Off-week notes 2008-10-06

*It's A Sweep: Todd Bodine Surges To Big Win *Ron Hornaday, Jr. And Crew Chief Rick Ren: Is This The Pair To Beat? *Rookies Hold Their Own At Talladega Bodine Makes It A Sweep At Talladega DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 6, 2008) -- Todd Bodine (No.

*It's A Sweep: Todd Bodine Surges To Big Win
*Ron Hornaday, Jr. And Crew Chief Rick Ren: Is This The Pair To Beat?
*Rookies Hold Their Own At Talladega

Bodine Makes It A Sweep At Talladega

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 6, 2008) -- Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) needs a broom. The 2006 series champion surged to the top with a little help from the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet of Ron Hornaday Jr. to win big at Talladega last Saturday.

With his victory, Bodine, also the defending winner at Talladega, became the first driver to accomplish three straight wins on a superspeedway, thanks to his win in the 2008 season opener at Daytona.

The trio of Roush Fenway Racing Fords dominated at the drop of the green flag.

"We knew the Fords were going to be tough," Bodine said. "We had a good truck. I knew if we could get ourselves positioned in the right spot at the end of the race, we would have a shot at it."

Crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. was glad to have the race in the books. "Talladega's always scary," Hillman Jr. said. "When its all said and done, we're sitting back here again. This is three superspeedway wins in a row. It's great."

Bodine was quick to acknowledge his team as he celebrated his 14th series win. "There is a lot of hard work that goes in at the race shop to get to us to this point," he said. "I'm just the end result of a lot of hard work. What I do on the race tracks just complements what goes on at the shop."

Bodine also might want to consider the number 20 as a lucky number. The driver has won race No. 20 in three of the last four seasons.

Is This The Pair To Beat?

Reigning series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. might have come in second to his friend Todd Bodine Saturday, but that runner-up finish sent the veteran driver to the top of the championship standings.

While Talladega Superspeedway is known for its unpredictability on the track, a shake-up in the standings is almost just as predictable. Hornaday swiped the lead from Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) who went into the weekend with a single-point lead over his rival. Benson now trails Hornaday by 39 points.

Seems Hornaday and crew chief Rick Ren know how to get it done. They also could make history should the team hold off the competition. If the No. 33 is on top after the last race, Hornaday Jr. will be the first back-to-back champion in the series and the first four-time series champion.

In this final stretch, he is heading to tracks where he and his team have had success. While he hasn't visited Victory Lane at Martinsville, in 12 starts he's amassed four top-five and seven top-10 finishes.

The veteran driver also has wins at Atlanta, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami..

A good omen for the team -- the leader following the 20th race of the season has gone on to win the championship in three of the last four seasons and nine times overall in the 13-year history of the series.

Last year, Hornaday was the leader after a seventh-place finish put him 14 points over Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota).

Manufacturers' Battle

Toyota keeps the lead after the beating and banging at Talladega. Ron Hornaday Jr. fought hard but Chevrolet will have to wait until next year to try and notch a win at one of the "big tracks" on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 2008 Manufacturers' Championship Standings Following Race 20 of 25 at Talladega Superspeedway:

Toyota     142

Chevrolet 130
Ford 96
Dodge 72

Points Battle Shuffle After Dega

Not only did Ron Hornaday Jr. take away the points lead from Johnny Benson and his No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota team, but the guys behind him played a round of musical points swap.

While Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) holds on to his third-place spot 179 points out of second, he has his eye on the drivers behind him.

Todd Bodine's win helped him leap from seventh to fourth in the standings, shuffling Erik Darnell (No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford) out of the spot to fifth.

Darnell, who started from the pole, dominated the majority of the race, leading the most laps with 48. However, he ended his day with a 12th-place finish after losing some positions during the final stop on Lap 68.

The jump in standings has Bodine only 18 points behind Crafton, yet just 20 over Darnell.

Mike Skinner brought his No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota home among the top 10 but slipped from fourth to fifth. Chances are he and Darnell will swap spots again. A mere two points separate the two.

Rookies Hold Their Own

Rookies made a strong showing over the weekend at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Colin Braun kept his No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford up front, even overcoming a blown tire on Lap 84 to finish fourth.

"It definitely was an exciting race for me," Braun said. "I learned a lot, obviously, racing up front with guys like Todd (Bodine) and Ron (Hornaday, Jr.) and Kyle (Busch). That's the best of the best right there. It was a lot of fun."

The 20-year-old, who started the day behind his two Roush Fenway Racing teammates in third, opens a 30-point lead over fellow rookie Donny Lia.

Brian Scott also was among the top of the field. The freshman driver brought his No. 16 Albertson's Toyota to a seventh- place finish, his best career finish in the series and his third top-10 of the season.

"It was a good day all around," Scott said. "We weren't always in the front, but we were always able to get there when we wanted to. You just can't be upset with a top-10 finish at a place like this."

In The Loop:

Here's what two wins and six top-five finishes in the last seven races will produce: The points lead and the top spot in every key Loop Data statistical category.

Those accolades all now belong to Ron Hornaday Jr., the defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion.

With his second-place finish at Talladega, Hornaday nabbed the series lead from Johnny Benson, and pushed his statistics to the top of the charts.

Hornaday leads the series in Driver Rating (115.2), Average Running Position (7.1), Fastest Laps Run (410) and Laps in the Top 15 (2,869 for a percentage of 86.5%).

Also helping his statistical cause this weekend was Talladega winner Todd Bodine, who is one of three full-time drivers with a Driver Rating over 100.0 (Benson and Hornaday are the others).

Bodine has a season Driver Rating of 102.6, an Average Running Position of 8.1 and 152 Fastest Laps Run. He also has a series-best Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of 243. Bodine has 683 passes, compared to being passed only 440 times.

With yet another strong run -- this time at Talladega -- Colin Braun continued his ascent into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series hierarchy. Braun, who holds the top spot in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings, had a Driver Rating of 115.9 and an Average Running Position of 5.7 at Talladega. The performance improved his season-to-date Driver Rating to 85.1.

Up Next:

The series will return to action at the .526-mile track of Martinsville Speedway for the Kroger 200 on Oct. 18. Dennis Setzer took his No. 18 Dodge to Victory Lane there in March.

Fast Facts

The Race: Kroger 200
The Place: Martinsville Speedway

The Date: Oct. 18, 2008
The Time: 3 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 105.2 miles / 200 laps
Track Layout: .526-Mile oval

TV: SPEED, 2:30 p.m. ET

2007 Winner: Todd Bodine
2007 Pole: Todd Bodine

Schedule:
Friday: Practice, 11-11:50 a.m. and 1:45-3:30 p.m.
Saturday: Qualifying, 10:10 a.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Colin Braun , Dennis Setzer , Matt Crafton , Erik Darnell , Brian Scott , Donny Lia
Teams Roush Fenway Racing