What drivers said after Richmond Cup race

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Kyle Busch — Winner: “I think the difference for us tonight was just the adjustments. Trying to stay with the racetrack all night long. Adam Stevens (crew chief) and my guys did a phenomenal job. I think one of the other keys to the night was just my guys – my pit crew – they got us out front when it mattered the most those last two pit stops. They were awesome tonight on pit road.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 2nd: “Just very fortunate circumstances there at the end for us with the way the restarts went. Having a short run there at the end was definitely in our favor. So it was nice to be on the good end of things for the first time in a while. Looking forward, we have to be realistic about how we ran tonight. I think the result shouldn’t weigh into how hard we worked this week because we have some work to do. I think that we have to keep that in mind.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 3rd: “We just got better as the race went on. We were 13th, 15th, something like that in the first half of the race. Just weren’t very strong. We just made some really good adjustments that got us rolling towards the front, especially on long runs. We got to the top five, then we had some pit stops there. We gained a few spots there. But, you know, restarting on that outside line, it was a huge deficit. I just couldn’t get the grip that I needed to try to run with (Kyle Busch) side‑by‑side into Turn 1. That’s all I wanted, to be within one car length getting into turn one, and I just couldn’t get it.’’

Joey Logano — Finished 4th: “We had a really good Shell Pennzoil Ford early in the race and got a couple stage wins early, which was great. We maxed out those points, which is awesome. We just lost the handle on the car and fell back to sixth or so. We had a bad pit stop and lost a bunch of spots and then had a really good pit stop and got them all right back and were able to come home with a top five. I wish I could rerun that. I feel like we can do better if we tried again. I am sure the whole field would say that. I am proud of the speed we showed at Richmond. Just want to be a little better.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 5th: “No more restarts. We were terrible on the restarts there compared to three or four of those guys. I was spinning the tires getting going there on the restarts. All of the night taken into consideration we were way better than we have been in the past and that is an important race for us to figure out where we need to be with all of the things that didn’t go right tonight and be ready for when we come back here for the playoff race.”  

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 6th: “We had to start the race on the tires we qualified with, and as soon as we got those tires off the car, we were a very competitive car and were able to stay on the lead lap. And with the long green-flag runs, we were able to still stay on the lead lap and work our way up through the field. I don’t know what we’re missing on scuff tires, but that’s something we’ve got to figure out.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 7th: “We weren’t very good all race long. And then I ended up getting the Lucky Dog there and then lost a lap … so that was kind of a hiccup on our part. I was able to get the Lucky Dog again and then charge from wherever we were to seventh the last laps. So, we salvaged a really good finish, which was good.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 9th: “We had a really good car. It’s just frustrating there at the end. All hell breaks loose. We lost a couple of spots on pit road, and that gets you back, and then you get on the outside and get stuck behind somebody that spun their tires, and you knock the front fender in on the 24 because he spun his tires. The next thing you know, you’re 10th thinking, ‘Boy, how did this night go to ruin so fast?’ Then it’s just beating and banging and everybody dive-bombing on the bottom. Those cars that are a lap down you’re lapping, and all of a sudden sticking it in three-wide with nothing to lose at the end. It’s a shame that a good, positive night ends up being like that, but that’s racing at this place.”

William Byron — Finished 12th: “I sped on pit road, and I guess I was just pushing the last segment there in the corner, and we were a little bit too fast coming onto the straightaway. Overall, a really good night. We got stage points, I think we finished fifth in both stages, and I think we finished 12th, but overall learned a lot and can just really build on this.  I love racing at short tracks. It’s a blast and definitely learned a lot from this.” 

Erik Jones — Finished 13th: “Just a really tough day. We really just didn’t have the right car from the start. I wasn’t too sure about it during practice, but once we fired off we realized it was going to be a pretty big struggle all day. We hung with it and fought hard and came home with an OK finish, but just need to get a lot better for the next one.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 14th: “Pretty disappointed that we didn’t get at least a chance. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t know what we have to do to win one of these short-tracks and get everything to go the way we need it to. Tonight we beat ourselves, so that’s unfortunate. The guys did a really good job with the race car. We were awful at the start of the race, and I thought we were really in trouble. Just fought all night long and tried to stick with it and make good adjustments, and put ourselves in position to try to win another one and just came up short. Frustrated, but proud of everyone for the effort and hopefully we get them next week.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 15th: “Richmond Raceway has always been what I consider the hardest track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit, so I was really proud of our efforts in Stage 1. Our AAA Camaro ZL1 was really good. We were the fastest car on the track for most of the run and were able to race our way from 23rd to eighth and earn a few stage points. Once the race transitioned to night, we lost some of the magic. We just weren’t as strong. I put us in a bit of a hole by earning a commitment line violation coming to pit road, but we worked hard and had a good shot at the end. It was just hard to find a line that made moves.” 

