Avondale, AZ — Tackling the new surface of Phoenix International Raceway for the first time, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rolled to the 1-mile oval on Friday night for the Lucas Oil 150. A previous winner at the Arizona track, two-time series champion Todd Bodine and his No. 11 Toyota Care Team were optimistic for a strong run with experience on their side. The new pavement created a challenge for the entire field and produced an incident between Bodine and another competitor in the early stages of the night, resulting in a 28th place finish.
A solid effort by the entire Red Horse Racing organization helped begin the weekend at Phoenix with all three trucks running solidly at the top of the speed charts during the first practice session. As the track cooled and night fell during the final practice session, Bodine’s Tundra began to handle much differently, and crew chief Rick Gay and his team worked diligently before qualifying on Friday afternoon to remedy the situation. Pulling together for the changes, Bodine was pleased with their work and was able to put down a lap good enough for the 12th starting position.
From the drop of the green flag, Bodine slid back a few positions and settled in just outside the top-15 in the running order, communicating to Gay just 10 laps in that he was fighting a tight handling condition with his Tundra through the center of the corner. Bodine was encouraged to hang tight until the first pit stop and the crew would make the necessary changes for him.
After their first pit stop on lap 38 under the first caution, Bodine restarted from the 15th position with four fresh tires and changes to his Toyota Care Tundra. After a clean restart, Bodine soon became tangled with another competitor and fell back to the tail end of the lead lap after the contact. Just a few laps later, the No. 11 team had another chance to bring their driver down pit road to make some changes and pull out some minor body damage they sustained from the contact. Confident in their changes and the damage repair, the crew sent Bodine back into competition.
Shortly after taking the restart on lap 47, Bodine was making his way back towards the front in heavy traffic from the 22nd position. As Bodine was fighting for positions off of turn four, his Toyota Care Tundra was severely damaged by a competitor hitting him on the right side as it careened off the outside wall sending Bodine into the inside wall and thereby sustaining heavy damage to both sides. Bodine pulled his Tundra behind the wall to the attention of his Red Horse Racing crew, where the team determined the damage would end their night in the 28th position.
“The truck on the outside of me couldn’t get it saved and when he came across the track, it hit me down the right side which pushed me into the inside wall and got the left side. So unfortunately our Toyota Care Tundra is tore up on both sides. I think it’s a shame that we have to race on a surface like this here at Phoenix, I thought the new pavement would be better. It was really one groove, you couldn’t get out of it by a foot and then you’ve got guys who just won’t give you any room and then you have problems like we had. Unfortunately though, it’s the story of our year. We just can’t get a break,” Bodine concluded.