Todd Bodine is rolling toward his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, but he didn’t drive like it Friday night in winning the Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway. And his team didn’t act like it, either.
Bodine spun while battling Kyle Busch for the lead on Lap 81, but that trouble helped set up a fuel-mileage gamble for the No. 30 Germain Racing team.
“Our misfortune turned into our fortune because that’s what gave us a little extra fuel that we needed to get to the end,” Bodine said.
Johnny Sauter finished a distant second, with Aric Almirola third, Jason White fourth and Ricky Carmichael fifth. Timothy Peters, Busch, Ryan Sieg, polesitter Austin Dillon and Matt Crafton completed the top 10.
After a restart on Lap 80 of the 150-lap race, Busch and Bodine raced side by side for the lead in Turn 3 when Busch charged around on the outside lane. Bodine’s Toyota snapped sideways and spun in front of the field, though he didn’t hit anything.
A panel in the truck’s bed flew off, and Bodine made a couple of extra stops under that caution for his team to repair the damage. He restarted 25th.
The yellow flag waved again on Lap 91, and crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. brought Bodine to pit road again to top off the fuel tank as nine drivers stayed on the track.
Busch was one of them, and he pulled away to a 3-second lead before pitting on Lap 127. After rookies Austin Dillon and Justin Lofton also pitted under green, Bodine assumed the lead.
Conserving fuel, Bodine raced the final 55 laps under green on one tank of fuel.
“I pedaled pretty hard with about 20 laps to go,” Bodine said of saving fuel. “About the last 10 laps, I went around here about half-throttle.”
After taking the checkered flag, Bodine chastised Busch for “dirty driving,” claiming Busch intentionally pushed Bodine low on the track to cause him to spin. Busch also came to victory lane to have words with Bodine.
“It was the weather, how good the track is,” Bodine said jokingly of their conversation. “It’s two drivers who didn’t care what the other said or the other did, and we had words about it. That’s good, hard racing. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Kyle. Slowly but surely I’m, losing it. That’s a shame.”
Bodine led twice for 18 laps, far short of Busch’s race-high 73 laps. Bodine, though, extended his points lead to 261 over Almirola.
“We were two laps short (on fuel),” Hillman said. “That proves that we’re not points racing. If we were points racing, being two laps short we would’ve come in and splashed a couple gallons of gas and finished seventh or eighth.”