Matt DiBenedetto — Finished 16th: “A 16th for us at Go Fas Racing is a heck of a run. We outran some really, really good cars all day. Our car had crazy-good long run speed and of all days for us to have really good long-run speed, today was definitely the day. But even at the end when we had the green-white-checker, we were able to pass a couple of good cars and pick up a spot or two. The team did a really good job. You know how great of a run that is for us.”

Daniel Hemric – Finished 32nd: “Obviously the results and the finish isn’t at all what we came here to do, but we started the race too far off and we lost so many laps there the first run and that put us behind for the rest of the night. With it going green like it did, I didn’t get to show how much better we got our Camaro ZL1 there throughout the race. I thought we could take off in top-15 speed after we got to work on it for the first time. It just took us getting to pit road to give us that opportunity.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 37th: “Richmond Raceway is one of my favorite tracks and to run just outside the top five, get assessed a pit-road penalty and then battle back onto the lead lap says a lot about this No. 31 Childress Vineyards Camaro ZL1 team. It’s unfortunate on the restart with 30 to go that we got into the back of a car. Everyone started checking up, and I just hit him square in the back. I did all I could, but the damage cost us our race. I’m just so disappointed right now. We had a good car and a finish that doesn’t reflect it.” 

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Kyle Busch charges from back to win at Richmond in overtime

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Kyle Busch charged from the 32nd starting spot to win in overtime Saturday night at Richmond Raceway and score his third consecutive Cup victory, matching what Kevin Harvick did earlier this season.

The last time two different drivers won three consecutive races in the same season was 2015 when Busch and Joey Logano did so.

Busch took the lead off pit road with 32 laps to go and led all but one lap the rest of the way. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver held the top spot through two more cautions.

MORE: Race results 

MORE: Points report

“The pit crew tonight, they won this race for us,’’ Busch told Fox in Victory Lane after his fifth career Richmond triumph. “Got us where we needed to be.’’

Chase Elliott finished second and was followed by Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick in a race extended two laps by overtime. Elliott, winless in Cup, scored his eighth career series runner-up result. His father, Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, recorded eight second-place finishes before he scored his first series win.

Martin Truex Jr., seeking to score his first career Cup victory on a short track, saw his chances end on a slow pit stop with 10 laps left that dropped him from second to 11th. Truex, who led a race-high 121 laps, finished 14th.

Stage 1 winner: Joey Logano

Stage 2 winner: Joey Logano

How Kyle Busch won: He took the lead on pit road late and stayed out front through the late restarts.

Who had a good race: Chase Elliott rallied late to finish second for his best result of the season. … Denny Hamlin’s third-place finish matched his best result of the season set in the Daytona 500. … Joey Logano (fourth) has placed in the top four in the last three races at Richmond. … Kevin Harvick (fifth) earned his seventh top-10 finish in the last eight races. … Jimmie Johnson finished sixth after hitting the wall early. He fell a lap down before recovering. … Matt DiBenedetto tied his season-best result by placing 16th. He’s finished 16th, 21st and 16th in his last three races.

Who had a bad race: Martin Truex Jr. appeared headed to his first Cup win at a short track until late cautions proved to be his undoing. A bad pit stop ruined his night. He finished 14th. … Ryan Newman suffered damage in a late incident and finished 37th in the 38-car field. … David Ragan, who ran in the top 20 during the event, finished 33rd after a late crash.

Notable: Kyle Busch’s 46th career victory ties Buck Baker for 15th on the all-time list. … 46 Wins – Kyle Busch-Buck Baker comparison. … Busch’s 14th win at a short track ties him with Jimmie Johnson for most among active drivers. 

Quote: “I don’t know what we’ve got to do to win one of these short tracks. Tonight, we beat ourselves,’’ Martin Truex Jr. said to Fox after the race.

Next: The series races at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29.

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Friday 5: Could further limit on Cup drivers in Xfinity take place?

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For the second week in a row, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will run a race without any drivers who score points in the Cup series.

Cup regulars are barred from competing in Dash 4 Cash races, which pay $100,000 to the top Xfinity drivers in each of four events.

The result last weekend at Bristol was a race where Xfinity drivers battled for the win and to be eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus tonight at Richmond Raceway. Ryan Preece won the race and the bonus at Bristol. He isn’t entered for tonight’s race. Competing for the Dash 4 Cash bonus will be Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Spencer Gallagher and Daniel Hemric.

