What drivers said after the Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway

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Carl Edwards won the rain-shortened AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway to clinch a spot in the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Here’s what Edwards and the rest of the field had to say Sunday night.

Carl Edwards – Winner: “We were in a bad spot if we went green again, but, like I said, the last run before it rained I think we could’ve held them off. I’m not sure. (Joey Logano) was really good on the bottom. My car was starting to go away. I ran pretty hard there at the start, but man, that’s fun. And, Martin (Truex Jr.) did a great job. If we wouldn’t have beat him off of pit road, obviously, we wouldn’t have got this, but man it was really fun chasing him down and racing with him the run before that.”

Joey Logano – Finished second: “The team did a very good job on executing when we needed to. Just, you know, didn’t have enough laps. It seemed like the momentum swung the other way about three or four laps to go before the caution came out when I started catching the 19 pretty rapidly. Unfortunately it just started raining. That was the end of the race … You know, it is what it is. We’re going to be close. There’s a lot of cars that are going to be close going into Phoenix. It’s going to be entertaining. It’s going to be probably the closest Phoenix race we’ve ever seen as far as points.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished third: “I needed another stop. I needed it to go all the way to the end. We were really good on the long runs. We were really good on new tires after green flag stops. I was really hoping it would go all the way. That was going to be our only chance to win after that last restart. Was hoping it did. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) was telling me how far out the rain was, that he thought. So he was keeping me in the loop on that. I was just like, There’s nothing I can do, I need 20 more laps to even have a chance.”

Chase Elliott – Finished fourth: “You are never happy. Obviously, I thought we had a pretty good car. I don’t know that we had anything for those guys, at least on the short run. If it went real long into a run, I thought we could slightly run with them, given the right track conditions and whatnot. We will do our homework and get ready for the next two.”

Kyle BuschFinished fifth “That was a hard-fought top five right there. That was a battle for sure by myself behind the wheel, but, of course, my pit crew did a great job being able to get the tape on the nose and being able to fix that earlier in the race. And, of course, (crew chief) Adam (Stevens), some great calls being able to fix that car. It was a handful for sure early on, but we made it a heck of a lot better there at the end. I just wish that those long runs were actually real long runs. We had so many sets of tires tonight that everybody was short-pitting the long runs and only running 40 laps instead of what a fuel window was, about 55 laps. So, I couldn’t make up the time that I wanted to on the long runs against those guys.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished sixth: “Our Busch Beer Chevy was off. We were tight, we were loose, and we were kind of all over the place. We could take off okay, but we would fall way off at the end of a run. I just want to apologize to (Austin Dillon). He kind of came up there and he slid in front of me and got loose and when he checked up I hit him again. That was not anything I wanted to see. All-in-all everybody battled and did all they could, and we just didn’t have a fast enough car.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished seventh: “We were just kind of middle of the road. We qualified decent, we kept that track position. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) did a good job. One time we pitted early and got a few spots and got up to fifth but then we just got behind on the second-to-last pit stop and when I get behind people we were just kind of mediocre. I just couldn’t really pass anybody but if you put me in line in fifth I could run fifth. Unfortunately a couple of those guys got in front of me and I couldn’t get back around them. So, we had a good stop our last one, had a good restart and got a couple spots but that was about all I could get.”

Kasey Kahne – Finished eighth: “We drove up, the team did a great job, the pit stops were nice, but we just never had the speed I wanted that those probably five or six guys had. We had a great performance from 33rd to eighth and we battled all night long. Everybody worked hard we just want to be a little better.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished ninth: “I think the hardest thing is we lost our pit selection and we kept getting blocked in by (Alex Bowman) each stop. He had to try to get out as well from whoever was in front of him. Just a bad part of losing your pit selection, you don’t get a good spot and I thought he was a little bit wide a few stops and it really slowed our stops and lose positions on pit road where we usually gain and then I was on the outside just about every restart. Nothing really went well for us on pit road, average day.”

Ryan Newman -Finished 10th: “Our Grainger Chevrolet was a real challenge for us tonight. It pushed when I was in traffic and was loose off of Turn 4. We basically ran in the top 18 all day. (Crew chief ) Luke (Lambert) made a series of calls and by halfway, our car ran the best in the high line and that’s pretty much where I raced. Then we heard weather was coming and when it did, we stayed out and got the top-10 finish. I’m proud of the guys on pit road for the solid performance. It was a long rain delay, but we all hung in there and got a good finish.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 11th: “It didn’t quite go as planned. We were planning on a day race and the setup of the car was not so happy at night. We were making gains on it and getting there, but a little too loose with it being a night race.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 13th: “We took off really strong and had a really good first run. The second run we didn’t get a great restart but we were fast and passing people and cut a right-front tire. We had some right-front damage and feel like that kind of killed the front-end aero wise a little bit for the rest of the day. We kind of really fought just balance, really never got the race car happy, and kind of was out of the racetrack with front and the back. But, Greg (Ives, crew chief) and everybody tried really hard. We were a heck of a lot better than 13th, just frustrating couple of restarts, got raced kind of ridiculously by some guys.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 16th: “Our Fastenal Ford was probably the best it had been all weekend. We progressively made it better each run. I wish it would have gone back green because we had new tires and I think we could have gained some more positions there at the end. Overall it was a good day for our Fastenal team.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 17th: “This place confuses me for sure. I felt like I needed a little bit more rear grip, but if we tried that we got way too tight. When we got tight I was really slow and really unhappy with it. We would free it back up and I would have to kind of hang on to it, but it was faster. For how we have been here that is way better. I’ve got to still do my homework going into next year about this place and figure it out.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 20th: “We just missed the setup. It’s a Chase race, it’s kind of important and we missed it again.”

