But with the finish line a half mile away, they made a spirited run that would rival any of the fiercest rivalries in racing.
Bowyer pushed his Chevrolet into the lead coming into the tri-oval, but not before Burton gave him two bumps trying to slow him down. Bowyer won the drag race to the checkered flag, just a few feet ahead of his Richard Childress Racing teammate.
“I tell my guys to race their tails off,” Childress said. “That’s what they did.”
Even before the start of the race, Burton and Bowyer were committed to working with each other. They kept their words, one pushing the other until the end.
“I was going down the back straightaway talking on the radio, ‘I bet you’re thinking about what you’re going to do right now.’ I was going to ask him to give an old man a break, but I knew better than that,” Burton said.
“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” Bowyer said. “The last lap, coming down the back straightaway, I felt bad for him. You
hate that it comes down like that, but that’s what it is. That’s what I was supposed to do.”
While Bowyer and Burton were trying to salvage disappointing seasons, six drivers in the Chase for the Championship were involved in accidents that drastically affected the standings.
By finishing 11th, Carl Edwards built his lead to 14 points over Matt Kenseth. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman all were involved in accidents.
A five-car crash with five laps remaining set up a two-lap dash to the finish line. Burton led the charge with Burton giving him enough of a push to pull away from the rest of the field.