Bodine, Germain team keep on truckin'
Racing is about a lot of things. Speed. Solid equipment. Staying out of trouble. Hard work.
But perhaps the most important secret ingredient to success is attitude. It takes tenacity, spirit, faith and dogged determination to dig in and take the setbacks, the sponsor moves, the competition shifts that mark even such a seemingly tight timeframe as the course of a season.
Todd Bodine and his Germain Racing team epitomize that winning attitude as much as anyone in today’s NASCAR. They are continually on top of their game — so much so that Bodine considers 2009 a rough year though he finished fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings – no matter what setbacks are thrown into their path.
They carry the essence of the spirit of the old NASCAR. Men who are willing to take on the odds and triumph. Men who are winners, no matter what the situation.
That’s the case with both Bodine and the Germain brothers who own the organization.
For Bodine, the recent years have been the most successful in his lengthy NASCAR career.
He has, in some ways, been competing against the odds — his team didn’t have full sponsorship, but made the decision early to compete in the full slate of 2010 Truck races. Perhaps that makes this second title all the sweeter for the group.
“When we won the championship in 2006, we were back in those days kind of expected to win the championship, and in 2009 we sort of raced on a week-to-week basis, and I think it probably was not a good thing,” team co-owner Bob Germain said. “So when we started 2010 … we made a commitment to the team that we were going to run for a championship, and not to worry, that we were going to run every race.
“I think from that point that's really all we did. And these guys took over, and we were not expected to win the championship this year. And these guys worked so hard every week, and Mike (Hillman Jr., crew chief) worked through so many personal issues and a little injury there (to Hillman). But Todd and Mike stayed focused, worked hard every week, went to the track with the best stuff that we've had in a long time and just did a great job. I really appreciate it.”
This one came a little differently, too. In 2006, Bodine went into the final race of the season fighting for the title. This year, he clinched a title early. Obviously, that winning attitude was paying off.
“This year, I've never seen a team so determined and work so hard to win a championship as the No. 30 did, and I'm really proud of our team and appreciate everything they've done,” co-owner Steve Germain said. “They were on a mission this year, and guess what, mission accomplished.”
They’ve worked together for years, forging tight bonds and a growing understanding for both the hard work and the dedication needed to develop this kind of success.
In many ways, they are more like family than a team.
“I tell people all the time that I'm the lucky guy that gets called a crew chief,” Hillman said. “I'm blessed to be surrounded by the people that I'm surrounded by. (Bodine) drives his butt off week in and week out and gives us 110 percent. Germain Racing is a big family. It's like I'm sitting up here next to my brother, and I've got my dad working with me every day and my brother is my car chief.
“It's amazing what we have accomplished. Like Todd said, where we came from last year, the never-give-up attitude. We weren't sure where Germain Racing was headed leaving here last year. … We've done it two times in five years and persevered through three tough years in between. I'm just proud of everybody at Germain Racing how hard they work and what they've done to get it to this point.”
For Bodine, it’s a sign of a career reaching a new height.
The son of track owners and brother of racers Geoff and Brett Bodine, he came by his career choice naturally. He’s competed in the Nationwide Series, finishing second in the standings in 1997, and has run in the Sprint Cup ranks as well.
He’s been driving in NASCAR, in some capacity, steadily since 1992.
But it wasn’t until late in 2005 that he and the Germain brothers hooked up in the Truck ranks. Since then, they’ve netted 19 wins together — and now the two titles.
For Bodine, 46, the pair of championships will highlight a lengthy run — and show how hard work mixed with talent can shape a driver’s career and reputation.
This group has shown attitude and commitment can be the two most important factors for a team battling the odds and finding new levels of success.
And this year, the success came in a more regular form.
“Well, the first one was definitely the monkey off the back, so to speak, for myself,” Bodine said. “That was a lot of years of racing and never getting it, even for my family to never have gotten it. The difference between the two, '06 we ran well, we won races, but we weren't as consistent every single week having that top-five truck. You know, still somewhat in the learning stages of what we needed to do with our trucks and how we needed to adjust them.
“This year, with just a few minor hiccups, we had a top-five truck every week, and to be that consistent, that's pretty incredible in any division. I don't care if you're running street stocks at your local short track. To be able to do that week in and week out says a lot for the team. It says a lot for Junior (Hillman) and our engineer Tom Ackerman to be able to have trucks that are that good.”
And, he acknowledges, this time the team was on “a mission."
“I mean, this championship was validation," he said. "It was validation for the first one. Like Junior said, you win the first one, you can luck up, get some wins and score the most points and win the championship. Anybody can do that once in a while. So to come back four years later and do it again and do it even more dominating, that was validation for us.”