Germain Racing teammates Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) and Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Motors Toyota) were the participants in today's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teleconference. Bodine is the current points leader in...
Germain Racing teammates Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) and Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Motors Toyota) were the participants in today's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teleconference.
Bodine is the current points leader in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He has three wins this season, eight top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Bodine is also the defending winner of the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway, where the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will race this weekend.
Musgrave is the defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions. He is currently fourth in points. He has six top-fives and seven top-10s this season.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to action this Saturday, July 1 at Kansas Speedway for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250. The race begins at 3 p.m. ET on SPEED, and it can be heard on MRN and XM Satellite Radio.
Q: Talk about your win last year at Kansas, which was the first win for you last season. Since winning at Kansas, you have had eight wins and 18 top-five finishes. Was that a race that catapulted you to be successful at the end of last season and on into this season?
TODD BODINE: Kansas was my second race back with Germain Racing and Mike Hillman. We've always had a lot of success on mile-and-a-half tracks. Kansas obviously played into our favor. We had a really good Tundra the whole day. It was great to get back into a situation where I was comfortable. Mike and myself and whole team just picked up where we left off the year before. It was one of those days everything went right, and you've got to have everything go right to get a win in the Craftsman Truck Series.
Q: You mentioned being back with Mike Hillman Sr. and Mike Hillman Jr. Obviously you have a great relationship with the Hillmans. Talk a little bit about what the connection is that you have with the Hillmans that has helped lead to a lot of your success.
TODD BODINE: Well, I've known Mike Sr. for a long time -- probably close to 15 years now. We've been friends the whole time. We've worked together before. We ran a couple of races in the Cup Series with Joe Falk's car. We actually had some success. It was a very under-funded team, but we ran very well, very competitive. We knew back then that we had a special bond or relationship or whatever you want to call it. We had the chemistry that it took to be successful, and we felt like if we could ever get together at a well-funded operation that we could have success and go out and win races. Now, that we've gotten Germain Racing together and we have the support of Toyota, we've proven that we can get the job done together. It's one of those things that you look for. It's a combination, and this whole game is about combinations. You have to have the right people and the right chemistry to make it work and Mike and myself have always had that.
Q: Ted, you switched teams and manufacturers at the start of this season following your championship season. Can you talk a little bit about the quick start that you had with Germain Racing?
TED MUSGRAVE: Actually, that was an amazing start for me if you look back through the records. Off and on Daytona, you just never really know what's going to happen down there. I have run in the top five and had second-place finishes, but in the last couple of years had been swept up in some wrecks down there. This year, Todd (Bodine) and I were ganging up, trying to go for the win there against Mark (Martin), but got shortened up down there on a restart. It's a good start. Out of the first five races, we were never out of the top four in the final rundown. That was a really, really good start. A lot of people didn't think that would be possible, but we showed them it could. We've been off track a little bit. Moreorless like Todd was saying, it's a little chemistry. We need to fix that up. New people, new crew chief, stuff like that. If I say, 'The truck's a little tight,' he doesn't know if it's a half a round of wedge tight or is it six rounds of wedge tight. So, we've got to keep working on it and opening that communication up a little bit better. We're going to rebound. We got things straightened out this week at the shop I believe, and we're looking forward to coming out to Kansas. It would be fun to have Todd and I back up front like we were at the beginning of the season chasing each other.
Q: You have struggled a little in the past few races, but you are still a contender for the championship. What do you have to do to get back up front and win the back-to-back championships?
TED MUSGRAVE: It's never been done before, and I would like to do it. But if I can't, I sure would like to see Todd win the championship. It's something that somebody really needs to feel. To go to the banquet and be honored and get all the accolades is something. If I can't do it, I'm sure going to help Todd to do it. I think we still can. We're in the championship hunt yet. Last year, with four or five races to go I was 200 and some points out of the lead. We gobbled them points up and won the championship. You just never give up and never say die and this team is like that. Whatever it takes to win races is what they're going to do. And that's the kind of team I want to be with.
Q: Todd, you and your brothers have been in this business a long time. But best I can calculate, none of the Bodines have won a championship in NASCAR. You came close a couple of times in the Busch Series. What would a championship mean to you in this stage of your career to finally be at the head table?
TODD BODINE: You're exactly right. I think all three of us have finished second -- Geoff was second once in Cup, Brett was second a couple of times in the Busch Series, and I was second once in Busch. To win the championship would be for me, it would be way more big of deal for me to win it for my family. You hit it right on the head. For the heartaches and the struggles and the wins and the crashes and everything that goes along with this game. For a Bodine not to have won a championship doesn't seem right. It would be a big deal for me to win it for my family.
Q: How do you approach the second half of the season? You can't be racing to protect your points lead, but maybe sometimes do you settle instead of risking it?
TODD BODINE: We approach it the same way every week. We're not going to change that because if you go changing your thought process and the way you do things, you end up messing it up. I think that's kind of what happened to Dennis (Setzer) last year. They kind of got in that mode where they knew they had a big lead, they thought they could rest on it and they just went to pieces. They changed what they were doing, and nothing was working. We go out every week with one philosophy -- that's to win the race. If you can't win the race, you do the best you can, keep the truck in one piece, get to the end of the race and get the best finish you can. Whether you are points racing or racing for the win, whatever it is, do the same thing every week without hesitation without changing it up. That's the best way to go about getting the championship.
Q: When you look back at some of the Busch Series championship races when you finished second or third in the points are there any lessons to be learned? Was there a mistake that you might have made that cost you a championship one year? How does that experience help you now?
