An interview with: Clint Bowyer, Shane Wilson and Richard Childress
KERRY THARP: Let's roll into our race winner's press conference for today's race. Our race winner is Clint Bowyer. He's joined on the podium by his owner Richard Childress. Today was the hundredth career Sprint Cup Series victory for Richard Childress Racing. Congratulations on that monumental win. This is your 12th win at Talladega, all-time best in NASCAR series history. He's joined by crew chief Shane Wilson as well. Clint Bowyer wins for the fifth time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, the second time here at Talladega.
Clint, take us through that final part of that lap when you made the move, got past Burton, got to the checkered flag.
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, the last lap, really to tell you the truth, going down the back straightaway, I wasn't even looking at him. I already felt bad for him. I knew we had a 12-, 14-car lead. I was looking in the mirror, waiting for the smoke to fly, move ahead of him before the caution came out.
That's kind of what was on your mind. We had a moment. He told me, Bet you were thinking you were going to pass me on the front straightaway. I was chuckling. That's exactly what I was thinking. He kind of moved up off of four. I knew it was too early to go, but it was going to be a drag race, give us both a shot at it. I felt like it did.
He worked so well with me all day long. 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 or necks, too. Just wasn't meant to be for him. He's been a great teammate. Learned a lot from him. He's already won a lot of races. I think he's won like 20 some races, I've only won five.
KERRY THARP: This win today also gets you in next year's Sprint All-Star Race.
CLINT BOWYER: I want to thank Richard for helping me out next year, that's a big race for us. Thank you, Richard. Thank you, Shane.
It's just so important to me to be able to cap off such a good relationship with Richard. 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 hundredth anniversary of Chevrolet on the racecar. If I won the race, it was going to be Richard's hundredth win. Too many things meant to be for it not to be. I'm excited that it was.
KERRY THARP: Crew chief Shane Wilson, talk about the victory here today.
SHANE WILSON: Just means a lot for our team. We worked so hard. Everyone in the garage works hard. We're a team that we expect to win. We expected to be in the Chase. It's good to get the win. It's big for our team. All the guys work so hard. We've been so close this year and let it slip away, so it was nice to seal the deal.
KERRY THARP: Richard, congratulations not only on today's win but also the hundredth win for your racing organization. Talk about the win here today, but also talk about a hundred wins as a team owner.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It was a great win. Once I seen the gap they had, Clint and Jeff, I knew there was going to be a move. They did what they were supposed to. All of us hate it for Jeff. But when you're in this business, you got to do what you got to do for yourself and the team.
I was really proud of RCR cars all day. These fans pay a lot of money. I hate it for Kevin, but he was doing what he was supposed to be doing. All of our RCR cars race to give these fans a show. We didn't sit in the back and ride till the last minute. Our cars ran all day long. We don't get paid to ride in the back. I'm proud of every one of 'em. I'm proud of Clint getting the win. Clint, thanks for getting us on winner's circle next year.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions.
Q. Richard, could you reflect in two ways on a hundred wins. 30 plus years ago when you were an independent driver, you used to talk about plowing your money back in the operation, put somebody in the car, make something out of that team. Can you talk about whether back then in your wildest dreams you expected to win a hundred races? Can you also talk about winning this hundredth one with a guy everybody thought you were going to half bake it on the rest of this season when he's leaving, yet getting that win with a guy even when he's leaving?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It all started here for RCR in 1969. It's nice to come back where I got my big break, 1969 when they boycotted. I went ahead and ran the race and I got money on Saturday, got money on Sunday, got deal money from Mr. Bill France, Sr., more money than I'd ever seen in my life. We went back, built the shop started racing.
That was a big break for me in Talladega. Today to get our hundredth win with Clint, only in America could a kid with a $20 racecar do what I've been able to do, myself and my people working with me. It started with an old $20 racecar and a dream.
Q. Where was the first win?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Riverside, California, with Ricky Rudd, 1983.
Q. Clint, what was the key in you and Jeff moving away from everybody else so quick those last couple laps?
CLINT BOWYER: We talked right before the race. Right after the drivers meeting we talked. Just had a game plan what we wanted to do, what we were strong at, what we needed to improve on. One of those was the restarts, being able to bunch up and get together, make that connection before the rest of them, get up through the gearbox better than the rest. I think that's what ultimately won us the race. We were able to do that on virtually every restart.
I was really, really worried. You're looking in the mirror. I know I've got to let him down, then get back together. I knew that the Red Bull cars were already going to be together as soon as the rag dropped. 27 and 14 formed a partnership. I didn't think never in a million years we'd come off of two with a lead.
