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.
This weekend the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Cup Series head to the ‘Magic Mile’ in Loudon, New Hampshire, a track that opened in 1993 and one where Richard Childress Racing has earned four Cup wins and one Xfinity victory over the years.
Robby Gordon earned the team’s first win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2001, capping off an emotional season with a victory in the Thanksgiving weekend event that was delayed a few months due to the September 11th attacks.
RCR’s success continued in the Granite State, with Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer also winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway over the years in the Cup Series, and Harvick delivering the team’s lone Xfinity Series win in 2007.
The organization’s most recent win at the ‘Magic Mile’ came in 2010 during the opening weekend of the Chase for the NASCAR Cup Series, when Bowyer dominated the event and showed they meant business.
Entering the weekend, Bowyer was at the bottom of the 12 Chase drivers hoping to contend for the championship. Teammate Kevin Harvick was third in the Chase standings, with Jeff Burton slotting in in the 10th place, with the same point differential as Bowyer.
Bowyer qualified second and put the No. 33 Chevrolet on the outside of the front row for the start of the 300-lap race. The car struggled to get going on the initial start of the race, but neither Bowyer nor the Shane Wilson-led crew kept the ultimate goal in mind and never gave up. After about 20 laps, the Chevrolet came to life and began chasing down the leaders ahead of him.
Bowyer took the lead for the first time of the day by taking two tires under caution after just 26 laps and dominated the next two-thirds of the race by keeping his Chevrolet out front while the rest of the field battled fiercely behind the No. 33.
When the fourth caution of the day flew with less than 100 laps to go in the race, Bowyer was concerned with his car on short runs while Wilson was worried about fuel mileage atop the pit box.
The RCR pit crew put Bowyer back in the lead after a quick four-tire stop, but on the restart, Tony Stewart was able to get around the outside off Turn 2 to take the lead – but not without a fight.
Stewart would hold the top spot and battle with Jamie McMurray over the next 86 laps while Bowyer put in himself in position to race back to the front.
With a car that handled best on the long run, Bowyer was forced to deal with short run after short run as the caution flew multiple times for incidents in the final portion of the event.
As the laps clicked away, so did the fuel. While Bowyer’s concerns about the short-run struggles had been erased with a long run to the end the race, Wilson’s fuel mileage calculations throughout the day were crucial in the final laps.
Bowyer’s teammate Burton – who last pitted on the same lap – ran out of fuel with two laps to go. Stewart – the race leader who also pitted at the same time – ran out of fuel coming to take the white flag off Turn 4.
Inheriting the lead from Stewart coming to the white flag, Bowyer had to make it one more mile on fuel and hold off Denny Hamlin. Doing so, Bowyer earned his second win at New Hampshire, the organization’s fourth at the speedway and his first of the 2010 Chase.
With the victory, Bowyer jumped from 12th to second in the championship standings.
"You never quit. That’s how you win a championship, you never quit," spotter Mike Dillon said over the radio as Bowyer smoked the tires and the crew celebrated on the wall.
Climbing from the car, Bowyer took his time to congratulate and celebrate with the team on the wall before coasting his way to Victory Lane.
"I’m just proud of everyone at RCR. These guys here just did a phenomenal job," team owner Richard Childress said. "Clint had a great car and for Shane to make the call, I didn’t know how short we was on fuel.
"I knew it was going to be close and as soon as he got into second place there, that’s when they started telling him to slow down in between Dillon telling him, me telling him and Shane telling him that he had to save it.
"He did a great job being able to save fuel right there at the end. I think we had a really strong car, and it would have been a good race if it had not been on fuel mileage but the way it came out, it worked out and we won the race," he said.
Knowing it would come down to fuel mileage, Bowyer described his emotions over the final laps in watching Stewart run out with two laps to go and trying to make it home to score the win.
"Couldn’t believe it. I could not believe it," Bowyer said of Stewart running out of fuel. "And then I thought I was going to run out. As soon as you see him run out, you’re wondering when it’s your turn then. It happened in the burnout, thank God."
The win was also special for Wilson because it came in front of his hometown crowd.
"It’s definitely a big deal. Means a lot to me," said Wilson. "Come here a lot of times, got to win a Nationwide race with Kevin, ran good here with Brendan in the Truck Series, but to win a race in Cup; family is here, came and watched the first Cup race here when Rusty (Wallace) won up in the stands, so means a lot."
The No. 33 team ultimately ended the 2010 season 10th in the overall standings after a few struggles in the Chase, while Harvick ended the year third and Burton 12th.