NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series News & Notes - Final Wrap * Todd Bodine Wraps Up Family's First National Title * Bodine Is Sixth Consecutive Different Champion * Darnell Is Second Youngest Raybestos Rookie Of The Year * Champion's Banquet At...
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series News & Notes - Final Wrap
* Todd Bodine Wraps Up Family's First National Title
* Bodine Is Sixth Consecutive Different Champion
* Darnell Is Second Youngest Raybestos Rookie Of The Year
* Champion's Banquet At Disney World Is Season's Last Stop
At Last! Todd Bodine's Championship Is Family First
DAYTONA BEACH, (Nov. 20, 2006) -- The strategy and the finish wasn't what Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) was looking for, but a conservative run in the Nov. 17 Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway wrapped up the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship.
Bodine, keeping rival Johnny Benson (No. 23 Exide Batteries Toyota) in sight through much of the race, prevailed with a 21st-place finish when Benson's truck was caught up in another competitor's mishap. The final point margin was 127 -- third largest in series history (see chart page 2).
The title ended a Bodine family drought of more than 25 years as brothers Todd, Geoffrey and Brett pursued a NASCAR national touring series crown.
Bodine's success came in the trio's 1,853rd start.
"For what this family's gone through (in racing) ... it's very special for us," said Bodine, the series' sixth consecutive different champion and seventh in nine seasons. "I told my mom (on the cell phone) 'we finally did it.' It's the first time a family member has done something so important."
The family had come close on several occasions. Brett Bodine, now a NASCAR competition executive, finished second in 1986 NASCAR Busch Series points. Todd was the 1997 NASCAR Busch Series runnerup.
The eldest Bodine, Geoffrey, won the 1986 Daytona 500 and finished third in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title race in 1990.
"You just can't put it into words," said Bodine. "It's just incredible. We've got the best crew, we've got the best owners in the Germains and I have the Hillmans (Mike Sr. and Mike Jr.) on my side. You can't ask for more.
"This cements the fact we're champions -- no ifs, ands or buts."
Darnell Fifth Roush Driver To Win Raybestos Rookie Honors
Erik Darnell (No. 99 Woolrich Ford) can't wait for the 2007 season to begin. Right now, though, the 23-year-old Beach Park, Ill., native gets to savor his 2006 Raybestos Rookie of the Year title.
Darnell is the fifth Roush Racing freshman to win the award and second-youngest rookie of the year at age 23 years, 11 months.
Darnell led rookie points after all 25 races and finished 66 points ahead of Chad McCumbee (No. 08 The GPS Store/Garmin Chevrolet).
He opened the season with a sixth-place finish at Daytona and finished with five consecutive top-10 performances -- including three, third-place efforts.
"We clinched rookie of the year honors and that was our ultimate goal," said Darnell. "We'll be back again next year and we fully expect to contend for the championship."
News & Notes -- Part II
Season finale scrambles standings ... Three drivers moved up in the rankings with solid performances at Homestead-Miami Speedway. David Starr (No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota) gained a spot, to fourth, while Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Toyota) moved from seventh to fifth. Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) took eighth after entering the finale in 10th.
Defending champ Musgrave slides ... Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota) saw two personal streaks end in South Florida as engine failure relegated the defending champion to a finish of 33rd and sixth-place ranking in final point standings. Musgrave failed to win for the first time since joining the series fulltime in 2001 and finished outside the top five in points for the first time in six seasons. Musgrave is the eighth champion failing to defend his title.
Homestead keeps pace ... Homestead-Miami Speedway joined New Hampshire International Speedway as the only series facilities with 11 consecutive, different race winners. Martinsville Speedway saw its 14th and 15th different winners in 2006 as only one driver -- Dennis Setzer (No. 85 FlexFuel E85 Chevrolet) -- has been able to repeat.
Dodge doubles up in finale ... A tough year for Dodge ended on a high note as a pair of Ram trucks scored top-five finishes for the first time since September 2005. Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 South Point Resort Dodge) was second -- his best run since late 2003 -- while Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge) took the fourth position. Dodge finished fourth among series manufacturers and failed to post a victory for the first time since 1996. Gaughan and Hamilton were the manufacturer's best placed drivers with rankings of 15th and 16th.
