Clint Bowyer both achieved a long overdue 'payback' for an early sporting rivalry and repaid Richard Childress' faith in him in clinching the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series crown at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend.
The Kansas native was picked up by RCR from relative obscurity back in 2005. Now, four years later and courtesy of a fifth place finish in the Ford 300, he has pipped Roush Fenway Racing rival Carl Edwards to the laurels by a scant 21 points. It has, he acknowledged, been quite a journey.
“Man, it's just incredible,” he admitted afterwards. “It makes you think back to how it all started, you know, working in a body shop in Kansas and trying to figure out what was the next move. You're out of money, your parents gave up three retirements to get you where you're at and, you know, it was kind of the end of the road.
“Out of nowhere, my cell phone rings and it was Richard. It was just unbelievable to think back how my career started with the race in Nashville, and then winning my first race in the Nationwide Series at Nashville.
“You know, to be able to win our first championship with Dan and all the guys on the BB&T Chevrolet and all our partners, [I'm] very proud to be able to do this for Richard. [It] kind of feels like giving back for taking a chance on me, and finally it paid off.
“It took him a while, took me a while, but I finally had a chance, an opportunity to give back to him and I'm just really proud of everybody at RCR, all the guys on the BB&T, Camping World Chevrolet, everybody – we're strong.
“It's all about having good people, and Richard has surrounded me with good people, with (crew chief) Dan Deeringhoff, with everybody on this car. They're good people, they work hard and they accomplish their goals.
“Hats off to the engine department, whether it be the Nationwide or the Cup programme. They've come so far. Everybody at RCR has worked hard to get us to this point. We're fourth, fifth and sixth on the Cup side; that's pretty consistent, pretty solid, and I think that's overall as an average better than anybody, any organisation. I don't know when is the last time we had a DNF from the guys' hard work.
“It's fun to be able to roll through RCR as a race car driver and know the guys and know that they're pulling for you and are happy that you're racing for them. That's what Richard has formed there – a family atmosphere where a guy can go there and feel like family.”