As luck would have it, and I'm telling you luck has a lot to do with these races, it always does, right at the split second I touched his bumper, one of the Red Bull cars hit me in the butt. It just launched us out there. The rest was history. I was able to get up through the gearbox, shove him. It got us away. At that split second, they came to a halt and split up and were racing two- and three-wide. We were able to drive off into the sunset.
Q. Richard, you've won a lot of races here, I think 12, with a variety of different guys. Why are you so good as a team here and why are you always one of the cars to beat here?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I don't know. We just got great people working for us. We plan for this. We work hard for the restrictor plate races. Daytona, we had some good shots to win there, we've won there, and racing here. I think it goes back to some of the philosophy that Dale and I planned many years ago. We still use that same philosophy. That's race as hard as you can, run up front all day.
Q. Clint, when you make that move coming off of four, did you have a little sense of relief knowing that it was Jeff, that he was going to race you hard, but it was going to be clean?
CLINT BOWYER: I was going to make sure it was clean. 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 it. If you waited till the tri-oval and snookered him at the end, there wasn't going to be a shot at it. 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. I knew we were far away ahead and nobody was going to be able to catch us and it was going to be a drag race till the end. It pretty much was. Glad it worked out. Probably a pretty risky move on my part.
Like I said, he wasn't expecting it. 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 bit me in the butt, too.
Q. Richard, you don't like to sit back. How disappointed would you have been if those two had been that far out and decided to ride? How disappointed would you have been in him if he hadn't tried?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I knew going down the backstretch, once you seen they had the lead they had, that he was going to. Paul was racing with the 14. I told him on the radio, I said, Win the race. You can't just push somebody, you got to go up there and try to win the race. He did just what I told Paul to do. That's what you're in this business for, race hard, put on a show for the fans.
Q. Clint, did you ever think about riding in the back? Did you ever talk about, Maybe we should? Is that not even a thought?
CLINT BOWYER: No. Two things. First and foremost, I think Richard is right. These fans pay a ton of money to watch these races and we owe it to them to put a show on them from rag to rag.
Second thing is it's great practice. We don't get a lot of practice. Used to be you'd come to these tracks, you'd have tons of practice, working on the drafting, working on cowling, air cleaners, so many different things to see if your car would pull up to the next car better or worse, headers. Now you got what you got. You come here, run three or four laps in practice. As long as nothing falls off the thing, you're not just completely slow, you go on to the race.
So I feel like it gives you an advantage being able to race up there, slice and dice all race long, that you're not caught off guard, go up there and make a mistake. I don't mean to say anything bad, but when those guys come up there on that one run, I looked in the mirror, I knew they were going to wreck, and they did. It just puts you in a situation that's unfamiliar territory, and they wreck every time. It happens every single time.
Q. Richard, what were you thinking when Harvick was told he had to go to the garage to fix the smoke? What do you think of his championship chances being 26 points out with four to go?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I mean, we're not done. I told him a while ago, Don't stick a fork in the shit. We're definitely not done. We're going to race, take no prisoners, do a deal, race as hard as we can.
It's unfortunate that Kevin got in that crash. He was doing what we all talked about doing, running up front. It just happened he got hung up in it. It may have cost us the championship. We may have been able to ride in the back and wait it out. But that wasn't what Kevin wanted to do. We had all of our sponsors here today. That just isn't what we wanted to do.
It may bite us, but I'm proud of him getting the car fixed anyway.
Q. RC, there was a lot made about Ford didn't want to work with Chevrolets, something with the 21 and the 24. The 27 was working with the 14. Did you tell him to back off because you got the points? Is there something about the points deal that makes Talladega a little more difficult for a car owner to deal with if he has a lot of teams?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, actually all the teams know they're supposed to come here and try to win the race, never wreck each other. They know that.
I went on Paul's radio and told him go up there and push Tony and try to win the race. I wanted him to win the race but I also wanted him to push Tony. That was just the way it was. He knew what he was going to do. If he came down to the end, he would have tried to make a move like Clint did on Jeff.
Q. Would you have gone with a Ford, too, if you had a chance?
CLINT BOWYER: I know the answer to that. He wouldn't have opted for that option, no.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We were going to help Chevy try to win. I've been Chevy all my life. We've been GM for 40 some years, I think 45 years now. It's kind of hard to change an old dog.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations to the No. 33 team, Clint Bowyer, Shane Wilson, and Richard Childress Racing.