What drivers said after Atlanta race


Kevin Harvick – Winner: “I’m just really, really happy with everything that we’ve done at Stewart-Haas Racing over the last five years and this is a great start to getting ourselves in the playoffs and doing everything that we need to do. We overcame a lot of things today. We got a late-race restart that we drove off and won the race with, so there are so many demons that seem to haunt us here for a long time, but the coolest part was being able to try to replicate that first win celebration.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 2nd: “We were good, but we just weren’t as good as Kevin was.  We had a strong race car, but just couldn’t quite find that last little bit of speed we needed. There might have been a little bit of speed there, but, honestly, Kevin was better pretty much every run than we were, but we were sure trying to keep him honest.”  

 Clint Bowyer – Finished 3rd: “There aren’t many place left that can put on a show like that and be able to race all over the place, so I just appreciate this place. I appreciate Harvick’s speed. He was so fast. All of our Stewart-Haas cars were fast. That’s a credit to everybody’s hard work over the offseason and it paid dividends here tonight. It’s a lot of fun to be able to run like that so early in the season.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 4th: “We were short of the 4 (Kevin Harvick) car, but we were probably one of the better cars on long runs. We wanted to optimize our time on the race track similar to what we did in Darlington last year and if a caution fell, great and if it didn’t, then we had a pretty good gap there back to third place before the caution fell and the guys that short-pitted, their tires were already starting to fall off and they were in the same second bracket that we were in.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 5th: “We had some issues there that kind of sucked, but I guess we’ll have to work through it. We knew there would be some issues with that deal. Really just proud of them for all their hard work and getting ready for the season with these new rules. They really struggled in Daytona and I don’t think we had a pit stop faster than 19 seconds in Daytona the whole week and to come here and really have a good day except for those gun problems – really proud of them and proud of everybody. Proud of Cole (Pearn, crew chief) for fighting, we fought our butts off and did great all day. We fought track position, fought the car going away too much on long runs, but overall it was a decent day and something to work from.’’

Joey Logano  – Finished 6th: “I don’t think they need to repave it.  It’s still fun to go around this place and the strategy is actually pretty fun too. I don’t think they need to repave it. I just think we need to figure out how to be better than Kevin (Harvick), that’s all. It’s like the whole field versus one car at this point. He’s the best driver at this race track hands-down. They’ve got it figured out at Atlanta whatever it is. If I knew what it is, I would do it, but the fastest car won the race as it should.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 7th: “We were top five, top seven all day. It was pretty good. I never had anything for the leaders at all. And then I got snookered on strategy there for three spots. We just didn’t finish where we needed.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 8th: “I’m real happy with that run. I could really gas her up hard on green flag runs and the fresh tires after restarts. Harvick is a master at it and Keselowski is pretty good at it, but it just felt like our car would come unhooked on Lap 20 of a run and we were just trying to make sure we were on the right pit sequence and stayed with our car’s strength. Our car’s strength was short-run speed today.’’

Chase Elliott – Finished 10th: “Definitely not very good. We have a lot of work to do. I felt like we made the most of what we had tonight. … Fighting to stay on the lead lap is not where you want to be. We will go to work and great job by our NAPA team today to salvage what we could. I don’t know how much more we really could have got there, maybe a spot or two there at the end, but I felt like we did a pretty good job making the most of what we had.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 14th: “We didn’t have the best car today, but we did a good job on execution. We played around with pit strategy and then took the wave-around for the final restart. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the caution we were hoping for so that we could finish the race on fresh tires.”  

William Byron – Finished 18th: “We started the race so loose and I just had to work on dropping the trackbar quicker. I just didn’t do it quick enough. I’m not used to having that, so, we gained on it a lot. I felt like by probably the seventh or eighth pit stop we were at our best potential. And then from there we just kind of leveled off.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished 19th: “Our first run was way off. That got us a lap down from the very start and then every time the caution came out we would just get lapped again and it just wasn’t a very good day for us. I don’t think that our car was horrible, but the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) was just so fast that he was getting guys a lap down pretty quick.”

David Ragan – Finished 19th: “We just missed it a little bit on our setups. We made some adjustments on it in practice that I thought helped, but with the track changing conditions and a green race track I felt like we got behind just a little bit. We made a couple of really good adjustments early in the race, but that was it. We couldn’t get our car any better.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 22nd: “I’m not sure yet what happened to our right-front tire. It’s unfortunate for this Liberty National Team. I think we led more laps in this race than we did all year. We started on the front row and took the lead on the first lap and by the end of the first stage we were loose, but our Camaro ZL1 was fast. I wasn’t pushing it. There was no need to. Our car was that good. We lost two laps the next run because of a tire issue and the damage we received from it. At that point, it was all about strategy and doing all we could to race back onto the lead lap with about 230 laps left.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 25th: “The team worked hard all weekend and did a good job. Got a little bit behind there on the green flag stop. It’s a team sport, so it’s all for one. You are going to have those days. I think we were a little better here than last year so we will keep working.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 26th: “Atlanta is a tough racetrack. You have to be on top of your game at all times to get a handle on it because of how worn out the surface is. Unfortunately, it got the better of us and our GEICO Camaro ZL1 today. I struggled with forward drive throughout the race. I worked my trackbar to try and get the drive I needed, but what I did to improve the drive would hurt other areas of my balance.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 35th: “From the green flag pit stop on it never came back up to RPM and we were running all the diagnostics trying to figure out what was going on. It was a really odd feeling. It wasn’t like a normal engine blow up, so I had reduced power for about five or six laps and then when it let go it wasn’t like a big moment where it let go. I actually saw the smoke and smelled it before the engine changed, so that was about the most smoke I’ve ever dealt with on an engine blowing up, so I’ll be interested to hear what happened and see it, but that was a bad day goes worse. We just weren’t handling like we needed to to have speed and then you have an engine expire, so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Starting lineup for the Auto Club 400

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Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch will start on the front row of Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

They will be followed by Kyle Larson, Erik Jones, Austin Dillon and Joey Logano.

