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MWR has strong showing with two top-fives

May 04, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

MWR has strong showing with two top-fives
Bowyer finishes third, one spot ahead of teammate Vickers

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TALLADEGA, Ala. -- The caution flag stalled their efforts, but failed to dull the spirit of Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Bowyer placed third and Vickers fourth in the Aaron’s 499. It was the first time two MWR drivers took top-five finishes since the season-ending Homestead race of 2013.

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Denny Hamlin won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Homestead; he won on Sunday, too. Greg Biffle (second) and AJ Allmendinger (fifth) completed the top five at the 2.66-mile track.

"It's hard to build game plans at these tracks anymore," said Vickers, who climbed from his No. 55 Toyota after leading three times for six laps. "It's a free-for-all."

Vickers was seventh and teammate Bowyer was fifth when the race went green for the final time with two laps remaining following a caution for an accident involving Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman and Cole Whitt. But with the leaders lined up nose-to-tail and coming to the white flag, contact sent the No. 51 Chevrolet of Justin Allgaier spinning, and parts of his car littered the frontstretch.

The caution flag waved and the race for positions was done.

"Maybe if it would have stayed green, we would have had a shot at it," Vickers, 10th in points, said. "I was going to try to go with the 15 (of Bowyer) to the outside. Everybody just kept going low, low, low and the outside lane broke up. Who knows?"

Bowyer never made it to the front, but scrambled late to find his way into the picture. 

"I liked the situation that I was in for sure," he said. "I knew Greg was going to try something and we did have a big push at him. You see those guys crashing in the rearview mirror and … history has shown usually if they're straightened up (and) not sitting in the middle of the racetrack, we're going to finish this thing under green. If you pull out right there … you might be 15th by the time you get two miles back over here to the start/finish line."

Bowyer moved up three spots, to 18th, in points. Both he and Vickers are still looking to join this year's list of race winners, which grew to eight with Hamlin's victory.

"Everyone did a good job not giving up. We had a decent car at times. We had a little mishap on a green-flag stop and it actually ended up working out in our favor," Vickers said. "We weren't quite as strong as some of the guys we were racing. But the guys did a great job; Billy (Scott, crew chief) called a great race, made good adjustments and we were just patient there at the end."

It was Vickers' second consecutive top-five at Talladega -- he finished fifth here last fall. Talladega is also the site of the 30-year-old’s first career Sprint Cup victory (in October of 2006).

Bowyer has a pair of Talladega wins -- and now five top-fives.

"You're sitting there waiting on your spotter to give you some kind of confirmation whether we're going to race back to the start/finish line or not," he said. "So you can try to do something in a short amount of time. And they're doing the same thing. They're looking at all that while trying to protect you. …

"It's a wild situation. It was kind of funny; we all see the smoke and it was 400 yards behind us. We're supposed to be looking out the windshield."

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