Bodine, Germain-Arnold - NASCAR spotlight

Todd Bodine, Germain-Arnold important part of Toyota's finishing surge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2004) -- Having a good closer on the staff is just as important in NASCAR competition as it is to a Major League Baseball team. Toyota, ...

Todd Bodine, Germain-Arnold important part of Toyota's finishing surge

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2004) -- Having a good closer on the staff is just as important in NASCAR competition as it is to a Major League Baseball team.

Toyota, wrapping up its first season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, has found exactly that in Todd Bodine and the No. 30 Arnold Development Companies team.

Bodine and team owners Steve Germain, Bob Germain and Don Arnold are late-comers to the series, making their first appearance Sept. 9 at Richmond International Raceway.

You wouldn't know it from the team's performance -- two top-five finishes in three starts and a second-place finish in last weekend's Las Vegas 350.

Bodine is a significant part of a late-season rally that has seen Toyota Tundra trucks win a race, a Bud Pole and post five top-five finishes during the past two weeks. Travis Kvapil (No. 24 Toyota All-Star Showdown Toyota) won in New Hampshire while Mike Skinner's (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) Bud Pole in Las Vegas was the 16th of his career.

"Our goals for the rest of the season are exactly what we've done in these first three races," said Todd Bodine, 40, the youngest of the three racing Bodine brothers from Chemung, N.Y. "We want to be competitive, we want to learn more and we want to try and win some races."

Odds appear good that Bodine and Germain-Arnold will find their first victory during the season's final six races -- possibly in Saturday's American Racing Wheels 200 at California Speedway. Bodine already has a victory at California Speedway; he won the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series event there in 1997.

The team has come a long way in a very short time, completing construction of its first truck in the 18 days prior to Richmond. It's been a case of all of parties being at the same place at the same time.

"Bob Germain and I go back a long ways," Arnold said. "I sold my (auto) dealerships to him 25 years ago. I made a suggestion that he and I get together, join up and do a truck racing team -- with his background with all the Toyota dealerships.

"We thought about it for a couple of days and then Steve Germain called Toyota. It turns out it was great timing on our part. We looked to Toyota for what they were thinking in terms of a driver and Todd was one of the names they mentioned. Todd had been on our short list."

The entire process began on Memorial Day weekend. Afterward, Bodine also was tapped to drive the team's No. 50 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series car and crew chief Mike Hillman, a longtime Bodine associate, also joined the effort.

"I think the series has allowed us to demonstrate what we as a company can do with first-rate equipment," said Arnold. "We want to do well ... and come out of the box next year with two teams. That's our goal. It's good for us and it's good for Toyota."

It's also been good for Bodine, who won the 15th race of his NASCAR Busch Series career in 2003 at Darlington Raceway. He's started more than 300 times in that series, finishing fourth or better in the championship standings on five occasions -- including the runner-up spot in 1997. Bodine also has a career-high finish of third in 220 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup appearances.

However, Bodine isn't a complete stranger to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, having competed part-time in 1995. He agrees that much has changed since that inaugural season.

"The trucks are way more advanced now, especially aero-wise but the series is also a lot more competitive these days, too," he said. "When I ran in 1995, there were probably six or seven good teams. Now, during any week, there's probably 12 and 15 teams that are capable of winning a race.

"It's a good series and I'm happy to be in it with Toyota and Germaine-Arnold."

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Travis Kvapil