Share this article

print logo

BODINE LEAVES FROM THE POLE TRYING TO RESURRECT HIS CAREER

Not many good things have happened for Geoff Bodine lately. He's hoping that trend is changing.

Bodine, who won the pole for today's UAW-GM 500 (1:05 p.m., TBS; Radio 1520) -- his first pole in more than two years -- has gone through some tough times since Hoosier tires made the decision to withdraw from the Winston Cup series after the 1994 season.

Defying the conventional wisdom back then, Bodine, a driver-owner, went with the upstart tire company trying to nudge its way into the territory long controlled by powerful Goodyear.

Bodine did win some poles and races with Hoosier, but when it was gone, he was left in a difficult position, politically and financially.

Then, in 1995, a divorce brought turmoil to his personal life and left him depressed and unmotivated for more than a year.

Then, his money began to run out early this season. Bodine was within days of having to close down his operation when wealthy businessmen Jim Mattei and John Porter came to the rescue.

The company, now named Mattei Motorsports, is intact and revitalized. Winning the 36th pole of his career proved to Bodine that things were going in the right direction.

The next order of business is a win.

"We can win," he said Saturday. "You're darn right we can win. We're running good."

The big difference for Bodine, besides the important infusion of cash from Mattei and Porter, is some personnel changes, including the recent hiring of veteran crew chief Tim Brewer.

"This is a good car, but a car is only as good as the people working on it," Bodine said. "That's changed throughout the year. We have good people working on the car, helping me tune it, helping me adjust it for the conditions of the track.

"Hopefully, that is going to be the difference from here on. We're going to be more consistent and better with those adjustments with the car when it comes to race day."

Brewer, who replaced Pat Tryson, is confident the team can win with the 48-year-old Bodine at the wheel of its Fords.

"All we need is just an even break, instead of something out of the ordinary happening," Brewer said.

Bodine's situation has taken some of the spotlight off the Winston Cup championship race, which has boiled down to the top three with five races remaining.

Jeff Gordon, the 1995 champion, holds a 135-point lead over Mark Martin, followed by Dale Jarrett, 222 points behind the leader.

The trio battling for the title will be bunched together for the start of today's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with Martin third, Gordon fourth and Jarrett fifth.

"There's no advantage for anybody," Jarrett said. "Besides, in a 500-mile race, it doesn't matter very much where you start. You have to be there at the end."

On Saturday, Jimmy Spencer fended off Martin's bid for a victory in the All Pro Bumper-To-Bumper 300 Busch Grand National stock car race.

Martin kept losing ground on pit stops and making it up on the track.

There are no comments - be the first to comment