It's A Bodine vs. Benson Showdown In The Ford 200 The Championship Comes Down To The Final Race -- Again There are no guarantees in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition but the odds are in Todd Bodine's (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) ...
It's A Bodine vs. Benson Showdown In The Ford 200
The Championship Comes Down To The Final Race -- Again
There are no guarantees in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition but the odds are in Todd Bodine's (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) favor as the battle for the championship goes down to the final race for the 11th time in 12 seasons.
Bodine holds a 112-point lead over rival Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) and needs to finish 28th or better at Homestead-Miami Speedway to lock up the Bodine family's long-sought, first NASCAR national touring series crown.
Only twice in series history has the leader entering the season finale failed to seal the deal. Bodine's lead is the fourth largest (see chart page 2) with one race remaining.
Two-time Ford 200 Budweiser Pole winner David Reutimann (No. 17 Team Tundra Toyota) stands third, 183 points back, but will be eliminated when the green flag falls.
Bodine, 42, is taking nothing for granted -- perhaps recalling the wild finish of the 2003 Ford 200 in which four different drivers held the standings' lead at one point and Travis Kvapil came from third to wear the crown.
"Knock on wood, we still have a ways to go," said Bodine, winner of last year's Ford 200. "If we have a miscue, a loose lug nut or a flat tire or someone gets into us -- anything (like) that and we finish in the back and Johnny is going to win it all."
A year ago, Bodine's teammate Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota) clinched the title with a 19th-place finish.
One thing is certain: the champion will drive a Toyota for the first time in the series.
It May Have Been Too Little, Too Late -- But It Was Spectacular
Nobody can accuse Benson of leaving anything on the table in his last-ditch bid to overhaul championship leader Bodine.
At Phoenix, Benson won his first Budweiser Pole since 1996 but spun out on the first lap of the Casino Arizona 150 and restarted 35th on the field.
Benson's comeback wasn't unprecedented but come back he did, passing Mark Martin (No. 6 Scotts Ford) on the 121st lap to regain the lead and drive to his fifth victory of the season.
Benson, who went 0-for-59 before scoring his first win in his native Michigan in June, posted his fifth victory of the season and matched Martin's series-leading total.
Benson could only wonder what might have been and look ahead to 2007.
"This team has proven to be a championship caliber squad. We have done all we can do and that is all I can ask," he said.
"Two mechanical failures late in the season have hurt our chances at the championship."
"(Crew chief) Rick Ren and all the guys should hold their heads high knowing we have had a great season. I am already looking forward to next year and seeing if we can vie for the championship again."