What drivers said after Kansas race

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One race remains in the Round of 12. Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway shuffled the standings. Here’s what drivers said after the race.

Kevin Harvick – Winner: “I try every week to find something to motivate myself and I know these guys do the same thing. It’s hard to keep yourself motivated and continue to perform at a high level. Being able to do it for three years now says a lot about the character of this team and the things that they do. It is like they say, anything that is really, really hard to get and come by, there are going to be some obstacles and some bumps in the road.”

Carl Edwards – Finished 2nd: “I felt like we had the race under control if it would’ve kept going green. We really had something fast there and then that restart Jimmie (Johnson) got behind Kevin (Harvick) and pushed him just far enough out there that we got into turn 1 and I just couldn’t hang and slow Kevin down and he just broke the draft there. And after that I ended up racing Kyle (Busch). I mean, that was a real battle and that let Kevin get out ahead. That was a pretty hard battle, but at the end of the day you’re racing for every position here. I thought we raced as hard as – it was reasonable but it was pretty hard. The hard part for me is just we didn’t win this race. I know we’ve got a points cushion going into Talladega and everything, but it is hard to lose anything, it is really hard to lose a race here but I’m really proud of how we ran.”

Joey Logano – Finished 3rd: “That was hard fought. I am still breathing hard. We just weren’t very good on the short runs so I had to play defense instead of offense on restarts. After 15 laps, we were equal to, not way better to the point we could make up a bunch of time. We did what we had to do. We had a good effort, we just have to get our cars a little faster right now.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 4th: “I mean from a start perspective we knew we were going to have a tough task today to get to the front with the Lowe’s Chevrolet, but a very solid race car.  I love the sun came out and really made it a racy track for us.  I felt like we could have had a shot at the win, it seemed like the No. 19, the No. 4 and us were kind of equal there. I was able to get the No. 4 by the No. 19 on that restart and just couldn’t clear the No. 19 myself and slipped back to fifth.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 5th: “We just completely missed it there for our race setup today for the heat of the day and the way that the temperatures and everything were the track conditions just weren’t anything close to what we expected I guess. We missed it pretty bad. We were horrible there for about 200 laps and then the last 67 we got better. We were better on the short run at least where we could fire off and get going but we weren’t very good on the long runs. We just missed it a little bit. That speed that we had in our race car probably carried us on and through this race today but wish we had a little bit more. We’ll take it, we’ll go on and see what happens next week.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 6th: “We wanted a top five. We were running that No. 18 down pretty hard there at the end. I’m proud of my guys. They brought me a really good race car. It will be tight all the way down to the wire, but I’m just proud to have this position going into Talladega.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 8th: “Taking away last week just outright speed I thought we had … it felt like the best 1.5-mile race we put together there. Good solid top 10 car all day. I made a mistake and sped on pit road and got us behind a little bit. Just kind of tough call there at the end. You don’t know how many people are going to pit and good track position and everybody behind me came. I was pretty happy to hold most of them off.  I felt like we had about a fifth- or sixth-place car and we finished eighth with it. Just a solid day.  We need to keep doing work like this and keep building off of it.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished 9th: “We were backing up there, we lost the handle and the track got hotter and we started getting loose and started losing a few spots. We hit the wall getting into one, I’m not sure how I did it and got us behind and got us tight. We made our way back up there at the end, I thought we were going to be OK on that last restart, then whatever that little kid’s name is who’s driving the 88 (Alex Bowman), hung a left and knocked my whole right front fender off and we were just lucky to finish were we did.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 11th: “You’ve got to perform every single week. You’ve got a bad week, it could ruin your whole season. All in all today wasn’t a disaster. We’ve just got to go to Talladega and hope that nothing crazy happens.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 13th: “We got up as high as seventh and I could see the front, I could smell the front, I could taste it, we just couldn’t hang. The last adjustment we made sure to free the car up and the car was tight on the last run. I don’t know what we have to do with these tires.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 15th: “Terrible. I mean just everything went wrong. Just stupid stuff and then penalties when we shouldn’t have them and just another year of the same stuff. So, thanks to FedEx and thanks to Toyota for getting on the car and getting us on the race track, but just wish we could make things happen a little bit better. I mean, there’s not much else I can do.”

