Homestead: Series round 25 preview

* Bodine Wraps Up Second Series Championship Early * Cope Guides Yet Another KHI Driver To Victory Lane * In The Loop: Despite Recent Slump, Peters Has Career Year Bodine Wraps Up Second Title EarlyLet the celebration begin. With a...

*  Bodine Wraps Up Second Series Championship Early

* Cope Guides Yet Another KHI Driver To Victory Lane
* In The Loop: Despite Recent Slump, Peters Has Career Year

Bodine Wraps Up Second Title EarlyLet the celebration begin.

With a 12th-place finish last Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway, Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain.com Toyota) became the third driver in history to clinch a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship one race before the season's final event.

Now, Bodine and his Germain Racing crew will have an extra week to celebrate before trying for a third victory in Friday's 2010 season finale, the Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Then its off to prepare for the Nov. 22 NASCAR Nationwide Series/NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards Banquet at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

It wasn't like that in 2006 when the championship race went down to the wire in South Florida and Bodine prevailed by a 112-point margin over Johnny Benson. This time, Bodine left Phoenix with an insurmountable 202-point cushion over Aric Almirola (No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota).

But Bodine's 2010 season has been significantly better than four years ago -- despite a more competitive field of rivals.

With one race remaining, Bodine has four wins, a Keystone Light Pole, 16 top fives and 19 top-10 finishes.

In 2006, he had one less victory and four fewer top-five and three fewer top-10 finishes, respectively.

"We have four wins, which is great, but the top fives and consistency of this team and how hard these guys work every week, that's what got us here to this point," said Bodine as he praised crew chief Mike Hillman Jr., Germain Racing General Manager Mike Hillman and his entire team.

The group also accomplished much despite operating on a race-to-race sponsorship basis.

"We didn't have a sponsor but the Germain brothers (Bob and Steve) decided last winter that we were going to race this truck no matter what," said Bodine. "They were going to come out of their pockets to make this happen knowing we had a team that can win races, run up front and win championships."

Bodine is the third driver in the series to win multiple titles, joining Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Georgia Boot Chevrolet) and Jack Sprague. Only Hornaday (2009) and Greg Biffle (2000) have been able to clinch a championship prior to the season finale.

There's one championship left to decide, however. Seven-time winner Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota/TRAXXAS Toyota) is on the verge of stealing some of the post-season thunder from Bodine and Germain Racing. Kyle Busch Motorsports, in its first season, holds a 120-point lead in the owner standings entering the final race.

By finishing 29th or better at Homestead-Miami, KBM would become the first team in series history to win the owners' title without simultaneously holding the driver championship.

"We would have liked to win the race but you take a good truck like this and run second with it and beat the guys (Bodine) you're here to beat and we'll look to next week and try for a win there," said Busch, whose bid to become the series' second eight-time season winner was blocked by Clint Bowyer, who won at Phoenix. "It's good to have that little bit of a cushion going into next week. We'll be looking at the banquet on Monday."

Cope Guides Yet Another KHI Driver To Victory Lane

Kevin Harvick Inc. crew chief Ernie Cope mostly flies under the radar, perhaps because of his quiet persona.

You won't see Cope high-fiving crew members when the team wins or agonizing over a race that's gone poorly.

But Cope is a winner and, possibly the most unsung performer in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and NASCAR Nationwide Series.

He sent yet another winner to Victory Lane when Clint Bowyer won at Phoenix, becoming Cope's third different winning driver in the series this year, and ninth overall. He also has pushed team owner Kevin Harvick to victory three times in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, his full-time home.

Harvick's No. 2 Chevrolet will finish among the top five in the owner standings despite having a bevy of drivers this year: Harvick, a two-time winner, Bowyer, Pocono Raceway winner Elliott Sadler (No. 2 CitiFinancial Chevrolet) and Ken Schrader, among others. Cope has won with Bowyer and Harvick as well as Ron Hornaday Jr.

He'll try to run his season win total to four this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway as Sadler climbs back into the No. 2 Chevrolet.

In The Loop: Despite Recent Slump, Peters Has Career Year

No matter what happens Friday night in the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finale, Timothy Peters (No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota) should look back on this season as a career year.

Peters won the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, matched last year's career-high of five top fives and finished in the top 10 a career-high 16 times. He also led 259 laps, which currently is 116 more than last season's career-best total.

Still, the way Peters has stalled recently might leave him wanting more -- and wondering what could have been.

He has finished in the top 10 only once in the last five races (a seventh at Talladega Superspeedway).

Over the span, he has an average finish of 18.4, a Driver Rating of 78.1, an Average Running Position of 14.2 and four Fastest Laps Run.

The slump was sudden, and unforeseen.

Prior to that, Peters had finished in the top 10 in nine of the previous 10 races. Over that particular span, he had an average finish of 7.9 and a Driver Rating of 106.3.

