Almost a third of the way through the schedule races this season, the Camping World Truck Series heads off to Texas Motor Speedway for a Friday night showdown. Germain Racing teammates Brendan Gaughan and defending champion Todd Bodine have a combined ten wins and 16 top-10 finishes in 26 starts at the mile-and-a-half track.
After a dismal start to the 2011 season that featured just one top-10 finish prior to last week’s race, Bodine looked to turn things around for the No. 30 team. And that’s exactly what happened–after starting tenth, Bodine led nine laps and posted a strong third-place finish that bumped him back inside the top 10 in points. There’s no doubt the turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time as Bodine rolls into the track that features six of his 21 career Truck Series wins.
“We always feel like we can go win at Texas any time we race there,” Bodine said. “Goodyear’s coming back with a different tire, so the advantage we had with the old setup for our NTB / Service Central / Valvolin Tundra is one we’ll have to work on with the tire change. We’ll just have to work hard to get our Toyota to go as fast as it normally does, but I’m sure this Germain Racing team will have no problem doing just that.”
However, despite the different tire combination Goodyear will bring, Bodine hopes victory lane is in the cards for him this weekend.
“When we went to Texas last June, we had Valvoline on the quarter panels for the first time and we were able to take them to victory lane,” he said. “We’re hoping to give them, Service Central and NTB another winning experience with the (No.) 30 Tundra at Texas Motor Speedway.”
Bodine’s teammate Brendan Gaughan has had only a slightly better season posting three top-10 finishes including a solid seventh-place showing last weekend at Kansas. But this weekend, he bring along with him a brand new sponsor in Big Red, Inc., one of the top 10 beverage companies in North America.
“Big Red is on the No. 62 Tundra this week. I couldn’t be more excited to have a sponsor and they couldn’t have picked a better race for me,” Gaughan said. “As I’ve said all season, Texas is a race I’ve been looking forward to racing with this Germain Racing team, and I hope Todd (Bodine) and I can be there at the end, battling it out for a win between Germain teammates. It would make for a great race for our Texas sponsor, Big Red.”
Along with hoping for a strong run with his new sponsor, Gaughan also takes a whole lot of pride in how he runs at Texas despite his home track actually being Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“Texas has always been a great track for me. It’s near one of my mother’s horse ranches. My family likes to be known as a bunch of cowboys, so it’s important for me to run well there,” he continued. “I think next to our hometown track in Las Vegas, Texas is the most important venue on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule to my dad.”
Though there will be 34 other drivers on the track with them, there’s no doubt Todd Bodine and Brendan Gaughan will be competing against each other for bragging rights at a track that’s been so good to both of them. With two more race wins under his belt, Bodine gets the slight edge between the two, but if both can avoid early problems, they’ll each likely finish inside the top 10.
*Steve Arpin to Debut*
As the Truck Series rolls into Texas Motor Speedway, Steve Arpin will start tenth in his Truck Series debut tonight. Having started racing go-karts and snowmobiles, the Ontario, Canada native made his ARCA Racing Series debut in 2009 where he was voted Most Popular Driver and finished seventh in the championship standings.
Again in 2010, Arpin took home the award for Most Popular Driver along with three wins and ten top-10 finishes. He also made his Nationwide Series debut last season at Talladega Superspeedway where he qualified an impressive fourth before finishing 26th. By the end of the 2010 season, he had seven starts, including a best finish of tenth at Daytona.
Arpin has just one career start under his belt at the mile-and-a-half speedway, but you can bet he’ll be a threat this weekend. Last season, he led the final 14 laps of the ARCA Racing Series Rattlesnake 150 on the way to his second of three wins, so it’s safe to say Arpin knows his way around Texas.
“I’m so excited to be heading back to Texas Motor Speedway. So far my luck has been pretty good there, and I hope to continue my streak at the track,” he said. “Texas is such a fast track that allows multi-groove racing all the way around the speedway; you have to be fast to be competitive. It can get hot, so it’s important to stay hydrated and focused to stay as physically and mentally strong at the end of the race as you were at the start.”
Aprin joins Turner Motorsports teammates James Buescher and Ricky Carmichael along with Brad Sweet who shares the No. 32. So far this season, the team has ten top-10 finishes in a combined 23 starts this season.
“I can’t wait to make my NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut with Turner Motorsports. Their equipment is second to none, and they have proven they can run up front,” Arpin said. “I’ve been spending a lot of time at the shop and at the track getting to know the guys and how they work. Doug George (Crew Chief) and I have had great conversations and it’ll be fun to have him atop the box calling the shots.”
Ultimately, the driver of the No. 32 Mike’s Hard Lemonade will need to work on getting familiar with the truck, however with previous experience at Texas, it won’t be a matter of learning the track. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised with a solid top 15 for the debuting driver.
*Buescher Snags First Career Pole*
After leading the first practice session and running second quickest in the final practice, James Buescher scored his first career pole in 56 starts last night at Texas Motor Speedway. With a speed of 179.045 mph, the Plano, TX native will lead the field to the green flag for the Winstar World casion 400K.
“Our Wolfpack Rentals Chevrolet team has been really strong thsi season at the mile-and-a-half track and I think this weekend will not be any different,” Buescher said. “We just need to make sure we stay out of trouble all night and be there at the end. We are really building momentum heading into the meat of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. If we continue to run inside the top 5 week in and week out the wins will come.”
Rookie Joey Coulter will start on the outside front row thanks to a speed of 178.477 mph behind the wheel of the No. 22 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Austin Dillon will start third followed by debuting driver Steve Arpin and Johnny Sauter.
Rookie Parker Kligerman starts sixth followed by Brian Ickler, and defending champion Todd Bodine. Ricky Carmichael and Nelson Piquet, Jr. round out the top 10.
*Did You Know…*
* Brian Ickler will pilot the No. 18 for Kyle Busch Motorsports this weekend? Team owner Kyle Busch elected not to travel between Pocono and Texas and gives Ickler his first 2011 start.
* Steve Arpin served as spotter for Justin Allgaier during last weekend’s Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway? Under Arpin’s direction, Allgaier became only the second Nationwide driver to visit victory lane this season.
* David Mayhew will pilot the No. 2 MMI Services Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick, Inc. this weeekend? He made his Truck Series debut–along with two other starts–last season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and boasts a career-best finish of 14th at the season ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
* Chase Mattioli is planning to run double-duty this weekend at both Texas Motor Speedway and Pocono? After taking a few week’s off to complete final exams for this semester’s college courses, Mattioli will pilot the No. 99 CollegeComplete.com Ford before heading off to his home track, Pocono, for the ARCA race behind the wheel of the No. 11 CollegeComplete.com Ford fielded by Andy Hillenburg.
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