Phoenix: Toyota preview

THIS RACE: This will be the 15th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Phoenix International Raceway. There will be 10 Tundras in the field at Texas -- the penultimate race of the 2005 NCTS season. RECENT RACE: In the most recent NCTS...

THIS RACE: This will be the 15th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Phoenix International Raceway. There will be 10 Tundras in the field at Texas -- the penultimate race of the 2005 NCTS season.

RECENT RACE: In the most recent NCTS race at Texas Motor Speedway (Nov.4), Todd Bodine picked up the victory in the No.30 Germain Racing Tundra, and three other Toyota drivers recorded top-six finishes. Tundra drivers following Bodine to the finish line were Mike Skinner (second), David Reutimann (fifth) and Jack Sprague (sixth).

SEVEN-ELEVEN: Tundra drivers have registered seven wins in 2005, and Toyota has 11 NCTS victories since joining the Craftsman Truck Series at the beginning of the 2004 season. Todd Bodine has driven his Tundra to the winner's circle three times in 2005 -- at Texas (Nov.4), Las Vegas (Sept.24) and Kansas (July 2). Other Tundra race-winners this year include Mike Skinner at Richmond (Sept.8) and Bristol (Aug.24), Brandon Whitt at Memphis (July 23), and David Reutimann at Nashville (Aug.13).

TODD TERIFFIC IN TEXAS: Todd Bodine passed fellow Tundra pilot Mike Skinner with 23 laps remaining at Texas, and then held on to the lead during a late race restart, en route to a second straight win in the Fall NCTS race at the 1.5-mile oval. "We struggled a bit at the beginning because my truck was really loose," said Bodine. "But, Mike Hillman, Sr. (team manager) and Mike Hillman, Jr. (crew chief) made some great calls in the pits to get my truck handling better. At the end, I was running wide open all the way around the track. My Tundra was so good -- even if those other guys came in for tires during the caution at the end, I wasn't coming to the pits. How can you go much faster when you're already running wide open?"

PICKING UP THE POINTS: Since rejoining the Germain Racing team at Milwaukee (June 24), Todd Bodine has moved from 15th in the NCTS championship standings to third-place -- in 13 races. During the points-producing streak, the Chemung, N.Y.-driver has recorded three wins, four seconds and two thirds. "I think if we would have been together since the beginning of the year -- we'd be right there with Dennis and Ted battling for the points lead," says Bodine. "Right now, we're in a battle with Ron (Hornaday, Jr.) for third- place. We're going to keep on digging in the last two races, keep our heads down and our elbows up."

TAKE TWO AT TEXAS: Mike Skinner guided his No.5 Bill Davis Racing Tundra to a second-place result at Texas -- finishing 1.1 seconds behind race-winner Todd Bodine. Skinner started on the pole and led a race-high 80 laps, before being passed 23 laps from the finish. "We had a good run, and Toyota had a really good night," said Skinner. "Todd (Bodine) was better on the long runs, and we were better on the short runs. I thought we had a chance to win the race on the restart (with 10 laps remaining), but Todd did just a little bit better than we did."

SKINNER'S STREAK IN TEXAS: Mike Skinner has started first in the last three NCTS events at Texas. Along with starting in front of the field in last Friday night's race, the Daytona Beach, Fla.-driver captured the pole position in this year's June race at Texas, and he was the fastest qualifier in his Tundra for last October's race at the Texas track.

PLENTY OF POLES: Since the beginning of the 2004 NCTS season, Toyota drivers have started races from the pole position 16 times. Last year, Tundra drivers captured the pole position five times and this year Toyota racers have had 11 poles. David Reutimann (Bristol) and Brandon Whitt (Memphis) have each registered the first pole positions of their NCTS careers this season. Along with the two first-time pole winners, teammates Mike Skinner - (California, Texas/June, Charlotte, Nashville, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Texas/Nov.) and Bill Lester (Kansas and Kentucky) at Bill Davis Racing have combined for eight Toyota poles in 2005.

POINTS PACE: After the first 23 races of 2005, two Toyota Tundra drivers are among the top-10 in the NCTS championship point standings. Todd Bodine sits third in the championship standings with 3,087 points, just 192 points behind first-place Ted Musgrave. Following Bodine in the standings is Mike Skinner (2,003 points) in fifth-place.

LAST YEAR HERE: A year ago at Phoenix International Raceway, Johnny Benson was the top- finishing Toyota driver with a fifth-place result in the No.23 Bill Davis Racing Tundra.

BENSON'S BEEN HERE BEFORE: Johnny Benson, driver of the No.23 Bill Davis Racing Tundra, has four NCTS starts at Phoenix. In 1995 he qualified for two NCTS races at the track, the following year he started one race, and a year ago he made his Tundra debut at the track. His best result at the Arizona oval was when he crossed the finish line second in 1996 -- which equals the best NCTS finish of his career.

SKINNER STRONG IN AZ: Mike Skinner, a Susanville, Calif.-native, has had a great deal of success in NCTS races at Phoenix. Skinner won the very first NCTS race, which was held at Phoenix in 1995. In that race, Skinner started 16th, led 30 laps, and crossed the finish line first. He also captured the checkered flag in the second NCTS race at Phoenix later that year -- starting third and leading 89 laps en route to `Victory Lane.'

MORE ON MIKE: In addition to his two wins at Phoenix in 1995, Mike Skinner also started a pair of NCTS races in 1996 at the Arizona one-mile oval. In the Spring race at Phoenix that season, Skinner qualified on the pole and crossed the finish line second. Later in the year at the Fall Phoenix race, Skinner started seventh and finished fourth.

TALKING ABOUT THE TRACK: "I love Phoenix," says Bodine. "I've had some good runs in Phoenix, although I haven't really had the good finishes we deserved. It's a neat race track with two different corners and a `kink' in the back straightaway -- which makes it really unique. It's definitely a driver's track where you need a good set-up and good horsepower. You need the whole `package' to do well in Phoenix."

BROADCAST TIME: SPEED Channel coverage of the NCTS race at Phoenix International Raceway will begin at 8:00 PM (Eastern) on Friday, November 11. The race is tentatively scheduled to start at 8:15 PM (Eastern).


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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Bill Lester , David Reutimann , Brandon Whitt
Teams Germain Racing , Bill Davis Racing