We've got used to referring to Mark Martin as NASCAR's "wily veteran" at 52, but the return of Geoff Bodine to active duty at the age of 62 redefines the whole definition of "veteran".
Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) announced that they were to field a second car for Bodine at next month's Coca-Cola 400 at Daytona International Speedway, and that Bodine would also enter four more races in the season at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Texas Motor Speedway and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Bodine will be driving the #35 Luke Associates, Inc. Chevrolet for all five events. Luke Associates, Inc. - a healthcare provider to the US military - is a new sponsor to the sport, and comes from a chance meeting between Bodine and a senior Luke executive at a recent car show in Daytona Beach.
"Rob [Amos, Bodine's business partner] mentioned my desire to return to Sprint Cup competition, and that's where it all began," said Bodine. "I'm excited with this opportunity and can't wait to get started.”
Geoff Bodine first drove in NASCAR Cup competition in 1979 and had a 26-year career that saw him collect 18 wins and 100 top-fives, along with 37 pole positions that puts him 16th in the all-time rankings. After retiring in 2004, he made a one-off return with TBR at Pocono in June last year in a start-and-park car.
TBR was set up in 2009 but this is its first year of full-time Cup competition headed by another NASCAR veteran, Dave Blaney, driving the #36 Golden Corral Chevrolet.
Meanwhile three-time IndyCar champion and former Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. is to return to NASCAR Sprint Cup duty this weekend in the Front Row Motorsports #38 car at Pocono Raceway.
He's replacing regular driver Travis Kvapil, who is committed to appearing in the Camping World Truck Series for Randy Moss Motorsports at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night, making his usual double duty impractical this weekend. Kvapil faces another scheduling clash in mid July with the Cup race at New Hampshire when the Truck Series runs at Iowa.
Hornish has made five Nationwide Series starts this season (his best finish being seventh at Richmond in May) but this will be Hornish's first Cup appearance in 2011 after he failed to find a regular sponsorship backer at the start of the season. Previously he had made 108 Cup starts with Penske in previous seasons following his switch from IndyCar. He has one top-five, two top-tens and four top-15s in his six previous starts at Pocono.