Special awards determined ... Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) won season-ending Budweiser Pole and Wix Filters awards, while Sprague captured Featherlite Most Improved Driver honors with Bodine topping Mobil 1 Command Performance standings. The Roush-Yates No. 6 Scotts Ford won Clevite Engine Builder of the Year accolades as the team finished runnerup in owner championship standings.
Mark Martin Comes Full Circle In Roush Truck Farewell
Mark Martin's (No. 6 Scotts Ford) victory in the Nov. 17 Ford 200 completed a circle of sorts as the competitor closed out his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in Roush Racing's Ford F-150. His tenure included the team's first series victory in 1996.
Martin also book-ended the 2006 season by adding the Homestead-Miami Speedway win -- sixth of the year -- to his opening triumph at Daytona International Speedway in February.
Martin became the first driver to lead the series in season wins without finishing among the final top 10. He rang up the same first by heading laps and miles led categories.
"That was some of the most fun I've ever had and this is what it's all about," said Martin, whose future in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is unclear. "I know everybody thinks it probably won't be but this could be the last time I ever win a NASCAR race so the challenge is on."
Champions Awards Banquet Up Next
Disney World Site of 2006 Champions Awards Banquet ... 2006 Champion Todd Bodine, the No. 30 Germain Racing team's owner Stephen Germain and champion crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. will be feted Sunday, Dec. 10 at the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World. The event is the second in Orlando and first on the Disney property. The team also will meet the media during a Dec. 8 luncheon. Later that evening, Bodine will attend the NASCAR Busch Series Champion's Awards Banquet. Of note, Hillman is the second member of his family to win a NASCAR national touring series title. His father and Germain Racing general manager, Mike Hillman, was crew chief for 1988 NASCAR Busch Series champion Tommy Ellis. The younger Hillman is the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' youngest championship crew chief at 28 years, one month.
"I think it's great for Todd. I've raced against all three of them (Bodine brothers) and all three of them are fierce competitors. Coming from a guy who's never won one, I would have to say that they don't need a title to make them great." -- Mark Martin.
"It's been a great season; nothing to complain about. I thought the performance of our race team has been pretty good all year." -- Johnny Benson, No. 23 Exide Batteries Toyota, No. 2 to Bodine in the final point standings.
"I think this will give us some momentum as we start looking ahead to the 2007 season and a championship run. Con-way Freight is coming back next year, and we're hoping to celebrate more wins and a championship with them." -- Jack Sprague, who moved from 11th to fifth in the championship standings with five season-ending, top-10 finishes.
"If you can run with the Roush truck and you can run next to Mark Martin driving the Roush truck and hold him off and have a chance to win, then you've definitely cleared that next hurdle of being a top tier team." -- Brendan Gaughan following his runnerup finish in the Ford 200.
Champion Todd Bodine didn't dominate the 2006 season's Scoring Loop Data but was a solid performer across the board. Bodine ranked No. 2 in Driver Rating at 104.0. He was fourth in Laps Run Among the Top 15, fourth Early in the Run, 12th Late in a Run, fifth in Speed on the Straightaways and third in Speed in the Turns.
Mike Skinner was the season's Driver Rating leader with a score of 104.9. Skinner ranked first in Fastest Laps Run and fourth in Average Running Position. Despite leading the second most laps/miles (to Mark Martin), Skinner was only able to hold on to 10th in the final point standings due to five costly DNFs that more than offset a season-high eight Budweiser Poles.
Brendan Gaughan finished the year 15th in the point standings but headed one Loop Data Category. Gaughan made the Most Green Flag Passes -- 1,100.
Toyota finished the 2006 season with 12 victories, the most by the third-year manufacturer. Ford won eight times with Chevrolet picking up the other five wins.
Four different Toyota teams -- Bill Davis Racing, Germain Racing, Red Horse Racing and Wyler Racing -- contributed victories.