Talladega a Treat for Bowyer

Clint Bowyer

Bowyer celebrates his second win in the Chase. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Clint Bowyer survived a wild last lap dash to the checkered flag and was able to edge teammate Kevin Harvick for the win in the AMP Energy Juice 500 on Halloween at Talladega Superspeedway.

Bowyer was ahead of Harvick when caution came out for a multi-car pile-up on the frontstretch just after the white flag had waved on the 188-lap event and declared the winner.

"I tell you, I love restrictor plate racing,” Bowyer said. “This is what it is all about. This feels awesome to come out here and do this."

The victory was Bowyer’s second of the Chase and although he’s out of championship contention due in part to the 150 point penalty incurred when his car was found illegal after his September New Hampshire win, the Richard Childress Racing driver believes he can still have an influence on the outcome of the title race.

“Just very, very happy for a lot of reasons,” Bowyer said. “Everybody at RCR has worked very hard to get us back. To have Kevin racing for a championship is where obviously Jeff and I wanted to be. But to have him still in a shot at winning a championship, that's very important. To be able to win two races in a Chase for our race team is very important.”

The melee behind the leaders included AJ Allmedinger winding up on his roof while cars slid and crashed behind him. Caution flew but no one knew who was in front of who on the race track and it took NASCAR several minutes to sort out the running order through video and electronic scoring loops.

Bowyer was finally declared the winner and ahead of Harvick by mere inches.

Harvick’s car suffered damage when he was swept up in a six-car spin on the backstretch that saw Marcos Ambrose slide in front of the No. 29 RCR Chevrolet. Harvick made contact with Ambrose’s car in the incident but his crew was able to repair the damage and keep him in the mix for the victory.

"I knew it was close,” said Harvick of the finish. “We came to the start/finish line, I thought I had beat him but I didn't know if the caution had come out at that particular time.

“All the repairs and work. You just never know how it is all going to wind up here at Talladega and today we were on the good end of it."

Juan Pablo Montoya, David Reutimann and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski completed the first ten finishers.

Johnson’s lead in the Sprint Cup Series point standings was cut to 14 over Hamlin while Harvick is now only 38 behind with three races left in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“We felt like we had a shot to win the race today,” said Johnson, who paired up with teammate Gordon for a two-car draft to the front of the field. “We did a good job today. We played our strategy out right. We got into the lead with four or five to go maybe a touch to early, but I had a good shot at it.”

The crash that ended the race was the biggest on the day, which was free of the infamous multi-car incidents associated with Talladega.

However, there were other tangles including one between Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Burton, who made contact trying to draft with each other racing in turns three and four. Earnhardt made contact with Burton’s rear bumper and sent him into a spin and heavily damaging the No. 31 Chevrolet. Burton finished 41st and Earnhardt was able to continue after repairs for a 39th-place finish.

“It wasn’t anything on purpose,” Burton said of the incident. "Just didn’t get lined up. I moved a little different than he thought I was going to. He didn’t do anything wrong.”

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Texas Motor Speedway for next Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.

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