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TRUCKS: Almirola Wins MIS Thriller

Aric Almirola survived tight, three-wide racing with Todd Bodine and Kyle Busch late in the closing laps to win Saturday’s VFW 200 Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

PDF> UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: VFW 200 - MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAYPDF> UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS: VFW 200 - MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

The victory was the second of the season for Almirola, driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports, and kept pressure on Bodine, the point leader. Almirola is second in points.

Bodine, Almirola, Timothy Peters and Busch took the final green flag of the race in the first four positions with eight laps to go. Busch shot to the inside and created three-wide racing with Bodine and Almirola early in the first lap of green, and the leaders raced in that tight line for a lap.

Almirola, who won earlier in the year at Dover, finally surged through the middle to take the lead with seven laps to go and stayed there the rest of the way despite pressure from Bodine and Busch. Those were the only laps he led all day.

Almirola, who was picked to stand by as a possible substitute driver in Sprint Cup for Jimmie Johnson in the next few weeks as Johnson awaits the birth of his first child, said he knew he had to challenge Bodine at the restart to have a shot at winning. That created the dangerous three-wide racing.

“I didn’t think it was the greatest place to be, but I knew we were going to run wide open through the [first] corner,” he said. “We were either going to crash or come out the other side. I knew that was my only shot to get out in the lead.

“I stayed on Todd’s quarter-panel at the green flag. If he clears me getting into one, more than likely my race is over as far as having a chance to win.”

Bodine couldn’t catch Almirola over the closing laps but said he otherwise had a great time.

“That was great racing,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. A lot of guys in this sport have lost sight of that fact. That’s why we’re here. It’s a damn shame that some people can’t go back out there and enjoy it. This is what we do, and we have fun doing it, and it’s a crying shame the rest of these guys can’t.”

That apparently was a reference to Busch, who led 25 laps but couldn’t compete for the win in the final miles. He was very disappointed after the race.

“They gave me a good truck,” Busch said. “The driver just didn’t get it done. It was a decent day, just not enough.”

Following Bodine and Busch in the top five were Ron Hornaday Jr. and Austin Dillon.

Dillon, who won the pole and led 18 laps, fell out of the lead group late in the race when he was penalized for a team pit miscue. He rallied from 16th place to nab a top five.

The race was delayed 40 minutes at the 38-lap mark by rain.

PDF> UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: VFW 200 - MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAYPDF> UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS: VFW 200 - MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEEDtv.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.