Bodine Warns That More Trucks May Be Parked – Including His
By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
Fort Worth, Texas _ Johnny Benson’s sponsor-induced exit from NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series earlier this week may not be the last by a champion.
Todd Bodine’s post-race celebration of his historic fifth series victory at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night was tempered by the reality that Germain Racing may have to park the No. 30 Copart.com Toyota Tundra in the heat of summer because of lack of sponsorship.
“We’ve been fortunate…we’ve got a great sponsor now in Copart, and Ventrilo,” said Bodine, whose victory in the Winstar World Casino 200 at TMS marked the first time a Truck Series driver had won five races at a single venue. “We got three (races remaining) with Copart and two with Ventrilo. We’re still not totally funded for the season and that is a concern.
“We’ve made the business decision that if we don’t have sponsorship, we’re not going to race. We’re working like crazy trying to get somebody on this truck for the rest of the year. Hopefully, Copart will step up. We do need funding for the rest of the year.”
Bodine, who won the 2006 Truck Series championship by 127 points over Benson, earned his 17th career victory in 123 starts on TMS’ 1.5-mile quadoval. After beginning the season with finishes of 1-2-3, including victory in the prestigious season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, Bodine struggled through a four-race stretch during which he finished no higher than 18th. But Friday night’s victory left him fourth in the driver’s points championship, only 66 behind TMS runnerup and first-time leader Matt Crafton.
A season-low 33 trucks started at TMS, three fewer than the maximum field allowed by NASCAR. Previously, 35 trucks started in the rain-delayed event at Kansas Speedway on April 27. The other six races have seen full fields of 36 trucks.
Round 9 of the series, the Michigan 200, is scheduled for Saturday afternoon on the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway.
“What’s hard to believe is that we’re going to Michigan – a great track for our team, coming off of a huge win at Texas – and next week, the No. 30 Tundra has no sponsor,” Bodine said. “Our relationship with Copart has truly been great. They are an excellent company with great people but we only have three races remaining with them this year – Michigan, Memphis and Kentucky. Unfortunately, that means our hood is empty at Milwaukee.”
The series will visit Memphis Motorsports Park on June 27 and Kentucky Speedway on July 18.
Ironically, Round 10 at The Milwaukee Mile on June 19 is titled the Copart 200. The first race of Copart’s six-event deal with Germain Racing and Bodine was at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last month. The deal does not include The Milwaukee Mile, where three-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. is scheduled to carry Copart’s decals on the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado.
Copart sells more than one million vehicles each year online for insurance companies, banks, finance companies, fleet operators, dealers, the general public and others. Copart’s extensive inventory allows buyers to browse more than 50,000 vehicles each day.
Meanwhile, Germain Racing’s three-race sponsorship deal with Ventrilo began at Kansas Speedway in April, and includes upcoming events at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 19 and Gateway International Raceway outside St. Louis on Sept. 12. Ventrilo is a product line of Flagship Industries, and the premier group voice communications program used in tournaments and multi-player games.
The bottom line for Bodine and Germain is this: Of the 17 races remaining on the schedule, the organization located in Mooresville, N.C., has sponsorship for only five.
“It’s a statement of the times, and an unfair statement because we kind of got caught with our pants down,” said Bodine, 45, who made his Truck debut in July 1995, the series’ inaugural season. “Until the middle of December, Lumber Liquidators told us they were coming back and they’re going to do the deal and they’re happy and everything’s great. Some internal things happened within their business that kind of messed it up and they didn’t have funding to give to us. So they had to back out. And that really caught us with our pants down.
“You can’t get to the middle of December without a sponsor and think you’re going to get one in the first two months of the season. We’ve got a few weeks left before we need the funding. We’ve got a lot of people working on it, we’ve got more meetings and more things going on with companies, so hopefully something will stick.”
Benson, the reigning Truck Series champion, was not as fortunate. Red Horse Racing announced Monday it was parking his No. 1 Toyota – effective immediately – because of lack of sponsorship. Benson, voted the series’ Most Popular Driver from 2006-08, had competed in the opening eight events of 2009 and posted four top-10 finishes, including a solid fourth place at TMS. He is seventh in points, 155 behind leader Crafton but only two behind sixth-place David Starr.
Benson, who made his series debut in February 1995, has 14 victories in 133 starts. Benson, who will turn 46 on June 27, joins Jack Sprague, a three-time series champion, and 2005 champ Ted Musgrave on the sidelines because of lack of sponsorship.
Meantime, Red Horse Racing team-owner Tom DeLoach announced the addition of Timothy Peters to his lineup on Tuesday, with continuing sponsorship from Strutmasters.com. Peters and crew chief Chad Kendrick have joined RHR for the remainder of the season. Peters competed in all eight NCWTS events this season with Premier Racing, recording two top-10 finishes, including a sixth in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, and four top-15s. He is 19th in the standings, 299 points behind leader Crafton.
Peters, 28, made his series debut in April 2005. In 51 career starts, he has no poles, wins or top-five finishes. Peters has not led a lap this season.
Strutmasters provides consumers an affordable alternative to expensive and problematic air ride suspension systems found on luxury vehicles. The company ships suspension conversion kits to auto repair shops, parts stores and dealers across North America.
Red Horse Racing announced Monday it would continue to field the No. 11 Toyota Tundra driven by T.J. Bell, as that truck does have some financial support.
Germain Racing opened its doors in 2004 as a partial-season Truck Series team. The organization co-owned by brothers Bob, Steve and Rick Germain has earned two or more wins in six consecutive seasons and has finished in the top-five in the championship standings in each of the four full-time seasons in which it has competed.
Mike Hillman Jr., Bodine’s crew chief, said the win in Texas was not as important to the team’s morale as its every-day work attitude.
“A lot of folks talk about riding momentum off of a win, but this team doesn’t need momentum,” Hillman Jr. said. “We work hard each week – whether we’re going to a great track for us, like Michigan, or one where we’ve not achieved the results we’ve wanted.
“We’re going to Michigan to put the Copart Tundra in the winner’s circle. If we can’t, then we’ll focus on a good points day and acquiring a sponsor for the remainder of our season.”