Phoenix: Penultimate round preview

* Todd Bodine Could Clinch Championship At Phoenix For Todd Bodine, The Magic Number Is 54 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 6, 2006) -- It has not been a productive last three races for Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) who finished ...

* Todd Bodine Could Clinch Championship At Phoenix

For Todd Bodine, The Magic Number Is 54

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 6, 2006) -- It has not been a productive last three races for Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) who finished 14th, 25th and 14th at Texas, Atlanta and Martinsville.

But thanks to some phenomenally bad luck suffered by closest challenger Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota), Bodine is on the verge of winning his first NASCAR national touring series championship.

With a lead of 137 points entering this week's Casino Arizona 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, Bodine needs to add an additional 54 points to the current margin to become just the second series driver to close out the title prior to the season's final race.

Only Greg Biffle in 2000 clinched the title with one race remaining on the schedule.

Bodine enters this week's race as the track's defending race winner while Benson's best Phoenix finish, second, came in 1996. He was fifth last year.

David Reutimann (No. 17 Team Tundra Toyota) remains in the title mix but trails Bodine by 165 points.

Bodine is putting the championship out of his mind this week. "I'm not going to let it bother me," he said.

"I'll be honest with you, I was antsy before Atlanta but I'm not going to worry about it anymore.

"I'm planning on racing at Phoenix and Homestead to win; period."

Bodine won five times in 2005, his first full season on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and finished third in the standings 86 points behind now Germain Racing teammate Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota).

Phoenix International Raceway Started It All

It's old home week in a way for a number of drivers competing in this week's Casino Arizona 150 -- among them Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota), Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 AES HR Solutions Chevrolet) and Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota).

Skinner won the series' first race at the one-mile oval in 1995. Returning in October, the Susanville, Calif. native won again -- and closed out Joe Ruttman for the inaugural season championship.

Hornaday won the series' first Budweiser Pole in the Valley of the Sun. He didn't win the race but returned to Arizona a few weeks later and raced his Dale Earnhardt-owned Chevrolet to Victory Lane at Tucson Raceway Park.

Sprague, meanwhile, scored the first of his 27 victories at Phoenix in April 1996 and ultimately ran the streak to three -- a record for consecutive wins at one track that wasn't broken until 2003.

He's also the track's leading pole winner with five.

"I have had a lot of success at the track over the years so for me, I couldn't think of a track that I would rather race at right now in the season," said Sprague, who is battling for a top-five championship finish.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Greg Biffle , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , David Reutimann
Teams Germain Racing