Todd Bodine proved the old adage "It ain't over until the fat lady sings" or in this case, until the chequered flag flies.
The former Nextel Cup Series veteran won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday night by a 0.297-second Margin of Victory over Ted Musgrave, who closed up the points gap behind leader, Dennis Setzer, who finished fourteenth.
Bodine led the most laps, but had a fierce duel with Musgrave in the waning laps who took the lead on lap 145 of the 146-lap race. Then the caution came out for Steve Park who spun out in the grass and started his own race fireworks, which were quickly extinguished. This was the set-up for the traditional green-white-chequered flag finish started by the Truck Series.
After a hot side-by-side scrappy battle to the finish, David Starr prevailed over Jack Sprague. Sprague started twentieth and gained the most positions in the race.
Sprague, sometimes known as 'Mr. Las Vegas' has the most in LVMS stats – most wins, poles, top 5s, top 10s, laps led, money earned, etc.
Fifth was 2004 Truck Champion, Bobby Hamilton. Pole sitter Mike Skinner finished sixth. Todd Kleuver was the top Rookie in eighth place, behind last week's race winner, Rick Crawford. Brandon Whitt and Tim Fedewa finished ninth and tenth, respectively.
Twenty-nine drivers finished, with thirteen drivers on the lead lap. There were seven DNF's - two for accidents and five who suffered engine problems.
This was no Follow The Leader in the 146-lap race. There were ten lead changes among six drivers, but it seemed like more. There's no telling how many other changes there were before the timing light. Good thing the trucks all run transponders, because there was so much positioning throughout the pack, with lots of three-truck wide and side-by-side racing around the 1.5-mile paved oval.
The results were late in coming out because of a NASCAR Timing computer problem.
There were five cautions for 22 laps, all driver-related. Despite accidents and spins, no drivers were injured.
Chris Powell, LVMS Executive Vice President/General Manager, said he expected a crowd of 75,000-80,000. By the stack up of race traffic extending back to the Las Vegas strip as the Truck race was starting, his expectations could be met.
The grandstands along the front straight appeared to be pretty full. The General Admission grandstands are painted in blocks of red, white and blue stripes. The Reserved Admission grandstand has 22,000 individually backed seats painted in a unique, computer-generated random red, white and blue colour scheme. The result is that from a distance the Reserved grandstand looks to be sold out even when it's empty. It's an idea 'taken' from the New Orleans Superdome, and refined. The colours are in keeping with the track's overall R/W/B colour design.
LVMS is building 17,000 new seats at the end of Turn One, to be called the Richard Petty Terrace. This will bring the total capacity to 142,000 seats available for next March's Nextel Cup race. There also is the ability to add 16,000 temporary seats in a grandstand by Turn Four.
LVMS opened in 1996, and held its first Cup race in 2004. It already has added additional seating - the Dale Earnhardt Terrace. For the 2006 race, Nextel Cup will qualify on Friday night and race on Sunday.
LVMS is home to four Driving Schools - Andretti, Derek Daly, Richard Petty and Freddie Spencer.
The next Truck race is the Kroger 200 on 22 October 2005 at Martinsville Speedway.