Bodine Back To Cup

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Travis Carter’s drivers have never been short on experience.

The legendary Darrell Waltrip, with three NASCAR Winston Cup championships and 84 victories behind him, will retire after next week’s NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Jimmy Spencer, the driver of his second car, is a wiley veteran as well.

And on Saturday morning, as anticipated for many weeks, Todd Bodine was named to replace Waltrip in Carter’s No. 66 Big Kmart Taurus, beginning in 2001. A Winston Cup and Busch Series veteran himself, Bodine is taking yet another shot at making it at NASCAR’s highest level.

Bodine has driven the No. 66 Phillips 66 Chevrolet in the Busch Series for the past two seasons after another failed attempt to make it in Winston Cup with the No. 35 Team Tabasco Pontiac team in 1998.

Bodine will move to the Carter operation and become teammates with Spencer in his third venture into Winston Cup in an up-and-down racing career.

"I’m excited about this opportunity," Bodine said. "We just want to establish some consistency with this team and try to start running up front. We can accomplish that by keeping our team working together."

Carter said he hopes the pairing of Bodine and Spencer will be one that produces his first victory in Winston Cup as a team owner. He and Carl Haas co-own the 66 and 26 teams.

"We're working aggressively to make our cars a factor at every race," Carter said. "Pairing drivers like Jimmy and Todd, two men who can coax every ounce of performance out of a car, is a major step in the right direction. We’ve made progress in our first two seasons of a multi-car team, but we want to accelerate the pace."

Spencer said he was excited about becoming teammates with Bodine.

"Todd is a good competitor, a clean and good racer," Spencer said. "He’s smart enough to know when to race you and when not to. Now that I’m the elder statesman, I hope that Todd wants to beat me, but most of all I hope that he wants to beat 41 drivers besides Jimmy Spencer.

"I need to feel the same way. I hope that I get the opportunity to beat Todd, but I’ve also got to remember that I’ve got to beat all those other guys too."

Bodine said he will work hard to make the teammate concept a success at Carter-Haas Racing.

"I’ve been a teammate with somebody for four years, so I understand the concept," said Bodine, who had Tim Fedewa and David Green as teammates at Cicci-Welliver Racing in the Busch Series for the past two seasons. "It will be a two-way street."

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