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August 6, 2023

Teammates Chase Elliott, William Byron sidelined early at Michigan

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and William Byron dropped out of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race early at Michigan International Speedway.

Elliott was the first of the two who found trouble, losing control of his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after a tire went down in Turn 2 at the 2-mile track. The issue sent the car careening off the outside retaining wall. Elliott had been running ninth in the 37-car field, but his damage was terminal and he drove to the garage.

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“Yeah, I feel good,” Elliott told NBC Sports after being evaluated and released from the infield care center. “I hate that it happened. It was really early in the day to have a tire blow like that. It was really weird. It’s a bummer, but not surprised.”

Elliott completed just 34 of a scheduled 200 laps and finished 36th in the FireKeepers Casino 400, which was pushed to a Monday finish after persistent rain. The result hinders his long-shot hope of making the Cup Series Playoffs grid on the basis of points, and his outlook is virtually must-win with three races remaining in the regular season.

“Yeah, I mean, I told y’all that the week I got back,” said Elliott, who is now 55 points below the elimination line. “So, nothing’s changed.”

WATCH: Elliott: ‘I think we need to win’ to make playoffs

Byron logged just 12 more laps, scraping the outside wall at the exit of Turn 4 on the final lap of Stage 1. The 25-year-old driver brought the No. 24 Hendrick Chevy to pit road, but the car was too damaged to continue and his day was done.

Byron ended up 35th in the final rundown once the race was completed, hampering his pursuit of the Cup Series’ regular season championship and the 15 playoff-point bonus. Byron remained in third place in the series standings, but he is now 96 points behind Cup Series leader Martin Truex Jr., who finished second Monday.

“I just got loose trying to get stage points there,” Byron said after his own check at the infield care center. “We were dicing it up. We didn’t have the best restart, so we were gaining spots back, but just tried too hard. We’ll just regroup and try to get a good couple of weeks before the playoffs. Just made a mistake — was just trying hard and got loose.”