Bodine Breaks Martin's Winning Stride in Atlanta
Todd Bodine was tired of finishing second to Mark Martin. So
tired that he braved a four-wide pass for the lead at Atlanta
Motor Speedway that turned out to be the winning move of the
race. Bodine's daring maneuver came on Lap 126 as the two approached
slower traffic. Bodine split the pair while Martin stuck his
race track in the lowest possible groove in an unsuccessful
attempt to protect the lead. Meanwhile, Bodine made contact
with Timothy Peters on the outside and almost lost it when his
truck snapped nearly sideways. Somehow Bodine managed to avoid
a crash but Peters was not so lucky as he suffered a flat tire
and set up the green/white/checker finish.
The roles were reversed from the first two races of the season
when Martin was leading for the two-lap shootout. This time
Bodine played defense and the third time was the charm.
As a multi-truck melee broke out behind them on the final corner
of the final lap, Bodine drove to his eighth career victory
with Martin just a scant 0.354-scond behind. "If I had
let him beside me it was all over," said Bodine about the
restart. "He went to the inside on the start and I said,
'Have at it and I'll race you side-by-side.' Mark, being the
awesome driver that he is, raced me clean. I held him down and
I beat him."
Martin and Bodine led every lap of the event between them and
swapped the top spot 12 times. Martin led 97 laps to Bodine's
38 in his quest for a record-tying third consecutive victory.
"These things are awesome," said Martin who continues
to thoroughly enjoy his experience in the Truck Series. "I
love this racing. This is the best racing. Congratulations to
Todd. He did an awesome job, and he and his team made his stuff
better. He was in the front when it ended. He's been knocking
every week, and I hope everybody is OK after that wreck."
Johnny Benson was right behind Martin for third to record his
best finish of the season. "I hated to do anything with
(the truck) because it did feel really good," said Benson.
"It was just loose on the long run. I really didn't want
to see that green/white/checker at the end, but I guess it ended
Thankfully no one was injured in the last lap wreck but there
were plenty of hurt feelings as the half dozen or so teams involved
gathered their battered trucks. NASCAR officials had their work
cut out for them as it took more than an hour to sort out the
running order and issue unofficial race results. The truck teams
will have next weekend off to regroup and get ready for the
season's first short track race of the season at Martinsville
Speedway on April 1.