What drivers said after Atlanta Cup race

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Here are the comments from drivers after Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

Brad Keselowski — Winner: “I wouldn’t say a lot of things fell our way.  I don’t know if I would call it that way.  But I would say we’ve had races where we’ve led a bunch of laps and things fall apart at the end.  That’s just part of how this sport works.  You take advantage of the opportunities when they come, and we certainly call it an opportunity, but I don’t know if I would call it a break.  I didn’t really think much about Kevin or his scenario because at that time I still had multiple cars I had to pass, and I was just worried about doing the best I could to make the most of our day.’’

Kyle Larson — Finished 2nd: “I can make the high line work at most tracks.  Here at Atlanta, I don’t do a good enough job up top.  That’s why I try to commit myself to the bottom throughout the race.  There when I restarted the leader after our Christmas present we got there, and Brad lined up behind me, I knew he was going to be the one to beat. I’d spent a lot of time around him throughout the race, especially on the short runs he was better than I was, and he would always pass me in 1 and 2. I knew I was going to have to try and take his line away.  I tried a few times, and he finally kind of guessed where I was going right one lap and got to my inside.’’

Joey Logano — Finished 6th: “We had some loose wheel issues and once the first one got loose it messes up the threads and then that is the end of that. We just kept battling and had a pit road speeding penalty, a loose wheel again and another loose wheel. Man, we were two down and before you know it we were back on the lead lap and had a shot there at the end, 13th to 6th the last 10 laps or so. Man, as fast as that thing was at the end, I wish we were toward the front.”

Matt Kenseth — Finished 3rd: “It was an uphill battle all day. For some reason, our speed was off on pit road and we got two penalties there that put us behind and just the cautions fell and everything and it took all day to get our laps and get back in position, so everything kind of went our way at the end, except for that outside restart hurt us, but we had a good car and glad we got a decent result.”

Kasey Kahne — Finished 4th: “It’s hard to do when you are one of the best teams and drivers and running up front all the time and you get back there, it’s tough to dig out of. For us, the last year or two it’s been really hard and today we did it, so that was really nice to see and nice to be part of and we will just keep building from there. It feels really good to dig out of where we started. It wasn’t good at the start.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 5th: “I really didn’t feel like Kevin’s (Harvick) car was any better than ours. I think he just did a little better job of driving and using the bottom of the race track and keeping his tires on his car and still going fast all at the same time. I think we made a big start in the right direction for me being able to keep up with him moving forward. At this place, he’s obviously really good. But the biggest thing is just seeing him have a struggle there at the end and us running second to him all day all the way up to the very end is pretty frustrating.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 7th: “It seemed like the stages really caught other teams off guard. We did a middle of the road approach. I liked it because we didn’t quite have the speed in the car to attack for those points but didn’t want to sacrifice tires and be caught at the end with fresh tires. We managed the stages, were just missing the handle.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 8th: “We needed longer runs. Once we got them, we were really good. Then we had a speeding penalty that got us back and at the same time the clutch went out and then we were just – kept losing spots on pit road because I’d have to shut out off to stop to pit and then we push started every time and we’d lose a bunch of spots, so really proud of the effort of my guys – everybody all weekend.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 9th: “I just made a mistake that I preach all the time that you don’t need to make and beat yourself and then you go out and make it yourself instead of following all the things you preach. That part is hard for me to swallow. The good part about it is our Ford has been really fast. We didn’t know what we were going to have when we got here and we had a great weekend the whole time. Man, I just, one way or another I have figured out how to lose races here at Atlanta after being so dominant. We will pick ‘em up and start again next week.”

Jamie McMurray — Finished 10th: “The alternator went out really early in the race. We just kept having to change batteries, but we were fortunate there weren’t a lot of cars on the lead lap, so I only had to restart like 12th or 14th and our car was really good on restarts, so you could get a few. Both cars ran really good.  I look forward to Las Vegas and Fontana and all the 1.5-miles coming up.”

