NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Ford 200
Topics: Ford 200
Mike Hillman, Jr.
November 19, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Joining us now up front is our 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver champion and his team. Crew chief, Mike Hillman, Jr.; team owners Bob and Steve Germain; driver of the No. 30 Germain racing Toyota, Todd Bodine. Todd, your second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, and your thoughts about being able to win it again.
TODD BODINE: Well, you know, first I never thought I'd be a one-time winner, let alone a two-time winner, so that's a pretty big honor for us.
But you know, we've had this team together for five years now and never finished below fourth in points, consistently winning, consistently up front. Even in the bad year, last year we had, we still ran up front and won a couple races. It shows the character of this team and what it's about to be able to do this year in and year out, this consistent. It shows the character of what we're all about, and never give up.
You know, the depth of the team, we've had turnover in five years, but Junior and Senior have a knack for finding good people. We'd lose some good people and they'd find good people to replace them, so our team never faltered, never -- our standards never fell down.
We're proof that the never-give-up attitude works because last year we should have gave up. I mean, it was a pretty bad year.
To come out of here champions with really no sponsor, these two guys on the end with their brother Rick made the commitment to this team last winter that they were going to race the 30 truck. They were going to fund it out of their pocket. They were going to make sure that we had enough to do to go win races and to race for a championship, and they had that kind of faith in Junior and myself and our team to put their money where their mouth was and we went out and did what they asked us to do, and that's win races and win the championship.
To me that says a lot for those three, to have that kind of commitment for the race team. You know, we're proud to be able to go out every week and represent the Germain family with Germain Motor Company on the side of that truck. To be able to come out of here champions, there's nothing better for us to be able to do that for them.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, certainly this is your second go-around, too, for a championship. You're a tough guy. I saw you at Charlotte, you had that injury and persevered, and your thoughts about winning for the second time with Todd.
MIKE HILLMAN, JR.: I tell people all the time that I'm the lucky guy that gets called a crew chief. I'm blessed to be surrounded by the people that I'm surrounded by. This guy right here, he 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. Like Todd said, the two sitting with us and Rick said, you guys go race and race for a championship. It was awesome. I believe Bob and Steve and Senior had to argue with Rick every once in a while about it and fight tooth and nail, but it's really awesome to be able to sit here and do this again. Everybody can say, yeah, you won a championship one time. Maybe it was luck for a fluke. But 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 gone to get it to this point.
THE MODERATOR: Bob and Steve, talk about what it means to your organization and just the thrill of winning.
BOB GERMAIN: Well, I think that first of all, I want to thank my sponsor down there on the end. We've got Steve on board, like Mike said. Rick is a little -- he was a little iffy, but 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. So when we started 2010 as Todd said 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 worked through so many personal issues and a little injury there. 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 championship really is for Mike Hillman, Jr., as far as I'm concerned. In 2006 it was a little different scenario, but this year this is the guy that got it done for us. Would you agree with that?
TODD BODINE: Absolutely.
STEVE GERMAIN: Absolutely. I mean, if I might say something, I would say in 2006 we had to go to the last race, and it was a close race. But this year I've never seen a team so determined and worked 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. They were on a mission this year, and guess what, mission accomplished.
Q. Todd, can you compare and contrast the two championships, and secondly, is this one sweeter in any way, or was the first one something like a monkey off your back kind of thing?
TODD BODINE: Well, the first one was definitely the monkey off the back, so to speak, for myself. 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 5 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 5 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 and our engineer Tom Ackerman to be able to have trucks that are that good.
This one, like Steve said, that was a great way to put it, we were on a mission to show -- I mean, this championship was validation. 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.
Q. Bob, why did you commit to running this full season? You have a Nationwide team you're trying to run and a Cup team you're trying to run, as well.
BOB GERMAIN: Well, I think that we saw, again, in 2009 that we kind of raced on a week-to-week basis. And I think that that just doesn't bode well for the guys to stay focused every week, and we felt that 2007, 2008 and 2009 we just had not run as well as we could, and we wanted to get in there and we wanted to build some new trucks.
We raced some old trucks in 2008 and 2009 and we were fairly good, but we really felt that in 2010 the automobile business was getting a little bit better. We felt that the worst was over for Germain Motor Company and that we had weathered the storm and started selling cars again, started feeling better about business.
