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Bodine, Hillman Jr. still super

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Todd Bodine and the No. 30 Toyota truck team led by crew chief and Lockport native Mike Hillman Jr. might be getting that sponsor any day now.

Bodine drove the team -- and its yet-to-be-sponsored truck -- to its fourth straight superspeedway victory and its second straight win before an estimated 55,000 at Daytona International Speedway Friday night. Bodine held off Kyle Busch for the second straight year to win the NextEra Energy Resources 250.

"To win two of these things in a row, and to win four speedway races in a row, that's just awesome," said Hillman Jr. "We ended last year with a win [at Homestead, Fla.] and started his year with a win. We'll just keep our momentum going and go as long as we can."

The No. 30 team and Germain Racing, whose operations are run by Mike Hillman Sr., hope to run the full season, but there's no guarantee without a sponsor. The team is set to race in California next week.

Driving the same truck the team has fielded for all four superspeedway wins, Bodine had an eventful night.

After starting third, the Chemung native was assessed a pass-through penalty for driving below the yellow line on a restart to begin lap 11. He then worked his way back up to the front, helped by two fine pit stops that moved him from outside the top 20 to 12th place.

On lap 48 of the 100-lap race, Bodine helped trigger a nine-car wreck when, while running third, he touched the left rear of the No. 10 of rookie James Buescher, who was trying to make a move on leader Ron Hornaday on the outside.

Bodine stayed in and was fourth with 25 laps left. He led a short line of three or four cars over the last 11 laps and Busch's attempt to make a move in the final turns fizzled.

"It's incredible -- that truck just does whatever we ask it to do," said Bodine.

Terry Cook was third while J.R. Fitzpatrick, a rookie from Cambridge, Ontario (between Hamilton and Kitchener), finished fourth in just his fourth truck start.

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Kevin Harvick will be on the pole for today's Nationwide race, the Camping World 300 (1 p.m., ESPN2), after a lap of 49.779 seconds (180.799 mph).

Michael Annett qualified 18th for the Nationwide race. Annett is driving the No. 15 Toyota for Hillman Sr. and Germain Racing. Annett is scheduled to run the full season as a Rookie of the Year candidate, and he's off to a good start -- he was the top qualifier among six rookies who made the race.

"I told everybody that we brought a car here to win the race -- we didn't really care about qualifying," said the former ARCA driver.

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Jamie McMurray had the fastest lap in Friday's Daytona 500 practice, the only driver to turn a lap under 47 seconds (46.986, 191.546 mph). Robby Gordon and Paul Menard were next.

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You go to an auto race and a soap opera breaks out.

Tom Cruise will drive the pace car for Sunday's Daytona 500 after an invitation by Rick Hendrick, who supplied the race cars used in the movie "Days of Thunder," according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

It was here -- on the set of "Days of Thunder" -- where Cruise met ex-wife Nicole Kidman.

Awkward alert: Kidman's going to be here, too. Kidman is now married to fellow Aussie Keith Urban, a country rocker who will be performing a pre-race concert.

Usually all of the celebrities involved in the prerace activities are part of the drivers' meeting. Some photos from that might show up on the supermarket magazine rack next month.

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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