What drivers said after Sprint Cup race at Richmond

(Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Here’s what the field had to say Sunday after the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, which was won by Carl Edwards.

CARL EDWARDS — Finished 1st: “Man, I didn’t think we had anything. Kyle was so good there for that run. I was doing everything I could. He never spun his tires and if Dave (Rogers, crew chief) hadn’t screamed at me to just go get him that last lap I don’t know if I would’ve dove it in there that well. Just a team effort.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 2nd: “We were fast. Maybe not as good as Carl (Edwards) was on the long run but we did everything right. We did everything we were supposed to do and put ourselves in the right position. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) made some awesome adjustments to this car. We lost it there the second to last run and were fading a little bit but the guys gave me an awesome pit stop, got me track position and got us out front and we had a shot to win so that’s all that matters.”

Jimmie JohnsonFinished 3rd: “I think this tire was perfect for what we’ve been asking for. We had multiple lanes that laid the rubber in the race track and we didn’t have all those marbles build-up on the outside, where it really limited your opportunities up high. It was fun. The cars were slipping and sliding; there was a ton of fall off. I enjoyed the long runs. I really like sizing-up guys that I’m racing with and seeing how that works out.”

Kasey KahneFinished 4th: “The pit stops were awesome and just the communication with Keith (Rodden, crew chief) and the team all weekend long; same as last week and same as the weekend before in Texas. It’s been solid and we’re heading in the right direction. It’s been really nice. We got a good restart there at the end. I had pretty good starts all day. I screwed one up and other than that, we had good restarts.”

Kevin HarvickFinished 5th: “We started really loose to start the race and got into the wall there and we had to make some more adjustments after I self-adjusted it (laughs). And then, we had a couple of really good runs there in the middle of the race. As we started adjusting on it, we never could get the rear drive to go along with the turns. It’s kind of a balance of where the turn is good enough and you can still manage the drive, but everybody tried everything we could. We threw a lot at it and just never could find that magic balance for the car that we had there in the middle of the race.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 6th: “Definitely the track was really slick. As you could see the line was all over the race track. So, fun race. The tire did a good job holding up there and had a good fall off. Proud of the whole FedEx Ground team. We fought back from the pit road penalty and good for our teammates there one-two and we were just right there behind them.”

Matt KensethFinished 7th: “I thought the track was okay. There was a little bit more room than there typically was. I never really went for it real far. I got back to about seventh, where we are, and that’s about what I was at the beginning when we had our problems so I could never quite get up there with the best cars. But, it was nice it widened out a little bit.”

Joey LoganoFinished 8th:  “I needed to find a different lane. Every lane I found didn’t work. At the end it started to and I felt like maybe a couple of more restarts and good pit-stops we could have track positioned ourselves to be closer to the front and maybe squeak out a top-five at the end. Taking a car from being the 35th place car to a top-five car throughout a race is quite impressive for what my team was able to do today. It was great teamwork.”

Martin Truex Jr.Finished 9th: “Everyone was fighting the slippery track. It was great for the fans and television viewers, but for the drivers it was a challenge. I was sliding all around with no forward drive. It was difficult to make up time when the tires got hot. At times we were pretty good, but didn’t have the consistency to run closer to the front.”

Brad KeselowskiFinished 11th:  “We were probably a 5th-10th place car and fell back from the strategy but drove up there into about 11th and honestly we just ran out of time.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.Finished 13th: “We got tight at the end. I don’t know … we couldn’t keep our track position. The car wasn’t turning in the middle. I didn’t like restarting on the bottom that hurt me a little bit. We just couldn’t get the car to turn at the end. The last two runs were real tight. I’m not sure exactly what we should have done to the chassis, but we certainly didn’t keep up with the track there. We did a good job all day long. Greg (Ives, crew chief) was giving me some good adjustments to get the car better. We weren’t that good at the start of the race. We kind of finished where we started. The car was about as good at the end of the race as it was at the beginning. Right in the middle there we had it handling pretty well. All of those debris cautions hurt us. We didn’t have good short run speed. We needed the long runs and didn’t really need that. Those last several cautions kind of tightened the track up on me a little bit. I just wish it would have gone green, but it didn’t.”

