Charlotte Roval marks end of playoff road for four drivers

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CONCORD, N.C. — At the end, William Byron admits he felt “rage.”

Byron was frustrated with the contact from Tyler Reddick with 19 laps left as they raced for second place. The contact caused Byron to miss the backstretch chicane, costing him a chance to win Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval and advance in the playoffs.

Instead, Byron finished 11th (after getting off track with two laps to go). Byron, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell and Kevin Harvick all were eliminated from title contention.

After the race, Byron walked to Reddick on pit road to discuss their incident.

“Flat out made a mistake and ran in the back of him,” Reddick said after his runner-up finish. “Trying to stay as close as I can. We’re all trying to brake at the limit of the car. Just trying to stay as close as I could to his bumper and maybe try to put myself back in a position to make a pass – whether outside of him or inside of him – off the rear chicane.

“Just got into the back of him ever so slightly and that’s all it took to unhook the rear tires and that wheel hop to happen. Not on purpose. It stinks to see that small amount of contact just change his trajectory that much. That was shocking to me.”

Byron said Reddick told him that when they talked on pit road.

“First off, I wanted to hear that from him and not take for granted that it was a mistake,” Byron said of why he approached Reddick. “At that point, what did you do?”

Byron explained his frustration with Reddick’s action.

“I know it was a mistake but it doesn’t make any difference,” Byron said. “The awareness there of that situation: A guy running for the playoffs – first guy on new tires and probably going to win the race – and just lack of awareness there. I feel like if the roles were reversed, I would be aware.”

Reddick said he understood Byron’s frustration.

“He’s racing for everything,” Reddick said. “Second means nothing. He just broke through on the best tires and in position to go up and pass Denny (Hamlin) and take the win away.

“I took that from him. He handled it very well. I’d probably would have been more upset. Appreciate him listening to what I said. Completely understand his frustration.”

Frustration was a common theme for those eliminated. Harvick, who finished 33rd, crashed into the Turn 1 SAFER barrier ending a race that saw him turn rival Chase Elliott earlier in the event.

“Sometimes, real life teaches you good lessons,” Harvick said when asked if his contact was retaliation for Elliott’s actions at Bristol earlier in the playoffs.

Bowman battled battery issues early in the race.

“We knew we had a volt issue,” he said. “It acted like it threw the belt. So, we came down and put a belt on it and it didn’t. Don’t know what we had going on, but it’s unfortunate.

“It’s tough to make a car live long here without any brake fans and tire cooling, but Greg (Ives, crew chief) and all the guys on the No. 48 Ally team did such a good job letting me know what I needed to do to get it to the finish line and what I could and couldn’t do with fans; and we put a battery in it at one point and kind of went from there.

“I hate it. I’m glad we got a top 10. I’m exhausted. I’m just mentally drained after the roller coaster that was.”

Bell was penalized for speeding early in the race. But that wasn’t his only issue.

“Two words: Rear grip,” he said. “I don’t know we just couldn’t quite hit it. We were struggled and I made a lot of mistakes driving too, but ultimately we weren’t fast enough to go up there and compete for the win. Came away with an eighth-place finish, which is a lot better than it was looking like we were going to have today.”