TALLADEGA, Ala. – The closest finish in the history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series took place at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, with three drivers crossing the finish line within three-thousandths of a second of each other.
Kyle Busch won the Mountain Dew 250 Fueled by Fred's, fishtailing across the line 0.002 seconds ahead of Aric Almirola. Johnny Sauter came in third, another thousandth of a second off the pace.
The finish was so close that even the drivers involved were not entirely positive what had just occurred.
"I was wondering, ‘Did I win? What happened?' " Busch said. "It was just crazy there at the end."
Sauter was equally perplexed.
"When I got to the finish line, I thought I'd won," Sauter said. "We missed the win by 2 or 3 feet."
When the three drivers came out of Turn 4 and headed into the trioval, Almirola was in the lead with Busch in second and Sauter third. Busch said he initially was content simply to stay behind Almirola and push him to the victory, since Almirola did the same thing for Busch in last year's Truck Series race at Talladega.
But Busch said as they neared the finish line he began to lose control of his truck because Sauter was so close behind him. So Busch pulled out of line to the low side, and his momentum carried him past Almirola. In the process the two trucks made contact, and Busch found himself battling to keep his truck from spinning out of control
"At that point you just have to stay in the throttle and keep digging," Busch said. "As loose as my stuff was through there, I was trying to save it and get away from those guys and not spin out.
"It was crazy and it was a battle. I was just trying to keep the thing straight."
Almirola said he did not expect Busch to sit back and hand him the victory simply because he had helped push Busch to a win here last year. But he was extremely disappointed to have lost in such a close finish.
"It's every man for himself when you come to the checkered flag. I understand that," Almirola said. "I tried to do everything I could to protect the lead as long as I could. I hate to lose one like that. I feel like I let these guys down, but I don't know what else I could have done."
While Busch was passing Almirola on the low side, Sauter was attempting to do the same thing up high. He said he briefly lifted off the throttle as the trucks came out of turn four, then accelerated and tried to use the momentum to slingshot into the lead.
"I'm kind of mad at myself, because I mistimed it," Sauter said. "I was trying to make a last-minute run at them, but I just mistimed it a little bit. It's a tough one to swallow."
For the race fans, however, the finish was as good as it gets. Busch said it was another example of the exciting racing that Talladega Superspeedway regularly provides.
"It's pretty amazing the way this place races and what happens and how close the finishes can be," Busch said. "That was a cool one."
Tomorrow dreams will be made, and broken, at Talladega Superspeedway.
Jamie McMurray, a non-Chase driver, shocked the crowd by winning the 2009 AMP Energy Juice 500. Can another upset be in the making? Don't miss the wild card in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. NASCAR action kicks off with the Mountain Dew 250 fueled by Fred's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Oct. 30 and continues with Race Number Seven in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the AMP Energy Juice 500, Oct. 31. To experience it all, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA or visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.