So I think that when we got into January this year we sat down with Steve and Rick and I at the shop in Mooresville and sat down and decided that above anything on our team that we really wanted to commit to these guys on the 30 team, that we were going to put -- we were going to get behind them, give them some funding, let them build some new trucks and run for the championship.
And as I said earlier, from that point, Todd and Mike, Jr., and the guys just took over and got it done.
Some of it had to do with the fact that the automobile business seemed to be getting better and we were feeling a little bit better about things in our company.
Q. Todd, can you talk about what Mike, Jr., brings to the table as far as crew chief? And then when the injury happened, how did that affect the team, and were there -- what kind of emotions were running through your mind at that point and obviously with him being able to come back so quickly and be able to put things back together? How did that pan out for you guys?
TODD BODINE: Well, I've said it on more than one occasion. Senior started this team. Senior is the one that put it together and got Bob and Steve and Rick involved and made this happen. The first full season Junior came in, and first gig as a crew chief, made some mistakes, Senior kicked him in the butt once in a while, but as the years have gone on, again, I've said this before, he's the backbone of this race team.
People don't realize that he is the 30 team. He does run it, he does direct it, make it go in the right direction. But on top of that, he does a lot for the other teams in the shop, the other -- making sure that the shop itself runs properly. So he's way over and above and beyond the call of being the crew chief. He's the shop foreman, he's the crew chief, he's the backbone of the team from top to bottom.
You know, Senior has really let him take that role and run with it to grow with it, and right now, man, I really wish we could get funding for a Cup team because I think we could take this 30 team and go to Cup. We would struggle a little bit to start, there's no doubt about it. But I think within two years' time we could be a top 15 car, and with some help and some right things we could be a top 10 car and win some races. I feel I feel that strongly about it. So that's how I feel about that.
Q. And as far as the injury?
TODD BODINE: Well, when that happened I was up on the pit box. First thing is make sure his noggin is all right because that's the part I need to make sure I don't screw up and he makes sure the truck runs good. I mean, people don't realize the pain that he's been in since that happened, first with it starting to heal and now with the rehab. No pain pills, Motrin once in a while. He's tough. And to keep -- the thing about it is we never missed a beat. He didn't allow that. He didn't allow anything to go undone. He worked 7:00 to 8:00 at the shop every day like he always does.
And I think the one thing that did even more than it had been is his guys got behind him even more so, seeing that -- it was like seeing their general go down. They're going to help him up. That was pretty neat to see.
Q. Bob or Steve, obviously you've announced Max for next year in the truck. We're hearing some things about maybe Brendan Gaughan in a truck. Can you talk about what your organization is going to look like next year? Are you keeping the Nationwide team, as well?
STEVE GERMAIN: Well, the Nationwide team, Michael is moving over to Rusty Wallace Racing. I think you all know that. Beyond that we're not quite sure. We've had some discussions with Brendan Gaughan. Brendan has been a good friend of the family and he's a great driver, and he's somebody if he'd like to come to Germain Racing and drive in the Truck Series we'd love to have him. So we're talking to them, and we're going to do everything we can to try to make that happen. But we're still just in the discussion stage there.
And then we're excited about our Cup program for next year. I think we've got a lot of momentum there. Casey Mears is a great young driver, and we're excited about moving forward with that. So next year I think you'll see us do even better in the Cup Series, and we're going to have three strong truck teams perhaps next year, and we're looking forward to coming back.
I said this in '06 and I'll say it again, nobody has ever won the truck championship two years in a row with the same driver, and we're going to come back next year even stronger than we are today. We've got a lot of momentum and we've got a great team, and we'll be back, and stay tuned.
Q. Why do you think you'll be a stronger Cup organization next year than you are this year?
STEVE GERMAIN: Because I say that. No, I'm telling you, we've got more momentum now with Mike and Todd and Senior back. We're going to be tough to compete with. Obviously Kyle and that team, they do very well, and hats off to Kyle for winning the owners championship the first year out. That's not easy to do, but Kyle is not a normal guy, and we look for him to continue to do well there.
We know the mistakes that we made in '09, and we didn't repeat those in '10, and there's no reason for us to go back to doing anything but championship team again next year.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on this championship, and we look forward to many, many more. Thank you.
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