Gander Outdoor Truck Series

NCWTS: For Todd Bodine the Road to a Championship Is Not Through Points Racing

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Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

By Kelly Crandall

The eye watering smell emanating from the Camping World Truck Series garage is “The Onion” Todd Bodine stinking up the show. As his point lead continues to grow every week Bodine still won’t declare the championship over, not by a long shot.

With seven races remaining in the 2010 NCWTS season, Bodine has a 261-point lead over Aric Almirola as the series heads to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon. Bodine’s fourth win of the season will most likely be remembered because of his war of words with Kyle Busch, overshadowing the fact that Bodine made an even stronger statement the racetrack.

That statement? Point racing is not an option.

Over the last few weeks Bodine’s been sideways, three-wide, through the grass and everywhere in-between as he’s put his No. 30 Germain Toyota in positions that other point leaders might not have. Friday night he pulled off the spin and win in Kentucky for the 21st truck victory of his career.

Afterward Bodine said, “Our misfortune turned into our fortune.”

Lead by crew chief Mike Hillman Jr., a recovery from the spin became the main focus. It would have been easy and typical for a team in their position to take what they could get and try to save the truck. Instead, Bodine was told they were going to go for the win and stayed on the racetrack as others either pitted or ran out of fuel.
Yes, the point leader was risking it all on fuel mileage and made it work. For Bodine the win at Kentucky is a good sign as five other drivers have won the championship the same season they won in the Bluegrass state.

“Well, everybody wants to keep saying that,” said Bodine in his winner’s press conference. “We as a team try not to think of it that way or let that affect our master plan so to speak. We go to the racetrack every week and that truck comes off the lift gate and we’re there to win the race. Our crew is so dedicated to turning this truck around every week and doing the things we need to do to put it in victory lane and this week is the perfect example.”

Kentucky hasn’t been the first time Bodine has put himself in what could have been dicey situations. Two weeks ago in Chicago he again raced Busch the hardest he could and it came down to the two of them for the win.

After chasing Busch down in the final few laps it became evident how hard Bodine was pushing as he got sideways coming off the corners. Even while finishing second he does things the hard way.

Every lap of every race Bodine is giving it everything he’s got, every lap he’s racing as if it’s the last one. The four wins he’s racked up this season have come at some of the hardest tracks on the circuit, like Texas and Darlington where he could have backed off, stayed invisible and protected himself.

Once again however, point racing is not an option. This team doesn’t even know what it means.

“We’re not going to get into that points racing mode,” said Bodine. “If we can’t get the race win then yeah, we’ll just get the best finish we can get. We unload each week and go out to win the race.”

Hillman Jr. concurred with his driver, “You points race when you realize you don’t have the truck that is capable of winning the race. Germain shows up to win races and will continue to do that.”

The road to their second championship doesn’t appear to have many obstacles ahead. Driver and team know what they are capable of and arrive each weekend confident in their equipment. Since winning their first title in 2006 they’ve remained contenders, finishing fourth, third and fourth in points, but not competitive enough to best those of Johnny Benson and Ron Hornaday Jr.

Consider it back to basics or making sure history doesn’t repeat itself. After 25 events last season the No. 30 team had 12 top 10s, 11 top fives and two wins whereas after just 18 races in 2010 they’ve already improved on those statistics.

“This season has been a return to form for the No. 30 team more than it’s been about a championship,” said Hillman Jr.

A championship may be the ultimate goal, but this is one team that has put it on the backburner. As long as you win the points will take care of themselves and all this team wants to do is win. According to the crew chief the work that has been done at the shop is making it all possible.

“The points lead is just the by-product of us being allowed to build the kind of trucks we want to build and race the way we want to race,” he said. “Every weekend our driver lays it on the line out there and our guys on pit road just keep putting in the performances it takes to keep our team in a position to win.”

Winning. It’s not for everyone; some drivers take it for granted while others never get to experience it. Unfortunately for the competition, Bodine and his team know how to do it all too well and have plenty more opportunities to do so before the season ends.

No situation is going to be enough to keep Bodine from sticking his nose in there. And no situation is going to be too tough to count Bodine out. Besides, point racing isn’t fun anyway.

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About Christopher Smith

A long time fan of NASCAR, he attended his first race as a kid in 1979 at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the World 600. Christopher watched Darrell Waltrip drive his way to victory and from that day forward he’s been hooked. As president of RubbingsRacing.com, Christopher launched the site in 2000 and in the past decade, it has grown into a NASCAR-accredited web site hosting multiple podcasts, dedicated writers and race coverage at the majority of NASCAR-sanctioned events. Christopher is an official member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).

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