Todd Bodine captured his third consecutive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race when he crossed the finish line first in his No. 30 Germain Racing Tundra to win Saturday morning's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- a race that was rescheduled following rain Friday evening.
Tundras swept the top-three finishing positions at Miami and captured four of the top-five spots. Following race-winner Todd Bodine to the checkered flag were second-place Jack Sprague (No. 60 Jeff Wyler Toyota Tundra) and third-place Johnny Benson (No. 23 Aaron's Sales & Leasing Tundra). Bill Lester, driver of the No. 22 SunTrust Tundra, crossed the finish line fifth -- equaling the best result of his NCTS career.
The win was Toyota's 13th NCTS victory since the beginning of the 2004 season, and ninth win during the 2005 campaign. In addition, it was Bodine's fifth NCTS triumph this season, and the seventh victory of his Craftsman Truck Series career. Along with his victory this morning, the Chemung, N.Y.-native picked up wins earlier this season at Phoenix (Nov. 11), Texas (Nov. 4), Las Vegas (Sept. 24) and Kansas (July 2).
After starting ninth on the grid, Bodine led the field two times for a total of 74 laps -- including the final 19 circuits -- en route to the win at the 1.5-mile Florida oval. He guided his No. 30 Tundra past Brendan Gaughan to take the race lead -- and held onto the front of the field during a pair of restarts and a caution flag on the final lap -- on his way to the checkered flag.
"This is pretty incredible to win three in a row," said Bodine, following the race. "I'm just so proud of this Germain Racing team. We just have it going on! I don't know what it is, but if we could bottle it up and sell it we would make millions. This race team just does everything right every week. The pit stops are great, the trucks are prepared great, and Mike Hillman, Sr. (team manager) and Mike Hillman, Jr. (crew chief) make the trucks handle. I'm just the lucky guy that gets to drive them."
"After those restarts at the end of the race, I knew we would be in good shape because I had ‘clean' air -- as long as I didn't make a mistake," added Bodine. "Then Jack (Sprague) and Johnny (Benson) got racing each other and that allowed me to pull away and not have problems."
Both Sprague and Benson tried valiantly to catch Bodine, but weren't able to make a late race pass.
"I was a little tighter than Todd (Bodine) was in the corner," said Sprague, after the race. "My only shot at beating him was to get by him on the outside, because when you were underneath somebody you get loose. Todd was trying to take me down to the inside and I was trying to get outside. I thought I had him on that last restart, but I couldn't get in there, and I was trying to keep Johnny (Benson) behind me."
"At the end of the race, I had a really good run on Jack (Sprague) to try to go for it -- but I just didn't have enough to get by him," explained Benson, following the race. "I thought I had something for Jack, but I don't know about Todd because he was just strong all day"
Along with picking up four of the top-five finishing positions, Tundra drivers also finished 12th (Mike Skinner) and 13th (Joey Miller).
In qualifying at Miami, Toyota Tundras grabbed the first seven positions on the starting grid. David Reutimann captured the pole position -- his second pole of the season and Toyota's 18th NCTS pole position since the beginning of 2004. Bill Lester started next to Reutimann on the outside of row one. Jack Sprague (third), Brandon Whitt (fourth), Mike Skinner (fifth), Joey Miller (sixth) and Johnny Benson (seventh) filled up the front of the starting line-up with Tundras.
During the 2005 NCTS season, Tundra drivers registered nine wins in 25 races, and Toyota has 13 NCTS victories since joining the Craftsman Truck Series at the beginning of the 2004 season. Todd Bodine has driven his Tundra to ‘Victory Lane' five times in 2005 -- winning races at Miami (Nov. 18), Phoenix (Nov. 11), Texas (Nov. 4), Las Vegas (Sept. 24) and Kansas (July 2). Other Tundra race-winners this year include Mike Skinner at Richmond (Sept. 8) and Bristol (Aug. 24), Brandon Whitt at Memphis (July 23), and David Reutimann at Nashville (Aug. 13).
In addition to eight wins this year, Tundra drivers have grabbed 13 pole positions during the 2005 campaign, and 18 poles since the beginning of the 2004 NCTS season. Mike Skinner -- California, Texas (June), Charlotte, Nashville, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Texas (Nov.) -- has had a series-high 7 pole positions, and his Bill Davis Racing teammate Bill Lester has a pair of poles (Kansas and Kentucky). David Reutimann (Miami and Bristol) and Brandon Whitt (Memphis and Phoenix) have each started on the pole twice this season.
In the unofficial final NCTS championship point standings, four Toyota drivers completed the year among the top-10 in the final standings. Todd Bodine ended up third in the standings with 3,462 points, just 70 points behind 2005 NCTS champ Ted Musgrave. Mike Skinner (3,273 points) finished the year in fifth-place in the standings, while Jack Sprague (3,137 points) ended up in eighth-place and Johnny Benson (3,076 points) used a strong finish to jump to 10th-place in the standings.
Toyota Finishing Positions @ Homestead-Miami Speedway
1st, TODD BODINE, Germain Racing, No. 30 Germain Motor Company Tundra
2nd, JACK SPRAGUE, Wyler Racing, No. 60 Jeff Wyler Tundra
3rd, JOHNNY BENSON, Bill Davis Racing, No. 23 Aaron's Sales and Leasing Tundra
5th, BILL LESTER, Bill Davis Racing, No. 22 Crown Royal Tundra
12th, MIKE SKINNER, Bill Davis Racing, No. 5 Toyota Tundra
13th, JOEY MILLER, Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, No. 12 Toyota Tundra
29th, BRANDON WHITT, Red Horse Racing, No. 38 DW Boogity Grill Tundra
35th, JUSTIN HOBGOOD, Germain Racing, No. 9 Germain Motor Company Tundra
36th, DAVID REUTIMANN, Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, No. 17 NTN Bearings Tundra
Toyota Drivers in the NCTS Point Standings -- following Homestead-Miami Speedway**
3rd, TODD BODINE 3,462 points
5th, MIKE SKINNER 3,273 points
8th, JACK SPRAGUE 3,137 points
10th, JOHNNY BENSON 3,076 points
14th, DAVID REUTIMANN 2,979 points
17th, BILL LESTER 2,672 points
18th, BRANDON WHITT 2,602 points
** Unofficial Point Standings