what drivers said

What drivers said after Chicagoland Cup playoff opener

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Martin Truex Jr. said Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400 win to open the NASCAR Cup playoffs was not a statement.

Oh, but it was: By taking the checkered flag, Truex has an automatic berth in the Round of 12 that starts on Oct. 1 in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Here’s what Truex and other drivers had to say:

Martin Truex Jr. – Winner: “I don’t care much about statements, I’m just having fun. I’m proud of our pit crew for doing what they did and everyone on this team. It’s important to come here and not let the pressure get to you and I think we did a good job of that. Every time you go to victory lane, it’s special. There’s just so many people to thank. I’m kind of speechless. … It’s a dream come true and we’re having the time of our lives.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 2nd: “Just a huge step in the right direction. Days like this are the days we are going to have to have. There is no way around that. I thought we had a solid day overall.  Our car drove good, it had pace, our pit stops were good. I didn’t have anything for Martin (Truex, Jr.). I thought we made the most of our day without some luck I wasn’t going to get around him unless we had a late-race restart or something. I had a solid day and frankly, it is a lot better than we have been doing and we’ve got to have days like this to keep moving forward.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 3rd: “Our focus was to make sure that we didn’t make any mistakes today and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing worked hard to work on that gap between those cars, but we’ve known about that gap and feel like we’ve closed that up and we knew that not making mistakes was gonna go a long way. We saw the 78 made mistakes today, but they had a fast enough car to recover from that. The 18 didn’t recover from his mistakes. We just had to execute and take what they’ll give you and not finish any worse than that.  I think we did that today. I felt like the 24 and the 78 were a little better than us and we finished right where we should have.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 4th: “It was about a fourth-place car – the 18 (Kyle Busch) was very strong at the beginning. We just hung around the top five or sixth at worst and third at best. Finished about right where we should have.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 5th: “I thought we were about a fifth or sixth-place car all day. I didn’t start the race off very good. We were really tight, but worked on it and got it better at times. It was just really hard to pass for us. I know the No. 78 (Martin Truex, Jr.) was really good and he was able to cruise to the front no problem, but we seemed to and it looked like everybody really struggled in traffic except for a couple of guys. But, a solid day, got stage points and then a top five finish. That will be good going into Loudon.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 6th: “Yeah, we can be happy with sixth. We scored a bunch of stage points and had a solid day up front. One more of these races either Loudon or Dover and we should be good to advance to the next round. I think we can pull that off. We are still looking for a little speed but execution today was really, really strong. Great day on pit road, great restarts. All that stuff was what you look for, we just need to marry that up with some speed and we can win any of these races.”

Joey Logano – Finished 7th: “We executed well. We ran in the top 10 the whole race and had no issues, nothing crazy, just not fast enough to compete for the win. We made gains the last few weeks to get closer but we have just caught up to our teammates. That is where we are at now, the same as our teammates but not good enough to go up there and win. I thought I would run seventh today and I ran seventh. We just have to go faster, that is all.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 8th: “The cars are all so equal at least the guys from third or fourth on back we are all so equal.  If you could get by somebody on a restart that was really about it, but for me, my car just really wanted to run the bottom of the race track. The higher I would go the looser it would get.  I knew there was a lot of real estate up there to try to take advantage of I just couldn’t make it work and had to chase the bottom all day long.”

Matt Kenseth (comment from crew chief Jason Ratcliff) — Finished 9th: “Honestly, I’m really disappointed. I thought that we would be way more competitive. At the start of the race, you know having our qualifiers (tires) on, I thought we were making ground. We kind of settled in and I thought OK, we’ll just keep working on it and making progress. It just didn’t seem like we could make any gains for some reason. We could change the car, but we kept getting stuck somewhere between seventh and ninth. It was good to get out of here with a top 10 and we’ll go to Loudon.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished 10th: “There were a lot of issues for people in the playoffs it looked like. So, 10th place isn’t bad. I think we finished 10th in one of the stages as well. I don’t know what happened on the backstretch. I think I just didn’t give the No. 31 (Ryan Newman) enough room and it got me turned around. We were lucky the caution kind of fell right and then we had a pretty fast car as well. We were faster probably at the beginning than we were at the end, but overall it was a good way to start the first race.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 11th: “We started off not great, got into it with a lapped car. That put us behind and got us a lap down. We spent a long time trying to get a lap back and finally did and were able to go racing. We went the wrong way on our last adjustment and that hurt us unfortunately. We can’t hang our heads about that. A lot of other cars had problems today. It stinks we didn’t get any stage points, but maybe next week.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 13th: “We kind of went back and forth all day between loose and tight. I think we were on the splitter there for a while as well. We kept working on it but never really got it to where we needed it to be to race with the leaders.”

