What Drivers Said After Richmond

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What drivers said after the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway:

Kyle Larson – Winner: “I’ve got the greatest team out here and definitely the best pit crew. That showed tonight. I can’t thank those guys enough. They were money all night long to gain spots. This win is a huge congrats to them. The Target Chevy was pretty good all night. The No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was definitely the best, but I thought I was second best for most of the runs but it came down to the last restart there and I got a good start. I spun my tires pretty bad and I was a little nervous, but we cleared him (Truex Jr) into (Turn) 1 and I was pretty excited about that. So, I can’t thank Target and all of our partners enough. I’m really pumped for the playoffs. We’ve got a great shot at the championship, I feel like, this year. So, I’m looking forward to it.”

Joey Logano – Finished 2nd: “Came up a little bit short overall.  Yeah, it stings a little bit. Last time we were sitting here after a race, it was after a win and this time it’s after a second, which if you look at our Richmond overall for a season with the two races, you’d say, that’s pretty good, a first and a second.  But just overall, obviously it stings to come up one spot short and not be able to get into the playoffs.  It is what it is.  It’s reality and we will move on.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 3rd: “I mean on the last lap we were in the best running spot we were the whole race. Good run for the Caterpillar Chevrolet. I sped on pit road the one time and put us back and then we had one bad pit stop, but other than that we had a great long run car. Struggled on the short runs and just continued to fight and the guys did a good job. It wasn’t easy.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 4th:  “We’re doing everything right on the 41 car, and we can do better in some categories. Our long-run speed was really good tonight and that last green-white-checker, I knew there was gonna be chaos. I hope we end up getting fourth out of it. We ran third tonight. We missed it on the setup early on, making the wrong changes, and then we backed it up and, to be honest with you, I think we ended up with what we unloaded with on Friday right in this car right now, so those are some good signs heading into the playoffs.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 5th: “We both drove in really, really deep. When I got on the brakes, the splitter slammed down on the ground, shot me up the track into (Martin Truex Jr). We weren’t racing for the win or anything. But it’s unfortunate. Didn’t want to get into him. He’s a great teammate of ours. But, yeah, tough day for our FedEx team. Overnight we messed it up pretty good. We struggled all day. Got a little bit better there at the end by just kind of going back to where we started the day. Definitely not a car that could contend.

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 8th: “To finish just outside the top 10 the last couple weeks, then get a top 10 now, directionally it’s correct. We have much higher expectations for ourselves. Definitely putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to be better than this. We’re working really hard. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. But this is pro sports. It’s not easy to go out there and win. It’s not easy to stay on top. But we do have some good news. Fall is here. Winter is coming. Put a Game of Thrones on it.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 9th: “We were tight early on in the night. We keep freeing our car up. Was getting tighter. Then at the end we decided to tighten it up and it got better. Just weird. But we were kind of lost. Overall we were going to end up sixth. I thought that it was just going to be decent. That shows how fast our cars were for as bad of a night as we were going to have.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 10th: “Not very good.  We really struggled tonight, but it is good to be back in the playoffs.  But we have some work to do to be contenders each week.  We are not right now, so we have to be better.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 11th: “You get these late-race yellows and everybody puts tires on and you just kind of play the bonsai game and I got bonsaied, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I’ve been on the other end of that too. We had a really fast Fitzgerald Glider Ford. Early in the race I thought we were gonna drive up and win it, and then the last two or three runs we just kind of lost the handle, but all in all a strong day. We’re still looking for some rear downforce in the Fords. I think if we had that, we might have had a shot at it, but, all in all, we ran solid and ran competitive, so that’s good.”

