What drivers said after the Brickyard 400

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Here’s what drivers had to say following the 24th annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kasey KahneWinner: “The (win for the) career is big, for sure; but the win and the history here. To win at this track is unreal. We used to always be really close. We lost to Jeff (Gordon) and we lost to Tony (Stewart); just some fast cars back then. Today’s strategy got us here. This Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was great once I got out front. I just had to get there. I’m exhausted. But, an unbelievable win. The team just kept working. We had great pit stops. Farmers Insurance, Great Clips, and Chevrolet have been huge to us. To win at Indy is unbelievable. I wish my son, Tanner, was here.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished second: “We had a good, solid day. Anytime that you’re that close (to winning) you can certainly taste it. I had a taste of it in my mouth, I didn’t get to eat it.”

Ryan Newman – Finished third: “Just a lot of adrenaline going through the gearbox I guess.  Just guys running over each other.  Good run for the Velveeta Chevrolet.  I’ve got to thank them for jumping on board.  We were close.  We didn’t have the best race car, we had a good long run car, but we were horrible on restarts and that is what we needed there at the end.”

Joey Logano – Finished fourth:  “We’re getting better. I thought we had a fast car today. We didn’t execute as well as we needed to and that kind of got us back a little bit, and then we were able to gain some spots back at the end and get a top five out of it. I felt like the two cars that were better than us wrecked, so I feel like that was our chance to win and we just didn’t capitalize. The positive side is our car got faster. The bummer is we didn’t win.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished fifth: I mean it was just a bunch of wrecks and a bunch of restarts, you know? We just – you know, cautions always kind of breed cautions and, you know, with those stages and all that stuff you get those extra caution and just can’t get it to fall our way. We had a good Camry today. We had the third-best car and the two best cars wrecked each other, so I thought we were going to have a shot at a win if we it would have went green to the end. Just got that caution. Just wasn’t me.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished sixth: “It was different, for sure.  We knew before the day started with the stage racing everything that was gonna go on, if it didn’t go green and you had a caution come out in the middle of that cycle at the end you were gonna have a situation like that where you had guys staying out and guys doing different things.  There at the end we were in the lead cycle and then you had all those guys that stayed out and the next thing you knew we were seventh or eighth and we were in the middle of a hornet’s net back there.  There’s nothing you can do about that.  They did a great job with our Jimmy John’s Ford all weekend.  We just wound up on the wrong cycle there by no doing of our own.  We had a decent car, but it didn’t matter in the end.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished seventh: “It was tough. I feel like we had an okay car, but it was a very crazy race. A lot of accidents and a lot of stuff going on right there at the end and we are lucky that we survived.”

Matt DiBenedetto – Finished eighth: “A top 10 in the Daytona 500 and a top 10 in the Brickyard 400 finishing eighth today. It’s crazy. It was a crazy day. It’s pretty unreal what we’ve been able to accomplish this year. I’m so proud. It’s not all me. My team are the ones that deserve the credit and I’m more happy for them than myself. I’ve worked so dang hard the old-school way to get here, countless late nights for these guys working, many sleepless nights in my career thinking it was over about 30 to 40 times and that’s not even an exaggeration, and to have these kind of races this year is just unbelievable. It’s been fun.”

Chris Buescher – Finished ninth: “It felt like a battle more than a race today. Just an excellent job by our team to stick with it today. We had damage throughout a lot of this race and this Clorox team they worked really hard to make sure we got it back to where it needed to be to be able to get some drivability out of it. We were able to miss some of that craziness there at the end and got ourselves a good finish out of it.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 10th: “It wasn’t from lack of effort for sure. The guys, I can’t believe what we were doing under a pit stop to try to fix it. All goes to the guys for working so hard. We were just so off all weekend. In the race, we made it a little better, but it still wasn’t very competitive. You know just one of those days you’ve just got to keep fighting and get a little lucky. Fortunately missing all the wrecks, we’ve got to keep working on trying to get better and trying new things for sure. That is what we are doing, but we are a good bit off, so we’ve got to keep going to the drawing board and keep working on it. But, you know a day like this it’s all from the work of my guys. The pit crew, they did great, road crew, jumping over the wall, to do all kinds of mega changes to try to fix it. But, a day like this is on them. They put the effort in for sure.”