Paul Menard — Finished 14th: “This team never gave up all day, and we have a solid result to show for it. The Moen/Menards Chevrolet had speed all day, we just fell a lap down early because of our track position. We took the wave around and got on a different pit sequence than most of the field, and it worked out in our favor. We got the free pass a couple of times and were able to end the day 14th. It was a great strategy and a solid effort all around for this No. 27 team.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 15th: “We had such a fast Skittles Sweet Heat Camry. It’s just disappointing that we had trouble on pit road like that. We just never had the opportunity with how the cautions fell to get back on the lead lap. We’ll get back to the shop and talk about it, and really all we can do is move on and put it behind us.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 16th: “It’s just frustrating. I put ourselves in a hole speeding on pit road and just trying to get too much. You talk about not making mistakes, and we made one. We had a really good race car truthfully. It was a top 10 car for sure, maybe top five. We got behind. We were two laps down. We got one back. Racing the No. 18 (Kyle Busch), he’s a hard one to beat for the Lucky Dog. I had him for a long time. But, there were just no cautions today. We needed more cautions. It went green a lot.”

Danica Patrick — Finished 18th: “It was a little tight in the middle and off (in the final stage).”

Trevor Bayne — Finished 22nd: “We just couldn’t get the speed we were looking for on the short run. Our Performance Plus Ford was really fast on the long run and (crew chief) Matt (Puccia) made some really good adjustments. I hate that we made some contact with the wall but my guys kept fighting all afternoon and never gave up. We’ll move on from today and get after it in Loudon.”

Ryan Newman — Finished 23rd: “This Caterpillar Chevy was pretty solid Friday and Saturday, but when the race started today, we were facing an uphill battle and could never really recover.  I’m not sure what happened between our practices and the race. We were extremely loose and in desperate need of grip. We tried just about everything to race back onto the lead lap, but it just didn’t work out for us. This isn’t the way we wanted to kickoff the playoffs. We’re fighters so we are certainly still in this thing.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 24th: “I felt like we had a really good car to start off with. We were good on the long run. The first few adjustments we made were good, but then, the car just got really loose. We battled the loose condition the rest of the day. We got it better at the end but were stuck laps down at that point. The timing worked for us on the last caution, and (crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) made a good call to run to the end.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 25th: “I got into the fence early on and then had a commitment line violation which put us two laps down. With so few cautions, we weren’t able to get back on the lead lap. It’s definitely not the race we wanted to kick off the playoffs. We head to Loudon which is usually a decent track for us.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 28th: “This wasn’t the day that we were looking to have in Chicago. We were too far off to start the first stage. I was way too loose and didn’t have any grip on entry and exit. My team made changes to get us handling better, but we had lost too much ground to the leaders by then. We’ve grown a lot as a team this year and the next step is to start these races stronger. We always get to where we need to be later in the race, but we need to be there from the time that we unload on Friday morning. This team grinds like no other, though, and we will take what we can from this weekend and use it to be better at this track next year.”

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.”

What drivers said after Bristol Night Race

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Kyle Busch – Winner: “That one was a lot harder. Man, Erik Jones put up a whale of a fight. That all I had. I was running with my tongue hanging. My arms were Jell-O and my throat hurts, but man that’s awesome. Can’t say enough about everybody on my Joe Gibbs Racing team. (Crew chief) Adam Stevens and the guys are phenomenal. Car might not have been perfect, but I’m never perfect. I never feel like we’re perfect, but this Caramel Camry was fast. So proud of these guys, so proud of my team, so proud of Joe Gibbs Racing.”

ERIK JONES – Finished 2nd: “This is one I had circled when we ‑ really all season, but especially when we got knocked out at New Hampshire with a flat tire. That was like, Okay, we need to win. What’s the tracks coming up that are our best shot? Bristol was definitely, you know, the one where I thought we were going to have the best shot to win. I felt like we had a really strong car in the spring. Felt like I could improve myself and improve what we had in the race car compared to what we had there. We did that. We qualified on the pole, you know, led a ton of laps. We just didn’t quite keep up with it. So, yeah, this was our best shot to win. Did I feel any pressure? No. I was just actually really calm this week. I really had a sense we were going to run really well. I had a really good feeling about it. I feel really confident every time I come to Bristol. And, you know, kind of felt like we were going to be running up front, but just didn’t have enough.’’

