Kyle Busch emerged from a thrilling three-wide NASCAR Camping World Truck Series battle at the Talladega Super Speedway finish line with a 0.002 of a second victory over Aric Almirola.
Busch, who led the race three times for a total eight laps, dove his No. 18 truck to the low line underneath Almirola's Billy Ballew Motorsports No. 51 in the closing 100 yards before the finish line and successfully took the checkered flag while Johnny Sauter charged his No. 13 truck to a third-place finish on the high line. Matt Crafton and Ricky Carmichael completed the race top five.
Busch earned his second consecutive NCWTS Talladega victory and his second straight at the track over Almirola with the closest margin of victory in the series' electronic scoring era. The Kyle Busch Motorsports owner also gained a 42-point cushion in the series owner standings after championship leader and Germain Racing driver Todd Bodine was involved in a Lap 91 accident and placed 18th. "That was cool. I didn't want to do it (dive to the inside). Man, Aric deserved to win the race and deserved it from last year. I had Johnny pushing on me and I was getting loose through the tri-oval - just trying to stay with the 51.
"I turned it back to the bottom to try to straighten it back out and I was still loose alongside of him. I thought the 13 was going to my bottom so I wanted to block him. It was just crazy there at the end. These guys do an awesome job here at Kyle Busch Motorsports. I'm real proud of all these guys and this is a cool one," Busch said after taking his sixth victory, 10th top-five and 11th top-10 finish of the season in his 13th series start.
Almirola, the second-place championship contender who earned his ninth top-five and 18th top-10 finish of the season, gained 66 championship points on Bodine in the race and will sit 216 points off the lead with three races remaining on the schedule when series visits Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 5.
The Talladega runner-up questioned whether he should've gained more championship ground following the race after Busch's No. 18 flirted with a rules violation by moving below the yellow line that defines the lower boundary of the Talladega racing groove at the finish.
"I was at his (Kyle Busch's) mercy. He could have went to my outside, he could have went to my inside. I tried to do everything I could to try to protect as long as I could. It looked like he went below the yellow line right there before the start-finish line. Now, I guess I have not seen the proper replay, but the one that I saw, I felt like he went below the yellow line to advance his position and he ran a shorter distance and he beat me by two one-thousandths of a second. It was really close, but I hate to lose one like that.
"My perspective is that I won the race. NASCAR's perspective is that we ran second. I guess today we lose. I'm disappointed in that because I felt like we had a truck capable of winning. These guys work awfully hard on our speedway stuff. To lose one like that is bad," Almirola said.
Texas Motor Speedway race coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. on SPEED Channel. Coverage airs at 8:45 p.m., on Motor Racing Network Radio and Sirius XM 128.
Story by Mike Schmaltz