Todd Bodine skillfully maneuvered through a set of green flag pit stops and gambled by not taking fuel on the last caution’s pit stops to win the Winstar World Casino 400k, his fifth Camping World Truck Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR implemented a cost-saving measure this season that limits pit crews to five members, forcing teams to take either tires or fuel on each pit stop.
Bodine’s No. 30 team took four tires and took time to adjust its truck before sending it out. When the rest of the field came down pit road, Bodine stayed out and assumed the lead.
“To get out front, that was definitely the key,” Bodine said. “[Crew Chief Mike Hillman] Jr. made a great call to not come back in for gas. We just had enough to get there. I had to stretch it there at the end and we had enough. Track position is key and critical and [Hillman] got it for us.”
The race was won and lost on pit road. Pole sitter Johnny Sauter led the first 42 laps, but lost the lead to outside pole sitter Ron Hornaday on pit road after the first of two cautions. Sauter would never regain the lead.
Hornaday went on to lead the next 55 laps before having to pit under green with all but five of the lead lap trucks, but received a penalty when a tire rolled out of his pit stall.
Hornaday went a lap down, but stayed in position to be the beneficiary of the “lucky dog” free pass before mechanical issues brought the No. 33 down pit road and four laps down.
Texas native Colin Braun also elected to only take tires and skip fuel and restarted second. Matt Crafton would eventually pass him for second, but the No. 6 team finished third.
“We saved a bunch of fuel during the whole course of the race and that allowed us to just take four tires there at the end and gain a bunch of spots back in track position,” Braun said. “It certainly makes my job easy when we can pass a lot of people on pit road.”
Crafton, who took four tires and gas, charged through the field, but never got closer than two seconds behind Bodine. He leaves Texas with the points lead in the Truck Series standings, but that was of little consolation to him after the race.
“I am just a little bit aggravated because I know how good of a truck we had and I have always wanted to win here at Texas,” Crafton said. “I can honestly say without a doubt this is the most disappointing second place ever.”
Former Cup Series regular J.J. Yeley started the race 23rd and finished in the same place. He struggled throughout the race, going seven laps down before eventually retiring to the garage on lap 111. He along with 13 of the 33-truck field didn’t finish the event.
Bodine’s win breaks a tie between himself and Brendan Gaughan for most Truck Series wins at TMS.
“It’s incredible to win five races at one track,” Bodine said. “It’s hard to win anything and to be able to do five at one, I’ve got to give credit to the team for knowing how to get a truck to run at a mile and a half,” track.