A late-race charge by Kyle Busch earned the Joe Gibbs Racing driver his third career victory at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, when he passed Chase Elliott for the lead coming to the white flag.
After losing the lead to victor Kyle Busch with just more than a lap remaining, Elliott parked his No. 24 Chevrolet in the pits, removed his helmet and held his head in his hands for a minute before climbing out.
Jimmie Johnson, who finished third, tried to comfort his younger Hendrick Motorsports teammate. The seven-time champion leaned against the vehicle and ... listened. But I got back to the top and got enough momentum back rolling.
"I feel like that's kind of where they lost it today". I was driving at 101 percent trying to get every ounce of speed out of it.
Elliott held on for second place, .357 second behind Busch at the drop of the checkered flag. Once he cycled back to the point on Lap 340, Elliott extended his lead to 4.5-seconds over Busch before hitting lap traffic in the closing laps. I appreciate my team and their efforts today. "They kept us in the ballgame, and I didn't".
As recorded by NBC Sports, Gordon "thanked" Newman on pit road, a remark Newman took as sarcastic.
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Elliott was left second-guessing himself about being more aggressive with his approach.
"Yeah, disappointed in the way that I drove all through this playoff run", said Busch, whose 2017 highlight came with his victory in the season-opening Daytona 500.
"At the end of the day, that's what it comes down to".
It was just tough ... we didn't pass really well, but had a pretty decent vehicle, but it was a bit of a struggle to pass guys that were running the same speed, so we just kind of ran in that spot and tried to use some strategy to get up. I was actually surprised he didn't. He was good down there all day long, but he was just getting slowed down too much by the air and everything in front of him. I had to chase it up the hill in the turns all day. When you have been leading for that long, and you've lost that amount of distance to the auto behind you, you've got to move around. "You know, you can't give up four seconds of the lead and not do something else". The two veterans each have seven career DNFs at Dover, the most among playoff participants, and will surely roll the dice Sunday to try to win and move on. "I think there was some cars fighting to stay on the lead lap that really, I think, hurt the performance of his auto".
The race had four cautions for 24 laps plus a red flag for almost 16 minutes. "I hope. I mean, I don't know". It ran green from the stage break all the way to the end, and I gave it away.
The series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway to open round two of the playoffs this Saturday. "I feel for him". "I got within five lengths and I stalled out and I was like, 'Oh, man, I think that was it, ' you know?" Regardless of their finish positions at Homestead the next weekend, the highest finisher among them will be this year's champion. That's going to sting. "We didn't have a fast-enough race auto".