Bowyer edges Burton for Talladega win

Talladega, AL (Sports Network) - In what turned out to be another frantic finish at Talladega Superspeedway, Clint Bowyer made a winning pass on his Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton on the final lap to take Sunday's Good Sam Club 500.

Both Bowyer and Burton were hooked up in a two-car tandem for most of the 500- mile race at Talladega. Regan Smith's hard crash into the outside wall during the closing laps set up a two-lap sprint to the finish. After the final restart, Bowyer and Burton quickly pulled away from the field.

As the two RCR drivers came out of the last turn on the final lap, Bowyer dove underneath Burton to take the lead. He crossed the finish line 0.018 seconds ahead of Burton for his first win of the season and the fifth of his Sprint Cup Series career. Bowyer also won last year's fall race at this 2.66-mile superspeedway.

"It was a good day, and I want to thank my teammate Jeff Burton," Bowyer said. "We were just really good together. We thought about it, and we talked about it a lot before the race, and things really did play out the way we planned. We were really good on the restarts, getting together and getting bunched up before the other cars, and I think that's what ultimately won the race."

Bowyer also gave team owner Richard Childress his 100th win in NASCAR's premier series.

"It means a lot to me to get all of these guys back in victory lane before we cap off this season," Bowyer noted.

Bowyer is leaving RCR at the end of the year and heading to Michael Waltrip Racing for the 2012 season. He has driven for Childress' team in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series since 2004.

"We put ourselves in position to win the race, and Clint did a great job," Burton said. "I thought he made the move a little too early, but it turned out that he did it perfectly."

Burton was attempting to snap a three-year winless streak in the series. His last victory came in October 2008 at Charlotte (108 races ago).

"Part of me wants to cheer, and part of me wants to cry," he added.

Bowyer and Burton did not qualify for this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Both drivers made the playoffs in 2010.

Dave Blaney, driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing, finished a surprising third, while Brad Keselowski was the highest finisher among the 12 Chase drivers with a fourth-place run. Red Bull Racing teammates Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne took the fifth and sixth positions, respectively.

Carl Edwards finished 11th and increased his lead to 14 points over new second-place and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who placed 18th. It's the largest points lead in the Chase so far.

Edwards partnered with teammate Greg Biffle in the two-car draft during the race, which featured 72 lead changes among 26 drivers.

"This race is insane," Edwards said. "During that last dash to the finish, Greg and I laid back, and we wanted to get a Ford into victory lane. We just thought we would do best by staying out of the wrecks. Man, he just does an unbelievable job. The communication was unreal. I just hope we can work together in these races from now on."

Keselowski is now 18 points out of the lead, while Tony Stewart trails by 19 markers. Stewart finished seventh. He led the most laps with 30.

Jimmie Johnson finished 26th and fell 50 points behind Edwards. Just four races remain, with the series heading to Martinsville Speedway -- the shortest track on the schedule -- next weekend.

Other Chase drivers and their finishing positions include: Denny Hamlin (8th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (25th), Jeff Gordon (27th), Kevin Harvick (32nd), Kyle Busch (33rd), Kurt Busch (36th) and Ryan Newman (38th).

The race also featured nine cautions, including Smith's serious wreck on lap 181. Smith hit the wall head-on after he bumped into Hamlin and pole sitter Mark Martin. He walked away from the incident unscathed.

"That wasn't a fun hit, but that's what happens at restrictor-plate tracks," Smith said. "Unfortunately, you get caught up in other people's messes."

Safety had been a major concern in this race, following the death of race car driver Dan Wheldon in a 15-car accident during last Sunday's IndyCar race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Prior to the start of the Talladega race, drivers, teams and fans observed a moment of silence for Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and former IndyCar champion.

10/23 19:36:39 ET

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