|Clint Bowyer makes Talladega another restrictor-plate coup for Richard Childress Racing. (AP)|
Updated Oct. 24
Lost amid the weekend's talk of tandem drafting, multi-car accidents and broken alliances was the fact that a 17th different winner found Victory Lane on Sunday.
Clint Bowyer's second straight fall Talladega win added to the incredible level of competition this Sprint Cup Series season has seen.
It was also a historic win as Bowyer's trip to Victory Lane was the 100th career Cup triumph for team owner Richard Childress.
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And with four races left inside the RCR stable before moving to Michael Waltrip Racing next season, coming home first did some good for Bowyer as well.
"It's just so important to me to be able to cap off such a good relationship with Richard," Bowyer said. "Everybody at RCR -- it's like family over there. Meant a lot for me to be able to win before we end this deal. The stars were lined up today with having the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet on the racecar. If I won the race, it was going to be Richard's 100th win. Too many things meant to be for it not to be. I'm excited that it was."
Bowyer announced his intention to leave RCR, where he's spent his entire Sprint Cup career, a few weeks ago. A combination of Childress shrinking his operations from four to three cars, sponsorship and MWR looking to expand all factored into the decision.
Bowyer stressed there are no hard feelings and that the business nature in the sport today was the main reason.
"There was going to be an odd man out one of these days," Bowyer said of Childress' plan to fold in grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon to the Sprint Cup effort in the near future. "Everybody knows what's coming. It was unfortunate that it was me. But I'm over the emotional part of that. I'm excited about the future. When I say the future is bright, I feel like it is."
That future was made even brighter with Bowyer's win on Sunday, which also earned him a spot in next year's Sprint All-Star Race.
"I want to thank Richard for helping me out next year -- that's a big race for us," Bowyer said after learning he had made next year's race in Charlotte.
There were more than enough thank you's to go around for everyone on Sunday.
|Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth place finish and Jimmie Johnson?s misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver?s championship to lose.|
|Saw his seven point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.|
|Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.|
|Ending the year on a positive note but wasn?t able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth place performance.|
|Was the victim of Jeff Gordon?s revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn?t an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.|
|Hamlin?s second place finish in Phoenix a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He?ll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.|
|Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday?s win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.|
|A decent day for ?The Biff? in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.|
|Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.|
|Rough way to earn a fifth place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.|
|Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th place finish for Stewart.|
|Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th place effort in Phoenix.|
|13||Martin Truex Jr.||10|
|His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.|
|An 11th place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.|