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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Dakoda Armstrong On Missing XFINITY Playoffs: ‘It Just Didn’t Quite Happen’

Dakoda Armstrong came into Saturday’s TheHouse.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway knowing he needed a miracle to get into the 2017 XFINITY Series playoffs.

Unfortunately, it never came.

Armstrong brought the No. 28 WinField United Camry home in 16th place, right behind both Brendan Gaughan and Michael Annett, who he was battling for the 12th and final playoff spot.

“The car was better than we’ve been on 1.5 (mile tracks), but we still got a ways to go,” Armstrong said on pit road post-race. “As good as the other two we were racing ran (Gaughan and Annett), the only way we were going to advance was to win. And we just didn’t quite have that speed.”

Racing for a smaller team like JGL Racing, a playoff appearance would have been a gigantic shot in the arm. More publicity and attention surrounding the race team is always a positive thing. But for the next seven weeks, Armstrong and co. won’t get that.

“It would have been good,” Armstrong said. “We put a lot of work into (this season). I feel like we’d be a smaller team to make it (if we did), but it just didn’t quite happen. So we’ll keep working.”

Armstrong has earned  two top fives and three top 10s so far this season, with his best finish of the season coming at Daytona International Speedway (third). He plans on using the remaining races on the XFINITY schedule to try some new things for next season, when he hopes to do one points position better and get into the postseason.

“We don’t get a lot of testing as far as what we can change,” he said. “We normally come to the track (set up) pretty similar to what we’ve been doing all year. It’s hard for us to go outside our comfort box because we don’t have a lot of time to practice and all that. This gives us these next couple races to work on for next year, so that’s what we’ll work on.”

Still, the New Castle, Ind., driver wasn’t dwelling on the negatives from missing out on the playoffs for the second year in a row. He was thinking on the bright side.

“Still a good year, we made a lot of improvements and had some good runs,” Armstrong said. “Today, we just kind of didn’t have the speed we needed. The team never gave up, and we just came up a little bit short […] I’ve been (in this position) last year when I was close and didn’t make it. So (I’m) getting kind of used to it. Hopefully we can change that around, but it was still a lot better season than last year, so that was the positive.”