As the Camping World Truck Series began to get closer to the end of the season, it became apparent that the driver's championship would go to Todd Bodine.
Bodine clinched that championship this past weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
However, there is still one championship left on the table.
Kyle Busch Motorsports, in their first year of competition, lead the owner's championship by 120 points over Germain Racing's No. 30 truck, which is driven by Todd Bodine.
An experienced team vs. the rookie team, this has definitely been a battle to watch.
This weekend, the battle heads into it's final chapter as the Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will conclude the 2010 season.
Before we dive into that, let's take a look at how the battle has shaped up over the past four weeks.
While Hornaday stole the show with winning his first Grandfather clock at Martinsville, the underlining story was how both Busch and Bodine performed.
At the beginning, it'd look to be Busch's race to lose as he led. However, when strategy started taking place, it began changing from one person to the other.
Todd Bodine pitted early due to starting near the back, and then when the leaders pitted, he was able to gain track position and get to the lead. Bodine led from gaining that spot up front till Kyle Busch caught him and passed him.
Though with less than 20 to go, Hornaday took charge on a late race restart and took the lead the hard way—on the outside—and never looked back.
Busch ended up second, leaving him yet again without a win at the Martinsville paperclip.
"I gave it all I had," Busch said. "The truck wasn't as good as the KHI trucks all day."
Bodine finished third, leading the most laps, keeping his lead over Busch at 36 points.
"This is how you win championships," Bodine said after the race, competing just hours after the death of his mother. "We didn't have the best truck, but we got third."
Coming into this event, everybody knew it'd be a battle to the end prior their previous race run-ins, including a conversation following Bodine's win at Kentucky in victory lane.
Martinsville was no exception to their battle as they fought hard side-by-side, and at one point, Bodine was accused of trying to fool Busch on a restart.
"If they think I was trying to do a slow restart to fool Kyle Busch, they are wrong," Bodine said on the radio at that time. "I just didn't get a good restart. Message delivered—I'll work on it."
Next came Talladega and in a finish that looked to be taken straight from Kevin Harvick’s playbook with his win in the Cup race in the Spring, Kyle Busch pulled off the last lap pass to beat Aric Almirola to the line by 0.002 seconds.
“That’s cool,” Busch said after the race was over. “I didn’t want to do it. Aric deserved that race. He should’ve won it last year. I had the 13 right up under me and I wanted to protect my position. I went up high to block and then came down and I got under Aric. Once I got under him, there was no going back so I made my move.”
With the move, Busch crossed under the double-yellow line, which on the two restrictor plates – Daytona and Talladega - it is illegal to improve your position once under the line.
In 2008, Regan Smith was stripped of his win due to a move like Busch’s.
“I didn’t even know where the yellow was,” Busch said. “I was just loose through there and wanted to save my stuff.”
In reviewing the tape, it could be deemed that Almirola came down, causing Busch to go below the line. Though even before that happened, Busch had a nose on Almirola before getting close to the line.
With the win, it put Busch 45 points ahead of Bodine. Bodine had an eventful day on his way to finishing 18th.
Coming on to pit road under green, Bodine and Hornaday made contact, causing damage to both trucks.
Then on the next set of pit stops under caution, Bodine sped up to beat Busch off, yet was deemed over the speed limit.
Then with six laps to go, Bodine was making his way back through the field when contact from Grant Enfinger caused Bodine to get into Skinner, collecting numerous other trucks.
“The 95 gave me a shot out of hell,” Bodine said of the contact. “He was bumping me, but I don’t know where he was trying to send me.”
From the high banks to the lonestar state, Busch backed up his Talladega performance as on the restart with 22 to go, he took the lead and never looked back as he won the WinStar World Casino 250 for his seventh win of the year in 13 starts.
“Once I got out front, that was it,” Busch said. “That last restart saved me…..It’s been fun to have the success we’ve had. Hopefully this continues on next week.”
With his 23rd win of the season, Busch extended his lead to 72 points over Bodine, who finished fourth.
The following weekend at Phoenix, Busch ended up second, extending his team's lead in the owner's championship standings to 120 points over Germain Racing.
"We were racing for the win but there in the beginning, we didn't have the tundra we were looking for," Busch said afterwards. "But there in the middle, Eric got to where we were competitive and could run up there. There at the end, couldn't get up there. Bowyer had the field covered.
"Second is disappointing, however looking at the overall picture, we're doing good."
The spotlight for the night, however, shined on Todd Bodine though as with his 12th place finish, he clinched the 2010 Camping World Truck Series Driver's Championship.
"It's pretty awesome," Bodine said afterwards. "It's a little disappointing due to our performance tonight. But it shows the performance of this team due to how good we were all year. Yes, we got four wins yet the top five are what matter and that consistency that that we had."
"With the way we were able to run all year, it allowed us to be able to clinch this championship early so I can't thank these guys enough," crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. said after the race. "We went from not knowing if we'd make every race to becoming champions."
"I'm just really proud of Germain Racing," general manager Mike Hillman Sr. said. "Great to have my son excel the way he has. Great to see him and Todd gel like they have. I'm just really proud of everything the Germain Brothers have done with this team."
Bodine and Germain Racing have experienced their share of struggles, including the lack of sponsorship for this season.
"We did this without a sponsor," Bodine said. "We've got Germain Racing on the side but that's three guys who really care about this team. They funded this all year and knew that they'd do it whether able to get a sponsorship or not."
Following everything, looking at the championship picture, Busch has to finish 30th or worse without leading a lap for Bodine to win the championship.
That is highly unlikey for Busch as this year, he has only two finishes outside of the top 15. A 22nd place finish at Daytona due to being involved in the big wreck and a 16th place finish at Dover due to a fuel pump failure.
However, it is easy to get involved in somebody else's mess so therefore anything is possible.
Let's lay out some of the scenarios for Bodine to win the championship:
If Bodine wins and leads the most laps, Busch has to finish 30th or worse without leading, 29th or worse if he leads, or 27th or worse if he leads the most laps.
If Bodine wins but doesn't lead the most laps, Busch has to finish 32nd or worse without leading, 33rd if he leads or 35th if he leads the most laps.
If Bodine finishes second and leads the most laps, Busch has to finish 35th or worse without leading a lap.
If Bodine does anything less, the championship is automatically Busch's so therefore you could say that Busch has locked Bodine in a box.
Their past performances at the Homestead make it known this is going to be interesting.
In Bodine's five starts there, he has two wins, three top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 8.4. Last year he finished fifth, though if he wants the title, he'll need to step it up to his 2008 performance where he won.
In Busch's four starts there, he has no wins, two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 6.2 so it looks like Busch will accomplish his feat easily.
However, it's not over till the checkered flag fall so don't be afraid if you see Busch falter and Bodine capitalize on his mistakes.