NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News and Notes -- California Bodine Becomes First Repeat Winner At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2009) -- It took 10 years of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition at the famed Daytona ...
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News and Notes -- California
Bodine Becomes First Repeat Winner At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2009) -- It took 10 years of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition at the famed Daytona International Speedway to send a repeat winner to Victory Lane.
And Todd Bodine's (No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota) victory in last Friday's 2009 season opener turned out to be what might be termed "two-four."
That's two consecutive victories at the 2.5-mile Daytona superspeedway to go with 2007-08 wins at Talladega Superspeedway. Bodine becomes just the second driver to win four straight races in the same series at NASCAR's two superspeedways.
Bodine joins Dale Earnhardt Jr., who swept a trio of NASCAR Nationwide Series events at Daytona and Talladega in 2003 then added the 2004 NNS opener to the list.
The finish of the NextEra Energy Resources 250 was a carbon copy of last year's race with Bodine edging a fast-closing Kyle Busch (No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts/NOS Energy Drink Toyota). The margin of victory, .249 seconds, marked the eighth time the race has been won by less than a second. Two races ended under caution.
The race saw an even dozen drivers exchange the lead 15 times. Bodine, who started third, overcame an early-race penalty for a below-the-yellow-line pass. The 44-year-old New York native took the lead for the final time on Lap 90 (of 100) as Bodine overhauled Keystone Light Pole winner Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford).
The victory was the 2006 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion's 16th. Bodine has at least one win in six consecutive seasons.
"I can't thank the guys on this race team enough. They worked so hard and gave me a great truck tonight," said Bodine. "It's exciting to win back-to-back races; Homestead finale in 2008 and then open the 2009 season by winning our fourth straight superspeedway race. This is stuff that dreams are made of."
Cook Confident Heading For San Bernardino 200
Some tracks fit a driver's eye. Others apparently don't.
That seemed to be the situation for Terry Cook's (No. 25 Harris Trucking Toyota) at Auto Club Speedway where Cook -- one of two drivers to have competed in all 12 races at the two-mile track -- failed to score a top-five finish until the 2008 race.
"You would like to think you can go to a race track and get a top five every time but not every driver out there can," said Cook, six-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner. "There are so many factors beyond your control and sometimes the cards just don't play out right."
Cook had close to a winning hand a year ago finishing a solid fourth. That run -- plus his third-place finish a week ago at Daytona -- has the Ohio native eager to make the transcontinental flight to the left coast.
"We are coming off a huge high from Daytona. You know when you run well there is an old saying, it doesn't matter how hard you worked, how many overtime hours you put in or how far away your hotel is ... if you run well that is all erased," said Cook.
Cook drove for Wyler Racing at Auto Club Speedway a year ago. He moved to Jim Harris' Virginia-based team in late 2008 and believes crew chief Danny Rollins will give him a great package for Saturday's San Bernardino County 200.
"I have so much confidence in them and they believe in me," he said. "We are hungry this year for wins. You will see it from us; we all are confident of that."
For Kyle Busch, A Phenomenal 2008 Began At Auto Club Speedway
* Who would have known that Kyle Busch's victory in last February's San Bernardino 200 would be the start of something, well, huge. Busch's first of an eventual three NCWTS victories contributed to 21 wins across NASCAR's three national series. Going from truck to NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide cars doesn't seem to faze the 23-year-old Las Vegas native. "You can jump back and forth between them, but if you drive them all the same, then you're really going to struggle," said Busch, who plans to run upwards of 80 races in 2009. "You have to know what tendencies you need to run in the truck, or the Nationwide Series car, or the Sprint Cup car. Understanding all of that is what makes you a good race car driver."
* For Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Monster Energy Drink Chevrolet), there's no need for introduction to Southern California motorsports fans. Carmichael has won 26 motocross races in the Golden State, including eight each in San Bernardino and Anaheim -- communities adjacent to Auto Club Speedway. "The goal this week is to continue learning," said Carmichael. "We want to be realistic and I'm trying to be a sponge -- learn as much as I can every lap."
* Arizona native Gabi DiCarlo (No. 90 Great Clips Toyota) will make her NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in the San Bernardino County 200. DiCarlo has competed in the ARCA RE/MAX Series where she finished 11th and 14th in the 2007-08 standings. She is the 12th different female to compete in the series. The most recent female was Chrissy Wallace, who finished 31st at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November.
* Saturday's race is a hometown affair for Mike Curb, designated owner of Johnny Sauter's No. 13 Fun Sand-Curb Records-Rodney Atkins Chevrolet). Curb, a former California lieutenant governor, is from San Bernardino. He counts owner victories in two NASCAR national series: with Sauter in Nationwide and Richard Petty (wins No. 199 and 200) in Sprint Cup.
* FOX Sports will broadcast Saturday's San Bernardino County 200 for the second consecutive year. This is the first of two NCWTS races on broadcast television; the second is the March 28 Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Air time is 3 p.m. ET.
* A year ago, rain interrupted what was supposed to be NASCAR's first scheduled national series doubleheader. Inclement weather pushed the Nationwide Series Stater Bros. 300 to Monday where, ironically, it was paired with the Auto Club 500. Fans hope conditions are better this time around. The Stater Bros. 300 is scheduled to follow the truck race and can be seen on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET.
Canada's Fitzpatrick Grabs First Daytona Rookie Top Five Since 2001
In the dictionary, Daytona International Speedway can be cross-referenced with the word "veteran."
