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February 15, 2008
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: We're going to go ahead and roll into our post race press conferences here for the Chevy Silverado 250. We're pleased to be joined by our Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Justin Marks. He's the driver of the No. 9 Construct Corps. Toyota. Nice finish for you.
Our third-place finisher is Johnny Benson, driver of the No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota.
First of all, Justin, your first race here I guess at Daytona in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Your thoughts about how you did?
JUSTIN MARKS: I had a really, really good truck. Construct Corps. Tundra handled really well all night. It wasn't great. Sort of in the middle run of the race, that long green run we had, we made a change to try to free it up a little bit. We got too free in and it made us real tight up off the corner.
It was a good all-around effort. Just a little bummed out there about what happened with the 99. I mean, we were trying to get a little bit of separation there and we all came out of the pits together, was trying to get away there. I was just hooked up underneath him. If he was waving, I didn't see him. I tried the best I could to stay off of him. So sorry about that.
But the guys did a good job to bounce back from it. We restarted. With two or three to go we were 15th. We were able to get a solid top 10 finish and carry some momentum into California.
KERRY THARP: Third-place finisher as I mentioned was Johnny Benson. Johnny, your thoughts about tonight's race?
JOHNNY BENSON: It was pretty exciting at the beginning, that's for sure. A lot of things going on. Seemed pretty early, you know, to have to work that hard it seems like.
But I think once everybody got into a groove everybody got single file and just rode for quite a while. At the end, these truck races are always extremely exciting. I mean, I think the fans saw a good race to the end. We ended up third.
For starting last in the field, I consider that a great day for the Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Tundra.
KERRY THARP: We also have our race runner-up, that's Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 51 NOS Energy Drink Toyota.
Kyle, you were caught up in a little bit of stuff there at the beginning, but you had an opportunity there at the end to go for the win. Your thoughts about how you thought the race unfolded?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, you know, to comment on that incident for a second, you know, just a product of a racing deal and my truck not exactly handling the way I wanted it to be. We were running through the corner there behind the 8 truck. I think I was three-wide for a moment there or something.
But the 8 was looking a little bit loose and I was a little bit afraid to follow him. Wasn't sure if he was going to be able to hang onto it or not. He did a whale of a job doing it all night long, so I kind of got more confidence in him as the night went on.
When I turned down to pass him, my truck was bouncing all over the place all night. It went ahead and it grabbed a bump and it turned the front end so abruptly that I just held the wheel straight instead of correcting and overcorrecting and wrecking myself or the 8 truck, you know, hoping that I would still be able to stay clear of those guys on my inside.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. You know, those guys wrecked behind me and ended their Speedweeks in Daytona. Hopefully they'll be able to rebound from that. They're a strong team with the 5 especially, and the 10 should be fine and all those guys. So I apologize if I was to blame on that.
The rest of the night went all right. We rode single file, and rode single file some more. Didn't have a truck that would handle very good, so we were all over the place. Luckily there at the end -- Johnny pulled out I felt like too soon, so I didn't go with him. He got back in behind me again a little bit later there with the last lap.
I let Todd get out too far on us. Trying to get a run through the last part of the corner I had to breathe it on the exit again. Wasn't quite able to get the run that I wanted down the last straight chute. We were able to come home second.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for these three competitors.
Q. Justin, can you talk about the incident with Darnell with 12 laps to go.
JUSTIN MARKS: Yeah, I didn't get a call or anything on the radio. We came out of the pits, all three of us together - me, him and the 30. I guess they let some lug nuts loose, had a loose wheel or something, I don't know.
But we went down in through three and four. I was just tucked up right underneath him, man. I was just pushing right there through the corner. If he was waving, I didn't see him. His spoiler was just too high. I couldn't see nothing. He started slowing down there a little bit. He didn't slow down super abruptly.
I jumped off the gas and he hit the brakes and I knew there was a problem. I just jumped to the outside as fast as I could. Just got a piece of his right rear.
I hate it for those guys. Never want something like that to happen. Tore us up a little bit. Feel bad about it. It's one of those things that I guess we'll just learn from.
Q. Kyle or Johnny, two victories for Toyota. One in Cup, one in Trucks. What does it say about the progress the manufacturer is making?
