Four Chase contenders bid farewell at Dover.
DOVER, Del. – It will be a long seven weeks for the four former Chase contenders that didn’t advance to the Contender Round.
AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola will have the Sprint yellow stripped from their cars as they return to the general racing population next weekend at Kansas Speedway.
Kasey Kahne earned the 12th and final position to advance to the Contender Round by a two-point margin over Allmendinger after finishing 20th.
The No. 47
Allmendinger had a miserable weekend and never felt comfortable in the No. 47 JTG/Daugherty Chevy. He started 28th and knocked off the lead lap for the first time 46 circuits into the race before finishing 23rd, two laps down, on Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
It’s disappointing to miss it by two points, but we didn’t deserve to be in it with the run that we had.
"We didn't give up," Allmendinger said. "It was an awful day. My crew chief Brian Burns did everything he could to keep trying to make it better. We just missed it all weekend. "
"It’s disappointing to miss it by two points, but we didn’t deserve to be in it with the run that we had. We have to look at it – I’m not going to take a moral victory out of it to miss it by two points, it’s disappointing, but we know we are making steps in the right direction."
The No. 41
Kurt Busch bounced in and out of a transfer position throughout the AAA 400. In his 500th career Cup start, Busch rolled off 22nd and moved into the top 15 after the second restart on Lap 79. But as his car developed a tight condition in the late stages of the race and his teammate Kevin Harvick passed him on Lap 364, Busch’s hopes were dashed.
With 20 laps remaining, he asked the team if he was still “in a transfer spot?” After the race, he accepted the responsibility for the news.
It’s all on the driver.
“I’m assuming we didn’t transfer,” he said over the radio.
“No, we missed it by six points,” crew chief Daniel Knost replied.
“It’s all my fault, sorry guys,” Busch said. “It’s all on the driver.”
Once he climbed from the car, Busch said he “felt like we were in good position to advance, but you just can’t expect to advance by running 15th.”
“You have to be more competitive,” Busch added. "We gave it a good run, you know? We put this team together pretty late. Gene Haas believed in me to come in here and do this…We don’t get to advance to the championship, but we can still run for pride and run for wins.”
The No. 16
Biffle barely earned a spot in the Chase and in his three playoff races he average a 20th-place finish.
On Sunday, Biffle had a top 15th-place car at best. Yet after starting 27th in the No. 16 Ford, it was difficult to gain footing and advance on the one-mile track.
“This is the way it’s gone all season,” said Biffle, who dropped to 15th in the standings after finishing 21st. “We’re just searching for speed and struggled all day today. We’ve worked hard trying to fix our problems, but it just hasn’t come together yet.
“It’s frustrating because part of you wants to just pull it and put it in the garage and the other half is racing as hard as you can to get in the Chase. It’s pretty frustrating. I’ve won races my whole career, but to be struggling like this all year is disappointing at best.”
The No. 43
Almirola’s first Chase bid didn’t end as expected either. After a blowing an engine at Chicagoland, Almirola fought back last week with a sixth-place finish. However, after qualifying 21st at Dover and getting lapped early (Lap 44), the No. 43 Ford was mired in traffic and never recovered.
I hate it.
“It just didn’t work out for us,” said Almirola, who finished 28th and 18 points out of 12th-place. “I hate it. We picked a bad day to run the way we did and we can’t blame anybody but ourselves. My car didn’t have any grip. You can’t go fast without grip.
“I’m sure we’ll be able to look past this another day, but right now it’s pretty disappointing.”