Danica Patrick – Finished 11th: “The weekend was a bit of a challenge, but everyone on the Aspen Dental team gave it their all and never gave up. We definitely dodged a lot of bullets today, from handling issues to cars wrecking in front of us and more. It wasn’t pretty, but I really don’t care. We’ve had plenty of races where our luck went the other way, so I’ll take it today.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished 15th: “I really don’t know what happened. I think there was a lapped car, but I’m not sure.  We had a really good car.  We had a really good car we just struggled in the pits again this weekend and that got us behind every pit stop.  It’s a hard track to pass at, you can’t make up for what you lose in the pits.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 19th: “That was heartbreaking. The GEICO Chevy crew did an awesome job keeping us in the game on pit road today. We made adjustments that helped the car and we learned so much that will help us when we come back to this place. This Germain Racing team worked so hard and we were in position for a good finish. I love Indy. I don’t love leaving it with unfinished business like that. We will be back.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 20th: “We had the strategy to win it. I was kissing the bricks in my head. (Crew chief) Matt Puccia and the guys gave me a great AdvoCare Ford and I was so thankful to have a shot to win the Brickyard. It’s just really disappointing.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 21st: “Everybody got bunched up there. (Trevor Bayne) got hooked to us and that got me a little bit frustrated because I was forced to get out of the car and I thought it was still able to at least roll. We could have finished the race. But, it’s over. I saw a lot of blocking and drivers trying to win one of the biggest races. It’s the Brickyard 400. Everybody wants it. Hopefully it’s good for the fans to see the aggression out of all of the drivers. We all want it really bad.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 23rd: “I saw smoke. A car got sideways. I checked up and got run over. If I didn’t check up, I’d run into it. I checked up and got run into. It stinks. We shouldn’t have been back there. We were kind of on the bad side of that strategy there with guys out there needing a caution to come out and got pushed back to ninth or 10th. Then we got into it with (Ty Dillon) and (Kyle Larson), got damage, had to come back in to pit and were going to ride it out to the end and got caught up in another wreck. That’s the way it goes in this day and age I guess.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 27th: “I’m not sure I was blowing up. I was definitely smoking and it was definitely engine oil smoke, I could smell that. I didn’t know where it was coming from and I had decent grip through (Turns) 1 and 2, and so I went into Turn 3. I had a shot to win the Brickyard 400 for the fifth time; and I was hoping one, the engine would live, and two, we would make it through Turns 3 and 4. And, I got really loose going into the corner, so I don’t know if I spun out in my own oil or if it was an aero situation, but I was so close to my fifth win here at the Brickyard.”

KYLE LARSON – Finished 28th: “He (Ty Dillon) was inside all the way off Turn 4. He just kept running me down and running me down. We’re to the end and I’m not going to lift. He just ran me down far enough where I had nowhere to go and I clipped his left rear and it got me loose probably down the speedy dry and I just came across the track. A ton of blocking today. It was pretty aggressive. I got blocked a few times and I saw people blocking pretty aggressively. It was pretty annoying. But, I was there the whole time on that one, so it was pretty bad. But it was just Indy.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 29th: “Cars were spinning in front of me. Bowyer went left, (Erik Jones) was going right. I tried to shoot the middle and Bowyer ricocheted back up onto the track. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Clint Bowyer – Finished 30th : “Yeah, he was getting crowded pretty hard through (Turns) three and then in four. They got together and parked in front of us and we just had to make an evasive move. I knew the 77 had a run on me there and all hell broke loose. It was a pretty hard hit. And then somebody hit me again. I don’t know when. It felt like they did. It pretty much sucks.”