Nine of 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winners have passed their 40th birthdays and no Raybestos Rookie contender had finished among the top five since Ricky Hendrick's second-place performance in 2001.
That is until a week ago, when Canadian J.R. Fitzpatrick drove TRG's No. 7 Mammoet Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish.
Fitzpatrick, 20, led laps 71 through 87 as crew chief Butch Hylton worked a late-race tire strategy that nearly put the freshman driver in victory lane.
Owner Kevin Buckler has a history with rookies with Donny Lia a winner at Mansfield, Ohio in 2008. A TRG Porsche also captured GT laurels in January's Rolex 24 at Daytona.
"I'm still trying to bite the nervousness running with these guys, you know," said Fitzpatrick, a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series graduate. "Tonight, all I was doing was trying to go out and learn as much as I possibly could. Gain a little bit of respect, not get in anybody's way and then we come out with a top-five. I mean, that's just unbelievable."
Fitzpatrick wasn't the only rookie contender to finish at the top of the charts.
Tayler Malsam (No. 81 One Eighty Toyota) finished 10th while Chase Austin (No. 32 Trail Motorsports Chevrolet) was 13th.
Three other Raybestos Rookies also stood out even though their finishes didn't reflect their competitiveness.
Johnny Sauter led three laps before elimination in a mid-race accident that also claimed James Buescher (No. 10 International Maxx Force Diesel Ford) and Ricky Carmichael.
Both Buescher and Carmichael had run among the top five before the frontstretch accident.
Sauter is the sole rookie contender with Auto Club Speedway experience finishing fourth in the fall 2005 Nationwide Series event.
In The Loop
Last season was a year of firsts for Johnny Benson (No. 1 Red Horse Racing Toyota) and Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet).
Benson won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship and Crafton won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.
Now, both hope for another long-awaited first -- an Auto Club Speedway victory.
Benson has made five trips to the two-mile track, Crafton has competed nine times. Neither has entered Victory Lane. But both have been solid.
Only once has Benson finished outside the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway, a 12th-place finish in 2005.
Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, at Fontana, Benson has a Driver Rating of 101.1, an Average Running Position of 9.3, 12 Fastest Laps Run, 331 Laps in the Top 15 (for a percentage of 81.5%) and a series-best Pass Differential of +88 (passes minus times passed).
Crafton, likewise, has strong numbers out west, though not as robust as Benson. Crafton has three top 10s in nine ACS starts. Since 2005, he has a Driver Rating of 88.1, an Average Running Position of 10.5, four Fastest Laps Run, 325 Laps in the Top 15 (80.0%) and a Pass Differential of 27.
Both will likely have to contend with Kyle Busch, who will once again run all three races this weekend. In his ACS win last season, his only start there, Busch had a near-perfect Driver Rating of 148.6 (150.0 is perfect).
Director's Take: Wayne's Words
"California will always be a special place in the ongoing history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
"Twenty-six races have been held in the Golden State beginning with a 200-lap event at Saugus Speedway on Easter weekend 1995 won by Ken Schrader.
"The first demonstration race for the series was held at the old Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. The half-mile short track was host to nine races from 1995 through 2003. Three series champions -- Mike Skinner, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Ted Musgrave -- won races there.
"New fans probably don't recall that the trucks once raced on road courses. Infineon Raceway, then Sears Point Raceway, held four races from 1995 through 1998. Joe Ruttman, still the oldest driver to win a series race, won at Infineon. So did Boris Said.
"We've had some great races at Auto Club Speedway. Mike Bliss dominated the inaugural race in 1997.
"Several well-known NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers competed in that race including Ernie Irvan, Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon, Kyle Petty and Robby Gordon. Kenny Irwin, our first Raybestos Rookie of the Year, finished third.
"Several championships were decided in Fontana, among the most exciting in 1999 when Jack Sprague edged Greg Biffle on the last lap.
"More recently, Steve Park won in 2005. The victory was his first after being seriously injured at Darlington.
"The fans are the winners this year; able to see both trucks and the Nationwide Series on the same afternoon. That's another reason we love coming to Southern California."
Wayne Auton, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director
Auto Club Speedway in Southern California has been part of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since 1997. Mike Bliss (No. 40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet) won the inaugural event. Other Auto Club winners expected to compete this week are Todd Bodine (2004), Mike Skinner (No. 5 Exide Batteries Toyota, 2007) and Kyle Busch (2008).
Toyota is off to a strong start in defense of its three consecutive Manufacturers' Championship trophies. Todd Bodine's Daytona victory gives the truck maker nine points.
Atlanta Motor Speedway will host its only NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on March 7. The 1.54-mile track hosted a single event in 2004 and two races in each of the following seasons.
Kyle Busch is the defending winner of the American Commercial Lines 200. He also won the race in 2005 along with the track's fall race in 2007.
Other spring winners expected to compete are Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet, 2005), Todd Bodine (2006) and Mike Skinner (2007).
The Race: San Bernardino County 200
The Place: Auto Club Speedway
The Date: Sat., Feb. 21, 2009
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM. Listen locally on KFRG-FM 95.1, KVFG-FM 103.1 and KFXG-FM 92.9.
Track Layout: 2-mile oval
Race Distance: 200 miles/100 laps
2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
2008 Polesitter: Ron Hornaday Jr.
Schedule (times local): Thursday: Practice, 12:30-2:30 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. Friday: Qualifying, 1:40 p.m.