Ending the season on a positive seems possible, if not likely. All Peters needs to do is repeat last year's performance.

Last year at Homestead, a fourth-place finish, Peters had a Driver Rating of 117.0, an Average Running Position of 4.2, 11 Fastest Laps Run

Legend Richard Childress: "Pop-Pop" To Grandson Dillon

To most, Richard Childress is known as a legendary owner in NASCAR's three national series, but to Austin Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet), he is just "Pop-Pop."

For the first time since 1999, Childress returned to the NASCAR Camping Word Truck Series full time to field the black No. 3 Chevrolet race truck for his grandson. Dillon, who currently leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings by 245 points, has not disappointed. In 24 races this season, he has two wins and a record-setting six poles as a rookie.

Here, Childress reflects on his decision to start Dillon out in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and more.

What do you think has been the key to Austin's early success?

"He has been around this sport since he was a little kid. He grew up watching Dale Earnhardt and what all the other drivers have done. To accomplish all that he has in this sport at a young age, with really not that much racing experience, I am really proud of him."

On returning to the Truck Series?

"I am really excited for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. I think having Austin in the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet has been really good for the series. You wouldn't believe how many people have called asking RCR to build trucks for them or how they could get involved. I hope from a NASCAR standpoint it has added a little fire back into the series."

Why he chose the NCWTS for Austin?

"I felt like the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was a lot better series for a young rookie to jump into. You have some great veteran drivers. I knew Austin would have the opportunity to learn from drivers like Ron Hornaday Jr., Mike Skinner and Todd Bodine. I think Austin has been very fortunate that several of the drivers have taken him under their wing to help him out."

The 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series/NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards Banquet is set for Monday, Nov. 22 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

This is the second year the two series have been combined and will celebrate the driver and owner champions together. Drivers in both series who finish in positions second-fifth in the standings also will be featured on stage, while those drivers in positions sixth-10th also will be recognized for their accomplishments.

SPEED personalities Rick Allen and Krista Voda will host the banquet for the second consecutive year. Additionally, comedian Tom Papa, who was personally chosen by Jerry Seinfeld to host the popular NBC show "The Marriage Ref" and has toured with Seinfeld for nearly a decade, will entertain the crowd.

The banquet will air on SPEED on Friday, Dec. 3 from 7-9 p.m. ET as a lead-in to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet broadcast, also on SPEED.

NCWTS Etc.

* Jennifer Jo Cobb (No. 10 Lilly's Cosmetics Ford) will make NASCAR history this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Ford 200. Currently 17th in the final standings, Cobb will surpass Tammy Jo Kirk as the highest-finishing female in one of NASCAR's top-three series. Kirk closed out the 1997 season ranked 20th in the standings.

* Ron Hornaday Jr. has 10 starts at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hornaday has completed each lap he has attempted around the track, making a total of 1,486 circuits.

* In the 14 previous events at Homestead, 13 different winners have visited Victory Lane. Todd Bodine is the only driver to win multiple races. Kevin Harvick is the defending winner of the Ford 200, but he is not entered in Friday night's event.

* Cole Whitt (No. 60 SafeAuto Insurance Chevrolet) will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut Friday. Whitt finished 15th in last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Phoenix.

* Mike Skinner (No. 5 International Trucks / Monaco RV Toyota) remains the only driver currently competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series who won in 2009 and is still searching for a victory. Skinner has secured at least one win in the series since 2005.

* Johanna Long (No. 20 Panhandle Grading and Paving Toyota) will return to the series for her seventh start this season. Long qualified ninth in her last outing at Texas Motor Speedway, but finished 36th due to an early accident.

* Travis Kvapil (No. 216 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet) will make his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start of the season in the final event. Kvapil won the series championship in 2003 and has nine victories in 131 starts. He has one top-five and three top-10 finishes at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

* Wayne Auton reflects on the NCWTS season:

Q: What stands out about 2010?

Auton: "Competition. The 2009 season was a very, very trying year for everyone economically, but in 2010 the greatest owners and sponsors in the world came out. Really showed what this series is about -- and that is real true racers.

"I am very proud of the way our garage has responded to the hard times over the last several seasons."

#%Fast Facts

The Race: Ford 200
The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

The Date: Friday, Nov. 19
The Time: 8 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 134 laps/201 miles

TV: SPEED, 7:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Channel 128 (Local: WCTH-FM 100.3)

2009 Polesitter: Colin Braun
2009 Winner: Kevin Harvick

Pre-Race Day Schedule (All times ET):
Thursday: Practice, 5-6 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m.;
Friday: Qualifying, 5:05 p.m.

-source: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Colin Braun , Jack Sprague , Tammy Jo Kirk , Clint Bowyer , Elliott Sadler , Timothy Peters , Aric Almirola , Jennifer Jo Cobb , Cole Whitt , Austin Dillon , Johanna Long , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil
Teams Germain Racing , Red Horse Racing