Paul Menard – Finished 27th: “The rain from earlier cleaned off the track and there was no rubber at the beginning of the race. It took awhile for grip to come in, so we worked through that with adjustments on pit road. (Crew chief) Danny (Stockman) made good calls to get us where we needed to be but then we had a tire go down. That put us behind for the rest of the night. Proud of my team as always for not giving up.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 30th: “We fought all race long. Our AdvoCare Ford just struggled to find the right handling all night which made it really tough out there. We’ll regroup from this and get after it in the last two races of the season and end this year on a strong note.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 37th: “(Kevin Harvick) tucked down to my door tighter than anybody did all night.  He knew how tight he was on my door and that is why I got tight and slid up in front of him. He didn’t check (up), but he had the opportunity to. He didn’t like it that the silver spoon kid was out-running him tonight. So we will be alright, we have two weeks left and we just want to come out and win a race.”

Casey Mears – Finished 39th: “I’m fine. I didn’t even hit anything but the grass. I don’t know who, somebody hit me from behind.  When they checked up, I had to check up because the guys in front of me where trying to peel off the wall to keep from hitting the No. 3 (Austin Dillon). I felt whoever was behind me put me in the grass. I hit the grass and it blew the whole front end off the car. It is unfortunate because we really didn’t hit anything other than the grass, but it ended our night.”

Crew chief explains order to Kyle Busch to do ‘doughnuts to the right’

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Crew chief Adam Stevens explained what he meant when he told Kyle Busch on the radio to do “doughnuts to the right” after Busch’s victory in Saturday night’s All-Star Race.

Stevens provided an explanation Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.’’

“That had nothing to do with any damage being received,’’ Stevens said. “That was just an effort to make sure that we could meet the (Laser Inspection Station) tolerances after the races. Doughnuts and burnouts are very hard on the car. It puts a lot of stress into all the suspension components. If we go out there and do the doughnuts to the left the same way that we’ve been turning all day, it’s going to eat into more of that tolerance.

“The only car out there doing doughnuts is the winner. We’re going to use up all of our tolerance doing doughnuts potentially. If we have that opportunity to do doughnuts, it just makes sense to do them the other direction so we’re not stressing the components in that manner.’’

Busch’s car passed inspection after the race.

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Slugger Labbe exits Richard Childress Racing as Austin Dillon gets crew chief Justin Alexander

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Richard Childress Racing made multiple crew chief changes Monday that included the departure of longtime employee Richard “Slugger” Labbe.

Justin Alexander was named crew chief for Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet in replacing Labbe, who is leaving RCR to pursue “other opportunities,” according to the team.

Alexander, who previously worked as the crew chief for Paul Menard, was promoted from RCR’s No. 2 in the Xfinity Series. Randall Burnett, who recently left AJ Allmendinger’s team, will take over Alexander’s job in the Xfinity Series.

Labbe had been a Cup crew chief with RCR since 2010. He initially worked with Menard, who won the 2011 Brickyard 400 with Labbe as crew chief. He had been with Dillon since midway through the 2015 season.

In 500 starts as a Cup crew chief, Labbe has five victories, also winning three times with Michael Waltrip and once with Jeremy Mayfield.

Here’s the release from the team:

Richard Childress Racing Announces Competition Changes to its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series Programs

Justin Alexander to take over No. 3 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief Role;

Randall Burnett to take over No. 2 XFINITY Series Crew Chief Position

WELCOME, N.C. (May 22, 2017) – Richard Childress Racing has made a change in crew chiefs for its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series programs, effective immediately.

Justin Alexander, who has served as the crew chief of the No. 2 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet for RCR and earned two wins last season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, will assume crew chief responsibilities for the No. 3 Dow/American Ethanol/AAA Chevrolet SS team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with driver Austin Dillon. Alexander holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University. Prior to RCR, Alexander served in various engineering roles with Hendrick Motorsports. Alexander’s first race in his new role will be for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, replacing Richard “Slugger” Labbe. Labbe is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

Randall Burnett, who previously served as a crew chief for RCR’s technical partner JTG Daugherty Racing, will assume a new role as crew chief of the No. 2 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series beginning at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27. Burnett holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from UNC Charlotte. Prior to JTG Daugherty Racing, he spent 10 years as an engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Red Horse Racing suspends operations

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Red Horse Racing, which has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since 2005, has suspended operations.