Greg BiffleFinished 14th: “We certainly didn’t end up where we were running. We were running mostly around 11th or 12th most of the day and the last couple of restarts we got shuffled back. That happens though. I guess that is racing. I wish we were better than that but we definitely had a better car than 14th which makes you feel good.”

Trevor BayneFinished 17th: “We ran solidly inside the top 15 for much of the day and would’ve finished there if we had a few more laps. I just want to thank all my guys for their hard work. We’ll get after it next week in Talladega.”

Ryan NewmanFinished 18th: “This was definitely not the finish this Grainger team expected, or deserved. We raced solidly in the top 10 until a competitor made contact with us and it cut down our tire with less than 100 laps to go. At first I just thought we had a tire go down but then the team came over the radio and said someone got into us on the restart after watching the replay. At that point all we could do was pit and restart from the 22nd position. We obviously got some of our positions back but certainly not enough. We ran out of laps.”

Tony StewartFinished 19th: “Line them up again and let’s run another, hell, make it 800 laps. Line them up and I’ll run 800 laps right now and not have a problem. There will be a bunch of these guys falling out of the seat if they had to run 800 more laps, but I will not be one of them.”

Austin DillonFinished 20th: “We had a better showing at Richmond International Raceway than we have in the past but there is certainly room for improvement. As a team, we just made too many mistakes today and it affected our overall performance. We had a few issues on pit road but we can work on those. We made a wedge adjustment in the middle of the race that put us behind.”

Paul MenardFinished 22nd: “Track position was important today and we just didn’t have it until the end. The handling of our Chevrolet SS was loose into the turns and tight through the center and despite all the adjustments we made, we were still a little bit off in finding the right balance that we needed.

Danica PatrickFinished 24th: “The Nature’s Bakery Chevy was better on the longer runs today. It just didn’t take off on restarts. I couldn’t be as aggressive with it as I needed to be and ended up losing a bunch of ground each time. (Crew chief) Billy (Scott) made a really great call for us to take the wave-around late in the race. At the end of the day, the car wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. Tough times don’t last; tough people do. And we just have to keep working at it hard to get to where we need to be.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Finished 26th: “Our Fifth Third Ford was one the fastest cars on the track late in the runs, but we struggled on the short runs,” Stenhouse said. “Our finish definitely didn’t reflect on where we ran for a majority of the race. Hopefully we can get rid of this bad luck soon.”

Ryan BlaneyFinished 28th:  “It was a struggle all day for us. We weren’t very good in the beginning and got a lap down early and short-pitted and that actually worked out well for us. We still ended up a lap down but kind of gained a few spots. We raced hard for the Lucky Dog all day and at one point I thought we had it but they gave it to somebody else which was unfortunate. That made us kind of be on equal tires the rest of the day as we were taking wave arounds. It was just a big struggle today.”

NASCAR weekend schedule at Sonoma Raceway


The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series head to Sonoma Raceway this weekend. This marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the 1.99-mile road course.

The Cup and Xfinity Series will take the following weekend off before the season resumes at Nashville Superspeedway. NBC and USA will broadcast each series the rest of the year, beginning at Nashville.

Sonoma Raceway

Weekend weather

Friday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees.

Saturday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 73 degrees. Forecast is for a high of 70 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the Xfinity race.

Sunday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 67 degrees and a 1% chance of rain at the start of the Cup race.

Friday, June 9

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — ARCA Menards Series West
  • 1 – 10 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2 – 3 p.m. — ARCA West practice
  • 3:10 – 3:30 p.m. — ARCA West qualifying
  • 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 p.m. — ARCA West race (64 laps, 127.36 miles; live on FloRacing, will air on CNBC at 11:30 a.m. ET on June 18)

Saturday, June 10

Garage open

  • 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.  — Cup Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 3 – 4 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)
  • 5 – 6 p.m. — Cup practice  (FS2)
  • 6 – 7 p.m. — Cup qualifying  (FS2)
  • 8 p.m. — Xfinity race (79 laps, 156.95 miles; FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, June 11

Garage open

  • 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 p.m. — Cup race (110 laps, 218.9 miles; Fox, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)


NASCAR penalizes Erik Jones, Legacy MC for L1 violation


NASCAR has docked Erik Jones and Legacy Motor Club 60 points and five playoff points each, suspended crew chief Dave Elenz two races and fined him $75,000 for the L1 violation discovered this week at the R&D Center. The team was found to have modified the greenhouse.