Along with Dash 4 Cash races, any driver who scores Cup points is barred from competing in the final eight races of the Xfinity season (regular-season finale and seven playoff races). Cup drivers with more than five years of experience are limited to seven Xfinity races in a season.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, hinted earlier this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that more changes could be made to limit Cup driver participations in Xfinity races.

“We’ll continue to monitor what do our fans think, what do our partners think in terms of what they’re seeing on the race track and the storylines,’’ O’Donnell said.

“It’s one thing to say we like this, but fans need to turn out, ratings need to be there and those sorts of things. Only one race, but we saw some really good indictions in terms of the TV rating for that event. That’s something that we’ll continue to monitor, but our gut tells us that’s the direction we want to continue to go, even more so in 2019 and beyond.’’

2. Dominance

Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have ruled the beginning of the season, combining to win five of the first eight races and finishing runner-up four times.

The two also have combined to lead 37.2 percent of the 2,645 laps run this season.

Busch heads into Saturday night’s race at Richmond having scored six consecutive top-three finishes, including back-to-back wins at Texas and Bristol.

The last time two drivers won three Cup races in a row in the same season was 2015 when Busch won Daytona, New Hampshire and Indianapolis, and Joey Logano won Charlotte, Kansas and Talladega in the playoffs.

3. The race within the race

While multi-car teams garner much attention, single-car teams shouldn’t be ignored.

Here’s a look at how single-car teams have performed relative to each other in the first eight races of the season.

Not surprisingly, Furniture Row Racing and Martin Truex Jr. have been the top-finishing single-car team in five of the first eight races. Darrell Wallace Jr.’s Richard Petty Motorsports team has been the top finishing single-car team twice, and the Wood Brothers and Paul Menard have been the top-finishing car in class once.

Menard has finished second among single-car teams five times. Wallace, Leavine Family Racing’s Kasey Kahne and Germain Racing’s Ty Dillon have each finished second in class once.

The last two races have been good to single-car teams. Nine single-car teams finished in the top 22 at Texas, led by Wallace’s eighth-place finish, Dillon’s 13th-place finish and Matt DiBenedetto placing 16th for Go Fas Racing.

Three single-car teams placed in the top 20 at Bristol — Menard was 13th, Wallace 16th and Landon Cassill gave StarCom Racing its best career finish at 20th.

4. No need for announcement

When teams announce long-term sponsor extensions, it can come with news of an extension to the driver’s contract to match that time.

The news this week that Roush Fenway Racing had extended sponsor deals through 2021 with Fastenal, Fifth Third Bank and Sunny D didn’t include any news about Stenhouse’s contract.

Didn’t need to.

“Ricky’s contract was already extended that far and we didn’t need to do anything else on that front,’’ Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing, told NBC Sports.

5. HUGE news!

Matt Tifft wrote those words in a tweet this week followed not by a sponsor announcement or anything related to racing but that doctors say the area of his brain where a low-grade tumor was removed in July 2016 is stable. He now only needs to have an MRI checkup every six months instead of sooner.

Tifft enters tonight’s Xfinity race at Richmond 11th in the points.

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List of songs from Bristol driver introductions

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It was a rainy morning at Bristol Motor Speedway and more could come this afternoon, but that didn’t keep the traditional driver introductions from taking place at the half-mile track before the Food City 500.

Here’s the complete list of songs drivers were introduced with. All songs were voted on by fans, who were given three options to choose from.

More than 100,000 votes were cast.

Here are the results and the percentage of the vote each song received.

Winning Fan Vote Songs

Kyle Busch – “All I Do is WIN” by DJ Khaled, 47 percent

Kurt Busch – “Outlaw State of Mind” by Chris Stapleton, 47 percent

Brad Keselowski  -“Little Deuce Coupe” by The Beach Boys, 40 percent

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – “People Back Home” by Florida Georgia Line, 44 percent

Ryan Blaney – “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash, 54 percent

Kyle Larson – “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean, 56 percent

Paul Menard – “R.O.C.K. in the USA” by John Mellencamp, 50 percent

Alex Bowman – “Rise” by I Prevail, 60 percent

Michael McDowell – “Taken it to the Streets” by The Doobie Brothers, 66 percent

Joey Logano  -“Brass Monkey” by The Beastie Boys, 47 percent

William Byron – “Fan the Flames” by Liberty University, 41 percent

Daniel Suarez  – “Speedy Gonzalez” by Pat Boone, 50 percent

Erik Jones – “You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet” by Bachman Turner Overdrive, 37 percent

Clint Bowyer – “Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr., 51 percent

Kasey Kahne – “5-1-5-0” by Dierks Bentley, 41 percent

Chase Elliott “A Crazy Racin’ Man” by Bill Elliott, 58 percent

Jimmie Johnson – “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes, 50 percent

