Close was not good enough for A.J. Allmendinger.
It didn’t do much for Kurt Busch, either.
Both drivers ended up on the outside looking in as the field of 16 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup was whittled to 12 following Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Allmendinger, who entered the race among the top 12 in points, had little chance to save his spot as he was never in serious contention for the win or even a solid finish. He ended up 23rd and two laps down.
Allmendinger ended up 13th in points, two behind 12th-place Kasey Kahne.
“We just missed it all weekend. It’s disappointing to miss it by two points, but we didn’t deserve to be in it with the run that we had,” he said. “I’m not going to take a moral victory out of it to miss it by two points.
“We have to keep working and get better. We have seven races to go. I will be disappointed tonight, but be ready to go tomorrow morning.”
Also eliminated from title contention were Busch, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola. Neither Biffle nor Almirola ran particularly well Sunday.
Busch spent the final laps battling Kahne for the final transfer spot to Round 2 of the Chase. He was running just outside the top 10 much of the day, but as the race wound to a close the handling of his No. 41 Chevrolet got worse.
Busch ended up a lap down and finished 18th.
“It was just tight the last 100 miles. I felt like we were in good position to advance, but you just can’t expect to advance by running” 18th, Busch said. “You have to be more competitive.
“We gave it a good run, you know?”
Busch was kept abreast of the points standings as the laps wound down by crew chief Daniel Knost. With the race ending with a long green-flag run, there was little chance to make additional adjustments to the car.
Knost’s final advice: “Drive, Kurt, drive.”
Said Busch: “If you’re off, it’s hard to put the car up on your back and run it. I just chalk it up to me not getting the job done.”