"Nobody really wanted to race there at the end when we needed everybody to race," echoed Keselowski, who unlike Busch never did get the caution he needed to get back on the lead lap. "Any time you would go to make a move when it is all single file like that you just go right to the back and it just doesn't work. That is what it was. I can only drive my car though.
"I tried really hard to work with Joey there at the end and went down to make some moves to try to get some kind of position on the track and all we did was go backwards," he added. "You are better off to just stay single file."
"That was a lot more conservative race than I think anyone ever thought," added Logano. "We all were racing pretty hard too. There were a few times when it looked like there was going to be a big crash and there never was. In the end though nobody wanted to go. I was back there trying to make a move to go forward again but once they all went single file up against the wall you are SOL back there.
"You try to do anything you can to move up and there were a few guys back there that wanted to go but the bottom lane doesn't work because of these big shark fins on the side that doesn't let any air on the spoiler," he explained. "It hurts the bottom lane so much. You aren't able to slow down the guy on the top because the fin blocks the air on the spoiler and you can't slow them down. That is why the bottom lane doesn't work and it is never going to work until they change that."
That should have allowed Earnhardt and Johnson to seal the deal for Hendrick and for one of them to claim the win - but it didn't happen. The final round of pit stops shuffled them back down the running order and split them up, leaving them having to make contingency plans to strike on the last lap.
"I had a plan we were going to get a run down the back straightaway me and the #14 and whoever else wanted to go," said Earnhardt. "They got together behind me getting into their quarter panels and we just never really got a chance to see what we could do. We had our run formed in the middle of one and two and we were coming off of two with pretty good steam when they spun out behind me."
This week, the #14 was in the hands of young Austin Dillon: Tony Stewart's car had been handed to Mark Martin for the remainder of the season after Stewart himself was sidelined by injury in August, but the veteran racer hates restrictor plate racing and so Dillon got the nod for this week's event. With less than a lap to go to the flag, Dillon took off: and we mean took off in the vertical sense, after making contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Roush Fenway Racing #17 sent him spinning.
"I was trying to go for the win there," said Dillon. The #17 had a little bit of a run with the #27 [Paul Menard] and I tried to go with him and came back across and hooked me."
"That last lap there I was trying to hang back, time it right where Paul and I could either kind of get a run on the #14 and go to the inside and see if we could make something happen," added Stenhouse. "I just didn't time it quite right, and us and the #14 met right there in the middle and caused a crash. I am bummed that we caused that."
The #14 spun across the line of traffic, and then Casey Mears arrived at the scene and made contact - hard. "I was like, 'This is going to be bad,'" Dillon said. "They were full steam [coming right toward me] and I was surprised as many of them [missed me.] When it hit, it just boom
and there was nothing you could do. You were just kind of watching in the air and hoping the next guy don't hit you when you come down."