With the 2019 season serving as the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing, we plan to dip into the archives to present the stories of iconic moments, race wins, championships and much more as part of our weekly Throwback Thursday series.
The final week of this year’s West Coast swing takes both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Both series have been racing at the 2-mile D-shaped oval since 1997 and Richard Childress Racing has earned two victories in that time.
The first of those came in 2007 when Jeff Burton took the No. 29 Chevrolet to Victory Lane in the 300-mile Xfinity Series race on Sept. 1.
During the 2007 Xfinity Series season, Burton shared the No. 29 Chevrolet with Scott Wimmer as crew chief Pat Smith lead the team from atop the pit box. The pair were successful throughout the season, compiling a total of five victories, 17 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes through 35 races – earning RCR the owner championship at the end of the year.
Leading into the second race weekend at Fontana that year, Burton had already recorded two wins early in the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. For this 15th start of the year, Burton started the night’s race in the fifth position and battled Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer throughout the event.
This race was marred by a spectacularly hard wreck with Brad Keselowski, A.J. Allmendinger, JJ Yeley and Eric McClure, which saw Keselowski’s car shoot nearly head-on into the wall, lifting into the air on the side of Allmendinger’s car and sliding down the track in a shower of sparks. Each driver was able to walk away from the incident.
The racing on the wide, 2-mile track was fierce for much of the night. Burton took the lead for the first time on Lap 45 for just one circuit during green flag pit stops and battled for the top spot with Ryan Newman from Lap 63 to Lap 96. A restart with 10 laps to go reset the field and put Burton on Busch’s back bumper with fresher tires for the final run to the checkered flag.
With eight laps to go, Burton dove to the inside of Busch for the lead but had to race side-by-side for more than a lap before securing the top spot. Once out front, Burton was able to drive away over the final six laps of the race to score his third win of the season to that point. It was Burton’s first victory at Auto Club Speedway.
“This feels really good. These guys have been working really hard,” Burton said in Victory Lane. “We brought this new car just for this race, and it really took everybody to get it done. I really appreciate everybody’s effort. This team is just so good. I’m really proud to drive this car.”
In all, Burton earned five wins throughout the 2007 season, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with consistent runs coming from Wimmer as well. Thanks to their impressive performance, the No. 29 team delivered the Xfinity Series owner championship to Richard Childress by 255 points over Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 team.
The No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet currently sits in the Richard Childress Racing Museum in Welcome, North Carolina, with a collage of images from the successful season on the wall behind it.