Clint Bowyer beats Richard Childress team-mate Jeff Burton to victory at Talladega
|By Diego Mejia||Monday, October 24th 2011, 00:57 GMT|
Clint Bowyer edged his Richard Childress Racing team-mate Jeff Burton in a close finish at Talladega, giving the team its 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup victory.
The RCR pair worked in tandem all the way through the 500 miles and were up front when the green flag waved for the final restart with two laps to go, following the ninth caution of the race - caused by an incident in which Furniture Row's Regan Smith crashed hard against the SAFER barrier at Turn 2.
Bowyer lined up right behind Burton to push him in the two-car draft after crossing the start-finish line to start the penultimate lap, both gaining enough momentum to be able to break away from the pack immediately.
Then out of the final turn, with rivals way behind in their mirrors and the chequered flag in sight, Bowyer made his move on the inside to try to beat his team-mate, eventually being able to just edge Burton by 0.019 seconds in a close drag race to the finish.
"I knew it was too early to go, but it was going to be a drag race, give us both a shot at it," said Bowyer after claiming his fifth Cup win, his second at Talladega.
"[Burton] worked so well with me all day long. You hate that it comes down to that. It is what it is. You owe it to your team, to your sponsors to go out and win the race. Unfortunately it came down to that situation.
"But trust me, I was prepared to push him to the win no matter what the cost was if we would have had people breathing down or necks, too. Just wasn't meant to be for him. He's been a great team-mate. Learned a lot from him. He's already won a lot of races. I think he's won like 20-something races, I've only won five."
Dave Blaney ran third at the flag, pushed by Chase contender Brad Keselowski in fourth, ahead of the Red Bull tandem of Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne, the latter recovering from a spin earlier in the race. Tony Stewart led the most laps, working with at least three different drafting parters, and eventually finishing seventh.
Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards finished 11th after a conservative run to the finish, pushed by his team-mate Greg Biffle. His solid result allowed him to increase his lead in the Chase standing up to 14 points over his team-mate Matt Kenseth, who finished 18th.
"That was a heck of a day for teamwork," said Edwards. "Greg did an unbelievable job of sticking with me and we get to come out of here extending our points lead, which is good. I am pleased that we are able to get out of here with the points lead intact because you just never know what can happen here and to extend it is just great."
Hendrick Motorsports drivers had looked strong in practice and qualifying, sweeping the front row of the grid, and despite all of them taking turns in the lead of the race while drafting together, they were unable to make enough progress in the closing laps, after running at the back of the field for most of the race while trying to avoid trouble.
"With the green-white-chequered situation, there's not a lot of time to get organised and we lost our momentum there and got to the outside and kind of stalled out up on the top and finished far worse than we had hoped to," said Johnson, who moved up one spot in the Chase but lags now 50 points from Edwards.
Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch were both involved in a multi-car incident on lap 104 when Richard Petty's AJ Allmendinger lost control of his car while being pushed by his team-mate Marcos Ambrose. Kurt Busch was also among the Chase contenders hitting trouble, crashing hard into the spinning JTG Daugherty Toyota of Bobby Labonte later on.
Ryan Newman also had a tough day, spinning on lap 80 while pushed by his Stewart Haas team-mate Stewart, dropping to the bottom of the Chase standings as a result.
Labonte was checked for pain in one of his feet at the track's infield care centre while all other drivers involved in incidents were evaluated and released.
Results - 188 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 3h29m14.000s 2. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 0.018s 3. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet + 1.464s 4. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge + 1.523s 5. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota + 1.776s 6. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota + 1.835s 7. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet + 2.318s 8. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota + 2.367s 9. Michael Waltrip Waltrip Toyota + 2.375s 10. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 2.392s 11. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 2.422s 12. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 2.442s 13. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota + 2.451s 14. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 2.482s 15. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford + 2.543s 16. Landon Cassill Phoenix Chevrolet + 2.575s 17. Casey Mears Germain Toyota + 2.578s 18. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 2.605s 19. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 2.620s 20. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet + 2.740s 21. Travis Kvapil Front Row Ford + 2.803s 22. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 2.868s 23. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 2.910s 24. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 2.926s 25. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 2.952s 26. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 2.981s 27. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 3.085s 28. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford + 26.086s 29. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 4 laps 30. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet + 8 laps 31. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford + 9 laps 32. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 9 laps 33. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota + 13 laps 34. Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford + 13 laps Retirements: Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 173 laps Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 173 laps Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge 173 laps Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 172 laps Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet 162 laps Michael McDowell HP Toyota 6 laps Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 4 laps JJ Yeley Front Row Ford 3 laps Kevin Conway NEMCO Toyota 2 laps