What drivers said after Texas race

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Comments from drivers after Sunday’s NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway:

Jimmie Johnson – Winner: “I guess I remembered how to drive; and I guess this team remembered how to do it! I’m just real proud of this team. What a tough track and tough conditions. We were really in our wheelhouse and we were just able to execute all day. Oh, it was hot in there. I got cooked in the car today. I didn’t have any fluids so I’m not feeling the best, but we got into Victory Lane. I’m so proud of the fight in this race team. I can’t wait to celebrate during this off-weekend with my family and friends and really enjoy this.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 2nd: “I think if I could have got by Joey with maybe five to go, I think I could have, I definitely would have caught Jimmie.  Passing him is obviously another story.  But I would have at least had a couple opportunities to get behind him and work there behind him and try and get by. I made a mistake there on the first pit stop and clipped too many boxes. I turned in way early. I probably clipped a couple before the 11 box. But yeah, I was disappointed in myself then because I feel like our car was really, really good the beginning part of the race and probably could have drove up to the lead and maybe controlled the race from then on.  So, you never know.’’

Joey Logano — Finished 3rd: “That is (crew chief Todd Gordon’s) top three there. He did a good job giving us a shot to win. I tried to hold off (Jimmie Johnson), he was just faster. There is nothing to say besides that. I was in the clean and had the clean air and he was still faster behind me. Once he passed me, my car kind of came to me a little bit and I was able to run him back down a little bit. If he had made a mistake, I was going to be there. He was loose, I could tell, then all of a sudden he wasn’t loose any more. He must have lowered his track bar or something and he drove away again. My car started falling off like it did all day. I needed a 15-lap run instead of a 30-lap run. We just have to get faster. We weren’t fast and that is why we didn’t win.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 4th: “I think the racing was better than it could have been. The track did a great job getting the race track ready. It could have been like it was all day Friday and were able to get that second groove coming in. I think we overachieved today. The only chance we had today was to have clean air. Our car was very sensitive to the track and two tires. I was able to run out front, and I could go okay then, but in traffic I really struggled off the corner.”

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.,– Finished 5th: “I felt like we were pretty good and we ran with the cars, (Martin Truex Jr.) and the guys that have been really fast. I think (Brad Keselowski) and (Joey Logano) have been really the class of the field. I saw those guys weaving after the race and downshifting hard to reset their housing, so we have to figure out what they are doing and see if we can’t make it better.’’

BRAD KESELOWSKI — Finished 6th: “We just kind of seemed stuck in that fifth- or sixth-place range for most of the race. We were fighting a few things and got a little better there at the end and maybe had a little bit more in the tank there if there was a little bit of time left, but we just ran out of laps.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished 7th: “We had a really good car. I knew from like lap two or three on I was just able to turn a little better in (Turns) 1 and 2 than the guys I was in front of. We didn’t fall off very much. That was key today because we had some long green-flag runs. So, very proud of everybody both Ganassi cars ran great again today. We got a little bit behind when we stayed out on Stage 2 and got a little bit behind in the pits and then I had a really bad restart, so we played make-up the rest of the day.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR. — Finished 8th: “It was an up-and-down race – track position was everything. We had a good car at times, and we struggled at times. The track was really, really difficult and the tires were definitely a challenge. It seemed like every time we put a set on, the car was a little different. We weren’t good on restarts and short runs and we’d lose all our track position that took us so long to get. Overall, it was a decent day, but needed to be better on short runs for sure.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 9th: “Had a good car, just didn’t get back up through the field as well as I would have liked to that second time. Good effort, just not good enough.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 10th: “We didn’t have any mistakes. We didn’t have to battle too hard on the handling. We may have tried to stay out to get points in segment two and might have hurt us in the long run. We had to build all our spots back the second half of the race. (Jimmie Johnson) was on the same sequence as us and he is the race winner. I would say we did good today. I know we can do better. I am happy about a top-10. Now we will go to some of our favorite short tracks.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 11th: That was a tough day for everyone. Like a lot of folks, we just couldn’t get the handling right today. We’ll take 11th and enjoy the off-weekend, then head to Bristol.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 12th: “That last pit stop was pretty discouraging. We got back in that third debris caution. I don’t know what it was there at the end of segment two and that made everybody have split strategies and we got in the back and couldn’t pass anybody. It was terrible to try to pass people. We made our way up to seventh or eighth and then pitted, and I got into our box too long and we were wedged in between two cars. I was over the line by a few inches. That sucked. I put us in that hole. We probably should have stayed out looking back on it but that is easy to do. If you had asked me yesterday I wouldn’t have said we would win two stages and have one of the fastest cars. They made really good changes this morning and that definitely says a lot.”

