Gunselman, Bodines start new Cup team
Journeyman driver Larry Gunselman is the latest to make an attempt at the Cup Series dream in 2009 as the Washington native has formed a team for himself and a pair of veteran brothers, Geoff and Todd Bodine.
Gunselman, who won races in the old Winston West Series and its most popular driver award in 1996 before traveling east in 2000 to seek his racing fortunes, is the principal in the team that will field #64 Toyotas. He said Wednesday morning he's backed by a group of investors who are new to the sport and is still seeking primary sponsorship.
"Right now we're looking at running for purse money while we try to come up with sponsorship dollars," Gunselman said.
"The more sponsor dollars you get, the harder you can run. I tell people all the time, if you don't have money, you've got to race smart, and you can race hard if you do have money. If a team had been able to make all 36 Cup races last season and finish in the least-paying position, it would have won $2,880,640 in purse money. Gunselman has six Camrys -- three each that were purchased from Bill Davis Racing and Red Bull Racing -- and Wednesday he'd just come from the NASCAR R&D Center with his crew chief "for as long as I can keep him," former champion Doug Richert, and the second chassis they'd had certified.
Gunselman, who has previous Cup team ownership experience from when he fielded the #98 Mach 1 Motorsports cars in 2004 with Chris Edwards, made 26 of 36 races and finished 39th in the owner standings, said to start the season attempting the races was critical. "There are so many people out of work out there right now that I believe the whole industry is going through a major correction factor -- the whole economy of the United States is going through a correction factor at the moment," Gunselman said.
"There's an opportunity for a guy who's willing to go out there and take advantage of an opportunity and find a good group of people who really want to race, and we've got that. I think the current economic conditions are going to weed a lot of people out of our sport that didn't get in it for the right reason to begin with, and the real racers are going to figure out a way to survive and come out of this economic situation still involved in the sport."
While the team wasn't sure who'd be in its car for Speedweeks, when the #64 will attempt to make the Daytona 500 as a "go-or-go-home" car, Gunselman said Todd Bodine would definitely drive at Fontana and Las Vegas, the second and third races on the schedule. Bodine is the 2006 Truck Series champion, who also has 15 wins in the Nationwide Series and 228 Cup starts, with five poles, seven top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. Geoff Bodine, who won the 1986 Daytona 500, 18 Cup races, six in the Nationwide Series and hundreds of Modified races -- but who hasn't made a NASCAR national touring start since 2005, when he made eight starts in the Nationwide Series, may run at Daytona. Gunselman, 48, most recently made spot starts in all of NASCAR's national tours -- including 20 in the '08 Nationwide and Truck series. NASCAR.com