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As the Camping World Truck Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for a companion weekend with the Nationwide Series, Todd Bodine will make his 200th career start. While there have been other drivers that have reached this milestone–and others, including David Starr, who will make his 300th start this weekend–Bodine will become the only driver to have made at least 200 starts in each of NASCAR’s top three series.
The 48-year old made his debut during the series’ inaugural 1995 season at Heartland Park Topeka, a 1.8-mile road course in Topeka, Kansas. Piloting the No. 61 Roush Performance Products Ford, Bodine qualified third and finished fourth behind race winner Ron Hornaday, Jr., Joe Ruttman and Terry Labonte. Though he only ran five races that season, his worst finish came when he finished eighth at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California.
It wasn’t until 2004 when Bodine was once again running in the Truck Series. This time, piloting the No. 67 Fiddleback Racing Ford and the No. 59 HT Motorsports Dodge for one race apiece at Charlotte and Kansas, respectively, he failed to finish inside the top 10 in either event. It wasn’t until Richmond in September, 2004 that Bodine joined the newly-formed Germain Racing where he finished fourth in their debut. Just three races later, the team scored its first victory at Auto Club Speedway (then-California Speedway), and followed it up with another win at Texas Motor Speedway, a track where Bodine boasts six trips to victory lane. With just ten starts during the 2004 season, Bodine posted a 13th-place average finish, one that improves slightly to 12th if you consider his starts with Germain only.
The 2005 season marked the beginning of Bodine’s full-time career in the series. Having won five races, including four in the last six events of the year, Bodine finished third in the standings despite six DNFs and posted 15 top 10s, 12 of which came in the form of top-5 runs. Just one year later, Bodine bested his top 10 count by one and scored his first championship with three wins and an average finish of eighth. From 2007 through 2009, Bodine finished no worse than fourth in points and racked up an impressive seven wins, 36 top 5s and 46 top 10 finishes.
When 2010 rolled around, no one expected Germain Racing to make it through the entire season, due to the lack of sponsorship they’d been able to round up. A generous promise by owner Bob Germain, ensured that Bodine would remain on track regardless of whether they managed to sell individual races. As it turned out, that decision was likely the best they’d ever made. With four trips to victory lane, coupled with 17 top 5s and 20 top-10 finishes in 25 races, Bodine had arguably his best season with an average finish of 6.4 and just one DNF before grabbing his second championship.
Sadly, sponsorship woes continued to plague the team throughout the 2010 season, which then carried over into 2011. After ten races, the Germain family found themselves unable to continue to field the No. 30 Toyota, and ultimately chose to instead focus on their Sprint Cup team. However, it wasn’t the end of the road for Bodine, who thanks to a partnership with Randy Moss Motorsports, ended up behind the wheel of the No. 5 Toyota to finish out the year. The 2011 season marked the first year since 1995 that Bodine did not visit victory lane at least once; he ended the year sixth in the standings, his worst in seven full-time seasons, with just 11 top-10 finishes in 25 starts.
Enter Red Horse Racing. Having built a friendship with RHR team owner Tom DeLoach, Bodine quickly sought him out in the garage when he knew there wasn’t a future for him at Germain Racing, and the two agreed to work together. Though it wasn’t announced until shortly before the season-opener, when I spoke to Bodine in June at Texas Motor Speedway, he indicated there were prior conversations with DeLoach about partnering, that came together when the opportunity presented itself.
Fast forward to today and Bodine, now driving the No. 11 RHR Toyota, though he suffered back-to-back DNFs (an oil pump at Texas, and a crash at Kentucky), sits just two points outside the top 10 in the standings and has already visited victory lane with his new team (Dover). Though sponsorship continues to be an issue, Bodine assured me at Texas that there were a few things going on behind the scenes, that could mean additional funding to allow him to continue racing this season.
In what has been an impressive career thus far, Bodine has certainly left his mark on the NASCAR Truck Series and will likely continue to do so as he appears ready to remain racing for many years to come.