Bodine lands financial help with new owners
BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) _ Geoff Bodine made it official Saturday when he announced that he has added Jim Mattei and John Porter as majority owners.
``This is exactly the type of situation I was needing,″ said Bodine who will start in his QVC Ford from fifth row Sunday in the DeVilbiss 400 at Michigan Speedway. ``We’ve been searching for help for quite some time, but were looking for the right fit.″
With the addition of the two new partners, the team will change its name to Mattei Motorsports.
Mattei is a private investor in Dallas, providing venture capital for companies in various industries. Porter is a private investor and has served as chairman and vice chairman of WORLDCOM, Inc.
``I’m really thankful that these gentlemen got involved with this team and myself,″ Bodine said. ``Our future is really bright. We had a great team in 1994.
``Things started happening, but we lost that team. We’re going to get that back.″
Mattei said that he and Porter checked out seven teams before deciding on Bodine.
``We’re bringing investment to Geoff that I think will carry him through this year and we have big things planned for next year,″ Mattei said. ``We have a good foundation to build on, and you’re going to see nothing but good things out of us in the very near future.″
Porter was so excited that he offered a prediction to reporters:
``If we’re not a top-10 team next year, I’m going to be extremely disappointed,″ he said.
Both Mattei and Porter agreed that Bodine will continue to drive in 1998 for Mattei Motorsports.
In addition to the announcement about the sponsorship, Bodine also said that Tim Brewer has been hired as manager for the team.
Brewer will coordinate the development of the race team and assist crew chief Pat Tryson in race-related activities.
Brewer has served as a crew chief on the Winston Cup circuit since 1973. Two of his teams _ Cale Yarborough in 1978 and Darrell Waltrip in 1981 _ won Winston Cup championships.
ON THE MOVE?: Robby Gordon said he is ``real close″ to announcing his plans for next year.
There has been strong speculation that his first full year with Felix Sabates will be his last.
Gordon admits his name has been dragged through the mud this year.
``I think my reputation has taken a pretty good hit this year,″ Gordon said. ``The most important thing is for me to position myself so I can win races, hopefully on a consistent basis, and build my reputation back up. That’s what I’m really looking at when I do get a ride in 1998.
``I’ve got an offer _ actually a couple _ for an Indy-car deal. I’ve got some offers on the Cup side.. But if I stay in Winston Cup, I’ve got to have the equipment and people to be competitive every weekend.″
Gordon, who has only one top-10 finish this year _ fourth last Sunday in the Bud at the Glen _ said he has even looked into starting his own Winston Cup team.
``I’ve looked at it very seriously,″ he said. ``It all comes down to the deadline I set for the 15th of this month.″
GORDON’S REPLACEMENT?: NASCAR insiders predict that Sterling Marlin will end his four-year relationship with Morgan-McClure Racing to take Gordon’s seat.
``I’m still looking, really haven’t done anything yet,″ said Marlin, currently 20th in the points standings. ``It’s been a tough year for us. I mean, we haven’t had the success that we’re used to having.″
Marlin has not confirmed that he is leaving.
``It’s been kind of assumed, I guess,″ he said.
Marlin said if he does end up with Sabates, it could be a good fit.
``Yeah, it looks like a good deal,″ he said. ``They’re qualifying in the top-10 about each week, all three cars (driven by Gordon, Joe Nemechek and Wally Dallenbach). And, they’re running pretty good. So I know that one of the things they have to offer is a good race team.″
``I’ve had a few offers, but I’ve still got to look at some things before I get my mind completely made up.″
WASH OUT: Two intense thunderstorms, including one that produced a reported tornado about 15 miles northeast of Michigan Speedway, dropped several inches of rain and forced the cancellation of Saturday’s second day of qualifying for the DeVilbiss 400.
It is the first time since June 1990 that a qualifying session at the superspeedway was canceled because of bad weather.
Positions 26 through 43 were determined based on qualifying performances Friday.
PRESIDENT SMITH: Geoff Smith has been named president of Roush Racing subsidiaries.
Smith, general counsel to Roush Industries, has served as vice president of Roush Racing the past eight years.
``Few businesses have enjoyed the timely and wise counsel, the personal commitment and loyalty and the versatility and enthusiasm for their growth and diversification that Geoff has brought to Roush Industries for the past 20 years,″ said Roush Racing team owner Jack Roush.