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In a Nutshell: Points leader Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 4.164 seconds ahead of Austin Dillon to win the Nashville 200 Saturday night at Nashville Superspeedway. Bodine overcame an early flat tire and led 91 of 150 laps to score his second win of the season. Aric Almirola, Timothy Peters and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Bodine. Bodine started his No. 30 Germain.com Toyota on the pole, but faded quickly within the first 20 laps. A timely caution flew that ultimately saved his day, allowing service for what turned out to be a flat right-rear tire. By virtue of being on a different pit schedule after that, Bodine took the lead again around lap 65 when the rest of the field completed a round of green-flag stops. The caution flew just two laps later, allowing Bodine to pit for service and maintain his spot in front of the field. He held that lead through one more restart on the way to his 19th career Truck Series win.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. What happened between Joe Aramendia and Mario Gosselin?
Mario Gosselin was having one of the better runs of his season Saturday, running inside the top 15 just 10 laps shy of the halfway point. Gosselin moved to the inside of a visibly slower Joe Aramendia, but the driver of the No. 01 crowded Gosselin’s TireMonkey.com Chevrolet down onto the apron. The disruption in the rhythm of the truck sent Gosselin hard into the outside wall, ruining the second truck of the weekend for the underfunded No. 12 team. A visibly upset Gosselin jumped out of his truck once it came to a stop, then grabbed the nearest piece of debris to fling at the No. 01 as it drove by under caution.
Following the incident, officials informed the No. 01 team that Aramendia, along with his crew chief and spotter, were expected to report to the NASCAR hauler for a chat. There has been no word yet of what came of that discussion, but the assumption is they received a stern reminder of how to race against those on the lead lap when they’re multiple laps down.
But a warning won’t put the broken pieces of the No. 12 truck back together. Needless to say, Gosselin was not at all pleased with Aramendia.
“You got an idiot in the [No.] 01 KOMA truck. Obviously, he’s in a coma and so is his spotter,” Gosselin said after leaving the infield care center. “I mean, he’s four laps down when we come up on him and he ran me into the grass on the frontstretch, destroyed my truck for no reason. That’s just stupid there. They need to learn how to drive.”
You can’t really blame Gosselin for being upset. In what has been a bare bones operation trying to run on a minimal budget, Gosselin has done everything in his power to keep equipment in one piece while trying to earn experience. There’s absolutely no reason for a driver multiple laps down to the leaders to hold up a lead lap truck, and it’s completely uncalled for to wreck one of those lead-lap drivers.
2. Why does SPEED want to hand Todd Bodine the championship already?
Throughout Saturday night’s broadcast of the Nashville 200, the SPEED crew talked about how great a season Bodine has had while emphasizing the points lead he currently holds over second-place Almirola. In fact, they made it sound like they’d like to call it a season and hand Bodine the trophy today.
But it’s just way too early in the season to do that.
“You can never count anybody out. In racing, you never know what’s going to happen,” Bodine said. “Those guys are tough behind us, and if you give them a chance, they’ll be right there.”
That’s exactly why it’s way too early to hand anyone the championship. With 11 races remaining, including a visit to Darlington next week, a track the series hasn’t seen in six years, there are so many things that can change the complexion of the championship race.
That being said, Bodine does hold a comfortable enough lead that he needs to just focus on hitting his marks and getting the best finish possible out of a team that’s been struggling for sponsorship. Assuming he can hold the lead through the final 11 races this season, it would be a huge statement for Germain Racing to take the title based on what little funding they’ve been afforded this year.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 7 (add Narain Karthikeyan, Joe Aramendia and Johanna Long)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 2; Dillon, finished second; Lofton, finished ninth
Rookie of the Race: Dillon, finished second
Dillon started on the front row for the fourth time this season and scored his seventh consecutive top-10 finish.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
With just 35 drivers in the starting lineup, the Nashville 200 marked the first race this season without a full field. Amongst those 35 drivers was Long making her second career start. Unfortunately, that start was cut short when fellow rookie Karthikeyan lost control of his No. 60 SafeAuto Insurance Company Chevrolet and sent Long spinning into the outside wall. Karthikeyan went on to finish 17th.
Bodine extended his points lead to 174 over Almirola, who finished third. Peters moved up one spot to third, 232 points back. Just one point behind Peters is Sauter, who dropped one spot, while Dillon moved up one to round out the top five.
Matt Crafton dropped a spot to sixth, 294 points behind Bodine. The rest of the top 10 remains unchanged, with Ron Hornaday in seventh, 313 points out of first. Mike Skinner, David Starr and Jason White round out the top 10.
“We did it in the style of Germain Racing: went out and just stomped on them. I’ve been so close so many times. Even at the [Nashville] fairgrounds, I was close. The Germain team is awesome–these guys are the ones that do this every week. It’s about time I got this [guitar]. That trophy is awesome.” – Todd Bodine, race winner
“I told Todd when I went to victory lane, ‘When it’s your year, it’s your year.’ I have a flat tire and end up knocking the fence down, ruining a race truck and finishing 30th. He has a flat tire and is able to get to pit road, stays out and everybody else has to pit under green – and he’s like one of three trucks on the lead lap. How do you race against that?” – Aric Almirola, finished third
“We were good all night, we just got a little loose and never seemed to get better. We are turning our top 10s into top fives, so it’s a good day for us. Our Toyota Tundra was fast all race long; it’s just hard to swallow when you’re dominant like that and you finish fourth. But hey, that’s good to be mad at a fourth-place finish.” – Timothy Peters, finished fourth
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Darlington Raceway for the Too Tough To Tame 200 next Saturday night. The series last visited the 1.366-mile track from 2001-2004. Bobby Hamilton won in both 2001 and 2003 while Ted Musgrave won in ’02 and Kasey Kahne won in ’04. Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.