Tag Archives: Todd Bodine

An on-track perspective of Kansas Speedway

9 Jun

Brett Bodine is a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. His younger brother Todd is tearing up the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and his older brother Geoff also competed at NASCAR’s highest level. Those three represent the third generation of their family in racing. Before the STP 400 last Sunday, Brett was back on the track, giving pace car rides in the hours before the race would begin. Listening to him, here’s what I and several other media members learned about Kansas Speedway.

1. First, let’s address that “Tar of Death” question. Everyone who lives in Kansas will tell you that the weather is schizophrenic – one day you’ll need a t-shirt and shorts, but the next you’ll be desperate for jeans and a jacket. A bigger problem for the racetrack than the oscillating weather, however, is the extremes the state gets between seasons. It’s not unusual to encounter wind chills in the negative teens in the winter months, and the summer yields 98-degree days on a regular basis. Over the last 10 years, those harsh temperatures on both ends of the thermometer have caused the track surface to mature drastically, Bodine said.

“Those seams have widened out and racetrack maintenance has applied some sealer down in those cracks. If it wasn’t such a different color they probably wouldn’t be near as noticeable, but they’re there. You can feel them as you cross over them diagonally, and you also feel a few horizontal or 90-degree bumps and cracks in the track.

“That’s part of an old racetrack. It gives it character.”

2. The fastest part of the racetrack is when you’re approaching Turn 1. The front straightaway is about 800 feet longer than the back stretch, which is why it’s so much faster.

3. The banking at Kansas Speedway is one of the lowest for 1.5-mile tracks. There is 14 degrees of banking, a far cry from the 24 degrees at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where drivers had competed the previous week.

“Going into turn 3 you’ll notice, Where’s the banking?” Bodine said as he turned the wheel. “Relatively flat-looking as you enter the corner.”

4. It’s a slick ride in the summer months. The grip just deteriorates as the race goes on. As the track just progressively hotter, it takes rubber right off the tires of the cars. When that happens, Bodine said, grip tends to go away.

“Drivers’ll continue to move up the racetrack looking for some fresh blacktop. They’re not going to find any because we’re using all the lanes right now.”

5. The speedway has a nice wide pit road, with three lanes of travel and one pit stall lane. There is one little drawback to the setup, however.

“Pit stalls are kind of short, they’re not very roomy, so getting boxed in in possible, particularly under yellow flag.”

10 years at Kansas Speedway: Time to Repave?

4 Jun

Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

After 10 years of hosting NASCAR races, officials at Kansas Speedway say it’s only a matter of time before the track surface needs to be revamped. (For a comprehensive article on this, check out this link.) Drivers, however, don’t necessarily agree. One reporter asked racers about this on Saturday after the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250, and Todd Bodine, Johnny Sauter and Joey Coulter all said that if they got to vote, the track would not be repaved.

“This place has got so much character now,” Bodine said. “When it was first built and we came here … it was smooth, and lots of grip, and now, even in trucks we’re out there sliding around and we’re driving the heck out of them every lap. That’s why you see great racing here. It’s got a lot of character. It’s a neat place.”

The reporter remarked half-jokingly that the track would most likely be repaved anyway, and Bodine in particular gave a passionate defense of Kansas Speedway’s current state.

“Why would they repave it?” Bodine began. “Yeah it’s got a couple of bumps and it’s wore-out, but that’s what makes it fun. It separates good trucks from bad ones and good cars from bad ones, good drivers. That’s what makes it fun. Anybody can go fast on dry pavement.”

Coulter’s statement was short and sweet but seemed to summarize what the general feeling was.

“I don’t think I’d repave it either,” the rookie said. “It’s pretty fun the way it is.”

Clint Bowyer Gets a Happy Homecoming

4 Jun

Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR

Today Clint Bowyer found that there truly is no place like home. With his Saturday afternoon victory in the 400th race of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the Emporia native became the first Kansan to win a NASCAR national series race at Kansas Speedway, which is in its 10th season.

Bowyer had been a runner-up twice at races on his home track, once in the Sprint Cup Series and once in the Nationwide Series, but as fellow racers Johnny Sauter and Todd Bodine (who finished second and third, respectively, in today’s race) pointed out, coming in second place or third place is simply means a driver is the first or second loser. This time would be different for Bowyer.

“We’ve gotten close here, we’ve had good runs here, we’ve just never been able to seal the deal,” Bowyer said. “To finally be able to do a burnout in the homestretch in front of this crowd, this is big, man. That’s a good feeling.”

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

Though the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 technically had 10 leaders and 15 lead changes, Bowyer’s performance can hardly be described as less than domination. He led 124 of 167 laps, and much of that time it did not even appear to be a close contest for first place. Bowyer did not necessarily feel secure throughout, however, and said getting into position out of the pits during restarts was key to the team’s success today. In a race that had seven cautions, that’s likely a pretty accurate statement.

“There were some nerve-wracking times,” the No. 2 driver said. “Right there at that last pit stop we took four tires. I knew four tires was the right thing to do, but I really thought a lot more people would take four tires, and they just didn’t. It was having to get through a lot of them right in that first corner, and I thought that was key, getting in position.”

Now, Bowyer is in position to be able to sweep the weekend at Kansas Speedway, as he competes in the Sprint Cup Series race tomorrow. He would be the first to do so. Having qualified 27th for Sunday’s STP 400, he will begin the race in the 14th row of drivers.

As previously mentioned, Johnny Sauter and Todd Bodine came in second and third, respectively. James Buescher finished fourth, and Rookie of the Year candidate Joey Coulter crossed the line fifth.