Bowyer Wins the NCWTS Phoenix Battle While Bodine Wins the War
Clint Bowyer won the Phoenix International Raceway NASCAR Camping World Truck Series battle, but veteran Todd Bodine won the war by clinching his second career series title with a 12th-place race finish.
Bowyer rolled the Kevin Harvick, Inc., No. 2 truck to his second career NCWTS victory and first since he grabbed the checkered flag from the pole position at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 3, 2006. The Richard Childress Racing Chase for the Sprint Cup qualifier crossed the finish line a comfortable 1.038 seconds in front of Kyle Busch in the No. 18 and has loaded up a total of three top-five and four top-10 finishes in eight career series starts.
Bowyer took the lead from James Buescher on Lap 96 of 150 following the fourth of five caution periods and held off a charging Busch and the remainder of the 36-truck field through the closing 55 laps.
"When Kyle got up there, I had to get back up on the wheel and fight for it. I knew he was going to fix his truck after that first run and he did. Everybody at KHI did such a great job building this truck. They were excited about it before we came down here. Anytime these guys get excited about building stuff back at the shop, as a racecar driver, you know you're going to have a good hot rod," Bowyer said after leading a race-high 97 circuits.
After performing some quick math, No. 30 truck Crew Chief Mike Hillman, Jr., radioed Bodine with the message that he had clinched this season's championship, his second since 2006.
"I'm proud of you, you boys are awesome," an emotional Bodine responded as he drove under the checkered flag.
He will continue on to the series season finale next week at Homestead International Raceway with four victories, 16 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes along with a 202-point championship lead over the second-place Aric Almirola.
"It's pretty awesome. It's a little disappointing because our performance tonight was terrible. We just really missed it (the truck setup). It shows the character of this team, all year long to never give up. We knocked off a lot of top fives and that's what really did it for us. We got four wins, which is great, but the top fives and the consistency of this team and how hard these guys worked every week, that's what got us to this point," Bodine said.
He also provided a special salute to Bob, Steve and Richard Germain.
"We did this without sponsors. We have Germain Motor Co., on the quarter panels, but that's three guys that care about their team and love the people that work for their team. They made the commitment to fund this out of their pockets. They made the commitment to this team and these guys. They knew we could win this championship," Bodine added.
The title is the fourth NASCAR driver's championship for Toyota, which entered the sport in 2004. In addition to Bodine's two titles, Johnny Benson won the NCWTS crown in 2008 and Kyle Busch won the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) championship.
Johnny Sauter took third at Phoenix, Matt Crafton placed fourth and Almirola closed out the race top five.
Homestead-Miami race coverage will begin Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m., on SPEED Channel and 7:45 p.m., on Motor Racing Network Radio.
Story by Mike Schmaltz