His second Camping World Truck Series title almost a foregone conclusion, Todd Bodine is understandably at peace with two races left in the 2010 season.
Finish fourth or better in Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, and the series veteran will clinch the championship even if points runner-up Aric Almirola wins and leads the most laps.
If Bodine places between 12th and fifth (without leading a lap), all he’ll need to do is start his engine for the next weekend’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The championship leader has even more wiggle room if he leads a lap, leads the most laps or Almirola doesn’t gain the maximum 195 points at Phoenix.
In fact, Bodine could skip one of the final two races and still stand a superb chance of taking the title by a fairly comfortable margin.
That’s just how good Bodine has been this season.
“We’ve just been top-fiving them to death,” said the Germain Racing driver, who claimed his first Truck crown back in 2006. “If we have a bad race it’s a fifth-place finish and when you consider that a bad race, that’s a pretty darn good year.”
Indeed it’s been a nearly perfect year for the driver of the No. 30 Toyota Tundra. His 2010 portfolio consists of a series-high 19 top-10s, including 16 top-fives and four wins.
In 23 starts, Bodine has finished outside the top 20 just once. That’s consistency at its finest, and it has enabled Bodine to build a hefty 230-point cushion over Almirola heading into the season’s penultimate event.
When Bodine looks back over his 2010 campaign, he has a hard time even citing his toughest challenge.
“Really, it hasn’t been very tough. We’ve had good times. As a driver the things that makes it tough is when you make mistakes,” the 46-year-old said. “I take it very personal when I do make a mistake and hurt the team or hurt the finish, and I’ve made a couple this year that have hurt us and cost us. But as a whole it’s been a great year, a lot of fun. The Truck Series is a great place to be and we make a good living doing what we love to do and there’s nothing better than that.”
Bodine is about to join an elite group in becoming one of only three drivers to win multiple Truck titles. The other two men to accomplish that feat are Jack Sprague (three championships) and Ron Hornaday Jr. (four championships).
Bodine won his 2006 title with Germain Racing and the same crew chief, Mike Hillman Jr. That championship run, much like this one, came with relative ease.
“The one thing about this championship is it validates the last one,” the Chemung, N.Y., native said. “There’s always that thought in somebody’s mind or somebody’s mindset that, ‘Hey, those guys, they’re really not that good. They didn’t deserve it but they got it done.’ Well, this one is No. 2 and it’s like, ‘OK, they’re good enough to do (it again),’ and it’s validation for what we did in ’06. We’ve never finished out of the top four in points, so we feel like we’ve got enough to do it.”
Bodine says he plans to run the full schedule again in 2011 with Germain in hopes of claiming consecutive titles. He’d be the first Truck Series driver to earn that distinction.
“We have no plans of leaving the Truck Series,” he said. “Germain Racing’s made a commitment to this series and to our team and we’re seeking sponsorship for it. Our commitment is with the Truck Series.
“If we had the funding to do some Nationwide or Cup races we would do it … but right now our focus is in trucks. We’re successful at it, we enjoy it and we’re going to keep at it.”