Saturday, July 23, 2022

TRUCKS: Todd Bodine’s “Road To 800” ends early in the Pocono garage

PHOTO: @EricEstepp17

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Todd Bodine picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s CRC Brakleen 150 at the Pocono Raceway when his #62 Camping World Toyota was involved in a crash after 12 of 60 laps.

The finish, which came in Bodine’s 226th series start, was his first of the season and first since February 25, 2005 at Fontana, 415 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, this was the 2nd for the #62, the 47th for Toyota, and the 174th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 29th for the #62, the 379th for Toyota, and the 1,294th from a crash.

Todd Bodine's only previous Truck Series last-place finish on February 25, 2005.
SCREENSHOT: SPEED Channel, posted by Dave W

Perhaps the most sentimental storyline of this year’s Truck Series campaign has been the return of two-time champion Todd Bodine to Truck Series competition. Just 6 starts short of a combined 800 NASCAR starts coming into 2022, multiple people came together to make sure he reached that mark this year. Entered in a second truck fielded by Stewart Friesen and Chris Larsen, sponsored by Marcus Lemonis at Camping World, and coordinated by his current employers at FOX, the 58-year-old Bodine selected 6 out of a selected 9 races. As he said during his interview last month in Sonoma, Bodine specifically picked tracks where he’d be able to have fun after each race.

The “Road To 800” kicked off at Las Vegas in March, where he spun on the frontstretch, but still recovered to finish 21st. He then escaped the chaos at Darlington – his favorite track – to lead three laps and finish in 10th, the 125th top-ten finish of his Truck Series career. Texas was next, site of 6 of his 22 series wins, where he finished a respectable 13th. Then the series’ return to Sonoma, a track he hadn’t run since he was last full-time in the Cup Series in 2003, where he finished 20th. It wasn’t until the race #799 at Nashville that he came home off the lead lap, this time two laps down in the 27th position. that left only Pocono, the race of the original nine offered that was closest to his New York home.

Bodine was one of 38 drivers entered for 36 spots. Rain cancelled practice and qualifying, securing him the 34th spot and sending home the two most underfunded efforts on the list, each running part-time efforts from the same region: Bryan Dauzat in the FDNY Racing #28 Chevrolet for owner Jim Rosenblum, and Norm Benning who brought new sponsorship from MDIA, Inc. on his black #6 Chevrolet. 

With much better weather on Saturday, the 36 starters rolled onto the track. Several fans in attendance wore the bright yellow "The Onion's Last Ride" shirts that Bodine's wife Janet sold throughout the year. Dropping to the rear was Josh Reaume, whose 30th-place #33 Covercraft Toyota received unapproved adjustments. When the green flag dropped, however, Reaume was up to the 34th spot ahead of teammate Armani Williams in the #43 MDXclusive Chevrolet and Tyler Hill in the #5 Hill Motorsports Toyota. Tyler Hill, making his first Truck Series start since his hard last-lap crash with Carson Hocevar in Gateway, drove a near-identical Toyota to brother Timmy Hill, his truck carrying yellow flame decals to Timmy’s red. Tyler crossed the stripe 4.232 seconds back of the lead, about two-tenths behind Williams, and the pair trailed the field by another two-tenths on the inside line.

On the first lap, trouble found Jack Wood, the defending last-place finisher of this race. Heading into Turn 2, Wood overdrove the corner and spun his #24 Chevrolet, drawing the first caution of the day. Wood managed to keep going without any noticeable damage, the crew remarking that he’d “Drove in there until he’d seen Jesus and spun out.” Wood took over last on Lap 2 as he pitted 39.64 seconds back of the lead and 22.007 behind new 35th-place runner Williams in his #43. Wood returned to the track on the lead lap, then after reaching the “Choose Cone” climbed past Reaume on Lap 4.

After a minor stack-up on the Lap 5 restart, Wood reached minimum speed. The next time by, Reaume remained last, 8.011 back of the lead and 0.748 behind Williams, the #33 reporting an issue with the brake rotors. Further up, another truck broke loose – this time LASTCAR Truck Series championship leader Dean Thompson, whose #40 Worldwide Express Chevrolet spun off Turn 1. Thompson managed to slow down enough to give the inside wall a slight bump with the nose of his truck. But with at least one flat tire, he ran so slowly back to pit road that he lost a lap in the process. 

