Run-in with Austin Dillon hurts chances of two Hendrick drivers

An altercation with Austin Dillon early in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway put Hendrick Motorsports drivers William Byron and Alex Bowman squarely on the bubble entering the final event in the first round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

On Lap 111, two circuits after the green flag for Stage 2, Bowman dived low beneath Dillon, creating a four-wide situation on the backstretch. Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet slipped up the track into Dillon’s No. 3 Chevy, cutting Dillon’s left front tire.

Dillon’s car, in turn, bounced into Byron’s Chevrolet and cut the left rear tire on Byron’s car. Dillon retaliated against Bowman by spinning him, causing the second caution of the race.

“I’m going to shove that silver spoon up his (expletive),” Bowman said on his team radio, a reference to Dillon’s status as grandson of team owner Richard Childress.

“Yeah, we didn’t execute very well on top of it either,” said Bowman who finished 23rd, four laps down and heads to the Charlotte Roval 13th in the Playoff standings. “So it’s definitely a bummer. We were really tight here in the spring, and we came here trying to build a car that would turn really well.

“It did that, but it just didn’t have any drive. When you’re on stickers, and the guys running 75 lap old tires are forward driving you, it’s not much fun. We didn’t have a good day. We didn’t have anything go our way either. We just struggled with the car all day. It’s a bummer, but (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and all of us will regroup and we should be strong next week.”

Byron finished 24th and is 12th in the standings, the last Playoff-eligible position.