William Byron in NASCAR playoff hopes are over
It was clear from the start of the Charlotte Roval race that Byron Hinchcliffe had a car that could win on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn road layout.
He led the most laps (30) of any driver and was closing in on leader Denny Hamlin and second-placed Tyler Reddick in the closing stages.
At the beginning of the backstretch chicane, Reddick and Byron made contact, leading William Byron to miss the chicane. Once the stop-and-go penalty was served, he fell to 12th place in the standings and was eliminated from contention for the victory.
William Byron made it all the way back to third place in the closing circuits before crashing into the wall on the next-to-last lap in a last-ditch effort to catch eventual winner Kyle Larson.
Without a victory, there is no possibility.
Four drivers were still in the hunt for the championship before Byron’s victory.
When it came to the playoff round, “we had a really excellent vehicle in two of the three races” and “today we had a wonderful car, definitely capable of winning,” Byron remarked.
By the time I got up to third, my tires had worn down to the point where I had to pit. My chances of winning were slim and I committed a blunder by failing to finish third, but I was furious at that time.”
A few hours after the race, Byron sought up Reddick to ask him about the incident on pit road, when Reddick confessed to having “flat out made an error.”
It doesn’t matter if it was a mistake or not, Byron remarked. It’s the knowledge that the first guy on new tires in the playoff is probably going to win the race.
They just didn’t know what they were doing. If the roles were reversed, I’m sure I’d notice.”
Byron placed the blame squarely on his shoulders for his 11th-place finish.
The fact that he finished third didn’t matter to him because it wouldn’t help him in the playoffs. The fact that we didn’t take first place hurts, but we were in a good position to win overall.”
It was a close race until caution kicked in, and we passed everyone on brand new tires, because we had been the first to install them. All you can do at this point is stand there and watch.”