Todd Bodine begins six-race quest to 800 at Vegas

Todd Bodine at LVMS

LAS VEGAS – Todd Bodine has competed in 794 NASCAR races spread across the Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series during his career.

Through those three series, there were 241 starts in Cup, 333 and 15 wins in Xfinity and 220 with two championships and 22 Truck Series wins.

When it was toyed with via Social Media about Bodine hitting the milestone of 800 starts, response was overwhelming and positive. One of the first calls came from Truck Series regular Stewart Friesen of Halmar Friesen Racing.

Next up was a tweet from Marcus Lemonis from Camping World. Deal gets done, and now Bodine begins his quest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

So, why now…at the age of 58…and not having been in a Truck in nine years does Bodine want to get back behind the wheel to make that round figured mark?

For many, the first reaction was a big ol’ WTF? Including Bodine.

“When this first all started about the six races needed to hit 800, I was asking myself the same question about why I would I do this,” Bodine said, outside his HFR No. 62 hauler in the LVMS Truck garage. “People talk about milestones and records. This was just one of those milestones that was out there and I was really close.

“Six races aren’t a lot. At first, I didn’t give it much thought or even care about it. Then, people started talking about it and one thing led to another and here we are.

“I only had the opportunity to practice on the simulator. But, it’s only simulation. I’m old school and I don’t think it means much.”

When, not if, Bodine hits that Great 800 mark, he will be the 27th driver in NASCAR history to achieve the milestone.

After Las Vegas, Bodine will attempt Darlington Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, Nashville Superspeedway and finally, Pocono Raceway.

The driver-turned-broadcaster for FOX Sports-turned-six-race driver again doesn’t have lofty expectations for his return. With it being almost a decade since his last NCWTS start, Bodine is pretty level headed about the Las Vegas race.

“Realistically, I’d like to get a top-10 finish,” he said before practice. “I really think I have a truck capable of top-five, or even a win. If I get the hang of it and things are going well, I’ll go for it. I’m not scared.”

Friesen said he grew up watching Bodine race and having him as a teammate has already been beneficial.

“I watched Todd race when I was a kid and never thought this was going to happen,” Friesen said. “In the last couple of months, we got to spend some time together and go snowmobiling.

“Obviously, with Camping World coming on board to make this happen and field a top-notch truck has been great. Chris Larsen and I had talked about fielding a second part-time team, but the situation had to be right.

“They could go out, win two races and it would elevate the whole team. We’ve already had a few set-up ideas from Todd what we can look at, tweak and put to use on our No. 52 Toyota.”

The mutual admiration goes back to when Bodine first saw Stewart race in the Truck Series.

“I’ve been a Stewie fan since his early days, I don’t know why,” Bodine said. “Being from Chemung, NY gives that New York State connection because he raced around there so much.

“To now be teammates with him is pretty cool. When Lemonis asked my fan base to give him 800 reasons to support me on Twitter, Stewie texted me right away and asked if this was all real.

“I told him ‘I guess so, we’ll find out’ and then he called Chris. And, here we are now. It’s been pretty fun seeing this all come together.”

Driver are competitive by nature and giving up the steering wheel is never easy. With that said, the question of Bodine continuing past 800 if he does well in these six had to be asked.

“You are not the first one to ask me this,” he said with a big smile. “As much as I love racing, the realistic aspect is you slow down with age. It’s a fact of life and I’ve seen it.

“Hopefully, I don’t see it in these next six races. I’m going to give those guys out there a run for their money.

“If you want to know if I’m going to past the 800. That’s a nice round number, but I highly doubt it.”

Bodine posted the 13th-fastest time in practice at LVMS and qualified 23rd for the 134-lap, 200-mile event.

Friday night’s NCWTS race starts at 9:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

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