Denny Hamlin — Finished 3rd: “We caught them a little bit in that last run, but I restarted on the bottom so many times that it’s one of those weekends where I would love that cone rule where you can pick what lane you want to go in on restarts. I’d be willing to start 12th on the outside versus third on the inside. It’s just I got killed on restarts all day, but we did a really good job of bouncing back and good finish.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished 4th: “I guess there’s only two races left, so somebody is going to make it by points. I don’t know where we are. I don’t even look at it, to be honest with you. If you don’t get a win in the next two weeks, hopefully we get in. Obviously we’ll be really far behind. If we do get in, we’re running a lot better as of late. We’ve had some solid finishes. Last week wasn’t. But we’ve definitely been closer to being in contention for wins.

Kurt Busch – Finished 5th: “We’ve been struggling with the VHT on the bottom, so I just knew we needed to wait and wait and wait, and I was hopeful at lap 250 that it would come to us. I pushed it too hard then and got some right-front tire damage on the fender. We had to work through that, but I think at the end we got in position because Tony Gibson made a good call and put us on fresher tires than the competition and it was the old fun Bristol for me.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 6th: “I got too fast on pit road, which cost us, but guys did a good job in the pits, which is a nice change. Overall, I’m proud of the team effort. Fought hard and kind of got lucky there with the tires. I don’t know that we had a sixth-place car, but we did tonight.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 7th: “I feel like the last month we had strategy, things went our way and we’ve gotten results from it. Here at Bristol, Roush Fenway always gives us good cars and we’ve had really good runs the last four or five races. Our Ford was fast tonight at the end when it mattered. At one point we blew a tire, hit the fence. I thought we were going to get lucky and get back on the lead lap. Got on the lead lap, got a caution and put new tires on it and started passing cars. We’ll keep working on it. Obviously we need to win. That’s what our goal is.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 8th: “We had a good Busch Outdoors Ford, but we were just tighter than we needed to be on the next-to-last run. Then the tire strategy just didn’t go our way at the end. Who would have thought we would run all the way to the end under green? It was a good car.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 9th: “It was a good race up until the last stop. I felt like we had a shot to win and then something went on with the left rear (tire) maybe. I didn’t get a good stop and lost all of our track position and that was kind of all she wrote. Just got stuck behind and then guys had better tires than I did and it just is what it is.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 10th: “We weren’t bad. We were probably a little better at the beginning and we had really good short run speed and really good long run speed, but that middle portion wasn’t the best. It’s something to be proud of. I wish those guys at the end with tires didn’t get us, but I didn’t think they were going to run all those green flag laps.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 11th: “We had a really good race. I got stuck on the inside on a lot of restarts, which kind of affected our progress. But we would drive up to the top three, top five and at the end there something happened with the back of the car, and I lost it going into Turn 1 and hit the wall with like 30 to go. Somehow still finished 11th. The car is destroyed. The tail is moved over like two feet, right front is pushed in, I’m surprised I didn’t get a flat. So, I got really lucky to finish, but a strong effort, very good race car. Just unfortunately, I had a little issue getting into Turn 1. I don’t know if it was brake related or something went wrong with the back of the car, but the back just started wheel hopping really bad that final 30 laps and it was a handful to drive.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished 12th: “We struggled at the beginning did a really good job adjusting our car. (Crew chief Matt McCall) made some really good calls there. I had good track position at the end. We were just kind of at the end of the cars that didn’t put tires on and tires meant a little more than we expected. He (Matt McCall) was just telling me that he thought we got outran by all the guys that put tires on, but overall, we had a really good car.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 14th: “It was a really tough night. We battled back from a blown right-front and then that last stop they said I was a little too fast speeding, so we had to make up a lot of ground. The car was really good and it’s just a bummer. I feel like we didn’t get an opportunity to go race for a win there with the speeding penalty, but the guys gave me a good car, so you’ve got to be happy about that.”

Paul Menard – Finished 16th: “Tonight was a battle for everyone on this Knauf/Menards Chevrolet. We got the free pass a couple of times, Matt Borland and the guys kept adjusting on the car throughout the night. We used pit strategy to get inside the top 10 late in Stage 2. I was able to hold off a lot of those guys with fresher tires to pick up some stage points, which was big for this team. We took the wave around in the final stage and the car really came to life. The car worked well on the bottom on the last run, but it just got too tight at the end.” 

