NASCAR: Geoff Bodine’s Record Still Stands 25 Years Later

by Matthew Memrick
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(Photo by Jim Fluharty/NASCAR Illustrated/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Records come and go, but one Atlanta qualifying track speed mark stands 25 years later. And longtime NASCAR racer Geoff Bodine almost hit 200 mph doing it.

Sure, track pavings and changes factor heavily into these records. So does the weather and banking angles at the 1.54-mile superspeedway.

So as NASCAR takes its Next-Gen car to the track this weekend, the 72-year-old former racer can look back with pride.

Bodine’s 25-Year-Old Record Came In Fall Season

The Hampton, Ga.-track hosted the NAPA 500 in November, and many thought the newly-paved track would make for a fast weekend.

Months earlier, Robbie Gordon had a 186.507 mph lap for the spring qualifying. 

Bodine, in his Ford, knew he’d have an advantage with the track. The driver said he was “all pumped” for the race. The oldest Bodine knew it could be a special weekend.

“I went out to run, and I knew we had something,” he told Auto Week. “There was a little issue off turn two with an asphalt patch, and that worried me. I thought everyone might lose it. But the car felt great. I told the guys I thought I could run wide open around the track if I could make it through one and two. I knew three and four would be okay.

By qualifying, Bodine knew he had something special. He came off Turn Four and told himself, “I’m going to do it.”

As he entered the third turn, he saw the wave in the track and “bobbled a little bit.” After that, all he had to do was “lift just a touch to let the car turn.”

Bodine Amazed By Qualifying Results

When he finished and saw the numbers, he was shocked at the result. His 197.478 mph speed was faster than his spring pole (187.478). He circled the track in 28.074 seconds. 

“It was a crazy lap,” Bodine said.

But the driver said he was disappointed because he wanted to hit 198.

No other racer could top Bodine’s lap. Ward Burton was closest, zooming around the track at 195.452 mph. Burton’s entire lap took 28.365 seconds, but it was off by two miles per hour.

The field tried to catch Bodine with many speeds surpassing 192 mph. But no one could catch the New York native.

Today, Bodine his record will likely stand the test of time.

While it’s just one aspect of a race, the racer loved the challenge of qualifying for the pole. He called it a “one-on-one” situation where it’s just “you and the track.”

How did Bodine’s race day turn out? After leading four laps, the man went on to finish 33rd. Bobby Labonte took the race.

If you’re curious about who has the fastest lap in NASCAR, that would be Chase Elliott’s dad, Bill. The NASCAR legend turned a Talladega Superspeedway lap at 212.809 mph back in 1987.

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