Rough Day for Several Chase Contenders
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were caught up in a multi-car wreck and suffered heavy damage taking them both out of contention for the afternoon. Last year's Championship contender Harvick finished 32nd to drop to fifth in the standings (photo courtesy: Chris Graythen, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Clint Bowyer scored the 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win for Richard Childress Racing after he passed his teammate Jeff Burton coming to the checkered flag at Talladega. The path to the championship, which will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20, may have become just a little clearer Sunday. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
The RCR duo pulled away from the field on the final restart of the day with two laps to go. But as they raced toward the finish, Bowyer moved around Burton to edge him by 0.018 seconds at the line to give RCR the milestone victory.
"He (Burton) worked so well with me all day long," Bowyer said. "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."
The final two-lap shootout was set up by an accident that saw Mark Martin clip Regan Smith as the field raced through Turns 3 and 4, sending the No. 78 Chevrolet hard into the outside wall.
Burton was trying to end his winless drought that dates back to October of 2008, but was forced to settle for the runner-up finish.
"Well, I don't know whether to be excited or upset," Burton said. "After the year we've had, it's good to be in position to win a race. Obviously Clint and I worked really well together the whole race. Had some good luck along the way. Whenever you leave here not wrecked, you ought to be happy. At the same time I'm heartbroke we didn't win the race."
Dave Blaney, who drafted with Brad Keselowski, scored a career high third-place finish behind the wheel of the Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet.
"It was a great run," Blaney said. "Obviously we have to thank Brad Keselowski, stayed with us all day long every lap. When you get somebody committed to you no matter what, it makes it a lot easier."
Keselowski followed Blaney across the finish line and moved three spots to third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.
“We’re still in contention and that we have a damn good shot at winning this championship,” Keselowski said. "I worked really hard with Dave Blaney all day. He was a great, great helper and I owe a lot of credit to him. We stayed smart and brought it up front at the end.”
The day was not good for three Chase drivers who all suffered big hits in the standings.
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were involved in a multi-car tangle on the frontstretch that began when Marcos Ambrose made contact with AJ Allmendinger and set off a chain reaction crash.
Both Busch and Harvick were caught up in the melee and suffered heavy damage taking them both out of contention for the afternoon. Harvick finished 32nd to drop to fifth in the standings while Busch’s 33rd-place finish left him sixth and 40 points off the pace.
Kurt Busch was another Chase driver who found trouble when he was involved in an incident when he hit a spinning Bobby Labonte. Busch made the impact after Labonte collided with the Turn 2 wall following contact by Michael Waltrip while in the draft.
“We were doing good all day, running with Regan Smith, and just had nowhere to go," Busch said. "The 47 got flung by Michael Waltrip, he went low, we went high, and he was starting to come back up when I was zigging and zagging. Our championship hopes are done just because of this two-car Talladega draft.”
Carl Edwards paired with his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle to finish 11th to extend his Chase lead to 14 points over Matt Kenseth. Edwards was a popular preseason pick to unseat five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson this fall when NASCAR crowns a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
“This race is insane,” Edwards said. “Greg and I had laid back. We wanted to get a Ford to Victory Lane, but we just thought our best shot was to be out of the wrecks. He (Greg) just does an unbelievable job. The communication was unreal and I hope we can work together at these races from now on.”
Harvick went to pit road for several stops in hopes his crew could fix the battered car, but after making repairs and going back on track his car developed an oil leak to seal his fate.
"It is a little bit frustrating,” said Harvick who came into the race in second place only five behind Carl Edwards in the standings but dropped to fifth and 26 out after his 32nd-place finish. “You do what you think is right at this particular race track and you hope for the best. We had a lot of great runs in the weeks leading up to this and I guess the odds were against us coming into this one."
With four races to go the odds are stacked against Harvick climbing back in the championship race but he remained optimistic.
“Yes, but obviously that wasn't the day we wanted,” Harvick said. “But, but the way the rest of those guys raced, it didn't devastate us. We wanted to be in the front. We thought that was the safer place to be in case the thing went green. I thought I was around a pretty good group of cars there. I don't know what happened. It is just one of those deals.”
Round 7 of the Chase is Sunday at Martinsville. This year, Homestead-Miami Speedway will crown NASCAR’s Champions for the 10th consecutive year during Ford Championship weekend. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.