TODD BODINE: Without a doubt. That was my second full-time year of racing ever in any division. As a driver, I still didn't understand some things and quite what to do on the track to keep myself out of bad situations. That's experience, and it's lessons learned. Hopefully, I'm smart enough now that I can keep myself and my truck out of those situations. That's how you win championships -- keeping yourself out of bad spots.
Q: Do you appreciate the championship more now in your old age than you might have when you were younger?
TED MUSGRAVE: The championship is something we can dwell on now. I finally got one. You just can't rest on it -- you always want to get as many as you can. At the age of 50, you're a champion. You're like, 'Man, it took me all my life to finally do it.' You can kind of look back now and say 'Hey, that was something I accomplished, I wanted to do it my whole life, and I've done it.' The biggest thing right now is seeing if you can go out there and do it again and again. Todd has the same philosophy I do -- go out there and try and win races, as many as you can, and get as many points as you can without jeopardizing yourself.@#Q: Are you surprised at all by how quickly Toyota has almost come to dominate this sport?
TODD BODINE: Not really. If you look back at all forms of motorsports Toyota has been involved with whether it be off-road racing, Baja, Formula 1, CART, whatever form it was, they have been successful. They have won races -- I don't know about championships. But I know they have won races. They have many cars in the front. I think it comes back to Toyota's basic business philosophy, and that's to supply your team with the best information you can and to get the best people you can and you end up winning races. They approach it a lot different than other manufacturers, and it's a much simpler process and a much more efficient process. Therefore the teams benefit more from it.
Q: Can you be more specific? How do they approach the sport differently?
TODD BODINE: Well, GM and Ford and Dodge, every team is almost on their own. Very little information is shared from team to team. Toyota -- all the information and data is gathered at TRD by their engineers and then shared amongst all their teams. So every team benefits from the information and data that TRD has collected. That is different than the way GM and the rest of those guys do it. Basically, each team is on their own. The same thing goes for the motor program.
Q: A lot of people on the Cup side are dreading the day that Toyota comes in to NEXTEL Cup next year. People are treating them like the devil. Is it warranted?
TED MUSGRAVE: No. Look back on the Cup side when Dodge came in. It was the same situation. They said Chrysler is coming back in -- 'Oh my gosh, here it is.' Everybody's just a little scared. After a while, they'll realize all it is, is just a little more competition. Nobody's got an upper hand. Nobody's going to go in with the devil's fork and get everybody. NASCAR keeps the rules at a level playing field. Everybody's going to have the same opportunities. I don't see that happening at all. They're going to come in. They're going to have some teams running. They're going to have top 10s and top-fives and see how they can evaluate themselves versus the other manufacturers. I think all they're scared about is that Toyota has a really solid background. That's the biggest thing that I think everyone's scared about. Toyota just did everything right when they got there.
Q: How long do you think it will be before they are competitive on a weekly basis?
TED MUSGRAVE: I think they will be competitive right off the bat. The engineering department has already tested the motors on the truck side. They just had to change them a little bit for Cup. The cars -- the way the templates are nowadays -- they are very similar to all the other cars so the aerodynamics are going to be about the same. If you take the same aerodynamics and a decent motor, they should be competitive right off the bat. I'm not saying they're going to go out and win all the races. They may struggle and go through the 'new team blues,' but I don't foresee them having any problem running in the top 10.
Q: Ted, what goes into winning a championship? What has to go right? What are the characteristics of a championship season?
TED MUSGRAVE: I can't speak for Todd, but for me, I had a lot of luck. This is my fifth year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and every year I had been in the top three. From time to time, one little race or one miscue during the season could put you out of the championship. I've proven that. Basically, you have to put yourself in the situation that you're competitive each and every week. Get yourself in the top three. A lot of focus. No mistakes. A lot of hard work. But the big thing that comes into play is luck. You can't make it. You can try to prevent any bad luck, but you've got to have some good luck through the whole season too.
Q: Todd, you haven't won one yet, but if you had to draw up the ideal scenario to winning a championship, is that what you have going on this season?
TODD BODINE: Ted pretty much said it all. You've got to have the preparation, you've got to have the people behind it and you've got to have luck. We've had the last couple of races -- excluding Milwaukee -- we're very lucky. We finished third (Dover) and fourth (Michigan) and we were very luck to do it both times. That's how you win championships. You've got to have the luck to go with the good performance.
Q: Are you hearing from your brothers? Are you getting some encouraging words? Is winning the championship a topic of conversation with them?
TODD BODINE: No, it's not a topic of conversation at all. But we talk quite often. Geoff always calls me before the race and after the race. Brett calls when he's not busy with his job. We all keep in touch pretty much.
Q: For Ted and Todd, talk about being teammates.
TED MUSGRAVE: Right now, we're just trying to do whatever we can on the race track to help each other. I know at the beginning of the season at Atlanta, we talked after the first practice, I'd go one way on rear springs and he'd go the other way on rear springs to see which one was better as far as how our trucks would handle. We've been a little bit different here the past couple of weeks just because we have been stumbling a little bit trying to venture out and see, but I think in Kansas City our trucks will be pretty much identical when they unload right down to the 'T.' From there on, we'll run our first practice and see which one is the best chassis wise. We've got a lot of information from the other Toyota teams too. We share a lot of information with TRD, and we might even have to look at one of those scenarios and try that to. Whatever I can do to help Todd win a championship -- if I can't do it -- I'm going to do everything in my power to have him win it.
TODD BODINE: That sounded good to me. It's been great having Ted. When that whole thing went down with Ultra, Mike (Hillman) called me up and asked me what I thought and I knew right away it was going to be a good situation. And it has been. Like Ted said, we've both been struggling here the last couple of weeks. We really stumbled this last weekend, but we have great guys at the shop and great leaders. They'll pick it up and get us both back to the front.