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Tracking the Trucks : NextEra Energy Resources 250

Tracking the Trucks : NextEra Energy Resources 250

*In a Nutshell:* Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 0.249 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch to win the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night. Bodine overcame an early race black flag for advancing his position below the double yellow line on his way to victory lane. Terry Cook, rookie J.R. Fitzpatrick and Ron Hornaday, Jr. rounded out the top 5.

*Who Should Have Won:* Todd Bodine. Despite the fact that Bodine started the big one, he was the most deserving to take the checkered flag. On lap 11, NASCAR deemed that he passed below the double yellow line and penalized him. Bodine’s pass through penalty left him without a drafting partner, but Terry Cook joined him nine laps later after being black flagged for the same violation. With the help of Cook, Bodine managed to work his unsponsored No. 30 Toyota to the front.

Todd Bodine races to the line just ahead of Cup Series regular Kyle Busch in the season opener for the truck series in Daytona.

*Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:*

*1. How did Ricky Carmichael fare in his Camping World Truck Series debut?*

Former motocross champion Ricky Carmichael made his Camping World Truck Series debut Friday night at Daytona International Speedway. Carmichael started the No. 4 Monster Energy Drink Chevrolet in the sixth position and managed to keep himself inside the top 15 for much of the race.

On lap 47, Todd Bodine slid up the track, hit rookie James Buescher’s left rear quarter panel and sent him spinning. Carmichael had nowhere to go and was sent spinning. It looked as though the driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet would be able to continue until a hit from Johnny Benson tore apart the back bumper. Carmichael was credited with a 24th place finish.

“That’s a bummer. I was having so much fun and learning so much on every lap. I learned that you have to be patient and do your own deal – you can’t get caught up in all of the action and the passing,” Carmichael said. “Some day I’ll have some luck in this deal. It’s an unfortunate situation. They (the team) kept telling me I was doing a great job and I’m like, ‘man, I wrecked!’ But I don’t know what happened. I thought I was through it and then I got clipped.”

Even team owner Kevin Harvick stood by the young driver saying, “He doesn’t even realize how good he was doing out there. That is just the nature of this kind of racing. He did a great job.”

Overall, Carmichael hoped for a better debut than he had, but prior to getting involved in that lap 47 crash, the 29 year old showed he means business this season. Carmichael managed to stay inside the top 15 for the majority of the laps he ran. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and will definitely be able to prove he belongs on the Camping World Truck Series.

*2. How did the new pit road rules affect the teams in the first race of the season?*

During the offseason, NASCAR mandated a few new pit road rules for the Truck Series. Only five crew members are allowed over the wall on any pit stop, and teams may not take tires and fuel on the same stop. This opened up room for a wide variety of pit strategies Friday night.

Just 32 laps in when the second caution flag flew for debris, Kyle Busch stopped for fuel first and was told he had been caught speeding on pit road. When the team came back down for tires, they took their time knowing they would be starting in the back of the pack anyway. NASCAR later waived off the penalty, and Busch ended up restarting deep in the field.

Perhaps the most telling pit strategy came when J.R. Fitzpatrick took fuel only after the caution flag flew with 21 laps remaining. He came out of the pits on top and led the first 17 laps of his career before settling for a fourth place finishing position.

Overall, the more trips a driver makes down pit road, the more chances there are for him to make a mistake. Other than Ron Hornaday, Jr. sliding through his pit box and losing time, there weren’t that many big struggles on pit road. But one thing NASCAR has to make sure of with this many trips down pit road are the penalties. The officials should be sure a driver has been speeding before the team is told they will be penalized or it will end up affecting the outcome of a race later this season.

*Truck Rookie Report*
*2009 Rookie of the Year Candidates:*
Chase Austin (No. 32)
James Buescher (No. 10)
Ricky Carmichael (No. 4)
J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 7)
Taylor Malsam (No. 81)
Johnny Sauter (No. 13)

*No. of Rookies in the Race:* 5

*No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10:* 2; J.R. Fitzpatrick, finished 4th; Tayler Malsam, finished 10th

*Rookie Of The Race:* J.R. Fitzpatrick, finished 4th

“I don’t know how many we led but it felt like a long time. It was really cool. The truck was working fantastic and it really showed that it belonged up there. If we had fresh tires when we were out front it probably would have been up front for the whole way.” _J.R. Fitzpatrick_

*Worth Noting / Points Shuffle*

Colin Braun earned his first career pole and became the second youngest polesitter for a Camping World Truck Series race; Kyle Busch is the only driver younger than Braun to sit on the pole.

Todd Bodine became the first repeat winner in the history of Truck Series racing at Daytona International Speedway.

After two hard hits on the outside wall with 33 laps remaining, Brent Raymer got out of the No. 85 Ford on his own power and was treated and released from the infield care center with a few minor bruises.

After the first race of the season, a few notables are well outside the Top 10. Todd Bodine currently leads Kyle Busch by 20 points. Terry Cook and J.R. Fitzpatrick are ten points back from Busch and tied for third. Ron Hornaday, Jr. rounds out the Top 5.

Mike Skinner sits 44 points out of first in sixth. Timothy Peters is just one point behind Skinner in seventh. Matt Crafton, polesitter Colin Braun and rookie Tayler Malsam round out the Top 10. Defending series champion Johnny Benson sits in 24th sandwiched between rookies Ricky Carmichael and James Buscher.

*Quotable*

“I don’t know what to think; it’s just incredible. For Germain Racing to come out and do this two years in a row – four superspeedways in a row – that’s phenomenal. That speaks volumes for this team and what they can accomplish.” _Todd Bodine_

“I’ve tried two years in a row to do something (on the last lap) and neither one of them have worked. I’m an idiot when it comes to the last lap in these trucks.” _Kyle Busch, finished 2nd_

*Up Next:*
The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Auto Club Speedway in California next weekend for the San Bernardino County 200 Saturday afternoon. In 2008, Kyle Busch took the checkered flag nearly a second and a half ahead of Todd Bodine after starting 20th. Coverage begins at 3:00 pm EST on Fox; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate starting at 2:30 pm EST.

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