A Clint of Hope: Bowyer Wins Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega
So much for lame duck racer - in fact, so much for Clint Bowyer being a racer outside of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.
In one of Talladega Superspeedway's most competitive races in recent memory, Bowyer won the Good Sam Club 500 over teammate Jeff Burton by just 0.018 seconds - faster than blinking an eye.
Successfully defending his victory from last year, Bowyer and his No. 33 Chevy Richard Childress Racing crew were one of the few who successfully paired up with their teammates towards the finish of the race.
Bowyer praised his teammate's help towards the finish of the race in Victory Lane as he closes out his RCR chapter that started back in 2005.
"We just were really good together," Bowyer said per AP Sports Writer Jenna Fryer's article, repbulished on Yahoo! Sports. "We thought about it, we talked about it a lot before the race and things really did play out just how we planned."
While they succeeded in their plans, the same couldn't be said for a majority of the field, including Jeff Gordon and his No. 24 team in what could be dubbed "Dega Gate."
Gordon and Trevor Bayne, who worked together during Daytona Speedweeks earlier this year, had apparently agreed to work together to make a move toward the lead in the closing laps of the 500-miler at Talladega on Sunday.
Instead, on the final restart, when Gordon and Bayne were going to work together for the win, Bayne opted for another route for the win, electing to help out his fellow Ford Racing peers.
Ultimately, that left Gordon hung out to dry, dropping from the top-10 to a disappointing 27th place finish.
"The Fords made it pretty clear about what they were doing in working with another," Gordon said. "So I didn’t expect him to commit to me on the radio. I expected him to say, 'Man, I’m sorry, I can’t.' And when he said, 'Yeah, I’m pushing you, we’re good,' I believed him. I think they had a different plan."
Bayne, who drives the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion from the Wood Brothers Racing shop, felt horrible about what happened during the finish, apologizing to Gordon in the garage area after the race.
"I would have rather pulled over and finished last than tell (Gordon) I would work with him and then be strong armed into bailing," Bayne said on his Twitter account, a post which has since been deleted.
Talladega was somewhat tough on the Chasers, with only Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, and Denny Hamlin coming home in the top-10.
Points leader Carl Edwards continued his consistent pace to the championship by finishing 11th, now pacing Matt Kenseth by 14 markers, who came home in 18th position.
Hendrick teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, who've worked all season long at the plate tracks, didn't make the charge needed for the win, relegating to 26th and 27th place finishes.
Lastly, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Ryan Newman all had forgetable races, as they finished 32nd, 33rd, 36th, and 38th respectively.
The race lacked a "Big One," otherwise known as the tremendous multi-car crash that's an aspect with restrictor plate racing where a driver's mistake often leads to a catastrophic pile of sheet metal debris.
However, it was a race that'll probably end up in the nightmare column for Regan Smith and his No. 78 Furniture Row Chevy team. First, Smith wound up crashing in the race hard, which necessitated repairs to the SAFER barrier.
Adding insult to injury, Smith's No. 78 team's hauler was damaged by fire when their gas man accidentally ignited gas cans to be transported back to their shops. Fortunately, nobody was injured in spite of the damage done to the hauler.
With Talladega in the rear view mirror, the Cup circuit will prepare for some good "brakes" for this Sunday's TUMS 500 at Martinsville Speedway (Live at 1 PM ET on ESPN). Denny Hamlin looks to defend his victory from a season ago to salvage his somewhat disappointing Chase efforts.
Now here's a look at the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship points standings, with drivers' teams, manufacturer, and wins (if applicable) are listed in the parentheses:
- Carl Edwards (Roush-Fenway/Ford/1 win)
- Matt Kenseth (Roush-Fenway/Ford/3 wins)
- Brad Keselowski (Penske/Dodge/3 wins)
- Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/2 wins)
- Kevin Harvick (Childress/Chevy/4 wins)
- Kyle Busch (Gibbs/Toyota/4 wins)
- Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick/Chevy/2 wins)
- Kurt Busch (Penske/Dodge/2 wins)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick/Chevy)
- Jeff Gordon (Hendrick/Chevy/3 wins)
- Denny Hamlin (Gibbs/Toyota/1 win)
- Ryan Newman (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/1 win)