What’d they say? Best post-race comments from Harvick, Gordon, Truex

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While Kyle Busch stole the show Sunday, winning both the Sprint Cup championship and the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

And while they came up a bit short, the three other championship round finalists deserve recognition for giving it their best efforts.

Speaking of their best, here’s some of the best post-race comments from Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr.:

Kevin Harvick:

* “You always want to win, but I’ve learned not to get greedy. After last year, I felt like we had everything go our way, and tonight, it didn’t go our way. But, just congratulations to the No. 18 team and everything they did and all of our guys; they’ve done a great job all year.”

* “We just weren’t very good tonight and we were having a little trouble with the rear end getting up off the corner and just wound up too tight there at the end. … Proud of everybody at SHR because we kept fighting. We were just a little bit off all weekend.”

* “We had a great year. We just ran second today and unfortunately needed to win the race. Kyle had a really strong car and we really never had anything for him all night. We kept working on it and working on it but we just could never get the back of the car hooked up through the corners. But all-in-all, everybody stayed in there and kept fighting because it’s never over till it’s over.”

* “It’s been a great couple years, and I know we’re disappointed about finishing second tonight, but it’s kind of the theme of the year, finishing second.”

* On Kyle Busch and how he’s matured as a racer and person: “I think as you go through time in general, as a person, you mature and you get more mature through time, whether you’re doing dumb things at the racetrack or not and learning from those things. Those obviously are unfortunately part of our life lessons, some more than others, and I think Kyle and I have definitely been on that side of it. But I think you see that little guy that he holds in his arms, and you know, it puts things in a different perspective.  It used to be you didn’t want to have kids because it took the fire out of you from driving the car, and now it seems to have calmed a lot of us down to the point where we can focus and do the things that we need to do to concentrate on our jobs. He’s overcome a lot, but man, he’s still pretty young.  When you really look back at it, I think he’s 30 years old?  Yeah, so I mean, it seems like he’s matured a lot, and he has, but he’s still pretty young.  I don’t have that excuse (said with laughter).”

Jeff Gordon:

* “Nothing could have topped the way my day started. I woke up ‑‑ I was planning on sleeping in, and I was too excited, so I woke up a little earlier. Pulled up the shades on my bus, and my mom just happened to be walking by, and so that just made my day start so amazing, to be able to sit down with her on that day, first thing in the morning, and all the emotions and everything were just able to come out, and then we just had a great conversation. And then my stepdad came in and then a little bit later Ingrid and the kids showed up. It was just perfect.  Just missed a little bit on the race.”

* “We all know nothing would have been quite better than that and the win.  But I’ve learned a lot in life, and there’s no such thing as a perfect day and a perfect life.  Just like there’s no such thing as a perfect race car.  They’re really close and good and at times better than the rest, but it doesn’t mean that they’re ever perfect. I think had I won this race and this championship it would have been perfect, and I don’t think I could have accepted that.  I wouldn’t have known how to.”

* “To drive for one of the best car owners, if not the best, and drive the best race cars and work with the best people, that’s why I have the wins and championships that I have and why we did what we did here today in the final race battling for a championship.”

* “Ingrid, she goes through so much all the ups and downs and what goes along with this sport. We both said going into this race what an amazing experience this has been this year, the last nine years of our lives together and this day, surrounded by friends and family and the people that matter most and work hard on this race team and all the love I’ve gotten from the fans and everybody in this sport, there’s nothing better than that.”

* “I’m not going anywhere. I had such a blast knowing that we had a good race car and could battle with these guys. Me and Martin (Truex, Jr.) had a heck of a battle there; but unfortunately it wasn’t for the championship. Congratulations to Kyle Busch. What a great driver. What a great champion. And with all he’s been through this year, nobody is more deserving than him.”

* “I’m a little disappointed that we weren’t more of a threat for the championship. Beyond that it’s absolutely been a dream come true. To get an opportunity to race at this level, to have the success that I’ve had, to have the sponsors that we’ve had and to have the fans that we have. The first one to the car was the team and Rick Hendrick and then my family. That is all that really matters to me. Those people are so important to me and make this all worthwhile. I told everybody before the race that no matter what we are going to be happy and celebrate. That is exactly what we are going to go do.”

* “I was relaxing in the bus after that conversation with my mom this morning, and I said, oh, I’ll look up Twitter, see what the fans were doing. Little did I know my competitors were going to be tweeting out things, and man, the emotions started going all over again.  That’s just unheard of. That’s just to me unheard of that you’re going to be going out competing against individuals, even the ones we were competing against for the championship, when Kevin Harvick took that picture next to my car, that to me ‑‑ I don’t know if it gets much better than that.”

* “Today ‑‑ the thing is, you’ve got to understand, even though it was my final race and everything and I wanted to be as gracious and give all that I could back to the fans, I just ‑‑ I had to hold back a little bit because I did want to stay focused and stay on my schedule and my routine that I normally go through because I wanted to put the best out on the racetrack that I possibly could.  So it was very cool and I enjoyed it very, very much, but at the same time, in the back of my mind I’m blocking out some things, getting ready for the race.”

