NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Beyond the Cockpit: Todd Bodine Defends Criticism of Kyle Busch

Saturday, Frontstretch columnists Jay Pennell and Doug Turnbull met up with current Truck Series points leader Todd Bodine. They had the opportunity to get it straight from the Onion’s mouth… that he’s fed up with Kyle Busch.

Jay W. Pennell, Frontstretch: Congratulations on your win, but obviously you caused some controversy with your comments in victory lane. What did Kyle say to you in victory lane and what did you have to say to him?

Todd Bodine: He was just upset I called him out on TV for the way he drives and things he did on the track. He doesn’t have to do those things. He doesn’t have to race that way. He’s a hell of a racecar driver, probably one of the best the sport’s ever seen and for him to be driving like that – he doesn’t just do it in trucks, he does it in every division he runs, so he doesn’t discriminate.

You don’t have to do those things, you don’t have to drive that way, but that’s what he chooses to do. I finally called him out on it, nobody else will and I did.

Pennell: Do you regret saying it on television?

Bodine: Absolutely not. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of – Bristol, perfect example. The kid should have been black flagged in Trucks and Nationwide and [NASCAR] didn’t do a damn thing about it, so now he just thinks he’s going to get away with it more. What he did to me, technically, was nothing wrong. That was racing, that’s part of it, but you don’t have to do it. We don’t have a gentleman’s agreement in the trucks, but we all know in the Truck Series you have to give more room alongside somebody because you’re going to get pulled around. They are way more aero-sensitive than the cars are in side-drafting and if you don’t give room you’re going to suck somebody around. We all try to give room because we all have a lot [smaller] budgets. We don’t race for the money they race for in the other two divisions. We can’t afford to be wrecking trucks and tearing stuff up. We understand that and try to give each other room.

Kyle comes in there and just doesn’t care, has no respect for anybody and I’m tired of watching it.

Doug Turnbull, Frontstretch: To the casual race fan that might not have seen what was wrong, especially that just saw the highlights or didn’t know what lap it was, is there a certain time when you’re going for the win, five to go, 10 to go when it’s OK to push?

Bodine: Absolutely, I mean, there again, that’s part of racing. Technically, Kyle did nothing wrong, that’s what the sport is about. There again, you don’t have to race that way. He had a fast enough truck, it was the first lap after a restart. If he’s faster – which the outside groove was faster – just beat me on the outside. Don’t suck me around to do it. Don’t cause me to spin out. We’re lucky I didn’t crash and I didn’t take out two or three other trucks. That could have easily taken out four trucks and crashed the back of the field. Luckily it didn’t and we all got out of it clean.

He doesn’t care, he doesn’t care. He proved it when he spun Jennifer Jo Cobb out in the middle of the frontstretch at Bristol because he had no patience. He proved he doesn’t care about anything other than winning. Nobody likes losing. We don’t come here to finish second and that attitude of wanting to win everything… everybody thinks it’s great. It’s what you should have. Well you know what, that’s what we do it for, to win races and to run up front, but you have to have respect when you’re doing it.

You guys are going to be the first ones to hear about it, because nobody has talked about it, but the SOB didn’t come to the drivers meeting because he was pissed off he had to start last in the race. So, he just didn’t come to the drivers meeting, because he didn’t have to, he was going to start last anyway. That’s disrespectful. That’s disrespectful to NASCAR, that’s disrespectful to our sport, and I’m tired of it.

What makes it even worse and me more mad is the kid is a good kid. You get him away from this environment, away from the racetrack and away from being Kyle Busch superstar and he can be out and be Kyle – he’s a good kid. He’s a lot of fun, when he doesn’t have that attitude. Right now, he’s Mr. Superstar, Joe Cool and he thinks his sh*t doesn’t stink.

Turnbull: Weren’t you guys supposed to share a plane on your way to Atlanta after the race?

Bodine: We didn’t share a plane. He rode with my owner and I rode on another plane. There was no way in hell I was going to ride with him.

Pennell: Had you talked to Kyle before about this prior to this incident?

Bodine: I tried last year, very nonchalantly trying to tell him to chill out, but he didn’t want to hear it.

Pennell: Do you think your feelings are the consensus amongst the other drivers?

Bodine: I think it would be. If it’s not, I don’t know where their heads are at. You need to talk to some of the other drivers and find out their feelings about it. Maybe now that I came out and said the way I feel, maybe some of those guys will too.

