When Todd Bodine won the season opener at Daytona, there were doubts his Germain Racing Camping World Truck Series team would still be operating for Saturday's Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Bodine's Toyota was unsponsored at Daytona, and prospects for finding funding in the recession looked bleak. But Germain managed to keep going with a string of different sponsors, and Bodine arrives at the monstrous 2.66-mile track with the opportunity to extend his extraordinary winning streak in restrictor-plate races to five.

Bodine will be driving the truck in the Germain stable designated TRD-058, the same Toyota he has had in winning the past two races at both Talladega and Daytona. It's also the same truck rebuilt after he went flipping through the grass at Daytona in 2005.

Bodine's four straight wins on restrictor-plate tracks have more to do with his skill in the draft and the preparation by the Germain crew than the truck. He made a last-lap pass last year at Talladega to edge Ron Hornaday Jr. by 0.074 seconds.

"Experience is everything at Talladega, especially in the draft," Bodine said. "Knowing what you want to do and how you can accomplish it. The draft is a tricky thing, and you can just as easily make a mistake as make the right move. Being smart is more important than luck, and so is understanding how to use the draft to your advantage instead of your disadvantage.

"Talladega is a lot about using patience in the draft and understanding you're not going to pull out and pass, you have to use other trucks to make your passes."

Bodine will be making his fourth truck start at Talladega, where he also has nine starts in the Nationwide Series and eight in Sprint Cup. Mike Wallace is the only driver in the race with more NASCAR experience at Talladega. He'll be making his 34th start and fourth in the truck series.

"Any experience drafting is important," Bodine said. "Really, that's part of getting experience is having time on the track and getting laps in the draft. That's how you learn it and understand it better."

Bodine also has a victory at Texas this season and is fourth in the points, but he isn't happy with the team's consistency. He has eight top fives, including second at Martinsville last week, but only one more top ten in 21 races and he has been 16th or worse in ten.

"One race doesn't make a season," Bodine said. "Winning Talladega would be a great victory for the Copart Tundra team, but it wouldn't make up for the ups and downs we've had this year."

Mike and Chrissy Wallace will become the first father-daughter team in NASCAR history to race against each other this weekend. It's the first truck start for both this season.

Kyle Busch returns to the truck series in the Billy Ballew Motorsports #51 Toyota. Busch has won his past three starts but hasn't entered the past two races. He has five wins in eleven races this season.

by Tim Tuttle/Sporting News


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