Todd Bodine: Young Drivers Have ‘iRacng Mentality’

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 23 2022

Is respect for racing a problem with young drivers in NASCAR? (Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

LONG POND, Pa. – Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Todd Bodine attributed the lack of respect and aggressive racing by NASCAR’s young drivers to two things Friday: Most of them don’t work on their trucks, and they possess an “iRacing mentality.”

“They’ve been brought up in a disposable society,” Bodine said the day before his 800th start in NASCAR’s national touring series at Pocono Raceway. “Along with that, you think of things differently. You don’t think of the future and where it’s going to go; what the consequences are going to be. You think about that moment in time and what you have to do in that moment in time.”

Bodine noted that when he competed fulltime in the Truck Series with NASCAR Hall of Fame member and four-time Truck champion Ron Hornaday, three-time series champion Jack Sprague, Truck champion Mike Skinner, and Ted Musgrave they raced each other hard.

“We did all the same things,” Bodine said. “We rubbed fenders. We bumped into each other. The difference is we showed respect doing it. We just didn’t take somebody out to pass them. We didn’t run them up out of the groove just to pass them. These kids today just have no respect.

“I’m going to say that 99 percent of them have never built a race truck, they’ve never worked on a race truck. The guys I mentioned … we all built race cars from the ground up when we were kids. We had to work on our first cars. We had to replace sides if they got bent up. These kids don’t do that. They show up with their driver’s suit, they get into the trucks, and they go race. They don’t realize how much work is involved in putting one of these trucks on the track.” 

Bodine attributed the generational style of racing to an “iRacing mentality.”

“If you wreck, who cares? Push Ctrl, Alt, Delete and Reset and you go again,” Bodine explained. “That works good on a computer, but it doesn’t work good on a race track. But they still race with that mindset.”

Since Bodine made his NASCAR Busch Series (now Xfinity) debut in 1986, the youngest of the Bodine brothers has competed in 241 Cup races, 333 Xfinity, and 225 in the Truck Series. Bodine stepped away from his driving duties in the Truck Series in 2013 to join FOX Sports as an analyst. He returned this year for six races, driving for Halmar Friesen Racing. He cited the best part as “becoming part of Stewart and Jessica’s (Friesen) family.”

“They are such good people,” Bodine continued. “They care about everybody. We go dirt racing with them. It’s just been fun getting to know them and getting to be part of their family at the track and away from the track. That’s a surprise we didn’t expect to have.” 

A Chemung, N.Y., native, Bodine would have liked for his 800th start to come at his home track, Watkins Glen International. However, when the road course was removed from the 2022 Truck Series schedule an alternative had to be found. That’s when he turned to the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway since the “Poconos are like a second home to the Bodines.”

“We all grew up here at Pocono,” Bodine said. “I’ve been coming here since 1972. I was 8 years old when I came here to watch my brother Geoff race a Modified on the three-quarter-mile track and I’ve been coming here ever since. I changed tires for (brother) Brett on pit road on his Modified.

“I finally got to race here in a Cup car. One of my fondest memories of Pocono is going across (the stage) for driver introductions and getting to shake (track owner) Doc’s (Mattioli) hand. He always welcomed me home … and Dr. Rose would kiss me on the cheek and give me a big old hug. They always considered the Bodines part of their family, and we always felt that way. So, for me to be doing this at Pocono is just as special as if it was Watkins Glen.” 

Bodine starts 34th in Saturday’s race scheduled to begin at noon. The event on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway will be televised on FS1.     


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 23 2022
No Comment