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Dale Earnhardt Jr Challenges Dislike For Geoff Bodine as He Unveils the Veteran’s Wholesome Persona

Published 02/14/2024, 7:18 PM EST

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NASCAR legend Geoff Bodine was notorious for his unwarranted aggression on the track. Having matched against hard-hitters like Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Allison in his prime years, Bodine had to retaliate to continue competing with the stalwarts. That was also one of the reasons for him being hated on by his fellow drivers at times. Having witnessed one of Bodine’s best rivalries with his father, Dale Earnhardt Jr revealed a more apologetic side of the 1986 Daytona 500 winner on the Dale Jr Download.

Junior has always held the Earnhardt-Bodine relationship in the highest regard and even put them on his ‘Mount Rushmore of NASCAR rivalries.’ While Dale Sr also had great respect for Geoff Bodine, that was not the case with everyone. The 18-time Cup race winner was often termed as hot-headed off the track. However, Dale Earnhardt Jr’s anecdote of his unintentional statements shows him in a different light.

Geoff Bodine once upset his team owner with his sarcasm

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Former NASCAR team owner Bud Moore has given some of NASCAR’s most iconic drivers a platform. Bodine was one among them. Having joined hands in 1991, the pair went on to win races in the following year and had a memorable run together. However, as Dale Earnhardt Jr revealed, the pair hit a sour note once, albeit due to a playful joke from Geoff Bodine.

Reminiscing about the story as explained by Bodine, Dale Jr said, “Geoff wins the race. Bud has missed a few weeks, and they have had some good runs. So he says during his post-race interview, ‘Bud, you need to stay home more. We do better when you’re not here.

He said, ‘After I said that, I knew I had to apologize to Bud. I didn’t mean to offend him, but that statement really did.’ That’s Geoff Bodine in a nutshell. He says something that sounds so ridiculous, like he doesn’t intentionally mean to be a jacka** to Bud, right? But he says something that he thinks is funny at the moment in front of a microphone in his face.”

Geoff Bodine’s sharp but harmless jokes weren’t appreciated much often. But his intensity during races sure was. As fearsome as Dale Earnhardt was on the track, not many drivers stood up and raced him hard like Bodine did. His talent behind the steering wheel was also the start of NASCAR’s most successful empire, Hendrick Motorsports.

Bodine kickstarted Hendrick Motorsports’ juggernaut in 1984

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When Rick Hendrick established the team as a full-time operation in 1984, he acquired Geoff Bodine’s services to compete with the increasingly contested grid. Bodine opened the Winston Cup season with three consecutive top-10 finishes, laying the foundation for the team’s campaign. But the results dropped in the following weeks. The 74-year-old finished outside the top 10 in four consecutive races after an impressive run.

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Sponsorship was a massive factor for teams to run races back then. With Geoff Bodine out of form, Hendrick could not find a sponsor for the upcoming race at Martinsville. Having been convinced of the helpless situation, he even decided to sit out of the Martinsville race. However, Bodine and his crew chief, Harry Hyde, brought Rick Hendrick along with them to the race.  Eventually, Bodine won the race and secured a sponsor for the races to come.

Geoff Bodine went on to win at Nashville and Riverside in the same season and put Hendrick Motorsports in the championship chase. While Bodine couldn’t claim a championship with HMS, he is the cornerstone of the team’s success.

Geoff Bodine wasn’t as aggressive as his reputation suggests, after all. Being a part of NASCAR’s toughest era to race might have affected his notoriety, but as Dale Earnhardt Jr revealed, he is quite the wholesome man.

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek

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Ansuman Abhisek is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Even before he made his way into the world of motorsports, he had already made a name for himself in the sports journalism field by working as a writer for a few media houses. Now, having covered multiple Cup races live, he has often been the first to report on-track incidents and also provide his readers with an in-depth analysis of the same.
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Edited by:

Donna Eva