Jimmie Johnson stayed away from any expensive errors Saturday at Dover International Speedway. His reward was a top-10 completion, which moved him into a playoff spot with two races left in the regular season.
Johnson’s year has been tormented by incident and mix-ups. That is put the seven-time Cup champion in danger of missing the playoffs for a second year in a row. He entered Saturday’s race 25 points out of a playoff position.
Rather, things didn’t go William Byron’s way Saturday. Strategy calls conflicted with Byron, who completed three laps down in 28th. He trails Johnson by three points for the final playoff spot in the wake of losing 28 points to his partner.
The series finishes its weekend doubleheader at Dover at 4 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN.
The key, Johnson notes, will be no missteps once more.
“Keeping it within 100% for myself and the team is the important thing,” Johnson told NBCSN after his seventh-place finish. “Truth be told, we’ve been about a fifth-to-10th-place car throughout the year and I’ve been trying to do more than that, making mistakes. If we use our head (Sunday) and race hard, get clean stops I think we can get more of a cushion.”
Johnson’s misfortune has come in missing the Indianapolis race subsequent to testing positive for the coronavirus and having his second-place car fail inspection after the Coca-Cola 600 and be disqualified. His mix-ups have included slamming on the last lap of Stage 1, which he was going to succeed at Darlington in May, and smashing at Texas.
Saturday, Johnson battled with his car’s handling. In any case, things went all around ok that he completed in the top 10 in the two stages, scoring seven stage points. Byron had no such karma. He additionally battled with his car’s handling however a call by Chad Knaus conflicted with them when no alert came out.
As cars started pitting on Lap 134, Knaus had Byron remain out. The greater part of the field pitted all through the next 10 laps. Byron was one of five cars that didn’t pit during that time. With no alert, Byron needed to make a green-flag stop 15 laps from the finish of Stage 2. Knaus required a two-tire quit, trusting that Byron would just be one lap somewhere near the finish of the stage and could use the wave around to be on the lead lap.
Rather, leader Denny Hamlin passed Byron before the finish of the stage and put him two laps down.
Byron was left to attempt to run a full fuel run in the final stage in trusts he could trap cars down a lap or all the more yet the alert never came. He again made a green-flag stop. That left him somewhere down in the field and outside a playoff spot after the 311-lap race.