Despite racing without a sponsor, the #92 Herzog-Jackson Busch Series team and driver Todd Bodine have been a major force in all three Busch races this year and although Bodine let a potential victory slip through his grasp on Saturday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there is much hope for the future.

New Yorker Todd Bodine differs slightly from the rest of the Winston Cup 'Buschwackers' in that he has a full-time deal in both series and will be in attendance for most, if not all, of the 34 races on this year's NBS schedule.

Bodine has a tough task on his hands in both series as he tries to establish the new #54 BelCar National Guard team as a consistent force in Winston Cup while racing to find a sponsor for his Herzog-Jackson Busch team.

While the Chemung, New York native has endured mixed fortunes in Winston Cup during the opening three rounds of the year his performances in the #92 H-JM Chevrolet have given the team a vital injection of confidence as they find themselves in third place in the early season points table.

Although his season started out with a controversial sixth place finish in the Koolerz 300 at Daytona, Bodine has brushed off criticism of his driving by enjoying hard fought, yet totally clean battles at both Rockingham and Las Vegas whilst at the same time being one of the most competitive cars on the track.

Bodine had one of the few cars capable of holding a candle to Jamie McMurray at Rockingham and he brought the plain white #92 Chevrolet home in third position and during the Sam's Town 300 in Las Vegas he again had one of the top three cars all day.

Despite a sky that threatened rain, the 200-lap race got underway with the No. 92 starting in fourteenth position (based on 2002 owner's points after qualifying was rained out). By lap 37, Bodine and the No. 92 team had fought their way to third place having posted a lap speed of 159.96 miles per hour making him the fastest car on the track.

Bodine's fellow Winston Cup regulars Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton spent the first part of the races sitting comfortably in the top two positions although as the first green flag run wore on Bodine started reeling both drivers in.

When the third caution flag was thrown on lap 62, crew chief Tony Liberati radioed to Bodine to bring the car in for the first pit stop of the day. Liberati called for four tires, an air pressure adjustment and fuel. Quick time by the No. 92 pit crew allowed Bodine to maintain his position in third for the restart on lap 64. With fresh Goodyears on the No. 92 Chevy, Bodine made his charge for the front.

Following a second impressive pit stop by the Herzog Jackson team, Bodine restarted second behind Michael Waltrip following the fifth caution period of the day on lap 121. The competition was stiff and Bodine battled side by side with Waltrip for the lead, exchanging the top position several times.

The two Winston Cup veterans were neck and neck when rain began pelting the turn one/two area of the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval and in a classic, door-banging duel to the stripe, Bodine narrowly edged Waltrip for what he and the team believed would be a rain-shortened victory.

However the weather can be a fickle beast for within half an hour of drenching the track and sending the spectators running for cover, sunshine and a crisp breeze, coupled with the hard working track officials, meant racing was possible just 58 minutes after the red flag was originally thrown.

When NASCAR officials made the call for the restart on lap 140 Liberati made the gutsy call to have Bodine pit for four fresh tires. The quick stop put Bodine in the eleventh position when the green flag flew.

With fresh rubber and a car that was on rails, Bodine passed the field as if they were standing still. By lap 160, Bodine had taken over the top spot.

It all came unglued for Bodine just eight laps later as he and Joe Nemechek raced side by side for the lead coming off turn four on lap 168. Trying to keep his car turning in the low groove Bodine had the back end get away from him and he spun wildly through the wet infield grass on LVMS' front stretch.

As he didn't stall or make contact with anything the race stayed under green flag conditions which not only dropped Bodine almost a full lap behind the new leader but also prevented him from making a much needed pit stop to change his flat spotted tyres. Busch Series rules which state that teams can only change three sets of tyres under caution unless there are special circumstances also worked against the #92 team when the caution waved once again on lap 180. NASCAR officials felt that Bodine's tyres were driveable and refused to let him change rubber.

The Herzog Jackson Motorsports team finished the event in 19th disappointed after what looked to be the team's first win of the season but still boosted by their third place in points behind series non-regular Kevin Harvick and the leading series regular, David Green.

"The Herzog Jackson Chevy was just great today," stated Bodine. "It's disappointing that something like this could happen, but I guess that's racin'. Tony and the crew were just phenomenal, and we'll come back to Darlington and run at the front again. This was a minor setback, this team obviously has the talent to put me up front."

After a weekend off, the team heads to Darlington, South Carolina for the 200.