Amanda Vincent - NASCAR correspondent
Competitors, and fans alike, don’t know the outcome of a race before it starts. If they did, what would be the point of even running event? One thing will be for sure, though, with Saturday night’s running of the American Ethanol 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway – there’ll be a first-time winner of the event celebrating in victory lane after the checkered flag.
Only two drivers have won in Truck Series competition at Chicagoland – Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon. Neither of those drivers are entered to climb behind the wheel of a truck come Saturday.
While previous track truck winners won’t be on the starting grid on Saturday, Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota, will be. Win or not, Bodine will reach an important milestone when he takes the green flag this weekend. It’ll mark his 200th-career Camping World Truck Series start, making Bodine the first driver to ever lay claim to at least 200-career starts in each of NASCAR’s three national touring divisions.
“It’s pretty neat,” Bodine said of the milestone. “When I started in this sport as a driver, you never thought about getting to this point. You only thought about the next race. The future wasn’t something you thought about.” Bodine heads into this Chicagoland race as one of the favorites. After all, he has three second-place finishes in his three previous starts at the track.
Of course, it won’t be smooth sailing to victory lane for Bodine; it’s not even a guaranteed trip. Among the fellow-competitors he’ll have to deal with is Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota. Like Bodine, Crafton is unfamiliar with Chicagoland Speedway’s victory lane, but he’s definitely riding a big wave of momentum. When the Truck Series most recently raced at Iowa Speedway, Crafton posted a third-place finish, his third-consecutive top-five in series competition.
Bodine isn’t the only driver sure to reach an important career milestone on Saturday. The series winningest driver, Ron Hornaday in the No. 9 Joe Denette Motorsports Chevrolet only has to make it to lap 73 of Saturday night’s race to reach the 50,000 laps mark in the series.
But Hornaday wants more out of Chicagoland Speedway than the 50,000 laps ran mark. He’s still itching for his first win with JDM. Since claiming his 51st-career win last year, Hornaday’s been shut out of victory lane since moving the the still-relatively-new Denette organization. Hornaday and JDM look to be on the cusp, though. Hornaday has driven the No. 9 to a top-10 in four of the last six races on the circuit, including a second-place showing last weekend at Iowa Speedway.
“It’s a big leap and a big gain for a new operation team,” Hornaday said. “That show a good sign we’re on the right track.” Like the aforementioned Bodine and Crafton, Hornaday is also winless at Chicagoland, but he has finished near the front at the track. His best Chicagoland finish in a truck was a third-place showing while driving for Kevin Harvick Inc. in 2010.
“We are going to do our best to back up last weekend’s efforts to get this Joe Denette Motorsports team in victory lane,” Hornaday said.