Originally created 07/09/98

Struggling Todd Bodine loses ride at ISM Racing



HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Todd Bodine, who failed to qualify for half of the first 16 races on the 1998 Winston Cup schedule, was fired Wednesday.

Bob Hancher, owner of the first-year ISM Racing team sponsored by McIlhenny Co., the Louisiana-based maker of Tabasco hot sauces, said Gary Bradberry would drive the team's Pontiac this weekend in Loudon, N.H.

A permanent replacement for Bodine, who signed a three-year deal with ISM Racing before the 1998 season, is expected to be named in the coming days, Hancher said.

"The 1998 season hasn't met our expectations, and it was time for us to make a change," Hancher said.

Bodine, who finished second last year in the Busch Grand National standings, was unable to produce similar results in his move up to stock car racing's premier circuit.

Bodine failed to make the starting lineup for the season-opening Daytona 500, signaling the start of a difficult stretch for the team. In the eight events he did make, he never finished higher than 10th and was a distant 42nd in the points when he was released.

Because of Bodine's troubles at Daytona in February, Hancher decided to replace him with Loy Allen on a one-race basis when the Winston Cup circuit returned to Daytona for last week's Pepsi 400. Hancher said at the time that Bodine was still his full-time driver, but after wildfires prompted the postponement of the Pepsi 400, it gave Hancher additional time to think about whether he wanted to stick with Bodine.

"It has been an amicable split between ISM Racing and Todd Bodine," Hancher said. "We appreciate all of his energies this year and wish him well on his future endeavors."