A year ago, there was no Kyle Busch Motorsports, and Germain Racing didn’t have any sponsorship.
Yet somehow the two teams — two very different organizations — put themselves in position to be champions. Todd Bodine, pilot of the No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota Tundra, already has clinched his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship as a driver.
And tonight at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Bodine and KBM owner/driver Kyle Busch will settle the NCWTS owners’ championship in the season-ending Ford 200. SPEED will televise the race live, starting with qualifying at 5 p.m. ET, then the “NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Setup” at 6:30 p.m. and the race at 8 p.m.
Although Bodine has sewn up the drivers’ title, Busch’s No. 18 Toyota has a solid lead on the owners’ side. Heading into tonight’s race, the No. 18 KBM Toyota has a 120-point lead on the No. 30 Germain entry. Even if Bodine wins and leads the most laps, Busch will take the owners’ championship by finishing 29th or better, or finishing 31st and leading at least one lap.
If Busch can seal the championship — and all signs indicate that he will — his squad will be the first rookie team to take the title since Richard Childress Racing won the inaugural series championship with Mike Skinner in 1995.
Busch himself has won seven Truck Series races this year, while he and fellow co-drivers Brian Ickler, Kasey Kahne and Johnny Benson have combined to post 15 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 24 races with the No. 18. Not too shabby, to say the least.
“The cool thing about it is, it’s our first year and we’re in the running for the owners’ championship,” said Busch. “I think we have to finish something like 29th at Homestead and we can win this deal. It’s good to have that little bit of cushion going, granted nothing happens. We’ll be looking at the banquet on Monday. But we’ll be careful in what we do and make sure the preparation is there.”
Busch said he was impressed by what his team members were able to accomplish.
“For our first year, to come out here and be so strong and have the guys I have pulling every single week for us, working as hard as we work and having the partners that we have, they’re pumped about it,” he said. “They love every minute of it. It’s been fun. We’re still looking for more next year and securing some bigger sponsors for some more races. But, hopefully, we can get some of that done during the offseason and go to Daytona and look forward to the full year.”
Bodine has had a stellar season as well, winning four races and another drivers’ championship to go with the one he captured in 2006. And considering how uncertain the team’s situation was a year ago, that’s impressive.
“We didn’t have a sponsor, but the Germain brothers decided last winter that we were going to race this 30 truck no matter what,” Bodine said. “They were going to come out of their pockets to make this happen knowing that we have a team that can go out and win races, run up front and win championships. They knew that they had that kind of team.
“They put that commitment, that trust in Jr. (Mike Hillman Jr., crew chief) and Sr. (Mike Hillman, general manager) and myself and all these guys that we can go out and get it done. ... We’ve got an incredible race team. It’s a shame we don’t have a sponsor on here. We have something going into the winter with and a little momentum here.”
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.