Clint Bowyer delivered the first victory of the season for beleaguered Richard Childress Racing, which has suffered cutbacks from Chevrolet in the wake of General Motors’ reorganization under bankruptcy.
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — With cars spinning wildly behind him in Turn 4, Clint Bowyer claimed his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season and the seventh of his career in Friday night’s Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Bowyer also delivered the first victory of the season for beleaguered Richard Childress Racing, which has suffered cutbacks from Chevrolet in the wake of General Motors’ reorganization under bankruptcy.
Bowyer had just taken the white flag during an attempt at a green-white-checkered finish that took the race two laps past its scheduled 100 laps when a six-car wreck froze the field under caution and made a winner of the 2008 series champion, who is running a partial schedule this year.
Kyle Busch was second when the yellow flew and extended his lead in the series standings to 172 points over third-place finisher Carl Edwards. Joey Logano, Busch’s teammate, came home fourth, with Kasey Kahne in fifth.
Brad Keselowski, Brian Vickers, rookie Justin Allgaier, David Ragan and Kevin Harvick completed the top 10.
Bowyer was ecstatic to record his first win at the 2.5-mile restrictor-plate racetrack.
“I can’t begin to tell you what this place means to me, my family,” Bowyer said in victory lane. “Everything you ever work for is to come to Daytona, let alone win a race here… The wolves were coming, and (crew chief) Doug (Randolph) made a good call to stay out and not take tires.
“The 18, Kyle gave me a good push right there at the end. Luckily, the caution came out. Who knows what would have happened in that last lap… It’s been tough this year. It’s been tough on him (Childress). It’s been tough on everybody. I’m real proud of everybody at RCR and ECR (Earnhardt-Childress Racing), the engine program — this is pretty special.”
A wreck on Lap 58 knocked Dale Earnhardt Jr. out of the race. Contact from Chase Austin’s Chevrolet turned the Dodge of Patrick Sheltra into the outside wall just beyond the exit of Turn 2. Steve Wallace spun while taking evasive action and clobbered Earnhardt’s Chevrolet.
“Everybody had blistered their tires on the last run, and I was going to try and sit back and save my tires,” Earnhardt said, after bringing his car to the garage. “Guys got together, and it was real, real tight off of (Turn 2). Somebody had to check up, and it caused the crash. It was bound to happen — everybody’s car was driving about the same.”
During pit stops under the caution for the wreck, Michael Waltrip, who had come to pit road as the leader, saw his winning chances disappear.
Exiting the pit box, Waltrip’s Toyota collided with Mark Green’s Chevy, caving in the right side of Waltrip’s car. Nevertheless, Waltrip salvaged an 11th-place finish.
Notes: Strong all night, Bowyer led a race-high 48 laps. … Friday’s race was the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ first use of the double-file restart with lead-lap cars taking the green flag side-by side. … Kerry Earnhardt and Austin escaped injury during a wreck on Lap 77, but both were treated in the infield care center for heat-related issues.