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TRUCKS: Marathon Halfway Complete

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is just past the halfway point, and if someone is going to stop Todd Bodine from winning another series championship, they better step up soon.

Saturday night’s Nashville 200 at Nashville Superspeedway is the fifth of nine consecutive weekends of racing for the truckers.

With 13 of 25 races on the season already in the books, 2006 Truck Series champ Bodine leads Aric Almirola by 149 points, Johnny Sauter by 193 and Timothy Peters by 202. Given that the most points a driver can make in a single race is 140, Bodine’s challengers have some work to do.

This weekend’s race looks like it should be up for grabs, with plenty of contenders. Four-time and defending Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. is the only driver entered in Saturday night’s race who has won a Truck race at Nashville.

SPEED’s live coverage of the race will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET, with the “NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Setup,” hosted by Krista Voda.

There will be plenty of competition under the lights Saturday night, as the truckers slug it out on the 1.33-mile, D-shaped oval in search of one of the most coveted trophies in racing: A Gibson Les Paul guitar painted by Sam Bass.

Bodine should like his chances at Nashville. Although he has never won here, Bodine has finished in the top five in four of six previous starts here and his No. 30 Germain.com Toyota Tundra should be a threat to win again.

Of course, the same can be said of Hornaday and his No. 33 Purina/Beneful Chevrolet Silverado out of the Kevin Harvick Inc. stable. Hornaday and teammate Ken Schrader will have some pressure on them this weekend: KHI has won three consecutive races with three different drivers: Harvick at Gateway International, Hornaday at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis and Elliott Sadler last weekend at Pocono.

Hornaday finished third last time the Truck Series was at Nashville and thinks he can do better this time around.

“The thing about Nashville is that KHI has run very well there with both our Truck and Nationwide programs,” said Hornaday, the defending race winner. “When we were in Nashville earlier this spring, Kevin and I just missed the set-up by a little. We have notes and are better prepared to go back to Nashville. I know we're going to have a great truck. I hope we have the same result as last year.”

Peters is someone else to keep an eye on here. He and his No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota finished fourth here in the the spring.

“I’m really excited to get back to Nashville,” said Peters. “It’s the site of my first pole and we started from the second spot in the spring race. I really love that place because of the concrete surface and how much success I’ve had there over the years. Nashville just really suits my driving style. I would like to win there more than any other track right now. I hope we will be there in Victory Lane on Saturday night and I can finally hoist that guitar over my head.”

For his part, second-place points man Almirola hopes to improve at a track that historically hasn’t been good for him.

“In our previous races, we've tried applying different setups, and things we've learned from other tracks to Nashville, but it just hasn't worked,” said Almirola. “The concrete surface is just so much different than the tracks we've been going to. So, we're going there and we're going for broke. We'll have a setup that's new and completely different than anything we've done before. Hopefully that will pay off for us.”

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.