I’m just tired of it, I’m tired of watching it on Saturday and Sunday and having to go through it on Friday. The thing is he doesn’t have to do it, he’s such a good racecar driver in the best equipment you can have. Go out there and beat people, don’t run through them to pass them… (just) pass them.

It’s just like Brad Keselowski at Bristol racing for the lead. Brad did nothing wrong, absolutely. Kyle went down there and dumped him. My attitude is, okay, if you think Brad did something wrong, OK, go pass him again and shove it in his face that you can pass him clean. Don’t just bump him to get by – you didn’t accomplish anything. You accomplished the fact that you pissed off the fans because now they’re not going to see a good race. You took the points leader out of the race.

[Kyle] doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what he does or who he does it to.

That’s the one thing I’ll give him, at least he’s consistent, he doesn’t care who he’ll do it to.

Pennell: Do you think it is going to take a Carl Edwards-Brad Keselowski type of incident to make people say something?

Bodine: Hell no, hell no. He’s gotten away with it to this point. He gets away with it every week and nobody does anything about it.

Pennell: Did you talk to NASCAR? Will you bring up your concerns to them?

Bodine: It’s up to them. A little peon like me isn’t going to change their mind about how I’m going to handle it. They’re our sanctioning body, they’re our police force and it’s up to them to do what they feel is right.

Pennell: Going forward, are you going to race Kyle Busch differently?

Bodine: No, I’m not going to race somebody different. Why? Why should I?

Chicago, let’s go back to Chicago. I had him passed clean on the outside – clean, all the way up to the door – and what does he do? Runs me into the wall. If I did not lift we would have both wrecked. It would have been another Keselowski deal, only worse because we would have both wrecked. I wasn’t up to his bumper, I was up to his number and he ran me up to the fence and I had to let off. OK, well you know you want to race that way, OK. So, I go underneath him and he does the same thing, pinches me down – I’m dead even with him (and he) pinches me down getting into [turn] 3 and gets me loose. The difference there it was going into the corner. It’s a little easier to hang on – you’re off the throttle, things are different, the dynamics of the truck are different. So, I hung on to it, saved it and went on to finish second.

(Friday) I was in front of him going into [turn] 3 and he just stayed on my quarter panel tight and sucked me around. He said he got away from me and there were three truck lengths between us when I spun. Well, yeah, when I spun there was, but he had already sucked me around at that point. What are you going to do? Just let him get away with it or are you going to try and beat him?

Right now in the Truck Series, we’re the only ones that can run with him consistently – realistically; he’s really the only one that can run with us. I don’t want to be cocky, I’m not that way. There are a lot of great teams in the Truck Series, but there’s no reason I should have to worry about Kyle Busch and how he’s going to race. Unfortunately, you have to. You have to deal with him differently than you deal with other drivers.

A lot of the young drivers in the series come to me for advice – they talk and they learn things. They know that I shoot it straight and I’m not going to lie to them. I tell them the right things to do. Austin Dillon, Justin Lofton… even some of the kids that run in the back, we talk a lot. The one thing I tell them is when someone is underneath you, give them room. Give them a half a truck width, don’t pinch right down on them, because all you’re going to do is get them sideways and possibly take you out in a wreck.

Now, last night, should I have just worked up the track and just ran into Kyle and run him into the wall? Well, you know, a lot of people think I should have. I don’t race that way. Just because he wants to, I’m not going to lower myself to that.

Pennell: How frustrating is it being the points leader and being in the situation you are in – running in this series and having to worry about Kyle Busch?

Bodine: That’s the frustrating part. He has no respect. No respect for anybody else on that race track and that’s wrong.

What’s really wrong is he has no respect for the past. He doesn’t care about Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough and David Pearson. He knows nothing about what those guys went through to get us to this point. He disrespects the media, disrespects the fans and I’m tired of it.

Turnbull: Is it even more disrespectful that he did not wait until the whole celebration calmed down and talked to you afterwards? Instead, he came right up to you in front of the cameras and stuck the finger in your face?

Bodine: You know, yeah it is. At the time it didn’t really bother me and I didn’t think about it, but I’ve walked through (the Sprint Cup) garage area and if there wasn’t 10 there wasn’t 50 that stopped me and said, ‘That was wrong. What you said was right and finally someone called him out and what he did by going to victory lane was totally wrong.’ That confirms to me that this garage is sick of it, too

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