Kevin Harvick will start his attempt at a fourth consecutive win from 10th.

Thirteen drivers will start from the rear after their cars failed qualifying inspection.

Click here for the starting lineup

13 Cup teams fail inspection, do not make qualifying attempt

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13 Cup teams did not make a qualifying attempt for the Auto Club 400 after they failed to pass inspection Friday.

Those teams include all four Hendrick Motorsports cars (Jimmie Johnson, William Byron, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman), Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Daniel Suarez, Timmy Hill, Cole Whitt, Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger.

All 13 cars will start from the rear Sunday.

“The first time through there were a lot of failures at all the stations, it was basically kind of split between chassis, weights and measures and the body scan, ” Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition told Fox Sports 1. “The second time through it seems like most of it centered around the actual body scan itself, which honestly this is the most aerodynamic track we’ve gone to, so kind of no surprise that they would be pushing the limits here more than some of the other places.”

Jeff Andrews, Hendrick Motorsports’ competition director, said the issues on the four Hendrick cars were “similar” in the area of the deck lid.

“We’ve got to go back, we need to talk internally and talk with NASCAR,” Andrews told FS1. “We felt like we were making changes in the area affected and we were not seeing the results when we went back through.”

Typically, teams must start a race on the tires they used in qualifying.

NASCAR announced late Friday night it would allow all teams that made a qualifying lap to purchase a new set of sticker tires to start Sunday’s race one. They must return their scuff tires to Goodyear.

Martin Truex Jr. wins pole for Auto Club 400

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Martin Truex Jr. qualified first for Sunday’s Cup race at Auto Club Speedway.

With a speed of 186.567 mph, Truex won his second consecutive pole.

It’s the 17th pole of his career.

Kyle Busch qualified second with a speed of 186.437 mph.

“First time ever (with consecutive poles), that’s definitely pretty cool,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “We tried to stay on scuffs (tires) in that first practice, ran our best lap on scuffs this morning. Thought that played into our hands a little bit here in qualifying. Round 2, I got the seam a little bit and lost some time and that bit me. Luckily in the third round was able to put a lap together. Wouldn’t say it was perfect, but it was a pretty solid lap.”

The top five was completed by Kyle Larson (186.128), Erik Jones (186.047) and Austin Dillon (185.711).

Kevin Harvick, who is going for his fourth consecutive Cup win, qualified 10th. He was fastest in the first two rounds.

His first round time of 38.147 sec/188.744 mph set a track record.

“We expected to show up and have a good day at this particular point,” Harvick told FS1. “When you look at the momentum and confidence everybody has and really everything that we’re doing right now, it just keeps building and you keep feeding off that momentum.”

Busch starts on the front row for the second time this year.

“Definitely screwed up Turn 3, I thought everything else about the lap was pretty good,” Busch told FS1. “With the amount of time I had in the gas on exit I was still too easy missing the exit with the amount of speed we were carrying.”

Thirteen teams were unable to make qualifying attempts after they failed to get through inspection.

Those teams included all four Henrick Motorsports cars, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Daniel Suarez, Timmy Hill, Cole Whitt, Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger.

All 13 cars will start from the rear Sunday.

“The first time through there were a lot of failures at all the stations, it was basically kind of split between chassis, weights and measures and the body scan, ” Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition told FS1. “The second time through it seems like most of it centered around the actual body scan itself, which honestly this is the most aerodynamic track we’ve gone to, so kind of no surprise that they would be pushing the limits here more than some of the other places.”

David Ragan, Michael McDowell, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Reed Sorenson did not make qualifying runs in the second round.

McDowell did not make a run after his team changed a rear gear in practice. He will also start from the rear.

Due to the inspections issues, Earnhardt (23rd) and Gray Gaulding (20th) earned career-best qualifying results.

Late Friday night NASCAR announced it would permit all teams that made a lap in qualifying to purchase a set of sticker tires to start the race on. They must return their scuff tires to Goodyear.

Click here for qualifying results.

Xfinity Series practice report from Auto Club Speedway

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Daniel Hemric was fastest in the last of two Xfinity Series practice sessions for Saturday’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

The Richard Childress Racing driver posted a top speed of 178.829 mph around the 2-mile track.

He was followed by Joey Logano (178.284), John Hunter Nemechek (178.258), Christopher Bell (177.998) and Tyler Reddick (177.962).

Reddick recorded the most laps with 40.

Justin Allgaier had the best 10-lap average at 175.902 mph.

The session was slowed once for a spin by Brandon Jones. His No. 19 Toyota was not damaged.

First practice

Bell topped the speed chart, posting a top speed of 178.664 mph around the 2-mile speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is making his first start at the track.

Bell led Logano (178.081), Austin Dillon (178.064), Hemric (177.980) and Reddick (177.870).

“Our GameStop/Turtle Beach Camry is pretty fast on the short run, I think we need to work on a long run a little bit more,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “This place is really unique. I’ve never experienced a race track of this size where you use as much brake as you do, especially getting into Turn 1 there.”

Nemechek, who is also making his first start at the track, recorded the most laps with 33. He was 11th on the speed chart (176.648).

He also had the best 10-lap average at 173.500 mph.

Click here for the Practice No. 1 speed chart.

Click here for the final practice speed chart.