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 2019 season marks the 50th anniversary for both Dover International Speedway and Richard Childress Racing. Two organizations that have shaped and molded NASCAR history throughout the years have also shared some special memories along the way.
In all, RCR has 276 starts across all three NASCAR national touring series, earning seven wins, 49 top-five and 112 top-10 finishes, five pole awards and 3,046 laps led.
Three of those victories came during the 2006 season, with Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer bringing the checkered flags and trophies home for RCR.
Burton and Bowyer provided an RCR sweep of the Xfinity Series races that year, with Burton delivering the win in the No. 29 Chevrolet in June and Bowyer taking the No. 2 Chevrolet to Victory Lane in September.
That September weekend was capped off with yet another RCR victory, this time by Burton and the No. 31 team in the 400-lap Cup Series race the very next day.
Burton was in his second full season with RCR during 2006, joining the organization after spending the first 22 races of the 2004 season with Jack Roush’s team – where he had been since 1996. Burton and the team struggled off the bat, but things started to turn around for the RCR group in 2006.
Throughout that season, the No. 31 team showed signs of strength but did not have the results did not always reflect the performance, especially at the beginning of the season.
However, a solid run through the spring and summer months with four top-five finishes and a second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway qualified Burton for the Chase, which kicked off with the 400-mile race around Dover International Speedway on Sept. 24, 2006.
Starting in the 19th position, Burton truly became a factor over the final 100 laps of the race, working his way into the top 10 and eventually into the top five, thanks in large part to the race strategy by crew chief Scott Miller and quick stops from his RCR pit crew.
Over the final 30 laps, Burton chased down former teammate and friend Matt Kenseth. The two battled side-by-side, lap-after-lap in a thrilling battle around the high-banked concrete oval as they worked through lapped traffic.
With six laps to go, Burton finally drove under Kenseth’s No. 17 into Turn 1 and began to pull away with the lead – his first laps led of the entire race. Kenseth’s charge was far from over, however with two laps to go he ran out of fuel and was forced to pit road.
Taking the checkered flag by nearly eight seconds over Carl Edwards, Burton broke a 175-race winless streak against his former teammates, giving the RCR group the lead in the Chase standings in the opening week of the post-season.
“You guys have resurrected my deal,” he told the RCR crew over the radio as he scored the emotional victory.
All of these years later, Burton looks back on that special victory with fond memories and knows how important it was at that point in his career.
“To win that Dover race, against someone who I have so much respect for in Matt Kenseth, we just beat Roush Racing – the team I just left, a driver I greatly respect, a company I have so much respect for – look what we’ve done here,” said Burton. “It was respect, it wasn’t animosity.
“Richard Childress knew how much that meant to me and knew what had gone into winning that race and getting where the program back up to where it needed to be,” he said. “He presented me with that car. That was a big day for me, personally, and I think for RCR as well.”