CONCORD, N.C. — Martin Truex Jr. opened the Round of 12 the same way he started the 2017 playoffs: with a victory.
The Furniture Row Racing driver scored his sixth victory of the season in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I’m so lucky to get to do this and I don’t know, it’s just one of those weekends – lot of pressure,” said Truex, who started 17th. “We qualified horribly and I was mad about it. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) was mad about it, and (after) twenty minutes (of discussing), we’re like, ‘All right. I think this is where we went wrong.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s where we went wrong. We screwed up, we’ll get them Sunday.’ Just thankful to him and this whole team.
“Unbelievable win. Just a total team effort. Every single guy – every guy on this team just did a perfect job today, and I can’t be more proud of them and at this time of the year is just when you want it to happen. You dream about days like today. I don’t know if we had the best car, but we damn sure go it in victory lane.”
Here’s what other drivers were saying after Sunday’s race:
Chase Elliott — Finished second: “We needed to be a little better I think in the middle stage and not lose so much track position. That was where Martin came on and got his track position and we lost ours and it was just hard to get all of it back there toward the end. It was a hard-fought day and really, from where we were in those middle stages, I was proud of the way we fought back and were able to get back to the front. It’s frustrating to run like this. We’re definitely tired of running second. But, if we keep running like we are, hopefully the opportunities will be there. … I don’t know why it was so hot. It didn’t feel that bad. But that was one of the tougher races of the year, I feel like and here we are in October.”
Kevin Harvick — Finished third: “That’s about about where we were gonna run, second or third. We just kind of lost a little bit of the track there as the VHT started to wear off in the second half of the race. But they did a great job all day. For the most part, we had good stops all day – just the timing of the bad one came at the end, but, for the most part, they did a great job. Everybody in the field had a bad stop at some point today, so it was a good day for our Ford, and everybody is doing a good job with the speed of the cars.”
Denny Hamlin — Finished fourth after starting on pole: “Pit crew did a phenomenal job. Number one pit stall was big for us as well. It’s just, you know Charlotte on restarts, having a car fast enough to kind of make moves. We were decent in the long run, but you know still – not as fast as what we needed to be short or long.”
Jamie McMurray — Finished fifth: “We had such a good car at the beginning and you knew the race track was going to change as the substance wore off. We just were so good at the beginning in that sticky stuff. We were still good at the end, it is just man, it was all about getting in the right lane on the restarts. We had awesome pit stops. I’m so proud of those guys, they have turned their year around. We honestly, had the best pit crew on pit road today. But, it was good day, stage points in both stages, good top five finish. Long day, it was super humid and I think it’s really hard to explain to people how sticky it is out there today. It was super hot. … Well, we just had a good car. Honestly, they don’t feel aggressive when your car is really good. The track is so fast and that sticky stuff has so much grip until it just has none. I actually wrecked on one of the restarts because I had good grip and then it just all of a sudden went away. So, I honestly wasn’t being overly aggressive, my car was just that good.”
Jimmie Johnson – Finished seventh: “It was OK. We worked our way up to fourth and then had a little miscue on pit road and restarted 16th or something and got back up to seventh. Decent progress, the car was not easy to drive and not fun to drive, but my conditions were a lot better than the other guys and I could work my way back up through there. … Humidity was up, but the track just had very little grip. When you had clean air you could run really fast, but as soon as you got to someone or around someone, man you are like three-quarters of a second slower and out of control. Traffic and passing was really tough and unfortunately, we had to come through the traffic a couple of times.”
Ryan Blaney — Finished eighth: “It’s solid. It stinks we couldn’t get any stage points, especially in that first one, but I thought we did a good job of getting better throughout the race. We were a lot better at the end of the race than what we were at the beginning. That says a lot about the team and hopefully we can keep it up and run decent the next two weeks. I’m proud of the effort to get better and the hard work, so that’s what we needed. We just need to start better.”
Kasey Kahne — Finished ninth: “Yeah, we had to work really hard. The guys did a really nice job and had a pretty good car the first half of the run and then I would get pretty loose. A little rough riding, but I was happy with a lot of things today. We had to come from the back, a lap down when that right-rear went flat when we were running well. So, it was a good fight. Ended up top 10. We will keep working on it.”
