Bodine Wins at Darlington

     Dale Wilkerson                                            August 2010

     Todd Bodine padded his points lead as he picked up his third win of the 2010 Camping World Truck Series by charging away from the field over the final laps of the ‘Too Tough To Tame 200’ last Saturday night at Darlington.
Five years have passed since the trucks last competed at NASCAR’s oldest speedway, and with the repaving from three years ago, the drivers quickly realized that the surface would allow the trucks to race at speeds thought to be unreachable by many.
     “I am wide open through turns one and two. The spacers on the carburetors take a little of the edge off down the straight-a-ways but through the corners we are faster than the Sprint Cup cars,” said Todd Bodine after the two practice sessions before qualifying.
The pavement has not lost any grip and in fact back in May, Jamie McMurray established the track record during qualifying for the Southern 500. When the track was last paved in 1995, speeds dropped off in 1996, many thought due to the weathering and aging process from that the hot summer weather in the Pee-Dee region of South Carolina.
     Twenty two drivers had never competed at Darlington, and those drivers showed the track known as The Lady in Black a lot of respect during those two practice sessions, but during qualifying, several drivers picked up their Darlington Stripes as they hoped to grab the pole.

     Timothy Peters sits in his truck during practice                                                                                             Photo by Bill Logan

Timothy Peters won the pole with a lap of 170.845 mph with James Buescher starting alongside at the speed of 170.738mph. All the trucks rolled off pit road except for Ken Schrader’s KHI truck. A dead battery forced his crew to push start the truck and Schrader drove to his pit stall for a quick battery change.
Peters charged under the green flag to take the early lead before the first of ten caution flags waved for a spin by Dennis Setzer in turn one.

Dennis Setzer and Mario Gosselin spin in Turn 1                     Photo by Bill Logan

Several trucks hit pit road including Mike Skinner and Ken Schrader. Skinner’s team found an oil leak and made quick repairs while Schrader’s crew went to work on a handling problem. The second caution was due to contact between Jason White and Austin Dillon. White clipped Dillon in turn one, Dillon glanced off the safer barrier while White spun to the inside. White would see his night end around lap 55 as the engine in his Dodge came unglued.

Jason White with the hood up on Pit Road                                Photo by C.D. McAbee

     Peters handed the lead over to Ron Hornaday during pit stops due to a caution at lap 47. Hornaday held the lead while Peters and Bodine battled for the runner up spot. Caution waved again for TJ Bell after his Make Motorsports Truck lost a right front tire. Bell had picked up a Darlington Stripe three laps before the damage caused the tire to blow out.  During this caution period Austin Dillon, competing in his first full season in the Camping World Truck Series, put his RCR#3 Chevy Truck out front for 23 laps after a two tire pit stop.
One of the hardest wrecks of the night happened in turns three and four, as Mario Gosselin lost control entering turn three. As he fought to keep his truck off the wall, he clipped Ricky Carmichael sending both trucks into the wall. Carmichael, suffering from broken bones in his right foot, carefully climbed from his mangled truck while Gosselin attempted to drive off before realizing the damage was to severe to continue.
Todd Bodine’s Germain Racing Crew busted off a great pit stop sending their driver out of the pits with the lead. Over the final 47 laps, Bodine drove away from the field and was able to thread his way through the lapped traffic to record win number three on the year.
     “This Toyota Tundra was great tonight. I had some close calls with the lapped trucks but you expect that at Darlington,” said Bodine.
The teams will not have much time to get ready for their next race, as they leave the toughest speedway in America for the toughest short track in America this Wednesday night with a 200-lap event at the Bristol Motor Speedway.