Series off-week news 2010-09-07

Bodine Has Record Point Lead With Season Entering Final Stages Dillon Matches Pole Record, Shows He Belongs With Rookie Elite New KHI Crew Chief Talks About Returning No. 33 Team To Winning Form Racing To Win Pays Dividends For Bodine,...

Bodine Has Record Point Lead With Season Entering Final Stages
Dillon Matches Pole Record, Shows He Belongs With Rookie Elite
New KHI Crew Chief Talks About Returning No. 33 Team To Winning Form

Racing To Win Pays Dividends For Bodine, Germain Racing

Some might argue that racing for wins and accumulating points is like mixing lit matches with gasoline.

Not Mike Hillman Jr., who shared Todd Bodine's (No. 30 Germain.com Toyota) 21st NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory on Sept. 3 at Kentucky Speedway. Hillman is the series' top active crew chief winner and third on its all-time victory list.

"You points race when you realize you don't have the truck that is capable of winning the race," said Hillman. "Germain shows up to win races and will continue to do that."

With 18 of 25 scheduled races in the books, it's hard to disagree with Hillman.

Bodine's most recent victory -- his third in the past five races -- increased his lead over Aric Almirola (No. 51 Zyclara/Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota) to 261 points. The margin from first to second is the largest in series history with seven races remaining.

Both driver and crew chief are on pace to repeat their 2006 titles. Only two drivers -- Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 E-Z-GO Chevrolet) and Jack Sprague -- have won multiple championships. Hillman bids to join Dennis Connor and Rick Ren as crew chiefs with more than one series title.

"This season has been a return to form for the No. 30 team more than it's been about a championship," said Hillman, whose team finished fourth in 2009. Bodine already has doubled last year's pole and win totals and has one more top five -- 13 -- than he posted last season.

"The points lead is just the by-product of us being allowed to build the kind of trucks we want to build and race the way we want to race," he said. "Every weekend our driver lays it on the line out there and our guys on pit road just keep putting in the performances it takes to keep our team in a position to win."

Todd Bodine won the 2006 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship by a 130-point margin over Johnny Benson.

Dillon Matches Rookie Pole Record; Kentucky Adds Event

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has been a proving ground for young drivers since its inception in 1995, identifying those most likely to succeed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Mike Skinner (No. 5 International Trucks/Monaco RVs Toyota) was first quickly followed by the late Kenny Irwin, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.

Figure current Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader Austin Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet) to someday join the illustrious list of alumni after Dillon matched one of the series' oldest freshman records Sept. 3 at Kentucky Speedway.

Dillon won his fourth 21Means21 Pole to join Busch and Biffle as the series' only four-time rookie pole winners. The 20-year-old Dillon finished ninth in the Built Ford Tough 225 to climb to within three points of a top-five ranking in the standings. Dillon has a victory and a dozen top-10 finishes through the season's first 18 races.

The 2011 season's 25th race also was announced at Kentucky. The track's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series-NASCAR Nationwide Series weekend becomes a tripleheader affair with addition of a Thursday, July 7 NASCAR Camping World Truck race. The 1.5-mile track also will host the series on Oct. 1, marking the first season two races have been held in the Bluegrass State.

After Nine-Week Marathon, Todd Bodine Statistically The Clear Winner

The series just wrapped up nine races in nine weekends, and there have been winners and losers after the marathon.

The clear winner is points leader Todd Bodine. He started the nine-race stretch with a 55-point lead over second-place Aric Almirola. Now, that lead stands at 261 points. His performance over the stretch: two wins and six top 10s. He also led the series in Driver Rating (113.6) and Average Running Position (6.2). He was second in Fastest Laps Run (162) and fifth in Laps Led (175).

The second star goes to Austin Dillon, whose quick adaptation has moved him from 11th when the stretch started to his current position of sixth. The marathon couldn't have begun any better.

Dillon scored his first NASCAR national series win, at Iowa, and his stats over the last nine races have been tremendous: eight top 10s, a Driver Rating of 104.7 and an Average Running Position of 7.3.

