Todd & 200: Bodine First to Reach NASCAR Milestone
History will be made Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway. Todd Bodine, driver of the Red Horse Racing No. 11 Toyota Tundra, will make his 200th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start when the green flag waves on Saturday night to begin the American Ethanol 225.
What’s remarkable is Saturday’s NCWTS race will enable Bodine to become the first driver in NASCAR history to record 200 starts in each of the three NASCAR national touring series. Combined with his 200 starts in the Camping World Truck Series, Bodine has competed in 325 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) races and 241 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) events -- totaling 766 NASCAR starts. This places him 20th in the NASCAR record book for all-time starts, in friendly company with NASCAR legends like Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt.
“When I started in this sport, I never thought about getting to this point,” said Bodine. “You only thought about the next race, the future wasn’t something you thought about. Here I am after 21 years driving. My first full season in Nationwide was in ’91. To have longevity and to make a career out of it, and to get to this point, it’s a pretty special thing to know that I’ve been able to accomplish that much.”
Bodine made his first NASCAR start in 1986 when he borrowed an old race car from Chicago-native and former NASCAR driver ‘Tiger’ Tom Pistone to go to the Martinsville NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
“The first start was a car that a friend of mine had sitting in a barn and he let me fix it up and get it together,” reflected Bodine. “Actually, it was Pete Pistone, his father is ‘Tiger’ Tom Pistone -- in the history of racing, he’s really significant. It was Pete Pistone’s car and he let me put it together and we didn’t have a motor. At the time Geoff and Brett (Bodine, brothers) were both driving for Rick Hendrick and Rick was kind enough to let me use a motor and I went up there and raced my first race.”
In more than two decades of racing full-time in NASCAR, the Chemung, N.Y.-native has earned 37 NASCAR victories -- 15 NNS and 22 NCWTS. He also has a combined 19 pole positions, 302 top-10 finishes and has completed more than 146,000 race laps throughout the three NASCAR premier series.
The 48-year-old veteran has driven a Toyota Tundra since 2004, and has compiled 22 victories, 90 top-five finishes, 121 top-10 results and seven poles in the Truck Series.
“When I was approached about racing in the Truck Series with Toyota, we knew we were going to have good equipment and it was going to be a full-time deal,” said Bodine. “I knew it was going to be an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. To go out the first race and finish fourth at Richmond was pretty good, more than that was going to Las Vegas two weeks later and finishing second after leading up to the last lap and getting bumped out of the way -- that proved to us right there we had the equipment to go out and do this. We won California the next week -- we knew right away we had the equipment and the support we needed to go out and win races and win championships. With Toyota’s help, that’s what made all the difference.”
Nicknamed ‘The Onion,’ Bodine has also won two NCWTS driver’s championships. His first came in 2006 and second in 2010.
“My first championship meant as much to my family as it did to me,” added Bodine. “We’ve been in racing our whole lives. My brother Geoff (Bodine) has been racing NASCAR since 1979, and between Brett (Bodine, brother), Geoff and myself -- the three of us, we have a lot of seasons racing in NASCAR’s top divisions and our family had never won a championship. To finally win that championship was not just my accomplishment, as much as I felt like it was an accomplishment for our family to show that we were deserving of it. To win the second championship, we came back four years later -- it was validation that we didn’t luck into the first one, we went out and raced it and earned it. It was also pretty special to be able to be the first Toyota driver to get two championships.”
This season, Bodine has one victory -- at Dover in June, three top-five finishes and four top-10 results in the NCWTS and sits 13th in points after nine races. This weekend the series competes at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, where Bodine has finished runner-up in 2009 and 2010.
“I’ve always enjoyed Chicago -- it’s my kind of track -- a mile-and-a-half, momentum track,” said Bodine. “With the trucks, you really have to drive them hard and try not to let off the gas at all. You have to have a good truck to do that. I know Rick (Gay, crew chief) has a great plan for our Tundra going there and I think we’ll be just fine. It’s always been one of my favorite tracks. The very first Cup race there, I sat on the pole, so from the first time I was there, I’ve enjoyed the track.”
With 200 or more starts in all three NASCAR national touring series and two driver’s championships, Bodine knows he has had a special career in a unique sport.
“I’ve had a lot of success and have met a lot of great people and have a lot of great friends because of it,” reflected Bodine. “It’s not often in this world that you can get to do for a living the one thing that they love the most. I’m very fortunate in a lot of respects. I’m glad to be able to be a part of this sport.”
Where does Bodine stack up among other drivers prior to Chicagoland?
- Richard Petty -- 1,185 starts
- Mark Martin -- 1,103 starts
- Michael Waltrip -- 1,057 starts
- Terry Labonte -- 1,007 starts
- Dale Jarrett -- 997 starts
- Joe Nemechek -- 986 starts
- Ken Schrader -- 962 starts
- Jeff Burton -- 948 starts
- Darrell Waltrip -- 921 starts
- Ricky Rudd -- 909 starts
- Morgan Shepherd -- 904 starts
- Dave Marcis -- 888 starts
- Kenny Wallace -- 885 starts
- Kyle Petty -- 885 starts
- Bobby Labonte -- 885 starts
- Bill Elliott -- 873 starts
- Sterling Marlin -- 825 starts
- Kevin Harvick -- 817 starts
- Dale Earnhardt -- 812 starts
- Todd Bodine -- 765 starts
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