Bowyer wins Good Sam Club 500 to give RCR 100th career victory

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Befitting a man who has spent his life in auto racing, Richard Childress’ career came full circle on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Clint Bowyer passed Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton on the final lap to win the Good Sam Club 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and give Childress his 100th career victory as a Cup owner.

Childress began his racing career at Talladega Superspeedway during the track’s first race weekend in 1969. He competed as a driver in both the Saturday and Sunday events that year, then used his prize money to build the race shop that eventually would grow into the RCR organization.

“It all started for RCR right here in 1969 with a $20 race car and a dream,” Childress said. “The money I got from Mr. France (Bill France Sr.) that day was more money than I’d ever seen in my life. It’s great to come back to the same place where I really got my big break and get our 100th win here.”

In addition to the victory being the 100th for RCR, this year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Chevrolet. Bowyer’s primary sponsor Sunday was the Chevrolet 100-year celebration.

“The stars were just lined up for us today,” said Bowyer, who also won this race last year. “There were too many things that were meant to be for it not to be.”

There were a total of 72 lead changes among 26 drivers, though Bowyer and Burton were in the lead for much of the race. They combined to lead 51 of the 188 laps, and fellow RCR driver Kevin Harvick led for 13 laps.

Childress said he wants his drivers to always push for the lead and not just wait until near the end of the race. That attitude is one of the reasons RCR has the most career Talladega Superspeedway Sprint Cup victories with 12, nine by Dale Earnhardt Sr.

“I was really proud of our RCR cars all day,” Childress said. “These fans pay a lot of money. All our RCR cars raced to give these fans a show. We didn’t sit in the back and ride and wait until the last minute. Our cars raced all day long. That’s what we get paid for. We don’t get paid to ride in the back.

“It goes back to some of the philosophy that Dale and I planned many years ago and that we still use today. And that’s race as hard as you can and run up front all day.”

Burton and Bowyer pulled away from the pack on a late restart, and by the time they reached the backstretch of the final lap it was evident that one of the two cars was going to win the race. The question then became when would Bowyer attempt to pass Burton?

“I got on the radio and said, ‘I bet you’re thinking about where you’re going to pass me on the front straightaway,’ ” said Burton, a 19-year Cup veteran. “I was going to ask him to give an old man a break, but I knew better than that. I knew he was going to make a move.

“We had broken off from everybody and I knew he was going to try something. He’s not supposed to push me to the win. He’s supposed to go and try to win.”

Which is exactly what Bowyer did, dropping low on the track as the duo came through the trioval and edging Burton at the finish line by 0.018 seconds. Dave Blaney finished third, followed by Brad Keselowski in fourth and Brian Vickers fifth.

“I didn’t think we’d come off Turn 2 with such a big lead,” Bowyer said. “But they were racing two and three wide behind us, and we were able to race off into the sunset.”

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