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Todd Bodine Stands Tall In Texas

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 4 2010

Todd Bodine took the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Fort Worth, Texas – Todd Bodine says NASCAR’s 1.5-mile layouts fit his hang-it-out racing style. And on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway, Bodine definitely was stylin.’

Bodine embellished his resume as winningest NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver at TMS with an overtime victory in the WinStar World Casino 400k. Bodine drove away from four-time and reigning series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. and Timothy Peters on a green-white-checkered flag restart to notch his sixth career victory on TMS’ 1.5-mile quadoval, and third in the summer event here. Bodine snapped a 24-race winless streak dating to this event on June 5, 2009.

Bodine, 46, scored his 18th career series victory and 11th in 53 starts on a 1.5-mile layout. Bodine and Kyle Busch each have six wins at TMS, with Busch working on a five-race Nationwide Series streak. The Sprint Cup regular also has one Truck Series win, but did not compete here Friday night.

Enter Bodine, who led three times for a staggering 106 laps en route to his first victory and seventh top-10 finish in 2010. The series record for laps-led at TMS is 140 by Hornaday in the June 2008 event.

“It’s an honor anywhere to win a race, and to be able to say you’ve won the most races at a track – it’s pretty awesome,” said Bodine, the native of Chemung, N.Y., nicknamed “The Onion” for his bald pate. “We’re pretty proud of the fact that we can come to Texas and run this well every time. It’s some place that we enjoy. To come out of here being the only six-time (Truck Series) winner…it was a goal I guess you could say when Kyle won five to come back here and get another one to six.”

Bodine, the youngest of three brothers to have raced in NASCAR’s touring series, also gave Toyota its 70th victory since entering the Truck Series in 2004 and eighth in 13 races at TMS.

“We’ve been struggling all year to make the trucks drive good, and (Mike Hillman) Junior went to work and figured it out,” said Bodine, referring to his crew chief. “This truck was driving good and it was fast. It was wide-open. It was fun to drive, it really was.”

Bodine’s victory was set into motion during the night’s fourth caution, when he beat Hornaday out of the pits following a stop for four tires and fuel. Bodine held the lead from Lap 131 to 169, two laps over the posted distance.

“That pit stop, the crew did an unbelievable job,” said Bodine, driver of the No. 30 Valvoline Toyota Tundra. “They beat everybody out by a second or two. That was the difference in getting us back out up front in clean air where we could run good. You have to have everything go right and that’s what happened tonight. We had a great Tundra and Valvoline being the first race for them with the team, to come out of here with a win…it was an awesome night all the way around.”

Hillman Jr. said his Germain Racing crew tries to treat all the series’ 1.5-mile layouts the same. “But it seems we get our stuff figured out this time of the year,” Hillman said. “I’m really proud of our guys. We went to work this winter making our trucks lighter and better. I can’t say enough about how hard everyone at Germain works. I’m the lucky guy who gets called the crew chief.”

Johnny Sauter finished second, followed by rookie pole-sitter Austin Dillon, former series champion Mike Skinner and super-sub Ken Schrader. Bodine’s margin of victory after 169 laps was 1.007-seconds in an event that saw six lead changes among four drivers.

“I’m ecstatic with our performance tonight,” said Sauter, driver of the No. 13 Curb Chevrolet Silverado. “We started out super-free and every pit stop they tightened it up. And that last stop was the money stop. I had an opportunity when Ron and Todd were beating and banging (on the last restart), but I lifted out of the throttle a little.

“We all know how Ron races, so you’ve got to be careful around him. We’ve had fast trucks all year long. We needed a solid night tonight. Maybe it wasn’t in our best interest to win the race. I know we’re going to win races. Ron and Todd race very hard and they were beating and banging on each other…I thought that was a recipe for destruction by time they got to Turn 2. But truck racing is a blast. Double-file restarts sure make it exciting.”

Dillon, grandson of team-owner Richard Childress, capped his first series pole with his first top-five finish. “What a phenomenal job,” said Dillion, 20, driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro/Remington/Tracker Boats Chevrolet. “I started off really good and lost it in the middle, but at the end I raced hard and got us a good finish. I just had a little trouble on the restarts.”

Sauter acknowledged Bodine’s impressive run of consistency at TMS. “For whatever reason, they had the dominant truck,” said Sauter, who posted his third top-10 in four races at TMS. “For whatever he does they pulled it off and won. And you get beat fair-and-square.”

Bodine was leading Peters and a pack of only nine trucks on the lead lap when the night’s fifth caution waved for the disabled truck of Jason White. None of the leaders chose to pit, setting up a seven-lap shootout. Bodine easily drove away from Peters, who faltered badly on the restart from his spot on the outside lane. But Hornaday, who swept both races here in 2008, barged underneath Bodine from third in an attempt to take the lead. Bodine never lifted and had cleared Hornaday’s No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet when Matt Crafton and David Starr tangled down the backstretch, bringing out the fifth caution on Lap 164 of the scheduled 167.

“They made me earn it three times tonight, four times actually,” Bodine said. “That next-to-last restart, Ron got underneath me. I’ve not always been the best at restarts, just OK. But when you got Hornaday on the outside you _ he’s the king of restarts _ you got to get it right. That last one, I didn’t spin the tires until I got into third (gear). And they got to racing hard and ended up giving us a good lead.”

Bodine began the night with a two-point championship lead over Aric Almirola, who finished 12th, two laps down. The 2006 series champion, Bodine exited Texas with a 65-point advantage over Armirola.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 4 2010
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