FORT WORTH, TX – Todd Bodine’s weekend of promise at Texas Motor Speedway — one of the career-best venues in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career — never came to fruition in Friday night’s WinStar World Casino 400.
And when a last-gasp fuel gamble trying to gain the best finish possible with an ill-handling No. 13 SealMaster Toyota came up one lap short, Bodine lost a second lap to rookie first-time winner Jeb Burton and ended up finishing 18th.
Bodine’s truck was initially set up at the ThorSport Racing shop by crew chief Jeriod Prince and the crew that’s running ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards championship leader Frank Kimmel’s program. But since ARCA raced at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., at the same time the trucks were racing in Texas, crew chief Jason Miller was hired to get a crew together to work with Bodine in Texas.
The end result was frustrating for the two-time Truck Series champion, who has a series-best six career victories at the fast, but tough to get a grip on Texas speedway.
“It was a pretty tough weekend — we never could get the truck to handle the way I needed it to,” Bodine said. “We just missed the set-up. Matt (Crafton) and Johnny (Sauter, ThorSport teammates) seem to be doing OK, so I just don’t know.”
Crafton, the Truck Series’ point leader, ended up finishing fourth at Texas and Sauter won the pole, but also battled a poor-handling truck in the race but still finished seventh.
Bodine seemed better on the practice time sheet than he had been at recent races, as he came out of the box at the top of the chart and was in the top-10 for most of the Thursday practice that was condensed into one session by bad weather, where he ended up 12th. He was pleased with the truck at that point.
But Bodine’s trouble started in Thursday night’s qualifying session, where he posted only the 22nd-best lap of the 32 trucks entered. The race began and even though Bodine picked up a couple spots in the pits, moving forward on the racetrack was a little more of a problem.
“The truck handled OK at times, but we were half a second off at Dover and half a second off at Texas,” Bodine said. “That’s a tough deficit to have to make up and operating back in traffic is really, really tough when your truck’s not working the way you need it to.”
Bodine and Miller did engineer a strategy that put Bodine in the lead for a bonus point on a green flag pit cycle around lap 103, which he led. But Bodine was never able to get higher than 13th on the track while racing.
“Taking the gamble on fuel at the end of the race was the only shot we had to do anything,” Bodine said of staying out while he was just inside the top-15. “We ended up a lap short, and that was tough because we were never able to get our lap back while we were one down and when we ran out we lost another lap.”
Bodine lost a little more ground in the standings, taking sole possession of 15th, but dropping to 28 points behind Dakoda Armstrong in his race to get back into the top 10, where Bodine and his team sat for the first couple races this year.
The team has a chance to regroup before the next Truck race, on Thursday, June 27 at Kentucky Speedway, another fast, 1.5-mile speedplant.
-ThorSport Racing PR