After what has probably been the longest month off the entire season, the Camping World Truck Series roars back into action this weekend at Martinsville Speedway for the first of five races on the way to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Todd Bodine currently holds a 262-point lead over second-place Aric Almirola, and the No. 30 team has shown little signs of weakness at all this season. Despite being unsure they’d run much past the first few races this year, Bodine and the No. 30 team have managed to combine for four wins, 14 top fives and 17 top-10 finishes in 20 races.
For several races, Bodine and the No. 30 team have appeared untouchable as they’ve steadily expanded their points lead, and quite a few people are ready to hand over the trophy and call it a season. In order to clinch the championship, all the driver of the No. 30 needs to do is finish seventh or better in the remaining five races, and no one can touch him. With just three finishes outside the top 10 this season, it’s logical to assume Bodine will be able to accomplish that feat and score his second championship in five years.
But I guarantee you, none of the other drivers are willing to give up yet. Let’s take a closer look at what Bodine can expect from the final five races of his 2010 campaign.
Bodine has yet to score a short-track win in the Truck Series, and Martinsville appears to be his worst track out of the remaining five. But it’s not all bad news for the 2006 champion as he tries to break that drought for Germain Racing. In 13 starts, Bodine has seven top-10 finishes and only one outside the top 20. The team spent some of their off time testing to help improve their short-track program, and they come into this weekend with more optimism than they have in years past. With a frustrating 30th-place finish earlier this season at the 0.526-mile paperclip, Bodine and team have plenty to prove, and a solid top-10 finish to start the final stretch to the championship will add just the confidence they need to finish off the season strong.
Note: Bodine and Germain Racing will do their part this weekend in bringing Breast Cancer Awareness to the Truck Series. The Germain trucks (Bodine’s and B.J. McLeod’s debut in the No. 9) will sport pink ribbons, and Bodine’s truck will have a noticeably pink-accented scheme.
Talladega is, by far, the biggest wild card left on the Truck Series schedule because anything can happen in the tight packs. But Bodine has superspeedways figured out – in a combined 10 starts at Daytona and Talladega, the driver of the No. 30 boasts four wins and 10 top-10 finishes. And that’s not all – Bodine has a pole and two wins in four starts at the 2.66-mile tri-oval and an average finish of 2.2. Barring a major disaster, it’s not likely Almirola or any of the field will be able to gain points on the leader during the Halloween weekend race as they may be watching a third victory lane celebration for the No. 30 team.
Texas Motor Speedway
Do I even have to say anything about Texas at all? If you’ve been watching the Truck Series for a while, you know the 1.5-mile oval might as well be renamed to “Bodine Motor Speedway.” In 12 starts, Bodine has six wins – including the June race earlier this year – and nine top-five finishes. With an average finish of 6.6 at Texas, it’s easy to expect we’ll see a sweep from the driver of the No. 30 this season.
Phoenix International Raceway
Bodine has just six Truck Series starts at Phoenix, and four of those have ended in top-10 finishes, including a win in 2005. The 1-mile tri-oval has seen the driver of the No. 30 finish outside the top 20 just once, but he also holds an average finish of just 9.2, his second worst at the five remaining tracks. This track is just another place where Bodine needs to do what he’s been spending the entire season doing – racing his own race. With Germain power beneath him and the support of his team, Bodine should expect a solid top-10 result in the second-to-last race of the season.
With just five Truck Series starts to his name at the season-ending track, Bodine boasts two wins – one in 2005 during the series debut and one in 2008. The driver of No. 30 scored his third career top-five finish last season when he took fifth in a race overshadowed by the dual celebrations of champion Ron Hornaday Jr. and race-winner and team owner Kevin Harvick. Yet again, Bodine has just one finish outside the top 20 and an average finish of 8.4. Assuming he hits his marks and stays out of trouble, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Bodine celebrate a race win along with the championship celebration by the end of the day.
So there you have it, folks. With 11 combined wins at the five tracks remaining on the schedule and only one track with an average finish outside the top 10, the rest of the field is going to have to race smart and hope for disaster to strike the driver of the No. 30 if they have any chance of catching him. That being said, this is Truck Series racing we’re talking about, and stranger things have been known to happen.
All it would take is a blown tire or getting caught up in another driver’s wreck to change the entire complexion of the championship, giving guys like Almirola and Johnny Sauter a shot at the top spot.