NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Johnny Benson and NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Champion Jeg Coughlin, Jr. have signed on to compete in the 4th Annual Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, slated for January 2-4, 2009 at the Olympic Sports Complex.
Benson, who competed in his first Bodine Bobsled Challenge last year, won his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship this year. Last year, the driver finished third in the final standings, and was runner-up to fellow Bodine bobsled competitor Todd Bodine in 2006. Benson is making his second appearance in the Challenge and is hoping to improve his bobsledding results.
Coughlin is a four-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Champion, and is currently the two-time defending champion (2000, 2002, 2007, and 2008). Coughlin won the bronze medal as a bobsledding rookie in his first race and is looking to dethrone fellow NHRA competitor Morgan Lucas as the top bobsled driver on the dragster circuit.
The Bodine Bobsled Challenge features NASCAR and NHRA drivers piloting specially-made bobsleds down Lake Placid’s infamous track in fun races geared to raise money for the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project. In Race 1, all the drivers will be competing against the clock as they take two runs down the track. Race 2 features head-to-head racing between the NASCAR and NHRA drivers, with the winner from each division squaring off in the final heat for bragging rights.
The NASCAR field will be lead by five-time Bodine Bobsled Champion Boris Said. Said has dominated the bobsledding field, losing only the first-ever Bodine Bobsled race to Kevin Lepage. Said has commented in the past that maybe “bobsledding is in my genes” as his father Bob Said was an Olympic bobsled competitor.
Joining Said is NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie driving sensation Joey Logano as well as the 2008 NASCAR Whelen racing series champions Philip Morris, Brian Loftin and Ted Christopher. “Sliced Bread” Logano competed last year in the Bodine Bobsled Challenge, finishing eighth. Morris, a 2007 Bodine Bobsled Challenge participant, is returning again this year after winning the 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Championship. Loftin clinched the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour by a mere 30 points for his first career NASCAR championship while Christopher won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship to claim his place in the bobsledding field.
Rounding out the drivers is Todd Bodine, the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Champion and brother of the Bodine Challenge founder Geoff Bodine, Daytona Rolex pole winner Eric Curran and19-year-old sprint car driver Tom Tolbert out of Ohio. Bodine has participated in every Bodine Bobsled Challenge and has started a similar support program for the U.S. Skeleton Federation. Curran, a road course racing ace, has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Series, American Le Mans, Grand Am Rolex, Koni Challenge and World Challenge GT series. He and Tolbert will be part of this year’s bobsled rookie class.
Coughlin will be joined by NHRA Top Fuel drivers Morgan Lucas, JR Todd, and Bob Vandergriff. This will be the third event for Lucas and Todd, with Lucas giving Said a run for his money in last year’s NASCAR versus NHRA showdown before losing to Said in the final round. Lucas has bought his own sled for this competition and has Said in his sights. Lucas has also won two silvers medals during this event. Todd is looking to improve upon his Top 10 finishes. Vandergriff placed ninth in his first race last year, and then lost to Lucas in the NHRA final round.
The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc., was started in 1992 by NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine, and has built American-made bobsleds for United States athletes competing in the World Cup, World Championships and Olympic Winter Games. Monies raised from the Bodine Bobsled Challenge go directly to this project.
SPEED channel will again televise four hours of the Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, on Jan. 18 at noon and Jan. 25 at 2 pm. MRN Radio has signed on to provide live coverage of the Bodine Bobsled Challenge all three days.
The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project concept paid dividends with gold, silver and bronze medals in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Game, the first time that the USA Bobsled Team won Olympic medals since 1956, and scored again with silver in Torino. New sled designs are being created by Bodine and sled builder Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics in Connecticut. It will be tested during national and international competitions leading up to the next Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.
Other sponsors of the Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge include Columbia Sportswear Company, MAC Tools, Racing Electronics, PPG, Lucas Oil, JEGS Automotive, Summitt Building Solutions, EXA and the National Guard.