Bodine best bet to win third NextEra Energy Resources 250?
Bodine, who won the 2008 and 2009 NCWTS season openers while driving for Germain Racing -- the same organization with which Bodine won Truck Series championships in 2006 and 2010 -- debuts this weekend in ThorSport's No. 13 Mattei Air Compressors Toyota. And Bodine knows all too well how valuable committed veteran teammates can be.
So Bodine is anxious to see just how effective his two veteran teammates, Matt Crafton in the No. 88 Slim Jim / Menards Toyota and Johnny Sauter in the No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota, can be when aligned with Bodine, who in eight Daytona Truck Series starts has an average start of ninth and an average finish of fifth.
"Having three trucks ups your odds at winning," Bodine said. "And when you have three experienced drivers and three experienced teams and three good Toyota trucks you've got a shot to win the race. That's what we have at ThorSport."
And what ThorSport has, for the first time at Daytona at least, is a three-man crew of proven winners -- even if Bodine is the only win with a trip to Daytona's Victory Lane. Bodine, like Crafton and Sauter, knows the 807 laps he's raced at Daytona in a truck might not make a difference if another driver makes a mistake. But all those laps could be what sets him apart from the rest.
"Just the experience itself that I have, gives me the most optimism for this weekend," Bodine said. "The more drafting that you do, the more you understand it and that's where experience is key. Experience doesn't always pay off, because there's a lot of luck involved, also. But with more experience comes better luck."
There's no question winning a third Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona would put Bodine -- the youngest of three racing brothers from Chemung, N.Y. -- in select all-time company at Daytona. As it is, in the 14 previous editions of the race, Bodine is the only two-time winner.
"That brings me a lot of pride, but I'm honored to be a part of that Daytona legacy," Bodine said. "I've been coming here my whole life -- I had my first seven birthdays (Feb. 27) right here in the infield at the Daytona 500.
"So to me, Daytona is something like the Holy Grail -- it's the Stanley Cup, World Series and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. It's what you do as a driver and what you strive to accomplish. If you can retire with a Daytona win, that's a pretty large statement."
Bodine's already made some knowledgeable statements to the media about ThorSport and Bodine's newest partner, a first time NASCAR team sponsor in Mattei Air Compressors, a global company with 180 distributors in North America that offers the most energy-efficient air and gas compressors on the market.
"When you can bring a new company to the sport it feels like you're giving back to the sport and that you're helping the sport to survive," Bodine said. "When you have a company like Mattei Air Compressors, which has so much enthusiasm about being involved, it makes it that much better."