AJ Allmendinger – “I’m Alright” by Kenny Logins, 46 percent

Aric Almirola  – “Miami Vice” 50 percent

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. – “Into The Fire” by Asking Alexandria, 65 percent

Austin Dillon – “Cowboy” by Kid Rock, 58 percent

Chris Buescher -“Pork and Beans” by Weezer, 42 percent

David Ragan – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band, 49 percent

Matt DiBenedetto – “John Cena Theme Song,” 41 percent

Denny Hamlin – “Forever” by Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem, 45 percent

Martin Truex Jr. “Nothing But The Taillights” by Clint Black, 57 percent

Ross Chastain – “Watermelon Crawl” by Tracy Byrd

Gray Gaulding – “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins

Landon Cassill – “Going to Mars” by Judah and the Lion

Ryan Newman – “Huntin, Fishin & Lovin Every Day” by Luke Bryan, 53 percent

Jamie McMurray – “One” by Metallica, 42 percent

Ty Dillon – “Walk it Like I Talk It” by Migos, 51 percent

Trevor Bayne – “Rocky Top” by the Pride of the Southland Marching Band, 60 percent

Corey LaJoie – “Walmart Yodeling Song”

DJ Kennington – “The Hockey Song”

Reed Sorenson – “Motorsport” by Migos

Harrison Rhodes – “Enter Sandman” by Metallica

Chad Finchum – “Where I Come From” by Alan Jackson, 49 percent

Kevin Harvick – “Happy” by Pharrell, 37 percent

 

Jamie McMurray leads group of drivers with best finish of season at Texas

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Jamie McMurray was relevant for the first time this season.

After failing to finish better than 16th through the first six races, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver powered his No. 1 Chevrolet to a third-place finish in Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was his best finish since placing second in the spring race at Talladega last year.

The result came a day after he spun in the Xfinity race at the 1.5-mile track and managed to finish seventh.

“The track is pretty treacherous when you get out of the groove,” McMurray said. “Obviously, I spun out yesterday in the Xfinity race, so I learned not to go up there, but it was a really good day for our Cessna/McDonald’s Chevrolet. We really struggled this year and especially on the 1.5-mile (tracks). I’m really proud of everybody for the car that we had and to be able to put the whole race together. The off-weekend (last weekend) for us couldn’t have come at a better time.”

McMurray’s result is his first top 10 since he finished sixth at Phoenix last November.

Attrition and multiple wrecks helped McMurray and many of the drivers who finished in the top 20.

Erik Jones placed fourth for his first top five of the season and his fourth top 10.

Jones’ No. 20 Toyota led 64 laps, his most on an intermediate track.

“I don’t know that we really had enough for Kyle (Busch) or Kevin (Harvick),” Jones said. “They were really fast, but overall I thought we were a third-place car. Jamie had some tires here at the end, and we couldn’t really do much with them. We didn’t qualify where we wanted to this weekend. It was kind of a – kind of a downer coming into Sunday, but I knew we had a good race car and you know we showed that today. A big step up.”

Darrell Wallace Jr. benefited from pit strategy to finish eighth for his first top 10 since the Daytona 500.

William Byron, after starting from the rear due to an engine change, earned his first career Cup top 10, placing 10th. He is the last Hendrick Motorsports driver to earn a top 10 this season.

“It was really good for us to get a top 10,” Byron said. “Once the sun came out we weren’t quite as good, I don’t think, but (for) starting in the back this was definitely a good day for us. We had a lot of adversity and kept having to go to the back. … It obviously takes a lot of things to happen. We didn’t quite have the speed we wanted to. We were really good in practice, but I think some of our weaknesses showed up when the rubber laid down on the track a little bit on the bottom groove. Overall it was a pretty good day and we can definitely build on this.”

Other notable finishes:

Trevor Bayne, 12th: Best finish since the Daytona 500 (13th).

Ty Dillon, 13th: First top 15 of year, first since Phoenix last November.

Michael McDowell, 14th: Best finish since Daytona 500 (ninth).

Matt DiBenedetto, 16th: Best result since eighth-place finish in last season’s Brickyard 400 (eighth).

Kasey Kahne, 17th: Best finish with Leavine Family Racing.

Ross Chastain, 18th: Career-best Cup finish in eighth start.

Cole Whitt, 19th: Best finish since placing 12th in last season’s Brickyard 400.

—  Gray Gaulding, 20th: Second 20th-place finish of year (Daytona)

Landon Cassill, 21st: Best finish since placing 20th at Chicagoland last September; Ties best finish for StarCom Racing in nine races (Daytona).