Formula One
 Tuesday, September 19
Bessey Motorsports fires Geoffrey Bodine
 Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Geoffrey Bodine, who missed the first 10 NASCAR Winston Cup races this season as he recovered from injuries suffered in a horrific crash at Daytona, was fired Monday as driver for Joe Bessey Motorsports.

Bessey, an occasional driver on the Busch Grand National series, called Bodine and told him he would take over the car for the remaining nine Winston Cup races this season.

"I was flabbergasted," Bodine told The Associated Press. "I told him 'Good Luck.' I was stunned, it was all I could come up with."

Bessey was not available for comment and team manager Mark Stinson said he preferred to let Bessey discuss the decision.

The 51-year-old Bodine was in his second season driving for Bessey. He was nearly killed in a Craftsman Truck Series Race at Daytona on Feb. 18. His truck was pinched against the outside wall, became airborne and burst into flames as it barrel-rolled. Trucks hit him twice after his ride landed on the asphalt, creating another fireball.

Bodine was hospitalized with a concussion, along with a broken wrist, ankle and vertebrae, but returned to racing 10 weeks later.

The firing was not completely unexpected. Bodine is 44th in the points standings, has only 12 starts on the year and doesn't have a single Top 10 finish. He's out of provisionals and has failed to make the field in five races. Bessey also had previously suggested he might drive the car himself next season.

Still, Bodine thought he would remain with the team through the end of this season.

"We had an agreement to run the whole year and he just not too long ago asked me if I was going to drive for him the rest of the year," Bodine said. "So I thought we had everything under control.

"When he told me today that was no longer the case, I told him our contract was for the whole year," he said. "But he said it didn't matter what the agreement was, that he felt it was in his best concern to start driving the car."

Bessey has just one start in 34 Busch races this season. The 39-year-old car owner has been racing on and off since 1988, but has only one Busch win and two poles in his career.

Bodine said the truck accident -- and Bessey's failure to land a sponsor for next year -- caused the team to struggle this season.

"He had been looking for sponsorship and the team has been kind of in the dark about it and we lost some key people because of that," Bodine said. "Plus, the Besseys were quite upset that I drove the truck and got hurt. They blamed all their problems on me not driving and thought things would have been different if I had been driving.

"But now they say they are going to replace me, so that doesn't make a lot of sense."

With only nine races left this season, Bodine was unsure what he will do the rest of the year.

"I had been talking to team owners about next year, but now I am going to start looking for the rest of this year," he said. "But I don't believe there are any opportunities, so this is not a real good time for this to be happening."

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