As He Celebrated Victory at Talladega Clint Bowyer Still Thought About Jeff Burton’s Defeat
By Kelly Crandall On Wed, Oct. 26, 2011
Even as he tried to win the race himself, Clint Bowyer was also hoping that teammate Jeff Burton won too. The two were trying to outrun each other to the finish line in Sunday’s Good Same Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, which Bowyer ended up winning in a photo finish.
“He worked so well with me all day long,” said Bowyer afterward. “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. But trust me, I was prepared to push him to the win no matter what the cost was if we would have had people breathing down our necks.”
Bowyer went on to say that a victory wasn’t meant to be for Burton. He also called him a great teammate who he’s learned a lot from. But, Burton has plenty of wins says Bowyer and the Cheerios / Hamburger Helper driver wanted another one for himself.
It was hard though, to take it away from Burton who hasn’t won since 2008. Bowyer was riding a winless streak dating back to this event last season as he also looked to head to his new home with Michael Waltrip Racing next year a winner. Bowyer will leave though as the driver who delivered Richard Childress Racing its 100th victory.
This victory was bittersweet because of who Bowyer had to beat. With drafting partners a must at Talladega because of the new style of drafting, Bowyer and Burton only left ach other’s bumpers when they need to perform the swap. Otherwise they were glued together and more often than not, were leading the field.
On the final restart with two laps to go Burton and Bowyer again broke away from the field and it left the win to be decided between the two of them. With Bowyer pushing the No. 31 coming to the tri-oval he decided to make his move and let it be a drag race to the finish line instead of waiting until the last possible second to pull out from behind Burton.
“I was going to make sure it was clean,” said Bowyer. “I wasn’t going to put him in a situation where we were going to wreck. We’ve been through too much. I’m telling you, I have a ton of respect for Jeff Burton. He was still going to have a shot at [winning].”
With such a display Bowyer did the unnatural thing as a racecar driver in sacrificing a potential win for himself. Other drivers would have pulled off the move and never looked back but on Sunday, Bowyer was both joyous and a little un-content with his victory. Beating a teammate is never as easy and fun as it sounds.
“If you waited till the tri-oval and snookered him at the end, there wasn’t going to be a shot at it,” Bowyer said. “You would have been able to pull by him, the rest would have been history. Starting the move that early was going to enable him to have a shot.”
As the two headed for the finish near the entrance to turn one the teammates bounced off each other a few times. With Bowyer the victor for the first time in 2011, Burton was left with the uneasy feeling that he couldn’t have done anything different to change the outcome.
“I’m pissed off and I’m happy all at the same time if there is such a thing,” said Burton. Anytime you come here and you can get a top 10, have a car that’s not torn up, you have to at least be somewhat happy with that. However, to come that close and to lose it is disheartening. It’s always worse to lose ‘em close.”
Burton felt that Bowyer made his move too early and it was why he let him go to the bottom. With a longer distance to go to the finish line unlike other oval tracks, Burton felt he had time to get back by Bowyer. But Bowyer had the momentum and the speed, which was why he was pushing to begin with and it ended up helping him in the end.
“He wasn’t expecting it,” said Bowyer. “I know he was expecting for me to wait for the tri-oval because we talked about it. I felt like it was an opportunity to catch him off guard. It did, but it about but me in the butt too.”