The one loser, and it's harsh to call him that: Almirola. Almirola was in shouting distance of Bodine when the stretch began, but has since seen his deficit grow to triple digits.

When the stretch began, Almirola ranked fourth in Driver Rating. Since then, he has had the seventh best (96.1). His Average Running Position when the streak began ranked second. Over the last nine, it has ranked eighth (10.8).

Q & A With Kevin Buskirk: Hornaday's Program Headed In Right Direction

For defending champion Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 E-Z-GO Chevrolet) the 2010 season has been full of both ups and downs-- and multiple crew chiefs. Current chief Kevin Buskirk joined the team at Pocono Raceway in July. Since then, Hornaday has posted four top-10 finishes. Buskirk reflects on his time so far at Kevin Harvick Inc.

What has been your greatest accomplishment since joining the team? What has been your biggest challenge?

"I think it is going rather well. It was hard the first weekend at Pocono, because I really didn't know anyone at KHI but Ernie (Cope). I really didn't feel like I fit in with the group at that point and to be honest, I really wasn't sure who on the No. 33 team did what that first week. I think since then there has been a huge change. I think that I am starting to be accepted by everyone in the organization and I now have a direction of who is responsible for what task at the shop and at the race track."

What has it taken to learn Ron and the No. 33 team?

"In no way do I want to claim that I know either the team or Ron all that well at this point. We are still learning each other's quirks, but I think the most important thing for all of us getting to know each other is spending repetitious time together. I also think that with some of the challenges the No. 33 team has had this season, that it is sometimes easier to get to know each other better in times of struggle than in times of victory.

"With Ron, he is very direct. He will tell you exactly what he wants out of his truck. For me it has been a little bit of a challenge because for the last four years, I have been engulfed with learning and working on COT cars. In my mind, I almost have to go back to 2006 when I was working with Kevin (Harvick) and the No. 29 team. The trucks are very similar to the old Cup-style cars, so sometimes I have to stop myself and not lean on my most recent knowledge."

Which of the last seven tracks do you think the No. 33 truck has the best chance of visiting Victory Lane?

"I'm not really an optimist, but I really think we have a good shot at all the races left. Our next Truck Series race at Loudon will be challenging because we will be racing Kevin (Harvick) and Kyle (Busch) for the win, but Ron is a very skilled driver at Loudon and I know we will have a good truck. I really feel like our program is going in the right direction. We have been able to lead laps in the past three races at Darlington, Chicago and Kentucky, but for some reason we have just not been able to seal the deal. I believe, if I had to pick a particular track, I would say either Loudon or Phoenix because Ron and KHI have great track records at both those places, but I really feel that we have a shot at Texas and the other tracks we are going to in between. The most frustrating part for me the last few weeks is the fact that I know we are so close to being in Victory Lane."

Up Next:

New Hampshire Motor SpeedwayNew Hampshire Motor Speedway is Ron Hornaday Jr.'s stomping ground. He became the first back-to-back winner in 2007, breaking a streak which he started of 11 different winners.

The following year he became the first to win at the 1.058-mile track three times.

Last season, Hornaday's rein at the top was derailed by Kyle Busch, who led 75 laps to victory.

However, Hornaday, who led 101 laps, was not far behind -- in second.

The duo will once again "have at it" on Saturday, Sept. 18 in the TheRaceDayRaffleSeries.com 175.

Fast Facts

Next Race: TheRaceDayRaffleSeries.com 175
The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway(1.058-mile oval)The Date: Saturday, Sept. 18

The Time: 3 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 175 laps/185.15 miles

TV: SPEED, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio. (Listen locally on WGIR-FM 101.1.)

2009 Polesitter: Mike Skinner
2009 Winner: Kyle Busch

Schedule prior to race:
Friday--Practice, 10--11:20 a.m. and 1:15--2:30 p.m.
Saturday--Qualifying, 10:05 a.m.

-source: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Carl Edwards , Aric Almirola , Austin Dillon , Kyle Busch
Teams Germain Racing