*In a Nutshell:* Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 1.007 seconds ahead of Johnny Sauter to win the WinStar World Casino 400K at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night. Bodine held the lead through one green-white-checkered finish to score his sixth career win at the mile-and-a-half track. Rookie Austin Dillon, Mike Skinner, and Ken Schrader rounded out the top 5.
*Who Should Have Won: Todd Bodine.* Bodine started fourth and caught a lucky break when the first caution flew on lap 19. Prior to that yellow flag, the driver of the No. 30 Toyota reported a severe vibration on his truck, but was able to pit under yellow to diagnose the problem. After that, it took just eight laps after the field restarted for Bodine to take the lead for the first time on lap 32. At one point, he pulled out to over a six-second advantage in the first half of the race. He went on to lead three times for a total of 106 of 169 laps.
*Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:*
*1. How did Johnny Benson fare in his first start with Kyle Busch Motorsports?*
Following Brian Ickler’s move to Roush Fenway Racing’s Nationwide program, Johnny Benson was tapped to pilot the No. 18 Toyota in place of Kyle Busch this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Benson started 13th Friday night after running 13th and 17th during practice. Long green-flag runs, coupled with a caution in the middle of green-flag pit stops put quite a few trucks, including Benson’s No. 18 Toyota, one lap down to the leaders. From that point on, he could never get back on the lead lap; although he found himself as the first truck one lap down twice Friday night, the 2008 champion was passed for the “Lucky Dog” both times right before the caution flew.
Still, despite an ill-handling truck throughout the evening, Benson managed to pull out a tenth place finish, one lap down.
“We really didn’t practice this setup. We just didn’t know on the adjustments we made, and then after we started going back the other way, it started getting good,” Benson said. “I still have to thank Kyle (Busch, owner) and everybody for letting me come and do this. I wish I could have done a better job for him, but I guess we were able to come out of here to move on to the next one.”
The No. 18 dropped to second in the owner standings with the so-so performance, and now sits 12 points behind Todd Bodine’s winning No. 30 Toyota. Busch is expected to return to the driver’s seat for the Michigan race this week.
*2. What happened to Ron Hornaday, Jr.?*
Ron Hornaday, Jr. started seventh Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway and quickly dropped to tenth. He later benefited from a lap 129 caution that flew before he made a green flag pit stop and restarted second to Todd Bodine on lap 134, but a problem with third gear dropped him back to third while Bodine pulled away from the field.
A lap 163 caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, and Hornaday restarted third in position to threaten Todd Bodine for the win. But when the checkered flag flew the driver of the No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet was credited with only ninth-place, the last car on the lead lap. Unfortunately, Hornaday, Jr. ended up with a cut right-rear tire and had to limp his way back to the start / finish line.
“I really thought we had a shot at it on that last restart,” he said afterwards. “I hate that we lost the tire at the end. We must have run over something, because we didn’t have any contact with another truck. We had a really good Longhorn Chevrolet. It just wasn’t our night.”
Ron Hornaday, Jr. remains fourth in the Truck Series standings, 155 behind leader Todd Bodine.
*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:* 4
*No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10:* 1; Austin Dillon, finished third
*Rookie Of The Race:* Austin Dillon
Austin Dillon scored a career-best finish of third Friday night after starting on the pole for the first time in his career. The 20-year-old bested a sixth-place run at Kansas last month.
*Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:*
Todd Bodine’s win Friday night extended his point lead to 65 over second-place Aric Almirola. Timothy Peters remains third, and Ron Hornaday, Jr. sits just 20 points behind Peters in fourth. Johnny Sauter moved up one spot to round out the top 5, 205 points behind the leader.
Mike Skinner moved up two spots to sixth, 219 points behind Bodine. Matt Crafton dropped two spots to seventh, and Jason White moved up one spot to eighth. David Starr, who moved up one spot, and Ricky Carmichael, who dropped three spots, are separated by just one point and round out the top 10.
Aric Almirola has been tapped as a backup driver for four-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson as his wife Chandra’s due date approaches. Johnson hopes she’ll give birth during the off week between Chicagoland on July 10th and the Brickyard 400 on July 29th, but he has full confidence in Almirola’s abilities should the baby’s arrival conflict with the race schedule.
U.S. Army veteran Michael Montange of Chelsea, Michigan will be grand marshal for the Truck Series race next weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Montange served three tours in Iraq and will give the command to start engines as well as make parade laps in the pace car prior to the green flag.
*Did You Know…*
* The last time Todd Bodine won his first race with a new sponsor, the No. 30 team won the championship? Lumber Liquidators joined the No. 30 team starting with the third race of the season at Atlanta where Bodine won; the team went on to win just three races that season along with the championship by 127 points over Johnny Benson. Bodine was backed for the first time by new sponsor Valvoline on Friday night.
* Narain Karthikeyan scored a career-best 11th-place finish at Texas? His previous high came in his Truck Series debut at Martinsville in March (13th).
* Jennifer Jo Cobb scored a career-best 14th-place finish in the WinStar World Casino 400K? Previously, Cobb ran 18th at Charlotte two weeks ago.
* Friday night’s race featured the 85th green-white-checkered finish in the Truck Series? It was also the seventh at Texas Motor Speedway.
“They made me earn it three times tonight, four times actually. I’m not usually that good on restarts. We’ve been struggling all year to make the trucks drive good, and (Mike Hillman), Jr. went to work.” _Todd Bodine_
“I’m really happy with our finish considering the start we had to our night. I’m so grateful to KHI for the opportunity to race this weekend. They gave me a great piece and proved that I can still go out there and drive the heck out of these trucks.” _Ken Schrader, finished fifth_
The Camping World Truck Series heads to Michigan International Speedway next weekend for the VFW 200 on Saturday, June 12th. In 2009, Colin Braun used Norm Benning as a pick to take the lead with 26 laps remaining, going on to beat Kyle Busch to the checkered flag by nearly two seconds. Coverage begins at 1:30pm EDT; the race can also be heard on your “local MRN affiliate.”:http://www.racingone.com/stations.aspx
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