David Ragan – Finished 17th: “That’s a solid day for the Front Row Motorsports team. I feel like we had a little better car for the first half of the race and we made great adjustments, but I don’t know if the VHT wore off or the track cooled off, but we lost a little bit of the handle over the last 150 laps.  We wanted a little better, but it was a great race.  We ran in the top 20 all night and we’re happy with that.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 18th: “Yeah that was just a racing incident with Kevin (Harvick). I tried to… we were just working lap traffic and he and I had been racing really hard back and forth with each other and I kind of go to his inside and he was setting up to pass the guy on exit. He has been running the top and he just didn’t know I was down there. I had a really good Turn 1 and 2. He just didn’t know. I shouldn’t have stuck my nose in there, I guess.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 22nd: “That was just a long night.  We didn’t start off very good, but kept fighting, kept staying on the lead lap and got hit by the No. 38 and I went to turn back behind him and Chris (Buescher) had gotten there and he hit me in the left-rear. It’s not his fault. I overreacted about Chris hitting me. So, it wasn’t his fault and then it just had a bad tire rub, so we had to pit and we could never get those two laps back and I think we weren’t fantastic, but we were fighting. At times, we had a pretty good car and then we would try something else and we would lose a little bit, but I thought we could have ran top 15 to top 18 which would have been okay. It’s just a long night.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Finished 23rd: “We struggled. We had a real fast car for like 10-15 laps and then we would just real, real tight, so we struggled all day trying to figure it out. We weren’t good, and we weren’t going to fix it on pit road either. We’ve got a lot of tools on pit road to really get after it, but the problems we had we couldn’t fix with wedge or trackbar.

Danica Patrick – Finished 25th: “It was a long, tough battle here at Bristol, and I wish we could have run better. We just didn’t have it this weekend, but we’ll move on. Thanks to all of the guys for working hard on my One Cure Ford Fusion this weekend.”

Landon Cassill – Finished 35th: “It’s just close quarters. Bristol is a tough race track and I was sliding up and I thought maybe there was a little room, but he just clipped me.  It’s tough racing at Bristol.” 

Ty Dillon – Finished 36th: “It really felt like we had some raw speed in our GEICO Chevrolet. We had a couple pit road penalties and ended up three laps down. We earned one back and felt like we were fast enough to get more laps back. We got into the wall a little earlier on and probably weakened the ball joint a little bit. We hit the wall again and the car is done. It was a really rough night but we did seem to have good speed in our car tonight.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 37th: “We had an oil line on the motor that had a hole in it and it started smoking real bad and caught on fire, so that’s the end of our night. We blew like four or five right-front tires. It was just a long night for our Smithfield team. We’ll have to regroup and go on to the next race.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 39th: “From my perspective, we were running really good and all of a sudden the left rear (tire) went flat. I don’t know what happened, if we had contact on that restart or our trackbar broke. My car chief said the letters on the Goodyear were rubbed off and about two laps later we broke. I was just moving forward. I passed like four cars and then it busted a tire. It never works out when you break when you are running bad, but we were running good and it broke. Bummer, our battery was going dead too, so it probably wasn’t going to be much longer we were going to be out of the race either way, but just a bummer I really love this track and was having a blast tonight. It sucks it had to end this way.”

What Xfinity Series drivers said after the U.S. Cellular 250 (video)

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Ryan Preece claimed victory in his second Xfinity race of the year and the 38th of his career.

He is the third Xfinity driver to earn his first-career win at Iowa Speedway. He is the ninth driver in series history to get his first-career pole and first-career win in the same race.

Here’s what the other top finishers had to say about the U.S. Cellular 250.

Kyle Benjamin– Finished second

Benjamin earned his first top five and top-10 finishes of his career in his fourth start of the year. His previous best was 16th at Pocono.

“I just needed more laps,” Benjamin told NBC. “I think our car was better on the long run there. I didn’t want to see the caution. … I was real surprised at the fire-off speed we had.  able to get beside (Ryan Preece) there at the end. But most importantly I learned a lot today. … There’s a lot I can carry throughout the year.”

Brian Scott – Finished third 

Brian Scott retired from full-time NASCAR competition after the 2016 season and made his first start of the year for Richard Childress Racing. It was his first Xfinity start since the 2015 finale.

“We weren’t very good in the first segment,” Scott told NBC. “We weren’t very good in the second segment but we made a big adjustment at the end of Segment 2. From then on I knew if we could battle back from the loss of track position and it came down to a long run that we had a shot. The restarts at the end (were) not what I wanted to see I thought but it ended up working to our advantage. It was fun. It was fun to be back out there. Congrats to Ryan Preece.’’

Brennan Poole – Finished fourth

Poole earned his first top five of the season. His previous best finish was seventh twice (Daytona II, Indianapolis).

“I felt like we had a shot at the win there at the end,” Poole told NBC. “I spun the tires a little bit on that last restart and I couldn’t quite roll up to (Ryan Preece) enough to try to make a move to make anything happen.  I was just behind a little it.”

Cole Custer – Finished fifth

Custer earned his fourth top five and his second in as many races.

“We definitely made huge gains on it since the last time we were here,” Custer told NBC. “Our short-track program definitely hasn’t been our strong suit, but we brought something completely different and it paid off. I was really proud of that.

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.”