JOHNNY BENSON: Well, I think you'd have to ask Kyle that on the Cup side for sure.
In Trucks, I mean, it's obvious the last couple years have been running extremely well. I did have an opportunity to go down and test one of the Gibbs cars at Las Vegas. It ran extremely well. I was really happy how the test went there. Their engines feel pretty strong there, but they were strong last year there, too.
The only real comparison that you can probably see from the Toyota side would be the difference between last year's Cup engine and this year's Cup engine. We felt our engines last year were great. The new engine we got now we feel is just as good, if not a tad bit better. We're extremely pleased on our end.
Q. Johnny, what do you think it means for Todd to win here finally after 17 years and 34 tries?
JOHNNY BENSON: Well, I think that's great. I mean, I'd like to have been a part of that, been able to win it. But we been close the last couple years. Todd has been close the last couple years to winning it. It's super.
Todd has been racing for many, many years. As a matter of fact, I didn't realize that was his first win here, but that's cool. Any time that you can win a race here, no matter what it is, it's a great accomplishment. Coming to Daytona for, you know, Speedweeks, everybody's excited, everybody's excited to get racing.
To win the first race, no matter where it's at, is a pretty cool deal. But to definitely win it here at Daytona is extra special.
Q. Johnny, you about got that three-wide finish down on the frontstretch there. Done that for a couple years. If you'd had the opportunity to hit Kyle and bump him forward, would it have helped you or were you trying to lay off?
JOHNNY BENSON: Oh, I hit him (laughter).
KYLE BUSCH: He got me. You can't bump-draft much in these things. I would have just spun out probably and wrecked us both.
JOHNNY BENSON: It was one of those deals, like Kyle said. He got a little bit too far away from the 30. I think it's 'cause none of us were handling good off four. I tried to go to the outside. I seen him coming up because I didn't want to slow down. That's not going to help me either. I did give him a shove. I saw him starting to get loose. I didn't really want to push him any further because I knew he was going to wreck. I didn't want to be involved in it either.
So it was just one of those deals you had to check just a little bit I'm sure either way. If I would have hit him square, probably would have helped him out. I just didn't get a good square shot at him.
It probably slowed up both of our opportunities to get into the front. But it really doesn't matter 'cause Toyota finished one, two, three and four. The end goal is to be able to make that happen. If any of us won, it would have been great.
KERRY THARP: Guys, thanks for putting on a good race for us tonight.
We are pleased to be joined by tonight's race winner of the Chevy Silverado 250. That's Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota and his crew chief, Mike Hillman.
Your first victory in 34 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series or Nationwide Series or Craftsman Truck Series here at Daytona International Speedway. How does it feel to win here at this big track?
TODD BODINE: Oh, boy, finally to get it done, it's pretty incredible. You know, we've been coming here for 17 years as a driver, three years as a crew member, 20 years total. Finally to get to Victory Lane, it was incredible.
I mean, I seen my brother here. You know, this racetrack has been pretty cruel to us. Now it's been pretty good to us in a couple ways. To finally get it done, it's just an incredible feeling.
KERRY THARP: Mike, your thoughts? What did you see from up top the box tonight?
MIKE HILLMAN, JR.: You know, it was a little scary up there because we've had ourselves in position to win these races here before. Just to come home with a win, it was pretty awesome.
KERRY THARP: Let's take questions for Todd or Mike.
Q. Todd, last night after you qualified, you sounded very confident. I never heard you that way before a race. What did you know that it would work out the way you thought it would?
TODD BODINE: Well, Daytona is a handling track. This truck won at Talladega, sat on the pole and won the race at Talladega, which is a pure speed track it's so smooth now.
Daytona is a handling track. It always has been, always will be. Our truck was driving so good in practice, I knew when those guys got slipping and sliding we would have something for them. Sure enough, we did.
Unfortunately, you know, when I was in front of Erik Darnell I got a little loose. When I was behind Erik, I was a little tight. You know, that's part of racing at speedways, and that's part of racing at Daytona. When all that was going on, my truck was still driving good. And when you're truck's driving good, it just makes it a lot easier to pick and choose and do what you need to do to get to the front.
