Texas: Series round eight preview

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes -- Texas Texas Motor Speedway -- Bodine's Personal Playground Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota) is not from the Lone Star State, but if you did not know better, you would think Texas ...

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes -- Texas

Texas Motor Speedway -- Bodine's Personal Playground

Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota) is not from the Lone Star State, but if you did not know better, you would think Texas Motor Speedway was his backyard. It is, however, his playground.

Bodine heads into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series eighth race of the season leading the series standings -- the closest battle after seven races in series history. Aric Almirola (No. 51 Graceway Pharmaceuticals/ AKawareness.com Toyota), who sits two points out of the lead, and Timothy Peters (No. 17 Red Horse Racing/ Crescent Toyota), only 86 points from the top spot, should be a little frightened.

In 11 starts at Texas, Bodine has crossed the finish line first five times -- most of any NCWTS driver. In addition to the wins he has one pole, eight top fives and eight top 10s to his already stout resume.

Though Bodine is winless in 2010, the WinStar World Casino 400K could be the perfect place to snap a 24-race winless streak.

And make a charge for his second series championship.

"We were in the points lead and then we came out of Martinsville with the one finish we've had this year outside the top five and that finish, 30th, cost us the points lead," said Bodine. "This Germain Racing team has been working hard. Like at Dover, we didn't have a truck to win the race, but we still got a fifth. That's how you win points championships is to take a truck that can't win but still finish in the top five. Then at Charlotte we had a good truck and finished second."

In his sixth full season of competition in the series Bodine is proving to be one to watch every year -- especially when Texas rolls around.

Starr, Buescher Head Home With Momentum On Their Side

Texas natives David Starr (No. 81 Zachary Toyota) and James Buescher (No. 31 Wolf Pack Rentals Chevrolet) are poised for the next round of the Texas two-step this weekend and have momentum on their side.

Buescher leads the way after capturing his first career top-five finish at Dover in May and proving it was not a fluke the following week by finishing fourth at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Starr, who has the most experience of the two at Texas, is coming off three straight top-10 finishes.

"I used to get really geared up for the Texas race and I would make it a really big deal, but when I did that I could never get to the start/finish line first," said Starr. "I've finished third a number of times though. Now, I just try to make it another race -- just like last week at Charlotte or the week before in Dover."

Starr's more relaxed atmosphere might prove to be the winning key needed to finally score his first series victory at his home track. In 23 starts at Texas he has finished third two times and come home in the top five in seven races.

Though Starr approaches the weekend with a more relaxed attitude Buescher, 20, is more like a kid in a candy store.

" The last two weeks, I've gotten my career-best finish and career-best qualifying effort so I'm optimistic heading to Texas," said Buescher. "We are heading there looking for that win and if we get it, there is going to be some major celebrating going on. The guys are going to give me an awesome Chevrolet and the best thing about racing with them is it is fun again to go to the track. When you can show up each week and know that you can run up front, it's a feeling that's hard to describe."

Wayne's Words: Texas Full Of Great Racing; Great Eats

"The old saying goes 'everything is bigger in Texas' and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Texas Motor Speedway proves no different.

"Tough Trucks, Tough Racing will be on full display Friday night thanks to the track's multiple grooves and fast speeds.

"Which is the reason veterans always seem to shine in the end. Last November, Todd Bodine (No. 31 Toyota) added his fifth cowboy hat to his collection and he is poised to add another rolling in as the current standings leader as long as defending race winner Ron Hornaday Jr. doesn't spoil his hoe down.

"Hard to believe Friday night will be the 25th NCWTS race at Texas. Eddie Gossage always rolls out the red carpet when we come to town, making us feel right at home. To top that off, the fans in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area are second to none.

"And a Texas trip would not be complete without a stop at Babe's for the best fried chicken and ribs you have ever had. Good thing the folks at Babe's are race fans because we sure do bring a crowd."

-- Wayne Auton, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director

Rick Ren To Miss Only His Second Race This Weekend

Rick Ren, general manager of Kyle Busch Motorsports, has only missed one race in his racing career -- which spans over four decades in the business. In 2006, Ren was forced to miss the fall Texas race due to emergency back surgery. Calling the shots as crew chief for Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 31 Longhorn Chevrolet) at the time, Ren stayed abreast on what was happening at the track from his couch and a cell phone. Without their leader, the team was still able to pull off a fifth-place finish. This weekend he will miss his second race in his career, and it just so happens it will be at Texas once again. Though this time around it is for a much more joyous occasion and Ren will not be stuck on the couch. "I'm going to miss the Texas race because my only daughter, Staci, is getting married up in Illinois," said Ren. "The last time I missed a race was Texas 2006, the fall race, when I had emergency back surgery. So, it will be Texas and Texas as the only races I've missed, but I sort of quarterbacked that one from the couch with a telephone and a guy with a radio and my car chief calling the shots at the race track. I know everything will run smooth, though."

Schrader, Benson Back In The Saddle At Texas

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch don't always see eyeto- eye, but they agree on one thing heading into Texas -- experience pays off in the end.

While Harvick and Busch are fulfilling their duties in Pocono over the weekend, veterans Ken Schrader ( No. 2 KHI Chevrolet) and Johnny Benson (No. 18 KBM Toyota) are coming off the bench to play on a familiar court.

Schrader, 54, will be making his second start for Kevin Harvick Inc. in the No. 2 KHI Chevrolet. He garnished a ninth-place finish for the team at Kansas Speedway earlier this season.

