredibly well. He's doing a really good job. He's had some bad breaks along the way, but I think he is definitely one of the kids who has a future in our sport, not only in the Truck Series but probably in the nationwide and sprint series.
DENISE MALOOF: Thank you very much for joining us. Good luck this weekend.
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