Brooklyn, Mich. -The No. 11 Toyota Care Tundra team and Todd Bodine entered the VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway optimistic to rebound after a plague of bad luck. Bodine battled forward after starting from the rear of the field due to a mechanical repair after qualifying and captured the lead just before halfway. While battling inside the top-five, Bodine was tagged by another competitor and sustained significant left side damage, which would ultimately cut down his left rear tire and end his afternoon a few short laps later with a 24th place finish.
During his qualifying lap on Saturday morning, Bodine felt a vibration underneath this Toyota Care Tundra. Taking all precautions and not leaving anything to chance, crew chief Rick Gay and his crew quickly changed the transmission and rear end gear in their Tundra. The changes would force Bodine to start from the tail of the field, but would remedy the vibrations he felt.
Wasting no time after the drop of the green, the two-time NCWTS champion broke into the top-20 before lap 10. He reported only a slight loose handling condition, which Gay would remedy with a minor chassis adjustment and four fresh tires under the first caution on lap 12. Bodine remained quiet after the restart, continuing to work his way through the pack up into the top-15.
Under the second caution period of the afternoon when most teams chose to take tires, Gay elected to do just a splash of fuel for his driver and sent him back out to the track with the lead. Restarting from the lead on lap 42, Bodine held his own among the lead pack and comfortably rode in the top three after leading the first few laps. Unexpectedly on lap 47, another competitor dove underneath Bodine and broke loose, sliding up the track into the No. 11 Tundra. The contact sent The Onion spinning and caused significant left side damage.
Gay organized his crew and called out directions to fix the damage as Bodine brought his battered Tundra down pit road for repairs. After pulling back sheet metal and changing tires, the crew sent their driver back out to competition just before the restart. Despite the repairs, the damage was too extensive and ultimately cut down the left rear tire, sending Bodine spinning into the retaining wall the next lap. Unable to make repairs this time around, Bodine completed his day in 24th.
“The aerodynamics in these trucks is so sensitive that things get really touchy really quickly. So I’m not sure exactly what happened with the contact but it happens with this kind of racing,” Bodine explained.
“We’ve just been having one of those years where things just don’t seem to go right. But this Red Horse Racing team is tough. It’s just a great team to work with. Rick Gay gave me a fast Toyota Care Tundra just like every week so far this season. We were going with strategy to get some track position and Rick did a great job with the call, it just didn’t pay off this time. Nothing we could do different but I’m still proud of this team and the Tundra we had today.”