NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: 2010 Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky

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In a Nutshell: Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 5.630 seconds ahead of Johnny Sauter to win the Build Ford Tough 225 Friday night at Kentucky Speedway. Bodine managed to stretch a nearly two-lap fuel shortage following his final pit stop to hold on and score his fourth win this season. Aric Almirola, Jason White and Ricky Carmichael rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Bodine. After qualifying a disappointing 14th, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. was apprehensive, wondering whether the No. 30 Toyota would be any good in race trim. As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about. Bodine steadily worked his way through the field, taking the lead for the first time on lap 44. After losing the lead – thanks to pit strategy from Stacy Compton and the No. 60 team -Bodine found himself in a battle with then-leader Kyle Busch for the lead. As a result of getting loose inside the No. 18 Toyota, Bodine slid up the track and spun, amazingly not getting hit by the rest of the field as they drove past. Despite the setback, the No. 30 team made repairs while keeping Bodine on the lead lap. The resulting pit strategy set up the fuel run to the end while the rest of the leaders were forced to pit during the 55-lap green-flag run the finish.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. Should Todd Bodine have been upset with Kyle Busch?

Following his victory Friday night, Bodine called out Busch based on an earlier incident between the two. When Bodine was running inside Busch for the lead, he got loose and slid up the track before spinning around in front of the entire field. Despite the spin, Bodine suffered little damage, other than losing a panel on the bed cover of his truck. The team managed to make the necessary repairs while keeping the No. 30 Toyota on the lead lap.

When asked how it felt to score his first victory at Kentucky, Bodine was quite vocal about his displeasure with Busch.

“The first person I have to thank is Kyle Busch for driving dirty, sucking me down and getting me spun out to give us gas.”

It’s almost a compliment in disguise since the spin ultimately benefited the driver of the No. 30 Toyota, but Kyle Busch didn’t see it that way. While changing in his hauler, Busch caught the post-race interview on television and took the opportunity to visit victory lane to have a discussion with Bodine about the comments.

When asked about the incident on Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Busch was quick to defend himself.

“I don’t feel like I’m a dirty racer,” Busch said. “I feel like I’m a hard racer and an aggressive one, but I wouldn’t call it dirty.”

And aggressive driving is exactly what caused Bodine’s No. 30 to spin around on him Friday night. The two were racing for the lead, and neither driver should have been expected to lift. It was a clear-cut case of the inside truck getting loose with someone on the outside. And besides… what’s the big deal anyway? He was able to come back, win the race and expand his points lead over Almirola. What more could he ask for?

That being said, there are times when Busch can be considered a “dirty driver” by his own definition.

“Dirty [driving] is when you run in the back of someone on the straightaway and put them in the fence.”

I guess Kyle forgot about what he did to Jennifer Jo Cobb just two races ago at Bristol. Despite having a fast truck and more than enough laps to continue his march to the front, he saw the obstacle of a clearly slower truck and pushed his way through with no regard to those around him. Now, that’s what I call dirty driving.

2. Does the Truck Series really need two visits to Kentucky Speedway?

Confirming a rumor posted by Pete Pistone on his Twitter page a couple weeks ago, NASCAR announced the final race for the 2011 season, a second visit to Kentucky Speedway to coincide with the Sprint Cup Series’ inaugural race weekend at the mile-and-a-half track.

While I’m not against adding a new track to the Cup Series side of things, I’m not crazy about the idea of a second Truck Series visit to Kentucky. With a 25-race schedule, the series shouldn’t visit any track more than once, and they especially don’t need another mile-and-a-half track on the schedule.

That being said, if the series must visit tracks more than once in the short season, the time would be better spent at a shorter track that would offer the competition that has always been the appeal of the Truck Series.

Truck Rookie Report

2010 Rookie of the Year Candidates
Brett Butler (No. 47)
Jennifer Jo Cobb (No. 10)
Austin Dillon (No. 3)
Justin Lofton (No. 7)
Dillon Oliver (No. 01)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 8 (Add Jeffrey Earnhardt in the No. 47, Clay Greenfield in the No. 46, a debuting Will Kimmel in the No. 44, Miguel Paludo in the No. 77 and Paddy Rodenbeck in the No. 82)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Dillon, finished ninth
Rookie of the Race: Dillon

Dillon scored his fourth career pole in qualifying Friday afternoon but was only able to lead a total of three laps all night long. Though he had a strong truck and was able to stick close to then-leader Sauter in the early laps, a late-race stop for fuel saw Dillon fall off the lead lap, still scoring his 12th top-10 finish this season.

Kimmel, nephew of nine-time ARCA champ Frank Kimmel, made his Truck Series debut Friday night. In the No. 44 Ford, fielded by his father, Kimmel quietly started in 36th and worked his way to a 21st-place finish, two laps down.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Bodine’s win helped expand his points lead to 261 over second-place Almirola. Sauter remains third, 318 points back. Early season points leader Timothy Peters sits fourth, 365 points out of first, and Ron Hornaday Jr. rounds out the top five.

Dillon jumped a spot to sixth and sits tied with Matt Crafton, who dropped a spot, at 440 points behind Bodine. Mike Skinner remains eighth, 80 points ahead of former teammate David Starr. White jumped one spot and rounds out the top 10.

Last week, the official announcement was made that Starr will finish out his 2010 season with SS Green Light Racing after his former team, Randy Moss Motorsports chose to suspend operations on his No. 81 Toyota due to sponsorship difficulties. Interestingly enough, Starr had Allegro Marinade on his truck for the first time this season Friday night in a race he finished 14th, one lap down.

Quotable

“Our misfortune turned into our fortune because that’s what gave us a little extra fuel that we needed to get to the end. I pedaled pretty hard with about 20 laps to go. About the last 10 laps, I went around here about half-throttle.” – Todd Bodine

“At the time, I didn’t think that call to come and get fuel on that last stop was the right one. I didn’t think there was any way we would run the last 50 laps under the green flag. But Joe (Shear Jr., Crew Chief) made a great call and it paid off for us tonight. We were hoping he (Todd Bodine) was a lap short on fuel and we could steal one.”- Johnny Sauter, finished second

“We were two laps short [on fuel]. That proves that we’re not points racing. If we were points racing, being two laps short we would’ve come in and splashed a couple gallons of gas and finished seventh or eighth.” – winning crew chief Mike Hillman Jr.

“It’s two drivers who didn’t care what the other said or the other did, and we had words about it. That’s good, hard racing. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Kyle. Slowly but surely I’m, losing it. That’s a shame. It’s not just the Truck Series, it’s every division he races. He’s so good. He’s without a doubt one of the best drivers NASCAR has ever seen – he doesn’t have to drive like that to win races but he does and he’s getting away with it because NASCAR won’t do anything about it. He was mad because I called him out on it.” – Todd Bodine on the discussion he and Kyle Busch had in victory lane

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in two weeks for the RaceDayRaffleSeries.com 175 on Saturday, September 18th. Last season, Hornaday Jr. had the dominant truck, but a late race round of green-flag pit stops saw Busch take over the lead and the win. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or on Sirius Channel 128.

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