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Geoffrey Bodine Gets New Opportunity

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A new name and a new team have given Geoffrey Bodine a new lease on his racing life.

Bodine, 49, a veteran of 504 NASCAR Winston Cup starts and 18 wins, was admittedly uncertain of his future when he first sold his own team and then lost his ride last season. But Busch Grand National Series regular Joe Bessey came to the rescue.

Bessey, who has never run a Winston Cup event, initially contacted Bodine about the possibility of driving his Busch Series car in 1999 while Bessey put together a Winston Cup team.

But, with the support and encouragement of team sponsor Power Team, the wholesale sales division of an electric utility company based in Philadelphia, Bessey decided instead to keep his own Busch Series ride and put Bodine into the driver's seat of a new No. 60 Chevrolet Monte Carlo right away.

``I'd been holding the CEO of Power Team off for two years now,'' Bessey said. ``He kept asking me, `When are we going Winston Cup racing?' Initially, I told him it would take at least three years to put everything together to do it right, but all of a sudden I had the opportunity to get a veteran driver (Bodine), a veteran crew chief (Jim Long).''

He also bought cars from the defunct Stavola Brothers operation and a ready-made race shop from Buz McCall, as well as signing crewmen from both of those teams.

``This team's a month old,'' Bodine said. ``People ask how we can go to Daytona and make the race under these circumstances. But this is actually an experienced team with good equipment. Joe is doing everything right. There's no guesswork.''

Another new development for Bodine is his insistence on being called Geoffrey instead of Geoff.

``My mother has always called me Geoffrey, especially when she's a little upset with me,'' he said, grinning. ``But the big thing is I used to be the only Jeff out here and now there are a bunch of them. So now I'm the only Geoffrey.''

As for Bessey, who has won races in the Busch Series and in ARCA, becoming a Winston Cup owner is something of a shock.

``It's never been a goal for me,'' he said Thursday during a visit by the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. ``To just drive in NASCAR was a big thing for me, just to get to the Busch Series is a big deal to me. This is a very aggressive undertaking for me.''ROUSH MOVE:Roush Racing has announced a master plan to move and consolidate its racing operations to Concord, N.C. on a 100-acre plot of land 1-1/2 miles north of the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The first phase of the development will allow for the development of up to 15 separate facilities, each capable of housing up to two teams each.

Team owner Jack Roush currently fields five cars in Winston Cup, as well as entries in the Busch Series and the Craftsman Truck Series.

``We're confident that NASCAR racing will continue to grow nationally and worldwide,'' Roush said.

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