Kasey Kahne – Finished 12th: “Yeah, I mean it’s a big jump for us.  It’s great that we won the Brickyard.  Tonight, the guys did a really nice job with our Great Clips Chevrolet.  We took a little bit of a gamble on strategy to try to hope for a caution at the right time and end up in the top five.  It didn’t work out and maybe we lost two spots because of it and ended up 12th.  I thought we had a competitive car.  We raced hard and the guys did a really nice job.  It’s a good way to end the regular season and get ready for the final 10.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Finished 13th: “We could run up to fifth and sixth. We weren’t going to get around those five guys running in front of us. So we had to pull that (pit) strategy. If the caution comes out while we’re leading, then we got that track position we need. I ran around the 42 (Larson) and a lot of guys tonight. I think we had the speed in the car to keep that track position once we got it. I think if we could have got a restart on the front row late in the race, we would have had a shot at it.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished 14th:  “Yeah, the 42 (Larson) team has had an unbelievable season.  Kyle has done such a great job and that team is on a roll.  Our cars have just been awesome all year long and it’s been the best season I have had, as far as the most consistent, and that just comes from them giving us really good cars.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 15th: “We missed it bad tonight. Just couldn’t get the car to turn in the corner, would spin the tires on the exit, fall off really bad. That’s a bad combination for our Jimmy John’s Ford. The best part of tonight was I did really good on pit road. The rest of it didn’t go well.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 18th: “It’s been a decent year for us.  We knew tonight was gonna be a struggle.  This is probably our worst race track and it’s been my worst race track my whole career.  I don’t know what I need to do, but that’s for a different day.  I think all of the races in the playoffs we can go and do really good at.  I think the first round is pretty strong for us and Chicago has always been a fast race track for us, so hopefully we can start off with a strong showing and can have a good run to where we go to Loudon, which is probably our worst track in that little series.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR – Finished 19th: “We were just working on some packages that we wanted to look for going into another semi‑short track at Loudon. Didn’t work as well as we wanted tonight. We had a really good Friday, practice and qualifying. But similar to Kevin (Harvick), we were struggling with a little bit of turn in the center, spinning the tires up off. It’s cool to be in our first playoffs. Can’t wait to see if we can’t advance a few rounds, put a good 10‑race stretch together.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR – Finished 20th: “Tonight sucked, plain and simple. Just the way it ended up. You’re out there dominating like that and you know your car is not very good on restarts for a couple of laps. Caution for a guy that shouldn’t even be out there. It’s ridiculous. … It’s unfortunate the way the race ended.” On Hamlin: “We talked and I know he didn’t do it on purpose. … I gave him room and he was aggressive on the brakes. That stuff happens.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 21st: “Well, as a team I think we’ve got a great team. I think we have a great solid group of guys and we have been working hard all year to try and get more speed in our race cars. I thought Darlington was a good place for us, Atlanta and Charlotte obviously, so we have had some good runs this year. Hopefully, the last 10 races of the year we have some more good runs. Three tracks I enjoy to go to are Chicago, New Hampshire and Dover, so that is the first round.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished 38th: “Well we were all just kind of coming to pit road and I saw an ambulance sitting there and so I looked left of the ambulance at the same time (spotter Jason) Hedlesky yelled at everyone to stop there was an ambulance just sitting there. It was an accordion effect and I just couldn’t get stopped. Not really sure why pit road was open with an ambulance parked there, but everybody stopped and I didn’t see it in time and ran into the car in front of me.”

Truck practice report at Atlanta

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Justin Haley was the fastest in the first of two practices Friday for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He had a top lap of 178.029 mph.

Daytona winner Johnny Sauter was second with a lap of 177.040 mph. He was followed by Myatt Snider (177.040 mph), Stewart Friesen (176.995) and Noah Gragson (176.589).

There were no incidents in the session.

Final Truck practice will be from 4:05 – 4:50 p.m. ET.

Click here for Truck 1 practice

Police investigating vandalism, theft at North Wilkesboro Speedway

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The Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of vandalism and theft at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the track, which last hosted a NASCAR Cup race in 1996, suffered damage of about $10,000 when several trespassers were on the grounds last weekend. No arrests have been made.

The report states that several windows were broken and other damage was done to the structures. Also, large amounts of electrical wire and circuit breakers were reported missing.

The investigation continues.

North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted NASCAR Cup races from 1949-96. Winners included Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Junior Johnson, Lee Petty, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon, who won the final race there.

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Others’ predictions motivating Austin Dillon after Daytona 500 win: ‘I guess they don’t believe it yet’

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HAMPTON, Ga. – Fresh off the greatest victory of his NASCAR career, Austin Dillon already has motivation to win the next.

The Richard Childress Racing driver heard others predict this week that the Daytona 500 would be his only victory this season.

“I think on Race Hub, Brad (Keselowski) and Chad (Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson) saying that we weren’t going to win again,” Dillon said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “So, that was good to hear. That was something to get me fired up a little bit more and our team, get those competitive juices flowing again. So, we will just keep rocking it however we can. We still have a lot to work on.”

Prior to Daytona, Dillon’s lone win in four seasons as a full-time Cup driver came in the 2017 Coca-Cola 600. His No. 3 Chevrolet qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons, but his top 10s (13 to four) and average finish (15.9 to 18.6) slipped demonstrably from 2016 to ’17.

“So yesterday in my group text with my buddies they watched Chad Knaus and Brad Keselowski, and it was like, ‘All right, it’s time to keep knocking them down, I guess they don’t believe it yet,’” Dillon said. “We’ve got to step up though at RCR. We’ve still got a lot to prove. It’s a speedway race, even though it’s the biggest race in our deal, it’s a speedway race.  We’ve got a lot more to prove.

“(Competition executive) Andy Petree and all the guys are RCR are working hard. I think coming down to a two-car team move is big for us. We’ve got to take advantage of that. I’m not going to lie, I’m tired right now, but we are going to kick butt this weekend and get back regrouped and get in the groove and try and gain as many bonus points as we can.”

But qualifying for the playoffs by winning the season opener should be a morale booster that avoids any letdown.

“The one thing they don’t have right now that we have is a win,” Dillon said. “So, we are on top right now, and no matter what they can’t take that away, and we are going to keep working.  I don’t expect us to lay down at all. I feel like now more than ever we need to go head on and go after it.”

Xfinity practice report from Atlanta

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Christopher Bell posted the fastest lap in the first of two Xfinity practice sessions Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bell posted a lap of 178.447 mph. He was followed by Joey Logano (177.323 mph), Cole Custer (175.933), Ryan Reed (175.688) and Kevin Harvick (175.487). Daytona winner Tyler Reddick (175.388) was sixth on the speed chart.

There were no incidents in the session.

Final Xfinity practice will be from 3:05 – 3:55 p.m. ET

Click here for practice 1 report