The penalty drops Jones from 26th to 30th in the standings heading into Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway.

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“We have been diligently working with NASCAR regarding the penalty and are working internally to determine the course of action in response,” said Joey Cohen, vice president, race operations for Legacy MC, in a statement. “We will announce that decision within the timeframe determined by the NASCAR Rule Book.”

Cohen will serve as interim crew chief during Elenz’s suspension.

Jones’ car was among those brought to NASCAR’s R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina, after last weekend’s race at WWT Raceway.

NASCAR cited the team for violating:

Section 14.1.C: Vehicles must comply with Section 14 Vehicle and Driver Safety Specifications of the NASCAR Rule Book at all times during an Event. Failure to comply will be subject to Penalty pursuant to Section 10 Violations and Disciplinary Action.

Section 14.1.D: Except in cases explicitly permitted in the NASCAR Rules, installation of additional components, repairs, deletions, and/or modifications to Next Gen Single Source Vendor-supplied parts and/or assemblies will not be permitted.

Section 14.1.2.B: All parts and assemblies must comply with the NASCAR Engineering Change Log.

NASCAR also announced penalties Wednesday in the Craftsman Truck Series.

Crew chief Andrew Abbott has been fined $5,000, Young’s Motorsports has been penalized 25 points and Chris Hacker has been docked 25 points for a violation with the team’s window net.

Crew chief Charles Denike has been fined $2,500 for a lug nut not properly installed on Christian Eckes‘ truck for TRICON Garage.

Kamui Kobayashi to make NASCAR debut with 23XI Racing at Indy

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LE MANS, France (AP) — Left out of the NASCAR celebration at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota used Wednesday at the track to showcase its own stock car program and the upcoming Cup Series debut for one of the top racers in the world.

Kamui Kobayashi will make his NASCAR debut on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with Toyota in August driving for 23XI Racing, the team owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.

The announcement made Wednesday had several top NASCAR executives in attendance – including chairman Jim France – as Toyota found Le Mans to be the perfect backdrop to spotlight the one-race deal.

Toyota Gazoo, after all, has won Le Mans the last five consecutive years and Kobayashi, part of the 2021 winning effort, is team principal of the two-car organization that will try to make it six straight wins in the most prestigious endurance event in the world.

Toyota had initially felt jilted when NASCAR blindsided the industry last year by announcing it would bring its new Next Gen car to centenary Le Mans in a specialized category that showcases innovation, but the project was with Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports. Toyota was the first rival NASCAR manufacturer to complain, and NASCAR has since tried to include all its partners in this weekend’s celebration and France signed off on holding the Kobayashi announcement at Le Mans.

It allowed Toyota to display the Camry it races in NASCAR; Kobayashi will drive the No. 67 in the Aug. 13 race. This will be the second race for the No. 67 car for 23XI Racing. Travis Pastrana finished 11th in the car at this year’s Daytona 500.

“We’ve been working on this assignment actually for a couple of years and Kamui has become a friend and we understood it was his dream one day to race in NASCAR,” said David Wilson, president of TRD, U.S.A. “With this great new Next Gen Toyota Camry TRD, the stars and planets started to align themselves and the next question became: Where should we announce this?

“It dawned on me with Kamui’s record of success, and being the team principal, to do it on this global stage at the biggest sports car race in the world.”

Kobayashi will be only the second Japanese driver to race in NASCAR’s top Cup Series and only the fifth to race in one of NASCAR’s top three national series. Kobayashi will be the first driver from Japan to race in the Cup Series in a Toyota, which entered NASCAR’s top series in 2007.

“It’s my dream, actually,” Kobayashi told The Associated Press. “It’s such a big sport in the United States and racing in Europe, I never had the chance or opportunity to race NASCAR. I think the opportunity will be challenging for myself because it is such a different category.

“But if I have success, I think it will make more opportunities for Japanese drivers. Toyota has been in NASCAR a long time, but there has never been any Japanese drivers for Toyota. That’s also why I say I appreciate this opportunity for myself.”