Q. Todd, I assume you were in Victory Lane when Jeff won in '86.
TODD BODINE: No.
Q. You weren't?
TODD BODINE: No. I was back in North Carolina building my late-model stock car.
Q. How much better is this than that?
TODD BODINE: Well, it's different. I'm not going to say it's better because it's just different. You know, when you watch your brother, or in some cases your father, go to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500, there's a lot of pride in that. There's a lot of pride in knowing that your brother accomplished something that not a lot of people can accomplish or even get the opportunity to accomplish.
So, you know, there's self-pride of having a brother accomplish that and understanding what that means. And now to get here as a driver, to accomplish that, it's a whole different feeling. You know, it's pride and almost a little bit of redemption for myself. 17 years, what did you say, 34 races?
KERRY THARP: 34 races.
TODD BODINE: 34 races here at Daytona and the first time in Victory Lane. And I've been so close before, second and third. I've had bad crashes here before. To finally redeem myself and then do it, that's a whole different feeling. It's a whole different outlook on Victory Lane.
You know, the one thing that makes me a little sad is Brett never got here. You know, as deserving as he is as a driver and owner, he deserved to be here also. But they were both in Victory Lane with me.
Q. Todd, could you talk about what this means to the team, especially with the Hillmans, both Senior and Junior. Then, Mike, talk about winning this with your dad.
TODD BODINE: Well, I mean, it's not uncommon knowledge. I mean, everybody knows the relationship that the Bodines, not only myself, but Brett and myself, have with Mike, Sr. and Mike, Jr. and how many years we go back.
When I first started racing in '91, Mike, Sr.'s garage was right next to mine. We'd be working till midnight every night. We'd stop and have a beer, we'd go home. We just got to be friends back then.
He's probably going to shoot me for telling y'all this. But after the race was over, Senior came on the radio crying. That's how much it meant to him to get to Victory Lane, and it meant that much to me to get him here.
You can accomplish a lot in racing. You can go places. You travel the country. You see the country. You do things. There's nothing like being in Victory Lane at Daytona. It doesn't matter if it's in a Cup car or a Nationwide car or a Truck Series or a go-kart. You're standing in Victory Lane at Daytona. That's the Super Bowl, man. It doesn't get any better than this.
For me to be able to do that for Senior means a lot. You know, it's funny, the kind of relationship that Junior and myself are forming as friends. I mean, hell, we're brothers. I mean, we just don't have the same last name. That's pretty neat to be able to do it.
You know, to see how far he's come in a short period of time as a crew chief, it's pretty incredible. Makes me proud as a brother.
Q. Todd, could you tell us what was going through your mind that last lap.
TODD BODINE: Oh, hell, just hold 'em off, man (laughter). I was scared to death. You know, the last lap going into one, you know, I knew that Kyle was holding back every lap trying to get his run timed. We come off of two and he'd be two car lengths back. We'd come off of two the next lap and he'd be three. He was trying to time it and get his run perfect.
I kind of screwed him up because I went into one and let right off the gas and made him stay on my bumper. That messed his run up down the back straightaway.
And then when him and Johnny got racing through three and four there, and he was blocking Johnny and they got way back there I was like, Oh, this is not happening. They had enough time - I thought - to draft me down the front and get by me by the start/finish line.
That's why I went all the way to the apron. I figured, If they're going to follow me down here, they're going to have to pass me in the grass.
I knew it was going to be tough. Fortunately they ran out of racetrack.
Q. Talk about winning with your dad.
MIKE HILLMAN, JR.: The bond we have, me and my dad, my brother Mark works for us on the truck, too. It's really special the way our family works together. I'm blessed to be able to spend every day with my dad at work and all day long.
TODD BODINE: When he's not cussing him.
MIKE HILLMAN, JR.: That's part of it. It's been that way for 29 years, and that's not going to change.
Like Todd said, we're all family. Everybody that works at Germain Racing has a lot of heart, digs in really hard, and they're all part of our family. To be able to lean over and give your dad a hug, have him tell you that he loves you, he's proud of you, there's nothing like that.
Go to Victory Lane at Daytona with these guys, it's just special.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations. Well-put.
TODD BODINE: Let's go par-tay!
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