The organization, which reached the championship race last year with Timothy Peters, had 16 career victories. The team laid off 30 employees along with Peters and driver Brett Moffitt, a team official told NBC Sports. The team has kept a core group of employees as it seeks funding to resume operations.

Peters finished fifth in Friday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Moffitt placed 18th. Peters is sixth in the points and Moffitt is 10th. Neither truck has had a primary sponsor listed in all five races this season. 

Peters won at least one race for the organization from 2009-15. In 2012, the organization finished second in the owner points with four drivers scoring wins: Peters (two wins), Todd Bodine (one), John King (one) and Parker Kligerman (one).

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NASCAR executive defends rules package after lackluster All-Star Race

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After an All-Star race that featured three lead changes in 70 laps, a senior NASCAR executive defended the rules package but conceded that the option tire “didn’t make a huge impact.’’

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that one race isn’t going to lead to significant rule changes.

“I think we’ve got to keep it in context,’’ O’Donnell said Monday. “I find it ironic that you can go from one week of everyone saying this is the greatest rules package and then you walk into one race with a bit of a different format (and opinions not as high). We feel still really bullish on the rules package we have, the work we’ve done with the industry to get where we’re at. Certainly you want every race to be the best it possibly can be.

“We’ve got to look at the facts and the facts are a lot of different organizations winning this year, the (manufacturers) having an ability to win, Kyle (Busch) his first win ever (in Cup) at Charlotte, which is surprising to me, and a lot of young drivers really putting their names out there competing out front. Really like where we’re at right now.

“Our job is to look at the whole year. If I reacted to every comment you had on Twitter, it would be very different. It’s one of those things we’ve got to look at the overall picture, we’ve got to take the input from everybody in the industry and we do that. I think from a rules package standpoint we continue to see the sport moving in the right direction in terms of what we’re seeing in competitiveness from different organizations. That’s really how we judge it from an overall standpoint and not just one race.’’

Heading into this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600, there have been eight different winners in the first 11 races. There have been at least eight different winners in the first 11 races in three of the last four years.

Among organizations, seven different teams have scored victories this season: Chip Ganassi Racing, Furniture Row Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing. Four organizations had won a race in the first 11 events last year and in 2015.

In the five races run on 1.5-mile tracks this season — Atlanta, Las Vegas, Texas, Kansas and the All-Star Race — lead changes are down compared to the same events last year. There have been 63 lead changes in those five events this year compared to 94 in those same events a year ago and 99 two years ago.

The three lead changes in the All-Star race were the fewest since 2007, although Saturday’s race had the fewest laps (70) since that 2007 race, which was 80 laps.

Still, the hope was that there could be plenty of cars moving forward and backward with the use of a second tire compound, a softer compound. The goal was for the tire to be a few tenths quicker at the onset but wear more quickly than the regular tire.

“Goodyear delivered on exactly what we had asked,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We wanted three to four-tenths on a tire and by the practice times and the early part of the race we saw that. Kudos to Goodyear. I think what you saw Saturday night was really the difference probably in the car versus the tire and maybe a need to go even further if you were going to pursue that avenue in terms of difference in speed. That’s something we could look at for the future. Obviously you guys saw what I saw, it didn’t make a huge impact.’’

Asked if the option tire is something still on the table for future events, O’Donnell said: “I think so. I think you look at what may be the impact versus the car. I think the bigger thing is, when you look at tires in general, continuing to focus on rain tire, what should be our priority. There’s talk, I don’t want to tip the hand, but way down the future could you ever run Martinsville if the track was damp because Goodyear is able to, in terms of the speed, put something together.

“It’s a balance for us of where do we put their focus. Obviously they’re capable of doing all things. I think something we’d look at All-Star for sure, not sure in terms of a points race.’’

Another question was about the splitter after Erik Jones’ bid for the lead in the final laps of the Monster Energy Open was foiled when he ran below the apron and through grass on the frontstretch. He damaged his splitter in the incident.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was critical of the splitter on Twitter.

O’Donnell defended the splitter’s purpose on the car.

“Why we have it, I think everybody, including the drivers and the industry wanted to look at going toward the lower downforce package,’’ O’Donnell said. “That’s part of the package. It’s part of what we worked on with the (manufacturers). We’re actually very happy with the product we’ve had.

“If you look back to Kansas, one of the better mile-and-a-half races we’ve had. It’s always interesting with one incident and everybody jumps on, ‘Hey, why do we have this on the car?’ Certainly something down the road you can always look at, but it’s part of the overall aerodynamics of the car. It all fits in.

“For now, we continue to like the direction of lower downforce and going to continue down that and see if there are certain tweaks we can make. We absolutely would do that but that’s where we’re at today.’’

O’Donnell also said that the 2018 schedule is expected to be released this week.

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