On Lap 9, Thompson’s crew was still swinging hammers on the #40 entry as the field wound around the “Choose Cone.” Thompson followed the tail end of the field, and was told to stay back in the field to learn the track. He was also told to follow Grant Enfinger, whose #23 Chevrolet made at least one unscheduled stop for a new radio harness. When the race went green again on Lap 11, Thompson’s crew told him not to run the high lane, and warned him that going three-wide would be “a good place to get tore up.” The message had hardly been transmitted when a third caution fell, again in Turn 1.

Todd Bodine returns to pit road after the crash.
PHOTO: No Tires Just Gas on YouTube

While lined up 34th on the grid, Todd Bodine had crossed the stripe in 29th. Entering h first corner, he was in a tight battle for position, running to the outside of Blaine Perkins’ #9 RACELINE Chevrolet. To his outside, Hailie Deegan’s #1 Wastequip Ford had made a move under Timmy Hill’s #56, which had slid up the track. In so doing, Deegan threaded the needle between Hill and Bodine, nearly stacking up a four-wide logjam. Contact from Deegan’s left-rear to Bodine’s right-front as Perkins’ #9 crowded Bodine’s left-rear sent the #62 into a spin, sending the blue Toyota backing hard into the outside wall. A moment later, Tyler Hill’s #5 slid sideways, his right-rear making contact with Bodine’s stopped truck as he spun. Jack Wood also came to a stop against the wall, his right-front corner destroyed after possible contact with Tyler.

Todd Bodine, Tyler Hill, and Jack Wood all managed to make it to pit road for repairs. At Lap 13, Wood held the last spot as the lowest-classified driver involved. The crew jacked up the right side of the #24 to change the tires as they completed repairs. For Tyler Hill, the concern was the rear spoiler, though the crew spent just as much time patching up the right-rear fender. Todd Bodine’s crew also attempted repairs, but by Lap 14, Bodine rolled behind the wall, out under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy.” Tyler Hill took last on Lap 14, which would have made him a series record 10th consecutive first-time last-place finisher. But with Bodine already behind the wall and now climbing from his truck, the #62 took last on Lap 15, ending the streak. That time by, Alpha Prime’s #44 team from the XFINITY Series arrived to purchase Bodine’s remaining three sets of tires for the race later that afternoon. Bodine was declared out by NASCAR on Lap 41. Incidentally, Bodine's DNF secured Zane Smith the regular season championship.

On Lap 22, Bodine was interviewed by FS1’s Josh Sims. “It’s definitely not how we wanted this to go,” said Bodine with a laugh. “Like I said, I’ve been so blessed to be able to do what I love to do for 800 times. I’ve made so many good friends and so many great people involved in my life. It’s a pretty blessed life to have. But that’s racing. I’ve been here before. I’ve been wrecked before. It’s just part of the game.” Bodine was then visibly emotional. “Thank you to all the fans who’ve supported me all these years. It’s truly meant the world to me, and I appreciate it. And I’ll see you on TV, having fun on TV.”

Also declared out on Lap 41 was Jack Wood, whose damaged truck pulled behind the wall on Lap 21, out under the DVP. Josh Reaume’s brake issues left him 34th, five laps down at the finish, and two laps behind Deegan, who fell out with brake problems of her own to take 33rd. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Spencer Boyd, whose #12 Record Rack Chevrolet spun off Turn 3 in the late stages. After the Bodine incident, Tyler Hill finished the race in 30th, the last truck on the lead lap.

Steve Park in the most recent last-place run in Trucks for the No. 62 at Dover on June 4, 2005.
SCREENSHOT: SPEED Channel, posted by Dave W

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #62 in a Truck Series points race since June 4, 2005, when Steve Park’s #62 Orleans Hotel & Casino Dodge was collected in a five-truck pileup after one lap of the MBNA RacePoints 200 at Dover.

36) #62-Todd Bodine / 12 laps / crash
35) #24-Jack Wood / 18 laps / crash
34) #33-Josh Reaume / 55 laps / running
33) #1-Hailie Deegan / 57 laps / brakes
32) #12-Spencer Boyd / 59 laps / running

1st) G2G Racing (4)
2nd) Niece Motorsports (3)
3rd) David Gilliland Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
4th) AM Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Halmar Friesen Racing, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, Young’s Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (7)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (3)


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