The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: Missouri/Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 by Mike Neff -- Sunday April 30, 2006

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In a Nutshell: Team Germain were the class of the field on Saturday Night, with Todd Bodine and Ted Musgrave passing David Reutimann late in the going and charging home to a 1-2 finish at Gateway. Bodine and Musgrave were able to drive through the field almost at will for the last half of the race.

Who Should Have Won: Todd Bodine. Simply put, Bodine was the class of the field. Ted Musgrave was competitive with him, but Bodine was the more effective of the two Germain entries at moving through traffic and seemed to have the better handling truck when it mattered most, at the end of the race. David Reutimann led some laps, but never really had the truck to challenge either of the top two when it counted.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
1) Is the dominance of Germain Motorsports any indication of what Toyota will bring to the Cup series?

Germain Motorsports is the premier Toyota truck team at this point in time, winning five of the last eight races in the series. At Gateway, their trucks were simply head and shoulders above the competition in St. Louis, and they weren’t the only Toyotas up front; the Top 5 finishers at Gateway all drove Tundras. The discussion on Wind Tunnel this past weekend mentioned that Toyota dominates every series they enter, with the exception of Formula 1, after three years of competition. The Germain efforts this year seem to be living proof of that observation. If history repeats itself, will we be looking at a Toyota Cup Champion in 2010?

2) Will Dennis Setzer ever win at Gateway?

Setzer appeared to have played his hand perfectly and was positioned for a final run that would bring him his first win at Gateway International Raceway. Staying out during a caution to assume the lead with enough fuel to make it to the finish, he led the field to the green on lap 109 with the dominant Toyotas buried in the pack. Unfortunately, Setzer could not capitalize, having a tire go down which forced him to pit road. The subsequent pit stop resulted in Setzer losing a lap, and ultimately resulted in him finishing as the first truck one lap down. Once again, the racing Gods frowned on Dennis on one of the few short tracks he has yet to conquer.

*3) Can Mike Skinner’s year get any worse? *

Skinner is one of the founding fathers of the Truck Series, serving as its inaugural champion in 1995. He seemed to be a championship contender again this year after finishing fifth in 2005 driver points. However, this year has been a nightmare. He has just one Top 5 finish so far, and two of the last three races he has come home 35th after being involved in crashes. Yes, it is early in the season, but things really need to turn around quickly for the #5 team to have any hope of finishing in the top five again this year.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:

The rookies were certainly on a learning curve Saturday night, with many of the record 13 cautions in the race caused by the guys will yellow stripes on their back bumpers. Erik Darnell was the one rookie set up for a great finish…until he was caught up in an accident with Bill Lester and Kerry Earnhardt.

David Ragan was involved in an accident in his first race driving Roush’s #6 Truck that had been driven by Mark Martin, but he was still a big winner in the points, moving up seven spots in the driver standings. Terry Cook, Erin Crocker, Steve Park, Scott Lagasse and Boris Jurkovic all gained four positions in points.

Of the drivers competing in the race, Erik Darnell was the big loser in the standings, dropping six places. Rick Crawford also slid four positions after wrecking late.

The most notable slide impacting the championship was Mark Martin. Not competing in the race meant that Martin fell from first to fourth in the point standings. Todd Bodine took over the championship point lead, now with a 12 point lead over teammate Ted Musgrave. David Reutimann is a distant third in points, already 106 behind the two Germain trucks.

Quotable:
“We were definitely great on long runs. I knew I had a good truck and I was just trying to get good restarts without making a mistake. I knew we had a shot at him (David Reutimann). This is why we wanted Teddy on the team, he’s such a great driver and he has so much experience. He knew what to do at the end, I didn’t have to worry about him when we were one-two at the end. I knew if he got a run on me I was going to let him go, we’d still finish one-two. That’s what it’s about for this team. These trucks work as one team. It showed up tonight. Great trucks and great pit stops. Both trucks were close in set-up. There was one slight difference, which is why my truck was probably better on long runs. For never working together, Teddy is doing a fantastic job.” Todd Bodine

“I talked with Todd on the radio at the end and we talked about what we were going to do to get by David. Todd was just a tick better than me and I couldn’t get him at the end. It was another top five for me and another win for Germain "" so a really good night again. Although I really wish I could have had my third win here.” Ted Musgrave

“We didn’t have a very good truck all night, just hung on to get where we finished. Nothing we did seemed to make it handle any better, we were just too tight.” Mike Bliss

“I wish we wouldn’t have had any cautions because I thought we were better on long runs, especially with running a little bit different pit strategy. Pitting earlier than those guys, we needed long green-flag runs to drive away from them. I think if we could have got out and got away from the guys that were coming with fresher tires, we would have been fine, but unfortunately all of the cautions bunched everybody back up.” Terry Cook

Next Up: The Truck Series enjoys another long layoff of almost three weeks before the Quaker Steak and Lube 200, which comes your way May 19th at the newly repaved Lowe’s Motorspeedway. It can be seen on SPEED at 8:30 PM and heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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