Race Results | Photos
Moments after resigning himself to a second-place finish, Todd Bodine was celebrating in Gatorade Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway.
Bodine managed to pass Kyle Busch on the final turn of a wild final lap Saturday afternoon to win the Mountain Dew 250 Fueled by Winn-Dixie NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race. It was Bodine’s second consecutive NCTS victory at Talladega, giving him three top-five finishes in the three NCTS races held at the track.
As a pack of 15 trucks roared into Turn 4 and headed toward the checkered flag, Bodine admits that he did not see this victory coming. Not with Kyle Busch in front of him on the bottom of the track and several trucks clogging his path on the high side.
“At that point, I conceded the win,” Bodine said. “I figured, ‘OK, I’m just going to push Kyle to the win and finish second and get a Toyota to Victory Lane.’”
Instead, Bodine made contact with Busch’s truck and, as the entire pack bobbled and weaved, Bodine suddenly had a clear path to the lead. He took it, and pulled Ron Hornaday Jr. along with him to a second-place finish.
“Todd got straightened up and got in front of me somehow,” Hornaday said. “I don’t know how he did it.”
Busch finished third, followed by NCTS rookie Colin Braun in fourth and Mike Wallace fifth.
“I knocked (Busch) sideways and went on to pass him,” Bodine said. “I didn’t mean to do it, but that’s part of good racing at Talladega. It’s a good thing that he’s a good driver. He saved it.”
For his part, Busch said he never would have been in the lead if he hadn’t received a push a few laps earlier from Bodine. That’s probably one of the reasons Busch did not seem overly upset at losing the lead so close to the finish.
“I wish we could have ended up a little bit better, but that’s the way it can be here,” Busch said. “Bodine got to me in the center of (Turn) 4 and knocked me up out of the way a little bit and got me loose. I got back down in front of him, but by then he had a run around the outside with Hornaday pushing.
“You had to have a good guy behind you pushing, and that’s what Todd had in Hornaday.”
Landon Cassill finished sixth, Brian Scott seventh, T.J. Bell Jr. eighth, Mike Skinner ninth and Chad McCumbee 10th. Johnny Benson finished 11th and now trails Hornaday by 39 points in the NCTS standings.
The final 15 to 20 laps produced some of the most exciting racing ever seen at Talladega Superspeedway. At one point, there were eight rows of trucks running three-wide, and a few of the rows briefly went four-wide.
“Anybody had a shot at that point,” Bodine said. “When we were four-wide, there were about 16 of us that had a shot at it.”
Yet despite the close-quarter racing and a few scary-looking bobbles, the pack managed to remain under control until the end. When the trucks crossed the finish line, the top-15 was separated by less than a half-second.
“My hat’s off to everybody in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Everybody drove heads up,” Hornaday said. “It was a good show.”
A good show with a fantastic finish. For most of the final four laps, Busch led a pack of trucks roaring around the inside of the 2.66-mile trioval while Braun was the leader of the outside pack.
“I thought the outside groove was working pretty good,” said Braun, who briefly took the lead on the next-to-last lap. “It seemed that the 7 truck (Bell, who was behind Braun) just fell off. He wasn’t pushing us as good as he was the lap before that.
“I thought we had a chance to win, but unfortunately we lost our help on that last lap. I learned a lot, and it was a lot of fun. It was definitely an exciting race.”