ERIK JONES – Finished 31st: “(Clint Bowyer) just turned left, I was at his door almost and wrecked me and him, it looks like (Kurt Busch) got into it somehow, so just unfortunate. I don’t know. There’s just been a lot of stuff like that happen to us this year, you know, I think with the pit cycle the way it was going to all work out, we were going to get a top-10 finish, so it’s just unfortunate. It seemed like on that our Sport Clips Camry was fast, got better all day and we had a top-five car it seemed like at the end of the race. Just didn’t get to see it all play out.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR – Finished 33rd: “I just got loose and wrecked him (Kyle Busch) I guess, totally my fault. Didn’t really know what to expect in that position and didn’t really realize that he was going to drive in that deep and suck me around. I will take the blame for that and obviously it was my fault. I hate it for Kyle, he had a great car and we did as well, but that’s racing. Glad I was able to get out, fire was bad. I had no brakes and I had to run into the wall a second time just to get it to stop so I could get out. Fortunately I’m okay and we’ll live to race another day.”

KYLE BUSCH – Finished 34th: “I guess we could have continued to play the teammate game and try to settle it on a green flag pit stop, but he could be that much faster than me and yard me by three seconds on a run with the clean air then I would never be able to get the opportunity to pass him back even if we had to settle it on a pit stop. That’s the way it goes, just chalk it up to another one that we figure out how to lose these things by. It’s very frustrating and I hate it for my guys, they build such fast Toyota Camrys and the Skittles Camry was really good again today. Had wanted to go out there and put ourselves in the record books for three in a row, but not happening

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 35th: “Everybody is racing hard on the restart.  (Jimmie Johnson) kind of pinched me and I kind of checked up.  When I did my car got loose and then when I got beside of him I was trying to get back to the gas and just got a little bit more loose.  Then I lost it and got the inside wall.  That was the best Sunny D Ford we’ve ever had here.  We were really good, a lot stronger than we were yesterday in practice.  That’s something to hang our hats on.  I thought for the most part we had a solid day running inside the top 15.  That was our goal.  I thought that we could have squeaked out a top-10 there if everything went right, so I’m really happy with our performance, it was just a little costly mistake there.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Finished 36th: “I don’t know. There were just a bunch of cars slowing down and stopping and it was a chain reaction and we got into the back of the No. 6 (Trevor Bayne) and I guess they were all kind of running into each other and it just knocked the radiator out of it. We hit the No. 2 car (Brad Keselowski) earlier in the race kind of doing the same thing and it damaged the front end and I think it knocked the bumper bar out of it then, so we really had no protection after that. But, we had a great car and I was having a lot of fun. The car was fast. We had a top 10 car for sure. It’s kind of frustrating because I was really enjoying being out there. Hopefully our luck’s going to turnaround. It’s been pretty tough and this is a difficult one to put up with.”

David Ragan – Finished 38th:  “I was just on the outside of (JJ Yeley) and we were on exit of turn one and I don’t know if he just pushed up the race track a little bit, but we were really tight. Restarts are about the only spot that you can pass, so for those first three or four laps you have to be pretty aggressive. I guess the 7 just ran over our left-rear and spun me out.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 39th: “We don’t know but it was some type of motor issue. We went down a cylinder and then started blowing smoke out the pipes. I don’t know what it was. We’ll dig into it and see. But, I’ve been racing Hendrick engines since 2013 and this is the first engine problem I’ve ever had. So, I’ll take those odds all day long. We still have the best engine shop in the business and stuff’s going to happen. We’re pushing it as everyone is. So, we’ll move on to next week and see what we’ve got there.”

NASCAR America: Dale Jr. on father’s advice, racing in his shadow, Kelley’s influence (videos)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the special guest for the entire hour of Tuesday’s NASCAR America, which was live from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Among some of the revelations Junior offered was how his father rarely gave him racing advice early in his career, and how his father left him in victory lane following his first NASCAR Cup win at Texas in 2000.

“Pulling into victory lane, seeing Dad, knowing he was there,” Junior said. “We had already celebrated a few wins with him in the Xfinity Series, but that was the first Cup win you just dream about, just making it to the Cup Series. Celebrating with Dad, I’ll never forget it.”

Junior related another story from that celebration when his father left early.

