Almirola wins VFW 200Share
Out of nowhere, with two others ready to decide the outcome, Aric Almirola decided to make it a three-way affair and all but stole the VFW 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday.
What appeared to be a shootout between points-leader Todd Bodine and Kyle Busch became a three-way battle with Almirola jumping in the middle of a tight, three-wide dice for the lead following a restart with eight laps remaining.
Almirola, not in the most enviable position of the three contenders, went for the lead, got it with seven laps left and held off the hard-charging Bodine and Busch to win for the second time this season and first at MIS.
“I didn’t think it was the greatest place to be, but I knew we were going to run wide open to the corner and we were either going to crash or make it out the other side on that last restart,” Almirola said. “I knew how important clean air was and I knew it was my only shot to get out in the lead, and if I didn’t get out in the lead there was no chance of us winning the race. I went down in turn one and I knew I was going to run a shorter distance than Todd (on the outside of the three-wide situation) so I just tried to hang tight on Kyle’s door and get him loose, which I did. By the time we got off Turn 2, I was almost clear of Todd and then we went through three and four I cleared him. That was the move of the race as far as I was concerned. Our car in dirty air wasn’t as good as it needed to be and that was the key.”
There was a Truck Series track record of 20 lead changes up to that point. Neither Bodine nor Busch was going to make it 21 with Almirola winning by a scant 0.111 seconds, or about one car length. Busch was another two car lengths back in third. Ron Hornaday Jr. finished fourth with rookie Austin Dillon fifth.
“We just didn’t have enough,” said Bodine, who posted his fifth top-10 finish in six races at MIS. “We had a great truck. We were a little tight on exit at the end and I could role up and start to go around Aric but I just couldn‘t continue. With two to go, I rolled up and did it without lifting and I almost knocked the wall down and I thought Kyle was going to pass us.”
Busch posted his fifth top-10 finish in five races at MIS, but was anything but overjoyed. He was asked what it was like racing three wide for the lead toward the end of the race.
“It’s challenging. You’re all over the place trying to get back up in there, slicing, dicing and everything. I just didn’t have enough. Unfortunately they gave me a good truck and the driver didn’t get it done. I was trying to find some way to get around those guys but I couldn’t find it,” Busch said.
Tickets are still available for Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400, and start at $30 for general admission. Kids 12 and under are free in those sections.
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