Kobayashi won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Toyota in 2021 and hasn’t finished lower than third since 2018. He has six podium finishes in eight appearances in the iconic endurance race.

Toyota trails only Bentley, Jaguar, Ferrari, Audi and Porsche for most wins at Le Mans. Porsche holds the record with 19 victories.

Kobayashi in 2021, after winning Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship title driving for Toyota Gazoo, was named team principal.

Kobayashi started his racing career karting in Japan but was discovered by Toyota while racing in Europe. He was named one of Toyota’s reserve Formula One drivers and made his debut during the 2009 season at the Brazilian Grand Prix. He raced in F1 through 2014 with one podium finish in 75 career starts.

Following his F1 career, Kobayashi returned to Japan and switched to the Super Formula Series, a class he still actively competes in. He’s since won the Rolex 24 at Daytona twice and was the anchor on an IMSA endurance sports car team in the United States for two seasons that was formed by seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

Kobayashi loves racing in the United States, but IMSA’s adoption of new regulations to make its top class eligible to compete at Le Mans created a conflict of interest between Kobayashi’s Toyota responsibilities and continuing to race in IMSA, where Toyota is not represented in the top class. Toyota does field a Lexus in a lower IMSA division and Kobayashi raced for Vasser Sullivan Racing last June in Canada to get a feel for the GT car.

Many consider NASCAR’s Next Gen car to be very similar to the GT Lexus sports car that Kobayashi drove in IMSA last year, and that’s his closest experience to driving a stock car. He’ll be permitted to test with 23XI at a small track in Virginia ahead of the race at Indianapolis, and expects some time on the simulator.

Either way, he isn’t worried about seat time.

“I think I’m a guy who doesn’t need much practice, to be honest,” the 36-year-old Kobayashi told the AP. “I think once we jump in the car, we will be OK in a couple of laps. So I’m not really concerned about form.”

Drivers to watch at Sonoma Raceway


This weekend begins a key period for Cup drivers. Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway begins a stretch of four road course events in the next 10 races. The race to make the playoffs and to score playoff points is intensifying.


Tyler Reddick

  • Points position: 10th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Circuit of the Americas)
  • Past at Sonoma: Does not have a top 15 in two previous starts

Reddick has won three of the last five Cup races on road courses, but Sonoma has been his kryptonite. He has yet to lead a lap there. Reddick’s three road course wins have been at Road America, Indianapolis and COTA.

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 27th
  • Best finish this season: 2nd (Fontana)
  • Past at Sonoma: Four top 10s, including a runner-up, in six starts

Elliott returns to the series after sitting out last weekend’s race at WWT Raceway due to suspension. He’s in a must-win situation to make the playoffs. Known for his prowess on road courses, Elliott’s last win at such a track came in 2021 at Road America. In the nine races at road courses since that win, Elliott has two runner-up finishes and six top 10s.

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 7th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Fontana, Talladega I, WWT Raceway)
  • Past at Sonoma: Had six straight finishes of seventh or better before placing 30th last year

Busch is tied with William Byron for the most wins this season with three. Busch has placed in the top three in the last two road course races. He has led in five of the last seven Sonoma Cup races. He is a two-time Sonoma winner, taking the checkered flag in 2008 and ’15.


Denny Hamlin 

  • Points position: 8th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Kansas I)
  • Past at Sonoma: Five consecutive top 10s until finishing 31st last year

Hamlin has not had a top-10 finish at a road course in the Next Gen car. He has an 18.4 average finish at road courses since last season. His best finish at a road course in that time is 13th at the Charlotte Roval.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 5th
  • Best finish this season: 2nd (Dover)
  • Past at Sonoma: Two straight top-10 finishes

Chastain lost the points lead last weekend after his third consecutive finish outside the top 20. His fourth-place finish at Circuit of the Americas this season broke a streak of three consecutive finishes outside the top 20 at road courses.

Chris Buescher

  • Points position: 13th
  • Best finish this season: 3rd (Talladega I)
  • Past at Sonoma: His runner-up finish last year was his first top 10 there in six starts

Until last year, Sonoma had not been kind to Buescher. He enters this weekend have scored six consecutive top 10s at road courses.