Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bodine Takes Turn as 'Bad Boy'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bodine Takes Turn as 'Bad Boy'

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble, Times-Union sports writer

HAMPTON, Ga. -- NASCAR has its newest bad boy.

Just when the focus on Tony Stewart had waned, Todd Bodine decided to drive through the infield grass two weeks ago at Concord, N.C., instead of tapping the brakes to avoid two slower cars.

His car hit the quagmire created by a day of rain and it shot back into traffic. Nine other cars took turns hitting either Bodine or each other.

Although the sanctioning body is seriously committed to making sure Bodine behaves himself the rest of the racing season, it knows bad boy images are good for the sport.

"I think our sport needs that," Jimmy Spencer said. "It needs a little controversy every so often. If we don't have that, we'll be in trouble. The Winston Cup series was built over controversy over the years. There weren't too many people at Martinsville saying, 'I hope they don't put tire marks on each other today.' They were saying, 'I hope to hell there are tire marks and some flares flying and tempers.' The whole nine yards. I think that's part of it. I think it's good for the sport. It's healthy."

Darlington Raceway added people to take ticket orders for the Southern 500 in 1999, the day after Dale Earnhardt crashed Terry Labonte on the final lap to win the race at Bristol, Tenn.

Ticket sales at Lowe's Motor Speedway soared in '87 the week after Earnhardt, Bill Elliott and Geoffrey Bodine tried to wreck each other in The Winston all-star race.

Fans cheered wildly this year at Indianapolis when Spencer and Kurt Busch renewed their rivalry at high speed. The picture of Busch standing on the track and clutching his rear end when Spencer drove by a lap later ran in numerous newspapers across the country.

So, when it comes to trouble, Todd Bodine is in pretty good company. …

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