Kyle Larson — Finished 10th: “The damage made me a little nervous. But Daniel (Suarez) got a good restart behind me and got to my outside and was on my door pretty hard. I got loose and lost a bunch of ground. I felt like I had a car to win. I made a mistake on pit road early. We rebounded from that. And then we had a costly mistake late and somewhat rebounded; but then those last two restarts didn’t go my way.”
Matt Kenseth — Finished 11th: “It was really frustrating, really puzzling. We were running third that one run, catching both leaders and the end of the run thought we were pretty close, just wanted a little adjustment. I don’t really know what happened. We took off the next stop, and it was just totally out of control. It was just so loose you just couldn’t drive it. We got a little bit better that last long run. We’re going to get back up in the top 10 there somewhere, it’s just I couldn’t restart either. It was just a frustrating day all around.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Finished 12th: “I don’t know that I have worked any harder at any race this year, but looking at all these drivers, everybody is worn out. What they did to the racetrack and had the race track kind of all screwed up, got everybody worn out. We didn’t know where to run and how to run you were just in there chasing the race car around the corner, a lot of work. So, the effort was hard. Considering how little practice we got and how bad the car was at some points in the race, pretty happy with 12th to be honest with you. I mean, we ran 18th – 20th all day.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 13th: “We definitely brought a better Ford to the track this weekend than we did at Chicago. I’m happy with our better effort. We thought if we could be 15th to 10th it would be a good day for us. We didn’t get any stage points, which was a bummer, but we rebounded there on that last restart, which was key.”
Brad Keselowski — Finished 15th: “It wasn’t the day we wanted, so we’ve got two races left to go and we need to have two strong races. … It was hot. I was probably more frustrated with not being as fast as we wanted to be. That makes the day a lot longer, but a little bit of heat, that’s what this sport is about. … It seems like Charlotte and Kansas we have just not been able to connect what we’re looking for here the last two fall races. Hopefully, we can go to Talladega and connect with what we’re looking for.”
Ty Dillon — Finished 21st: “My team worked hard this weekend in Charlotte. We didn’t unload how we needed to on Friday, and then we didn’t get any practice laps in yesterday because of the rain. So, we had to make adjustments on the first few pit stops to get what I needed balance-wise. I felt pretty good late in the race, but I just needed track position. Charlotte is a tricky track, and it can be hard to pick up spots. We were really making progress, though. I was 15th when I had to pit for a flat tire with 13 laps to go. It was an unfortunate end to the day. I wish we could have gotten the top-15 finish, but that was out of our control. We have good notes to take home and be ready for next year.”
Kyle Busch — Finished 29th after crashing multiple times and being treated in the care center post race: “I’m all right. I’m better now. I got heat soaked and felt like I had heat stroke just from being inside the race car for 200 laps with the crush panels knocked out of it. Obviously, it was my bad, just trying to get a little too much too early in the race and got too high out of the groove and got myself into the fence and tore the right side off of it. My guys did a great job trying to rebound and get it back together as much as we could throughout the day. It was just evil out there the rest of the day trying to stay with a relative pace with the rest of the field. We were just kind of hanging on. After I first tore it up, it was just a handful from there. Literally as soon as I did it, just coasting around under caution I could feel it being about 50 degrees hotter inside the car. It just got so hot that you literally felt like you were going to puke and just trying to make it to the end of the race and luckily we did. From there, just trying to get cooled down and get body temperature back to normal.”
David Ragan — Finished 37th after crashing: “I just got into Turn 1 a little too high. There’s a very fine line where there was a lot of grip and not much grip. Our car was really bouncy and loose. It was a handful for a lot of the day. Our team made some good adjustments, but we were just trying to hang on. I should have been a little bit more conservative, but we were trying hard to just stay one lap down and I got a little too high and got loose. I thought I was going to be OK, and I just ran back down the track, and Danica hit me. She didn’t have anywhere to go. If I would have locked the brakes up, I probably would have just backed it into the wall, so I was trying to do something and I ran out of talent and couldn’t hang on.”
Ryan Newman — Finished 43rd after a Lap 43 wreck with Clint Bowyer: “For sure I didn’t see him. I know I got tight underneath him, and I washed up, but I checked-up and when you check-up sometimes you wash up even more, but nevertheless, I don’t know if he turned me on purpose or not, he probably had a right to, but it was early in the race, and we had a good car. The (car) was coming back through, we lost three spots on the pit stop and that was rough, but we started passing some cars and just either my mistake or his mistake, both of us going for the same piece of real estate off Turn 2.”