“I would fly with him, jump on the plane and go with Dad,” Junior said. “We won the race and he’s like, ‘I’m not sticking around for all this. You’re going to be another hour or two, so find a ride home but have fun.”

But before the elder Earnhardt left, he passed along some excellent advice to his son.

“He said enjoy this, make sure you let this sink in,” Junior said.

Junior also talked about being a third-generation champion, following in the footsteps of his seven-time Cup champion father Dale Sr., and his grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt.

Junior admitted that when he first started racing, he not only had to work at everything, but also feared the prospect of having to race in his father’s shadow.

“If we showed the initiative and the will to do the work, he would help us out,” Junior said. “I wanted to drive. I remember racing go-karts for a while as a 12-year-old but I kept flipping out of the thing and dad didn’t like that, so he finally put a stop to it.

“He didn’t like that I didn’t have a roll cage or a seatbelt and I kept flying out of the thing. I asked him when do I get to race? He said the next opportunity you get to race is when you get your driver’s license. I couldn’t imagine waiting three or four more years to race. I’m going to go crazy waiting. I had to find something.

“I wanted to race pretty bad but I was really scared of racing in his shadow. I knew, even at a young age, that was going to be so hard. I was really nervous about that, not living up to everyone’s expectations. But it was not as hard, honestly, as I made it out to be as a kid.”

As for the little advice his father gave him, Junior understood why his father did that.

“The first half of my career, people would ask what was the best advice my dad gave me,” Junior said. “Nothing. The only thing I can resort to was there was one day he gave me racing advice. I was at Bristol (Motor Speedway). He gets up on his truck during Xfinity practice, got on the radio and told me where to lift and when to get back on the gas. It was not where I was thinking. He said, ‘lift at the flagstand.’ I was like, ‘Whoa, this is way better.’ I was driving it way too hard and making it much harder than it needed to be.

“That was the only time he ever did anything like that. We never talked about the draft, being calm, taking your time, pace yourself, we never did any of that. Any time I asked him questions, it would always ended up going somewhere else and always wound up being more about life lessons, having your head on straight and showing initiative and appreciation.

“He wanted to see me working my guts out for it, and that would spur him to be involved and start to give me that advice. But he wasn’t just going to hand it over.”

NASCAR America: Dale Jr. and wife ‘giddy’ over baby due in May (video)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the special guest during Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

One of the biggest topics is Monday’s news that Junior and wife Amy are expecting their first child, a daughter.

Earnhardt further revealed during Tuesday’s show that Amy is 12 months pregnant and is due to deliver in May.

Here’s some of his thoughts on fatherhood:

  • “I am (ready to be a dad). It’s a very exciting thing and me and Amy are thrilled and over the moon.”
  • “I have no idea what I’ve got myself into and I couldn’t be more excited about it. This is something Amy and I have been working toward for a really long time.”
  • “All those little tiny moments during this short period of time, there’s been so many cool little moments. Me and her have been giggling … and giddy for so long. It’s finally good to be able to tell everybody, to share with my mother, my sister. their reactions were priceless. And obviously, we’re getting a tremendous amount of support from everybody.”

Hear more from Dale Jr. during his appearance Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in the video above.

NASCAR America: Dale Jr. ‘just wanted to have fun’ at Talladega (videos)

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When Dale Earnhardt Jr. arrived last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, he hoped to recapture some of the magic that led him to six wins at NASCAR’s longest track earlier in his career.

It would be Earnhardt’s final time that he’d race at his favorite and most successful track and he wanted to take in as much of the experience and commit it to his memory bank as possible.

He had success on the track, earning his first career pole at ‘Dega and finishing seventh in the Alabama 500.

But more than anything, Earnhardt went to Talladega without any preconceived notions. He just wanted one thing, he said on Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America.

“I just wanted to have fun,” Earnhardt said. “We came away with a decent run. We would have loved to have won the race but I think the fans I’ve heard from said it was exciting to watch and we were in the mix all day long. So I’m happy I was somewhat deliver on the promise that we were going to have a good day.”