Trevor Bayne — Finished 12th: “We had some good speed right off of the truck with our Liberty National Ford and were able to make good adjustments throughout the day today that kept us in the game. I can’t thank these guys enough on this team for their hard work. Today was a good step in the right direction and we’re ready to build off of this next week in Vegas.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 13th: “We weren’t really good for the first couple of laps of a run, but we could gain some of it back later in the run. I’m disappointed because I think we should have had a top-10 finish. It was a strong testament of our Fords with Trevor (Bayne) finishing 12th so I’m looking forward to Vegas.”

Erik Jones — Finished 14th: “I thought we had a seventh- to ninth-place car probably most of the day – ran around there, maybe a little bit farther back. Just last restart we came in, put tires on and just got super tight. Not sure why. Didn’t really know. Can’t really figure it out, so it’s going to be tough to figure out why, but it’s unfortunate. I wish we could have went up there and finished I feel like where we deserved, where our car was capable of. Just didn’t work out.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 15th: “We got in a little bit of a hole early and got ourselves a couple of laps down, but (crew chief Bootie Barker) made some good calls there at the end to do the wave around. Our car was strong, so a strong car kind of overcame some mistakes from us early.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 19th: “Tough day with two speeding penalties. We will have to look at our math and figure out what was going on there. The first one, I’m sure I could have gotten popped. The second one I made sure I didn’t get popped again and I still got in trouble. So, we might have had something off on our end. But, at the end I thought we were going to finish on the lead lap and there was some confusion on why the caution came out, who it came out for and if we were eligible for the ‘lucky dog’ scenario. The way it unfolded certainly didn’t work in our favor.”

Landon Cassill — Finished 22nd: “It was okay. I thought the car was alright, a little better than I thought based on Saturday. The caution at the end kind of killed us but I am pretty happy with the day overall.”

David Ragan — Finished 23rd: “I am really proud of the team. We made great adjustments to start the race. We weren’t expecting it to cool off and finish under the lights and I think I got a few adjustments behind. The first half of the race we were a top-20 car and just got off a little bit. That is a great race for our first downforce track back in the 34. We will learn some because the track changed a lot. I feel like our car was pretty good throughout the day but not as good as I needed it to be at the end.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 24th: “We fought a tight race car all race, and our steering was off a little bit throughout the run. Tire wear is so important here and luckily that wasn’t a huge factor for us, and crew chief, Trent Owens made a good call to keep us out during scheduled flag stops and we got the caution that gave us back a lap.”

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. – Finished 30th: “Well we got caught speeding on pit road as I guess a lot of people did. So, we got to look at that and see what we have wrong. I was on my lights perfectly, but seems like a lot of guys got popped in the same segment.  And then we had a flat right-rear tire and then we had a gun go bad and we had loose wheels all day long. And then when we tried to get the wave around the cautions didn’t quite fall in our favor to be able to try to find a way back to a respectable position. The car had good top-10 speed and we just had a lot of bad luck today and can’t really get too upset about that.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 32nd: “Got to go back to work.  I’m proud of my guys for the speed they put in this race car. We worked hard, really hard, this one just hurts there is nothing better to say about it, it just hurts.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 35th: “Just lost the charging system and therefore the battery went dead.  It took us out of it.  It was unfortunate.’’

Gray Gaulding — Finished 37th: “You’re going to have blown engines, blown tires and wreck and it’s all part of the deal, but I thought we had a solid run going. We had a couple bad breaks on pit road, but my fault. I sped on pit road one time, but I’m going to live and learn. I felt like I passed a lot of good cars. We beat some cars that – we were in front of some cars that usually should be in front of us.’’

Denny Hamlin — Finished 38th: “We had a decent car – top-10 car – and it’s up here hanging out around seventh or eighth all day. We kept gaining on them, which is a good thing, but just had a mechanical failure here.’’

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Auto Club Speedway recap, West Coast Awards

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and looks back at the weekend’s racing at Auto Club Speedway.

Rutledge Wood hosts with Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett from the “Big Oak Table” at NBC Charlotte.

What to expect from the show.

