SANDUSKY, Ohio – Todd Bodine extended Toyota’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winning streak at Dover International Speedway to five consecutive years in last year’s Lucas Oil 200.
And while Bodine knows 2013′s a completely different season with a virtually unique cast of characters, he sees no reason why he can’t defend his victory in Friday afternoon’s Lucas Oil 200 and potentially win his 23rd career Truck Series race, which would be his first driving ThorSport’s No. 13 SealMaster Toyota.
“The potential to win is there every weekend with ThorSport,” Bodine said. “They’ve proven how good they can be with the depth of their team and heck, Matt (Crafton, Truck Series point leader) and Johnny (Sauter, third ThorSport teammate) have already won this season.”
Bodine’s in concert with a lot of his fellow drivers that never met a racetrack they didn’t like. But when it comes to Dover, where Bodine won a pole and three races in the former Busch Series — including his career-first, in 1991 — Dover’s a cut above the norm.
“I like Dover because it’s always seemed to suit my driving style — even when it was asphalt,” Bodine said of his Busch success, which was on the same banking but with the former asphalt pavement that was converted to concrete in 1995. “You’ve got to be aggressive on every lap, but you can’t step over the edge because you’ll wreck, or get wrecked, in a heartbeat.”
Bodine agrees with his ThorSport teammate Crafton, who loves the variety of racing grooves that Dover presents its competitors. And Bodine isn’t averse to hunting for the best one.
“That’s something you have to do every single week, no matter the racetrack,” Bodine said. “But that’s definitely more the case at Dover. Believe it or not, with the concrete surface, it’s more like a dirt track in the way it changes and the way you can find a faster way around it if you’re persistent enough.”
Bodine and Crafton have been adept at that, which is proven by the fact that, of all the 34 drivers entered this weekend, Crafton and Bodine are one-two on the chart of most Dover green-flag passes. Crafton, who has the best average finish of any entered driver with more than two series starts here, 9.9, has 231 green-flag passes and Bodine has 196. David Starr is third, with 179.
Bodine’s proud of his win last season, but considering he’s only making his sixth start with ThorSport and crew chief Jeriod Prince, Bodine knows this weekend is a totally new chapter in a career that includes 15 wins in the current Nationwide Series and a pair of Truck Series championships, in 2006 and 2010.
Coincidentally, Bodine’s other top-five finishes at Dover came in his championship seasons, third in 2006 and fifth in 2010.
“Those are all great memories, particularly winning at Dover last year,” Bodine said. “But it doesn’t really mean anything because the slate’s wiped clean as soon as you drive out of the racetrack and move on to the next event.
“You need to go out and earn the next win, just like you did the last one.”
And as good as he’s run at times with ThorSport, including his latest come-from-behind lead-lap finish at Charlotte that enabled him to draw back to within 15 points of the top 10 in the standings, tied for 14th with four-time series champion Ron Hornaday, Bodine believes that breakthrough could come this weekend.
“Jeriod and his guys are really working hard to be leading the ARCA championship with Frank Kimmel while at the same time giving me great trucks,” Bodine said. “We can definitely make something happen at Dover.”
The weekend opens up Thursday afternoon with a pair of Truck Series practices, from 2:30-3:45 p.m. ET and 4:15-5:30 p.m. Truck qualifying is at 10:05 a.m. Friday, with live coverage on the SPEED Channel.
The season’s sixth of 22 races, the Lucas Oil 200 is 200 laps and 200 miles. It’s scheduled for a 5 p.m. Friday start and for the second consecutive year SPEED will have live coverage preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 4:30. MRN Radio has live coverage, also beginning at 4:30.