While Earnhardt approached it as just another race, the fact it was at Talladega took things to a much higher level, as well as being given his father’s former race car from 1979 and 1980 from the International Motorsports Hall of Fame that sits adjacent to the superspeedway.

“It was really emotional,” Earnhardt said. “We had the gift from the track with the car. I’d been going to the museum since I was about 12, seeing that car all those years. … I couldn’t believe they were letting me have this car.

“I was like what museum gives away their prized possessions? It was really a special moment to take the car out and go around the track.”

Listen to more of what made the weekend special for Junior in the video above.

Martin Truex Jr. still hottest in Who’s Hot, Who’s Not heading into Kansas

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With so many of the remaining 12 playoff drivers finding trouble at Talladega this past Sunday, several find themselves in further trouble heading into Sunday’s race at Kansas.

Once the checkered flag falls, four of the 12 remaining playoff drivers will be eliminated from advancing to the Round of 8 that begins next Sunday at Martinsville, followed by Texas and Phoenix.

Here are the drivers that are hot coming into Kansas, as well as those that are not:

Who’s Hot:

 No. 78 Martin Truex Jr. (Hot)

  • Won at Charlotte, sixth win this season (most of all drivers and personal best), finished 23rd at Talladega.
  • Finished in the top 10 21 times this season, a series-best.
  • Won 19 stages this season, series-best.
  • Sixty-four playoff points this season, series-best.
  • Led a series-high 1,977 laps in 2017, led the most laps in eight races.
  • Won at Kansas in May.
  • Average finish on 1.5-mile tracks this season is third.
  • Won five of the eight 1.5-mile races this season.

No. 4 Kevin Harvick (Hot, Good at Kansas lately)

  • Finished third at Charlotte after winning the first two stages and 20th at Talladega.
  • Five fewer top fives and top 10s this year compared to last year (three less wins).
  • Fourth in the standings, +22 to the cut line.
  • Two Kansas wins, both coming in the playoffs.
  • Finished top three at Kansas the last three years including a win in this race last year.

No. 11 Denny Hamlin (Hot)

  • Finished fourth at Charlotte, sixth at Talladega.
  • Finished top six in six of the last eighth races.
  • Fifth in the standings, +21 to cut line.
  • One Kansas win, Spring 2012.
  • Finished 15th or worse in four of the last five Kansas races including 23rd in May.

No. 18 Kyle Busch (Hot)

  • Finished 29th at Charlotte, hit the wall while running second. Finished 27th at Talladega after crash.
  • Ninth in the standings, -7 to the cut line.
  • Four wins this season, all in the last 11 races.
  • Led laps in the last 14 races this season, career-best
  • One Kansas win, Spring 2016.
  • Finished top five in his last five races at Kansas, tied for longest streak ever at Kansas.

No. 20 Matt Kenseth (sneaky good, pretty good at Kansas)

  • Finished 11th at Charlotte, 14th at Talladega.
  • Worst finish in the playoffs is 14th.
  • Tenth in the standings, -8 to the cut line.
  • Two Kansas wins, last coming in 2013.
  • Worst finish at Kansas in the last 14 races is 14th.
  • Won the pole, led over 100 laps in this race last year, finished ninth. Finished 12th in May.

No. 2 Brad Keselowski (Good)

  • Finished 15th at Charlotte, won at Talladega after having radio issues.
  • Advances to the Round of 8
  • One Kansas win, fuel mileage in 2011.
  • Top-10 finishes in four of the five races at Kansas including runner-up in May.

No. 24 Chase Elliott

  • Finished second at Charlotte, sixth career runner-up finish. Finished 16th at Talladega.
  • Finished second in three of the last five races this season.
  • Sixth in the standings, +20 to the cut line
  • Worst finish in the last seven races is 16th.
  • Best Kansas finish in three starts is ninth in Spring 2016.
  • Finished 29th at Kansas in the Spring.

