William Byron and Chase Elliott looked like solid drivers who could make it out of the Round of 12 in two weeks. Byron, was surging in earning three top seven finishes in his last four starts on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
He was eighth at Dover back in May and was rolling off sixth for Sunday’s Drydene 400.
For Elliott, he won last week in Charlotte. He won this playoff race at Dover last year. He also won the playoff race at Kansas last year as well and Kansas is the third and final race of the second round.
Also, Elliott had six top 10 finishes in his last eight starts on the season as well. He would roll off fifth in Sunday’s race.
With Joey Logano having an issue before the race even started, Ryan Blaney having his brakes go out with 100 to go and Brad Keselowski finishing 11th, the door was wide open for the taking.
Instead, Elliott’s engine on his No. 9 Chevrolet blew on Lap 7. He’d finish last in 38th and lose 26 points on Sunday. He entered the weekend 19 points to the good and leaves in 11th, seven points to the bad.
“I just had an engine failure of some sort,” said Elliott. Unfortunately, we don’t really know what it was just yet. It just quit running. It didn’t really seem like anything was off. We were just kind of making laps and then obviously had a failure. It’s an unfortunate way to start this round for sure.
Elliott, had six top five finishes in his previous seven Dover starts and now leaves with his worst finish of his career on the Monster Mile and worst result on the season since the second Pocono race.
For Byron, he was fourth in the first stage and had his No. 24 Chevrolet looking like a contender. He was in play for more stage points in the second stage but was caught speeding on pit road during his lone stop. That put him a lap down and he could never recover.
“Yeah, we couldn’t recover from that after,” Byron said of his penalty. “We just had a miscalculation of when we could accelerate out of our pit box. I thought we were fine on pit road speed to leave the box hard. That was a bummer for sure. We had a pretty good car. We couldn’t really make many passes, but we were able to get from the back after having to start pretty close to the tail end. It just really hurt our day.
“But overall, the guys did a good job and got out of here with a decent points day, I guess. We’ll just have to go on strong next week. The team and I all were convinced that I could go straight out and have not issues. I got a really good launch off the pit box, probably a little too good. I was kind of worried about it because I beat (Johnson) pretty good off pit road and it nipped us for sure. It was just a miscalculation. We probably won’t pick that pit box again for that reason. It really kind of ruined our day, but at least we got some decent stuff out of it.
Byron, would finish 13th when it was all said and done. The good news though, he actually gained five points and moves into a tie for the final spot that advances to the third round with Logano.
Still, it was a day of a missed opportunity for both.