Trevor Bayne — Finished 13th: I am so proud of the effort of my guys. To get another top-15 finish out of a backup car that we were able to actually get unloaded, and practice laps on during a 50-minute session, is just a testament to the dedication of this team. I’m really happy we were able to come away from here with another consistent finish. We will take this into the off-weekend and get after it again at home in Bristol.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 14th: “We struggled with handling in stage two but were able to bounce back in stage three. We were definitely better on the longer run so that last caution hurt us, but overall it was a good day for our entire Roush Fenway Racing organization.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 21st: “Our finish definitely did not define our day. We had a really fast Scott Products Chevrolet all weekend. It was really disappointing to be involved in the incident on pit road, but we had the speed we needed to get us back in the top 10. Unfortunately, after the end of the second stage, we had a loose wheel and that completely killed our momentum and we had to spend the second half of the race fighting for the Lucky Dog. I’m really proud of my No. 37 Scott Products team. They dug all weekend and worked really hard to get a fast car, and we’ll keep using that momentum and working on 1.5-mile program.”

Erik Jones — Finished 22nd: “Just need to get better for next time. There’s nothing we can really take and nothing that will apply to next time. Just need to get our stuff better and have a better car for next time.”

Danica Patrick — Finished 24th: “The TaxAct Ford was pretty good in the middle of the second stage, and we were able to pick up a few spots, but then it just started getting looser and looser. The team made good adjustments to help tighten the car up, but then it would start getting loose again as we got into the run. I hate we got a penalty there toward the end that cost us a bunch of spots.”

Ryan Newman — Finished 26th: Today was just not our day. This new track surface was definitely a challenge and it seemed like we never really got our car to where we wanted it to be. Luke (Lambert, crew chief) and the guys did all they could to try and fix the balance of our No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, but it always seemed like we were just too tight. With the new configuration, Turns 3 and 4 were a struggle to get through without being super tight. I think we definitely learned something for when we come back here in the fall, but overall today was not the finish we wanted. We’ll take the off weekend to reset and get ready for Bristol in two weeks.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 33rd: As soon as I made a pace lap before the race I could feel something was broken. We had to go into the garage and make repairs before we could even start the race. Man, it just sucks. Everyone knows you’ll have days like that over the course of a 38-race season but no one wants that ever. We worked hard the entire race just trying to make up laps and gain positions. The Dow Energy and Water Chevrolet really was fast today, we just didn’t get a chance to show it.”

Paul Menard — Finished 36th: We went into this weekend with the mindset that we have not raced here before. You could say we threw out all the notebooks on Texas. We found speed throughout practice on Friday and Saturday with Matt Borland making good adjustments. Today we just couldn’t put it all together. We had a setback when the insulation came off the wiring to our battery and a spark caused the car to lose power. Once we were in the garage, the guys hustled and got us back out on track as quickly as they could. We’ll regroup in the off week and come back strong in Bristol.” 

NASCAR America’s Jarrett, Letarte, Petty recap 2017, make 2018 predictions

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The 2017 NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series seasons have only been over for a few days.

