G. Bodine starts return, thinks finish line; Back from crash, driver expects to complete 400


RICHMOND, Va. -- Don't expect Geoffrey Bodine's return to Winston Cup racing at Richmond International Raceway to be a cameo appearance.

"I'll go the distance," said Bodine, who returns to action for today's practice and qualifying for tomorrow night's Pontiac 400. "I've been working out really hard for the past six weeks. I've got good endurance, and I don't see any problem. I was in pretty good shape before the accident, and I'm close to where I was."

"The accident," of course, was the harrowing crash in a Feb. 18 NASCAR Truck series race at Daytona in which Bodine suffered a number of injuries but remarkably survived a sheet-metal shedding tumble through the front stretch.

"My arms may not be as strong, because I had a cast on my wrist for a while," said Bodine, who had a broken wrist among his injuries. "I might have lost some arm strength, but it won't affect the way I drive the car. My legs might be stronger. I focused on getting my legs stronger the first few weeks."

Bodine said the thought of ending his racing career never crossed his mind after the Daytona crash.

"When I was in the hospital the first day, I was talking about running a couple of laps the next week so I could get the points," he said. "I realized pretty soon that I couldn't do that, but I never considered retiring.

"I'm ready to get back and start racing." I love what I do, and that's still what I do. I've been doing it for 46 years. I've been racing since I was 5 years old. My grandfather built a race track when I was a year old, and I started racing micro midgets when I was 5. I've been around racing all my life. It is my life, and I feel like I've got a lot of good years left."

Bodine says he missed driving his No. 60 Chevrolet in the season's first 10 Winston Cup races.

"I survived one of the worst accidents in NASCAR history and came out of it with very little injury," he said. "I survived by God's grace."

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