Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks
In a Nutshell: Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 1.321 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton to win the WinStar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night. Bodine gambled on fuel strategy and won, scoring his fifth victory at the mile-and-a-half track. Colin Braun, Johnny Benson and Rick Crawford rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Any truck with clean air. No matter who it was that pulled out front, that driver managed to pull away from the field. Johnny Sauter did it to start the race, only to have that run spoiled by a slow stop in the pits. While he was able to move up through the field, the dirty air made that move quite difficult. The same happened to Ron Hornaday Jr. who led 55 laps until a loose tire on pit road during a green-flag pit stop left the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet stuck one lap down. Finally Bodine got out front and pulled away from Crawford in the No. 14 Ford to lead the final 42 laps of the racing, including the most important one.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. What happened to points leader Hornaday Jr?
Coming into the WinStar World Casino 400, Hornaday Jr. held a 27-point lead over Mike Skinner in second. When Sauter pulled ahead of Hornaday Jr. at the drop of the green flag, the driver of the No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet matched the leader’s times each lap. But it wasn’t until the first caution that Hornaday Jr. and the pit crew were able to get their truck off of pit road first.
Hornaday Jr. led 55 laps after the following restart until green-flag pit stops started. A tire that got loose from the crew forced the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet to serve a pass through penalty that left him stuck one lap down. Unable to get himself into position to be awarded the Aaron’s Lucky Dog, the second caution of the race left Hornaday Jr. stuck one lap down.
When Hornaday pulled onto pit for the final time with four laps remaining, it was because of a broken oil pump belt. A dejected Hornaday admitted he had struggled with the truck through the majority of the race.
It was a tough night for the No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet. The truck was never really down in the racetrack,” Hornaday Jr. said. “We were all over the place loose and tight. We will be okay though; this team came back from tire trouble in Dover to give me a fast truck. The Longhorn brand is really sticking with us, so we will head to the house and go get them next week.”
Friday night was definitely another night Hornaday Jr. would like to forget. But he didn’t take nearly the hit he could have. He’s only 30 points behind Crafton in the standings with plenty of racing still left in the season.
2. Will a change in the double file restarts help the Truck Series?
Late last week, NASCAR announced it would be implementing double-file restarts in the Sprint Cup Series starting with Pocono Sunday. But it was also mentioned that “the format will be adapted for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the near future.”
It will be very interesting when NASCAR finally makes the decision to extend the double-file restarts to the Truck Series. Restarts are action packed already, and removing the slower lap down trucks from the mix should only make for more exciting battles for the lead.
It was mentioned during the Speed broadcast on Friday night that changes would most likely have to be made to pit stops in order to implement the new rule. And it makes sense to change the pit-road rules if the restarts are set up the same way they were in Sunday afternoon’s Sprint Cup Series race.
Cars who were a lap down were able to not pit under yellow and get “waved around” and join the back of the field. But usually those same cars were forced to pit as soon as the green flag flew so they could get the service they needed. Requiring two stops in the Truck Series would put drivers multiple laps down after the green flag flew, so NASCAR may have to allow teams to take tires and fuel on the same stop again.
All in all, the double-file restarts with the leader would definitely increase the excitement on the already amazing restarts the Truck Series sees on a regular basis, and it may end up putting more drivers in a position to win a race they would have otherwise been stuck a lap down in.
Truck Rookie Report
2009 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Chase Austin (No. 32 – on hold indefinitely due to funding)
James Buescher (No. 10)
Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 – part-time shared ride)
JR Fitzpatrick (No. 4 – part-time shared ride)
Tayler Malsam (No. 81)
Johnny Sauter (No. 13)
No. of Rookies in the Race: 5
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 2; Sauter, finished sixth and Malsam, finished ninth.
Rookie of the Race: Sauter, finished sixth
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
Bodine has won five races at Texas Motor Speedway, breaking the tie he shared with Brendan Gaughan.
The WinStar World Casino 400 broke two caution records. The race was slowed by just two cautions, breaking the record of three that has occurred three times. There were only 10 laps run under caution, breaking the previous record of 12 set in 2004.
After a second week of bad luck for Hornaday Jr., Crafton moved up two spots and into the points lead for the first time in his career. He currently leads Hornaday Jr., who dropped one spot, by 30 points. Just nine points behind is Skinner, who also dropped one spot. Bodine moved up two spots and into the top five, and Brian Scott rounds out the top five.
David Starr‘s seventh-place finish moved him up three spots to sixth, and Benson is also up three spots to seventh and is only two points behind Starr. Chad McCumbee remains in eighth and Terry Cook dropped two spots to to ninth. Crawford’s top-five finish moved him up three spots, and he rounds out the top 10.
“A good friend of mind told me last week he was rooting for me to finish second but not win. Sorry Brendan (Gaughan, four-time winner at Texas Motor Speedway), had to beat ya bud. It’s incredible. The last three to four weeks have been tough, but we never give up.” – Todd Bodine
“It’s the worst feeling not to be in victory lane. I can honestly say without a doubt the most disappointing second-place finish ever. This Australian Gold Chevy Silverado was awesome. I know if I had been in front of him (Todd Bodine) and in clear air I probably would have driven away from him.” – Matt Crafton
“It’s stupid loose in and crazy tight on exit.” – Chad McCumbee on the radio during the race
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Michigan International Speedway next weekend for the Michigan 200 Saturday afternoon. In 2008, Erik Darnell edged Benson by a slim 0.005 seconds to score his second career victory. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.