RACING

Todd Bodine set to kick off the 800th National Series on Saturday

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Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

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Saturday at Pocono Raceway will mark a milestone in Todd Bodine’s racing career.

The two-time Camping World Truck Series champion is set to kick off his 800th and final NASCAR National Series this weekend at the “Tricky Triangle.” Bodine will join a roster of only a handful of pilots to accomplish the feat.

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“There haven’t been a lot of guys who have done it,” Bodine said. “To be able to accomplish something like that, it’s nice to know that I’ve had longevity and been able to do it in all three series at a competitive level. It’s quite special.

A winner of 22 Truck Series races and 15 Xfinity Series races, Bodine’s last full-time season was in 2012, but he held limited schedules in both series from 2013 to 2017.

After racing full time, Bodine joined FOX Sports in 2015 as an analyst for NASCAR RaceDay – becoming a prominent voice on the NCWTS while sitting in the broadcast booth as an occasional color commentator.

This season, Bodine returned to the track for one final round – a six-race schedule for Halmar Friesen Racing backed by Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis. Bodine recalled his racing time and said it was hard not to be on a racetrack.

“I grew up on a race track and have been going to races since I was born,” Bodine said. “I’ve been doing it on a professional level since I graduated from high school in 1982. I worked on cars, built cars and modifications, raced in modifications, but then moved to the south, I continued to work on it and was a team leader for them.”

In four decades of racing at the highest levels of NASCAR, Bodine has noticed a significant shift in the Truck Series.

“The biggest change, and it had already started when I quit full time, is the age of the driver,” Bodine said. “The owners went from wanting the 40-year-old guy who had a lot of experience who could go out and win races to wanting this 20-year-old who’s going to push him to the limit at every turn and get in a little bit of trouble, everything giving them the opportunity to win.These kids today have a whole different thought process.

He added that the way the trucks ride and feel is much the same as when he stopped racing full time, and that showed at Darlington Raceway in May as Bodine won his only top 10 so far.

Bodine has finished in the top 20 in three starts this season with two finishes outside the top 20 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway.

Looking at the young riders he has competed with, there are two that stood out for him.

“I gave advice to a few of the younger ones,” Bodine said. “If you look at the successful ones, like Zane Smith and Ben Rhodes, they went through the balls against the wall, crushed them on stage and they came out the other side being seasoned, young men who understand that is a good runner does not go fast every lap.

Rhodes is the defending Truck Series champion while Zane Smith currently holds a 58-point advantage over John Hunter Nemechek and Chandler Smith heading into Saturday’s regular season finale.

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As Pocono hosted Bodine’s latest start, he discussed the elements that aptly give the 2.5-mile circuit its nickname “Tricky Triangle.”

“Pocono is great as a driver. It’s just a lot of fun because you have three different straights and three different corners, but that’s also what makes it difficult,” Bodine said. make the vehicle perfect in all three corners so the driver has to adapt and make it as good as possible in two of the three corners and hopefully you can do it right in the other .”

In four starts at Pocono, Bodine finished 12th or better three times with a DNF in 2012.

Viewers can listen to Bodine’s final start Saturday at 12 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“I’ve done every facet you could do and it’s been every weekend of my life, so going to a race track is like coming home. It’s where our friends are, where our families are. It’s our life.

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