Todd Bodine's ThorSport Racing team has shown the potential all season to join teammates Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton in the top five of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' standings.
In fact, Sauter and Crafton are currently one-two in the series standings, a first in ThorSport's 18-year history.
But on Saturday a rookie's mistake in the SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway knocked Bodine's No. 13 SealMaster Toyota down the finishing order to 21st, and Bodine two positions back in the unofficial point standings, to 16th.
For the second consecutive week, crew chief Jeriod Prince and Bodine had executed a strategy that appeared to place Bodine in position to score at least a top-10 finish -- aided at Kansas by a yellow flag in the middle of a green-flag pit cycle at half-distance that momentarily left Bodine as one of only six trucks on the lead lap.
From there, Prince and Bodine -- who improved from practice to start 10th, putting all three ThorSport trucks in the top 10 at the green flag -- had engineered their fuel strategy and track position to be in the best position possible at the finish, much as they had at the last race, at Rockingham, where Bodine spun on a restart after a tire change and finished 32nd, knocking him out of the top 10 in the standings.
But on lap 121 at Kansas, just three laps after a restart for the eighth of 11 cautions that used up nearly a third of the race, Bodine went into Turns 1 and 2 on the outside of rookie Brennan Newberry's Chevrolet, which earlier in the day had been flat-sided when Newberry made a mistake on his qualifying run.
Newberry lost control of his truck, it moved up the racetrack and knocked Bodine into a heavy contact with the outside wall. When Bodine's truck slid down the banking it was struck by innocent bystander Bryan Silas, who was running on the apron as he tried to miss the wreck. That impact virtually tore the front off Bodine's Tundra and speared it into the outside wall for another heavy impact.
Bodine's truck, which was borrowed from race-winning ThorSport teammate Crafton's squad, was destroyed. The veteran, two-time Truck Series champion Bodine was beyond disappointed, but still able to display his mentoring demeanor when he discussed the incident outside the infield care center.
"Brennan got loose and it's just one of those things in racing," Bodine said. "I think what we really need here is a lot more side force in these trucks so that we absolutely cannot run side-by-side. It's hard enough with the side force we've got -- the way the aerodynamics are, right now.
"A guy like Brennan, he's a great kid and he's got a great future -- he's a good driver -- but I didn't even pinch him down and it sucked him around. That's what happens in these trucks. Unfortunately, a kid like Brennan doesn't have a lot of experience and he arced it way into the corner expecting it to stick like it would every other lap and when somebody is outside of you it just doesn't and you get sucked around.
"We need to work on aerodynamics on these things and take some side force off so we can run side-by-side."
Bodine currently sits 16th in the championship but he's still a reachable 19 points outside the top 10. Owner Duke Thorson dropped to 18th in the owners' standings due to a number of trucks around the No. 13 in the standings using multiple drivers.
Kansas, unfortunately, was a case of what might have been, once again.
"I hope Duke and Rhonda Thorson (team owners) are still up on this whole thing," Bodine said. "It's been tough -- wrecked (April 14) at Rockingham and wrecked again this week. We had a great truck though.
"That thing, it was so good through the corner and stable. We were just biding our time and trying to position ourselves right -- we had enough fuel right there and we were going to make it to the end (but) we just didn't get there."
The series is off until round five, at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 17 as part of the Sprint All-Star Race weekend. Bodine hasn't won at Charlotte, but 13 of his 22 career Truck Series wins have come on mile-and-a-half tracks.