The numbers Todd Bodine put up this year in winning his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship didn’t lie. Neither did the tears running down his cheeks Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway.
Bodine, the 46-year-old Chemung, N.Y., native finished 12th in Friday’s Lucas Oil 150 at PIR, which made his second title a formality, although in truth the title’s been a foregone conclusion for quite a while.
All season long, Bodine has never been lower than third in points, and he’s led the way since May, when he finished second at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
For the record, Bodine now has amassed two poles, four race victories, 16 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 24 Truck Series starts.
But that doesn’t begin to tell the story of the emotions Bodine felt delivering a championship for his Germain Racing team, which like a lot of Truck Series teams has struggled to make ends meet this year.
“The Germains made the commitment before the season started that we are going to run the 30 truck for the whole season,” said Bodine. “Obviously we thought that we could pick up more sponsorship along the way and ease that burden off of them. We were fortunate to have Valvoline on for some races. I’m very proud to represent them and what they’ve done for our sport.”
Still, the economics of fielding a championship-caliber team proved daunting.
“We felt like we could get more sponsorship,” Bodine said. “The way the economy is, it just didn’t happen. The Germain brothers made that commitment at the start of the year and they honored it and kept funding this out of their pocket. I’m really proud that we were able to get this championship — knock on wood. We’re going to get this championship for them, they deserve it for what they’ve done for our team.”
In the first five races of the season, Bodine piled up some decent finishes, but wasn’t happy with how his trucks were driving. But crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. got the team’s Toyotas performing at a high level and Bodine was able to stay out of harm’s way.
The combination of speed, consistency and good racing luck proved to be a championship formula for Bodine, Hillman and the Germains.
“Yeah, I think consistency is the key in NASCAR and the way the points are structured to getting it done at the end of the year. We’ve been a top-five truck every week. The weeks were we haven’t, we got caught up in a crash or something — I made a couple mistakes and took us out. I think this shows the performance of our team week in and week out is of a top-championship team and that’s the way you have to be. Just keep knocking them top-fives off and when you do that you get the wins along the way and we’ve been fortunate to get four and should have been a lot more. We are very proud of the consistency of the team.”
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.