And while it’s understandable that on Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, analysts Steve Letarte, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty reflected back on the recently completed race seasons, they also took a very bold move:

The new season is still three months away, but our analyst team is ALREADY making predictions for 2018.

We don’t want to spoil the surprise or show their hands. If you want to hear how they’re already viewing 2018, click on the video above.

Justin Hartley from NBC’s ‘This Is Us’ on Dale Jr.’s special bond with fans

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Even though Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now officially retired as a NASCAR Cup driver, the special bond between the former driver of the 88 will likely never go away.

Sure, Alex Bowman is replacing Junior in the 88, which will likely pick up some of Junior Nation to cheer for him. Others will gravitate to cheer for other drivers, perhaps youngsters William Byron, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and others.

But one thing is for certain: once a Dale Jr. fan and a member of Junior Nation, ALWAYS a Dale Jr. fan and a member of Junior Nation.

Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin on NBC’s top-rated “This Is Us,” is proud to call himself a card carrying member of Junior Nation. In the video above, Hartley shows what it’s like to be a Dale Jr. fan, what the third-generation driver meant to so many people for so many years, and how his legacy will continue on for decades to come.

Check out the video above to see what Junior Nation is all about, as well as thoughts from our NBC analysts, Kyle Petty, Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett.

NASCAR America: Nate Ryan on how 78 rode roller coaster to Cup crown

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If the 2017 NASCAR Cup season was an amusement park ride, it definitely would be a roller coaster for Martin Truex Jr., crew chief Cole Pearn and the rest of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team.

Up and down the season went, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

There was adversity on the track and tragedy off the track, with Pearn losing his best friend to a freakish infection, and team member Jim Watson passing away in Kansas one day before the Cup race that Truex would go on to win and dedicate to his fallen teammate.

And through it all, Truex and longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex dealt with the recurrence of ovarian cancer with strength, inspiration and fortitude.

The 78 team’s dedication, sticking to the plan and rallying together as a family was the difference.

NBC Sports’ and NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan presented a touching pre-race tribute to Truex and his team before Sunday’s race. On Tuesday’s NASCAR America, Ryan gave an updated version of that tribute, capping it off with the best way possible: recalling how Truex and the 78 team won it all.

Check out the video above to see Nate’s touching piece.

 

Scan All: Miami — the best from the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400

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This week’s Scan All: Miami combined not only regular scanner traffic from team radios during Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400, but also studio cut-ins of Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn talking about their road to the Cup championship.

Here’s some of the best exchanges:

Martin Truex Jr. on coming into the race: “I felt good all weekend, I really did. I was relaxed and knew that no matter what happened, we had a great season and a lot to be proud of and a lot to build upon for the future.”

Truex on his team radio just before the green flag: “We’ve been working a long time to get here. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of you guys and what you’ve done. Thank you for an unbelieveable season. Let’s cap it off tonight.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. just before the green flag: “I just want to thank everybody that’s had an impact on my career. I’ve made friendships and relationships that’ll last a lifetime, and I’m just so thankful for that.”

Aric Almirola on his last start for Richard Petty Motorsports: “King, if you’re on the air, thanks for that phone call six years ago. It’s been a lot of fun driving this 43 car.”

Crew chief Darian Grubb to Kasey Kahne on his final start with Hendrick Motorsports: “I know it’s an emotional day for everybody. I’m proud to be able to call you teammate and even more proud to be able to continue to call you friend after this, bud.”

Kahne’s reply (while holding back tears): “Thank you guys for everything, man.”

Kahne’s spotter, Kevin Hamlin, to Grubb: “Man, you’ve got to make him cry before we go green?”

Cole Pearn on Kyle Larson getting a run: “The 42 is running the wall. He’s hauling ass.”

Clayton Hughes, spotter for Truex: “How about this, Martin Truex Jr., you are the champion, baby!”

Truex in studio cut-in on winning championship: “It was our time. There’s no doubt in my mind that it was our time. Sometimes, things are meant to be.”

Check out the whole Scan All segment in the video above.