Tony Stewart – Finished 16th: “It’s just proof that time and time again that you kind of back Kevin Harvick in a corner and he comes out the next week firing and finds a way to get it done. Proud of those guys as always.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 17th: This car was one of the best handling cars I have had all season. We were able to get up there and race in the top 10 and run competitively. It’s unfortunate that we made contact with the wall going into the corner, that really affected the handling of our AdvoCare Ford. But I’m happy we were able to overcome that and bounce back to get a decent finish. We’ll brush this off and go for the win next week in Talladega.”

Danica Patrick – Finished 18th: The No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team did an awesome job on pit road all day long. I think we gained positions on almost every stop. The car wasn’t great in traffic, but we definitely made a big improvement from practice to the race, and I’m proud of my team for their effort.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 19th: We really struggled this weekend with the balance. We got lucky with some cautions which got us back on the lead lap but our Fastenal Ford wasn’t consistent on the handling. We have five races remaining to gain the most points we can so we need to make the most of it.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 31st: “I don’t know if we got the left rear getting up on the racetrack, or something and it got into the fender and cut it down. I don’t know what to do man, we were trying as hard as we can. We had such a good car today again, and … I don’t know what to do.  Just keep after it and try to move on.” 

Brad Keselowski – Finished 38th: “As far as what happened on the track I don’t know. I spun and got in the grass and tore the nose off. I probably could have raced less hard with a big points gap coming in. With this format I had a big points gap coming in. With this format it is probably the smart thing to do but I don’t want to race like that. I want to race my guts out and go for wins. I don’t want to points race. I don’t care what the damn format is, I am going to give it my best.”

NASCAR America: Under the radar playoff drivers, Talladega’s playoff placement

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SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Pete Pistone dropped by NASCAR America for his weekly appearance to discuss the Cup playoffs so far.

Pistone was asked who he thought is the most under the radar driver through five races in the playoffs. He chose Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin.

“We’ve heard from Denny Hamlin on some other things, some off-the-track stuff,” Pistone said. “He’s been in the headlines. But in terms of how he’s running and where’s he’s running, I think we’ve sort of been missing him a little bit.”

Hamlin finished sixth at Talladega for his third top 10 of the playoffs. His worst result so far is 35th (DNF) at Dover for an axle problem.

Kyle Petty asked Pistone who he would rather see eliminated from the playoffs if he were Martin Truex Jr: Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch.

“I think I want to see Jimmie Johnson eliminated and the only reason I would say that Kyle is because Jimmie’s been there before, (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) has been there before. We’ve written off Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson even this late in the playoffs before. It’s almost Halloween. They’re sort of like Michael Myers from Halloween, the movie. If you let them up and be alive again they’re going to come and get you with a knife.”

Watch the above video for more.

Kasey Kahne, Matt DiBenedetto marking Cup start milestones at Kansas

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Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway will mark career milestones for Kasey Kahne and Matt DiBenedetto.

Kahne, who is in the final five races of his tenure driving the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports, will make his 500th Cup Series start.

DiBenedetto, driver of Go Fas Racing’s No. 32 Ford, will reach the century mark with his 100th Cup start.

The two join the ranks of drivers who have celebrated similar milestones this season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. marked his 600th start at Auto Club Speedway. Kevin Harvick made his 600th start in the regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway and Kurt Busch made his in the Bristol night race.

Brad Keselowski won Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in his 300th Cup start.

Kahne, 37,  made his first Cup start in the 2004 Daytona 500 for Evernham Motorsports. The 24-year-old driver won the Rookie of the Year that season, making him the youngest winner of the award at the time since Jeff Gordon earned it at the age of 22 in 1993.

Since then he has earned 18 wins, 92 top fives, 175 top 10s and 27 poles. He has yet to miss a race in his 14-year career in the Cup Series.

DiBenedetto, 26, made his first Cup start on March 15, 2015 in the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix Raceway. The start, in the No. 83 Toyota for BK Racing, came after he failed to qualify for the previous two races at Atlanta and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In the two years since, DiBenedetto has earned three top 10s, including two this year in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.