No. 42 Kyle Larson (Hot in 2017, Not great at Kansas)

  • Finished 10th at Charlotte, 13th at Talladega after crash.
  • Third in the standings, +29 to the cut line.
  • Eight runner-up finishes this season.
  • Four wins in 2017, had one entering this season.
  • Best Kansas finish is second in 2014, only finish better than 15th since is sixth in May.

No. 48 Jimmie Johnson

  • Finished seventh at Charlotte, 24th at Talladega after accident
  • Top-10 finishes in four of the last six races.
  • Eighth in the standings, +7
  • Four top-five finishes this season, three were wins.
  • Three time Kansas winner (tied for the most), last was Spring 2015.
  • Only two finishes outside the top 10 in his first 16 starts at Kansas, three in the last six including 24th in May.
  • Only three top 10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks this season

No. 77 Erik Jones

  • Top-10 finishes in seven of the last 11 races this season.
  • Two Kansas starts including the first of his career driving the No. 18.
  • Finished 22nd at Kansas in May, multiple spins

Who’s Not Hot:

No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Not)

  • Finished 13th at Charlotte, 26th at Talladega
  • 11th in the standings, -22 to the cut line
  • Best finish since his win at Daytona in July is 13th
  • Best Kansas finish is 11th, twice including in May

No. 1 Jamie McMurray (Decent)

  • Finished fifth at Charlotte and 37th at Talladega after crash.
  • Twelfth in standings, -29 to cut line.
  • Sixteen top-10 finishes this season, six more than this point last year.
  • Best Kansas finish is seventh, twice in 21 starts.
  • Finished eighth in May at Kansas.

No. 21 Ryan Blaney (Just OK)

  • Finished eighth at Charlotte, 18th at Talladega after accident after leading 27 laps.
  • Currently seventh in the standings, +9 to the cut line.
  • Last top-five finish was his win at Pocono in June.
  • Eleven top-10 finishes this season but none have come in back-to-back races.
  • Top-10 finishes in three of his last four starts at Kansas.
  • Won the pole, finished fourth in May, led 83 laps, won Stage 2.

No. 3 Austin Dillon (Not hot)

  • Finished 29th Talladega.
  • Only two top-15 finishes in the last 12 races.
  • Finished 14th in the first round
  • Only four top-10 finishes this season, had 12 at this point last year.
  • Finished top 10 in two of the last three races at Kansas.

No. 5 Kasey Kahne (Not hot)

  • Finished eighth at Talladega, first back-to-back top-10 finishes since the first two races of the season.
  • Only three top-10 finishes in the last 21 races.
  • Finished 15th in the first round
  • Six DNFs this season.
  • Won at Indianapolis ending a 102-race winless streak.
  • He has finished on the lead lap in 54 percent of the races this season.
  • Best Kansas finish is second, twice.
  • Worst finish in the last four races at Kansas is 16th.

No. 31 Ryan Newman

  • Finished second at Kansas, broke a four race streak of finishing outside the top 10.
  • Finished round one 13th in the standings
  • One Kansas win, 2003.
  • Only three Kansas top fives, all came in the first three races at Kansas.
  • Finished last at Kansas in May.

No. 41 Kurt Busch

  • Finished 25th at Talladega
  • Finished 19th or worse in the last five races.
  • Finished 16th in the first round, 25 points below the cut line.
  • Best Kansas finish is second in 2013.
  • Finished 19th in May at Kansas.

No. 14 Clint Bowyer

  • Finished 35th at Talladega.
  • Finished runner-up three times in 2017.
  • Twelve top 10s in 2017, had only three in all of 2016.
  • Best Kansas finish is second in 2007.

No. 22 Joey Logano

  • Finished fourth at Talladega, only his fourth top-five finish since his Richmond win.
  • Eleven finishes outside the top 20 in the last 22 races.
  • Won at Richmond but was encumbered.
  • First time he has missed the playoffs with Team Penske.
  • Two-time Kansas winner.
  • Finished top five in six of the last eight races at Kansas.

No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  • Finished seventh at Talladega
  • Finished top 12 in the last three races, best streak this season.
  • Best Kansas finish is second in 2011
  • Finished 15th or worse in three of his last four Kansas starts.