  • Martin Truex Jr. flashed his championship form from last year and earned his first win of the 2018 season Sunday in Fontana. We’ll recap the last race of NASCAR Goes West from around the “Big Oak Table” at our NBC Sports studios in Charlotte. Plus, Rut and the gang will hand out the West Coast awards, honoring the best moments from the Vegas-Phoenix-Fontana run.
  • NASCAR is a sport built on families, and it’s seen lots of kids grow up at the track through the years. We’ll spend time discussing the next generation to catch the racing bug – including Harrison Burton, son of our Jeff Burton.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you also can watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com.

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Landon Cassill gets Cup ride for Martinsville, Texas

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Landon Cassill will drive the No. 00 for StarCom Racing in the next two races, Martinsville and Texas, the team announced Monday.

Cassill replaces Jeffrey Earnhardt. StarCom Racing and Earnhardt parted ways after Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway will mark Cassill’s first Cup race of the year. The 28-year-old has 259 career Cup starts and a career-best finish of fourth at Talladega in October 2014. He drove for Front Row Motorsports the past two seasons but was not retained after last year.

Cassill’s sponsor the next two races will be the United States First Responders Association, a non-profit, professional and social network of fire, EMS, rescue, law enforcement and military personnel, as well as civilian support teams.

StarCom Racing was privileged to acquire a new partnership with USFRA and Landon Cassill behind the wheel,” said Derrike Cope, team manager, in a statement. “I’m optimistic that his knowledge and experience will only help our efforts as well as the growth of our team.”

Said Cassill in a statement: “I love working with new teams. I feel like that is one of my strengths. StarCom Racing looks like they are in it for the long haul, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.” 

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Hendrick Motorsports withdraws appeal of Phoenix penalties against No. 9 team

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Hendrick Motorsports has withdrawn its appeal of penalties against Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 team from last weekend’s race in Phoenix, NBC Sports confirmed.

NASCAR found a L1 infraction on Elliott’s car in the rear-suspension after the race at ISM Raceway.

NASCAR stated that the team’s truck trailing arm spacer/pinion angle shim mounting surfaces must be planar and in complete contact with corresponding mating surfaces at all points and at all times.

NASCAR fined crew chief Alan Gustafson $50,000, suspended car chief Josh Kirk two races and docked Elliott 25 points and the team 25 owner points. Elliott’s third-place finish in the race will not count toward any tiebreakers.

Following Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, where Elliott finished 16th, he is 21st in the point standings.

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Preliminary entry lists for Martinsville

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NASCAR visits a short track for the first time this season when it heads to Martinsville Speedway, the oldest track on the circuit.

The Cup Series is joined by the Camping World Truck Series, which has been off the last two weeks.

Here are the entry lists for both races.

Cup – STP 500

There are 38 cars entered.

Jeffrey Earnhardt is listed as driving StarCom Racing’s No. 00 Chevrolet, but the team announced Sunday it has parted ways with Earnhardt.

Landon Cassill will take his place this weekend and at Texas Motor Speedway.

D.J. Kennington is entered in his third race this season, driving Gaunt Brothers Racing’s No. 96 Toyota.

Ross Chastain is entered in Premium Motorsports’ No. 15 Chevrolet for the fifth time this season.

Harrison Rhodes is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 Chevrolet. Rhodes has one start in the No. 51 at Atlanta.

Last year, Brad Keselowski won this race after leading 116 of 500 laps. He beat Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott. In the fall playoff race, Busch won over Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer.

Click here for the entry lists.

Trucks – Alpha Energy Solutions 250

There are 36 trucks entered.

Todd Gilliland will make his first start of the season in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Toyota.

His father, David Gilliland, is entered in DGR-Crosley’s No. 54 Toyota.

Timothy Peters will make his first start of the year driving Ricky Benton Racing’s No. 92 Ford. A former driver for the defunct Red Horse Racing, Peters’ last start was in the 2017 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, Chase Elliott won this race over Johnny Sauter and Christopher Bell. The fall playoff race was won by Noah Gragson over Matt Crafton and Sauter.

Click here for the entry list.