Team owner Rick Hendrick on Gordon:

* “People are not going to really understand what Jeff Gordon meant to this sport until a few years down the road when you really look back and you think about all the doors he opened and TV and sponsors and brought this sport to a whole new level. What he did for me and my family and our company, it’s obvious, 93 wins and four championships; he brought along Jimmie Johnson and drove his cars first and he’s just a special person.”

* (On Gordon’s retirement) “Yeah, it’s real now. I think that’s what it is. Until right now when he got out of the car and gave me his helmet and said he wanted me to have it; that is real. And until right now, it wasn’t over. I’m very thankful that he has been a part of our company and a part of our racing deal and I’m just glad I saw him and got him in the car and didn’t have to race against him.”

Martin Truex Jr.:

* “It was a big deal for us and for our team, for our owner, and for me personally to get this car this far and to have a chance to come in and battle for this championship. It was a big deal for us and I wish we could have performed better today.”

* “We struggled all weekend with this car and it definitely wasn’t for a lack of effort. The guys put a ton of effort into this car and really all weekend we just kept throwing stuff at it and we just could never get it where we needed it. I am not sure what we were missing, but we were missing something. Proud of my guys for the effort and proud of my pit crew as well but we just didn’t have the car when we needed it. Little disappointed, but proud of our season.”

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NASCAR shares prayers for Stewart-Haas Racing engineer

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FORT WORTH, Texas — The NASCAR garage is sharing its prayers for Stewart-Haas Racing engineer DJ VanderLey, who was injured Thursday night in a crash during a micro sprint Outlaw race at the Texas Motor Speedway dirt track.

He suffered several fractured vertebrae and has a spinal cord injury, according to a post from his wife Jordan on her Facebook page. 

Two GoFundMe accounts have been set up to help the family with medical costs. 

VanderLey was Chase Briscoe’s engineer for four years, and they are good friends.

“I hate that it happened to anybody,” Briscoe said Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, “but for it to hit close to home has definitely been tough for me.”

Briscoe said he planned to visit VanderLey in the hospital on Saturday and that “I just hope that everybody continues to pray. That’s really all we can do at this point, trying to hope he gets better.”

Christopher Bell calls VanderLey among his best friends. VanderLey was Bell’s engineer at Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2016. 

Bell spent the night at the hospital and also picked up Jordan VanderLey at the airport when she arrived. 

Stewart-Haas Racing had a decal for VanderLey on Riley Herbst‘s No. 98 Xfinity car for Saturday’s race.

Starting lineup for Texas Cup race: Brad Keselowski wins pole

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Brad Keselowski will be at the front of the field to start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 pm ET, USA Network).

Keselowski, who is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group, won the pole Saturday afternoon with a speed of 188.990, edging Joey Logano‘s 188.805.

MORE: Texas Cup starting lineup

The race is the first of three in the second round of the Cup playoffs. Round of 12 races will follow at Talladega Superspeedway Oct. 2 and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval Oct. 9.

MORE: Waffle House a headquarters for race winners

Also starting in the top five Sunday will be William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell.

Brad Keselowski wins Cup pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Brad Keselowski, hoping to extend Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s turnaround, won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was the second piece of good news for RFK Racing in two weeks. Chris Buescher,  Keselowski’s teammate, won last week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the first victory for the team under the RFK banner.

Keselowski, who ran 188.990 mph, is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group. Nine of the first 14 starting positions were filled by playoff drivers.

MORE: Texas Cup qualifying results

Following in the top five Saturday were Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell. Playoff point leader Chase Elliott will start sixth.

“Texas is a really tough track,” Keselowski told NBC Sports. “As hot as it’s going to be, that will be even tougher.”

Race-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s Sunday.

The race (3:30 p.m. ET), the first event in the second round of the playoffs, will be televised by the USA Network.

Sunday Texas Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The first race in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is scheduled Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Twelve drivers are racing for eight spots in the next round. Chase Elliott leads the standings by 15 over Joey Logano entering Sunday’s 500-mile event, the only Cup points race at TMS this year. Ryan Blaney, who is in the playoff group, won the All-Star Race at the track in May.

Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric are below the cutline entering the 3:30 p.m. ET (USA Network) race.

MORE: Big race celebration? Try Waffle House

The playoffs will continue at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9).

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway:

START: The command to start engines will be given by “Top Gun: Maverick” actors Jay Ellis and Lewis Pullman at 3:38 p.m. (ET) … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Bret Shisler of Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries at 3:30 p.m. … The 1st Cavalry Division Band will perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 334 laps (501 miles) on the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 105. Stage 2 ends at Lap 210.

MORE: Ryan Blaney’s team to appeal penalty

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 2:30 p.m. on USA Network. The post-race show will air on USA Network. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy skies. High of 96 with a 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won by .459 of a second over William Byron last October. Larson led 256 of the race’s 334 laps.

CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS COVERAGE

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