Benson, 47, will be making his first start for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the No. 18 KBM Toyota, but he hopes it will not be his last.

"I'm excited about it, obviously. The trucks out of Kyle's shop have been very good and every race car driver wants to get in equipment that is capable of winning a race," said Benson. "To me, it's a pretty big deal to run for Kyle. It's pretty cool for me to able to run for him."

Benson has four previous starts this season with Billy Ballew Motorsports. He has scored two top-five and two top-10 finishes in those outings.

In 10 NCWTS starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Benson has scored six top-five finishes. He has finished second twice but has never captured the checker flag.

Rookie Roundup

Only two points separate rookie contender Justin Lofton (No. 7 Visit-pit.com Toyota) from Austin Dillon (No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/ Tracker Boats Chevrolet) heading into the Texas -- a track only Lofton has raced on before. Seven races into the season the duo has pulled away from third place runner Brett Butler.

Setting the stage early to be the favorites come Homestead, Lofton and Dillon are both competing in their first full season of NCWTS competition. And both have found success and adversity along the way.

Lofton scored his first career top five at Dover last month but two 22nd-place finishes drag his average finish down to 17th.

The same is true for Dillon who scored his first career top-10 finish at the short-track monster -- Martinsville Speedway. Three finishes of 20th or worse keep the rookie points battle close and one to watch.

Bodine In Comfortable Spot Heading Into Texas

A scant two points separate NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader Todd Bodine and second-place Aric Almirola.

Yet Bodine's comfort level might be more befitting a driver with a double -- or triple -- digit lead. There are a few reasons for that.

One, Bodine is a veteran with a series championship. The only two drivers within 100 points of Bodine -- Almirola and Timothy Peters (86 points back) -- are relative newbies who have yet to feel the pressures of a championship throwdown.

And, more immediately, Texas lies in waiting.

Bodine is the man there, with five victories. Neither Almirola nor Peters have a Texas win. In fact, in a combined 10 starts, neither has scored a single top-10 finish.

That will have to change if they wish to stay within striking distance of Bodine after Friday night's event.

Almirola might have the best chance of nailing that first top 10. Last November at Texas, Almirola had tremendous numbers, but still wound up 14th. In that Texas race, Almirola had a Driver Rating of 91.5 and an Average Running Position of 8.6. Overall, though, he has a Texas Driver Rating of 68.9 and an Average Running Position of 20.0.

Peters has also struggled at Texas. In four starts, his best finish was 12th (in June of last year). Otherwise, he has finishes of 32nd, 20th and 19th. Overall, he has a Driver Rating of 67.8 and an Average Running Position of 19.6.

For Jason White, Hard Work Finally Pays Off

At the end of last year Jason White (No. 23 Gunbroker.com Dodge) found himself 16th in the final championship standings.

Flash forward seven races into this season and he is a force to be reckon with.

White currently sits ninth in the series standings only 27 points out of the top-five.

His SS Green Light Racing team set the bar high with pre-season goals; a victory, a pole and a top-five finish in the series standings.

"We ran Jason just a couple years ago and we were looking for top-15 finishes," said Bobby Dotter, General Manager of SS Green Light Racing. "This year Jason is racing for top fives. When you can run consistently up front is where you can create your opportunities to win and everyone is working hard to get the program on the GunBroker.com truck to that point."

Not only have White's finishes improved but so has his confidence level.

"We've had a good start to 2010, we've had some decent runs and a couple of very good runs," said White. "We got in somebody else's mess at Martinsville and that cost us, but it's a 25- race season and we just have to keep on our program and if we do that it will all work out."

White found success at Texas Motor Speedway last season and looks to improve this time around.

"We finished eighth and 11th there last year," he said. "We're going to bring "50-Cal" again this week. It's the same truck that we ran at Charlotte and Atlanta. It's a really good truck and I have a lot of confidence in it."

Up Next: Michigan

Roush Fenway Racing has captured the trophy in the last three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Michigan International Speedway. With Roush currently not fielding an entry this season, the June 12 VFW 200 is up for grabs.

Dennis Setzer (No. 92 Chevrolet) and Johnny Benson Jr. (No. 18 Toyota) are the only two drivers who have competed in the 2010 season with Michigan victories on their resumes. Setzer took home the trophy in 2005 and Benson followed with an emotional win at his home track in 2006.

In the previous 10 races at MIS, only one driver has won from the pole. Travis Kvapil did it in 2007. Colin Braun captured the checkered flag last season after starting from the 12th position, the farthest back from which a driver has won.

Fast Facts
Next Race: WinStar World Casino 400K
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile tri-oval)

The Date: Friday, June 4
The Time: 9 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 400 kilometers/167 laps
TV: SPEED, 8:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio. (Listen locally on KRLD FM 105.3.)

2009 Polesitter: Johnny Sauter
2009 Winner: Todd Bodine

Schedule: Thursday--Practice, 11-12:15 p.m., 12:45-2 p.m. Qualifying, 6 p.m.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Ken Schrader , David Starr , Kevin Harvick , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Colin Braun , Dennis Setzer , Bobby Dotter , Jason White , Johnny Sauter , Timothy Peters , Aric Almirola , Justin Lofton , James Buescher , Brett Butler , Austin Dillon , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil
Teams Germain Racing , Roush Fenway Racing , Kyle Busch Motorsports , Red Horse Racing