His career-best finish is sixth in the April 2016 race at Bristol.

Through 31 races this year, DiBenedetto has an average finish of 26.8, an improvement over his totals in 2015 (32nd) and 2016 (30th).

In five Kansas starts, DiBenedetto’s best result is 24th in the fall 2016 race. His average finish is 28.2.

“I really enjoy racing at Kansas Speedway,” DiBenedetto said in a press release. “Our mile-and-a-half program has been very strong this year and (Crew chief) Gene (Nead) has been giving me fast race cars to compete with. We qualified in the second-round here at Kansas earlier in the season, so that gives us a lot of hope.

“I like the racing at Kansas because you can move around a lot groove-wise and find a line that works with the balance of your race car. I’m usually one of the first people to move up into the high-groove and that seems to help find us some speed. If we can get a balance on the race car like we had in the spring, I know we’ll be fast and competitive.”

NASCAR America: Scan All from the Alabama 500 at Talladega

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“Ol’ Dega is giving me one last thrill.”

That’s the remark Dale Earnhardt Jr. made after he narrowly avoided being collected in the second of three wrecks in the final 16 laps of Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, his last start at the track.

It’s one of many highlights in the latest edition of “Scan All,” which documents the Alabama 500 at the restrictor-plate track.

In the above video, Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe relive the race, which ended with Keselowski’s sixth win at the track.

Here are more highlights from “Scan All.”

  • Listen to the communication of the No. 48 team as confusion breaks out over whether they can work on Jimmie Johnson‘s car during a red flag.
  • “It is a restrictor-plate race, so I’m not going to promise you anything.” – Brendan Gaughan after remarking he hoped his team wouldn’t have to make too many body repairs. He would be eliminated in a crash with 10 laps to go.
  • “Those stands are packed. They should get a free Dale Jr. autograph.” – Clint Bowyer on the large crowd that took in Earnhardt’s final Cup start at Talladega.
  • “Holy (expletive). What an idiot. That was the absolute stupidest (expletive) thing he’s ever done.” Kyle Busch after a crash involving Jame McMurray, Erik Jones and Jeffrey Earnhardt. The crash began when McMurray slowed down enter pit road and Jones ran into him.
  • Listen as Keselowski and his team struggle to communicate with each other do to a faulty radio system.
  • “How in the (expletive) did we wind up in the (expletive) back? (Expletive) stupid.” – Part of a tirade by Bowyer following a Lap 157 crash that collected him. Bowyer pulled his car into his pit box, exited it, had a brief exchange with his crew chief and walked back to the garage.

Watch the above video for more.

Race distance for Charlotte Motor Speedway road course still TBD

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CONCORD, N.C. — It still might be known as the Bank of America 500, but 500 kilometers might not be the distance of the first road-course race in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Charlotte Motor Speedway announced Wednesday in the media center during a break in tire testing that next year’s Round of 16 cutoff race would be 500 kilometers or about 130 laps on the 2.42-mile layout. Track officials said it would be the longest road course race on the circuit (roughly 90 miles longer than the events at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International).

That prompted a raft of buzz on social media about a 500-kilometer race that likely would be pushing at least four hours with two stage breaks and a few cautions (lap times were in the 90-second range during the test).

But in a statement early Wednesday evening, NASCAR wouldn’t confirm 500 kilometers as the distance of the Sept. 30 race.

Here’s the statement:

This week’s test provided valuable data that will be part of the equation in determining the distance for next fall’s race. We will continue working closely with our partners to develop the best event for fans and competitors alike.

Asked about NASCAR’s statement, Charlotte Motor Speedway spokesman Scott Cooper said the track still was planning for a 500-kilometer race.

“We’re learning a tremendous amount about the Roval from this week’s test,” Cooper said in an email to NBCSports.com. “Ultimately, we want the most challenging road course race for the drivers and the very best show for the fans, and we’ll continue to work hard to get there.”

A release from the track near the conclusion of the two-day tire test late Wednesday afternoon referred to next season’s race as the Bank of America 500 but didn’t specify the race’s distance.