What drivers said after Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race in Charlotte

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Here’s what most of the 20 drivers in Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race had to say after the race (or after their night ended prematurely) at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

Joey Logano – finished 1st: “What a crazy battle for a million dollars at the end. This is the All-Star Race. It’s special just to be in the race. Forget winning it, it’s just special. It’s neat to be in victory lane. … It’s up there for sure (when asked where does this win rank in his career). It’s definitely one you want to have on your resume. You want to have the Daytona 500, but the All-Star Race is special and the Coca-Cola 600 is next and that’s a really special one to have.”

Brad Keselowski – finished 2nd: “A decent night, but not the great night we wanted with the Miller Lite Ford ending up second. I’m pretty happy for my teammate Joey Logano. He kind of did exactly what you would expect out of an All-Star Race format and made a pretty incredible pass to win the race. I’m happy for Team Penske as a whole, but of course I wish it was me in victory lane. … There was a next-to-last lap pass for the lead. There were several passes for the lead. The last four races there hasn’t been a pass for the lead in the last 20 or 30 laps. I think our fans deserve a better format than that and they got that today. I don’t know how you can get much more compelling racing than what we saw today, so they need to get unconfused and enjoy the racing.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – finished 3rd: “We still have some gains to make. We didn’t win the race but we outran a lot of guys who had been outrunning us the last few weeks. We didn’t get to practice so we worked really hard during the race changing a lot of stuff, and I hope Greg (crew chief Greg Ives) learned a lot. Next weekend we’ll actually get to practice some and make some changes to see if we can’t get our car better for the 600. I’d love to win that race before I retire.”

Carl Edwards – finished 4th: “I had fun on those restarts. That was wild. I don’t know what it looked like on television. … Just a crazy night. I wouldn’t call it confusing because I kind of understood what was going on, but it took most of my brain power to keep up. … NASCAR has done a good job with the aero package, they’re working in the right direction and the 600 should be good. I think with the long runs in the 600, you’ll see guys moving around a little more and maybe a little more racing.”

Chase Elliott – finished 6th: “I was confused the whole time. I really was. There was a lot of time I didn’t know what was happening and just a lot of things, but hey, I was really proud of our effort. It was such a long day and my guys did such a good job fixing our car; not once, but twice today. So, I’m proud of them for that. I thought we had a good car from the start of the race until we got our damage and I think that’s encouraging for next week.”

Trevor Bayne – finished 7th: “We learned a lot tonight that will help us for next weekend in the (Coca-Cola) 600. Our car was really fast all day long and I’m really happy we got to be a part of this race after winning the Showdown. In that last segment we were able to race into the top five before the aggression really ramped up but we’re happy to come home seventh with this AdvoCare Ford and I’m really proud of all of my guys for their work throughout the day.”

Denny Hamlin – finished 9th: “I think when you start to set rules on you can pit at this time, but you have to do it before this or that and then the caution comes that you don’t expect like we saw then it puts cars laps down. I don’t know. How do you keep up at home to be honest with you? I knew when it took about 10 minutes to explain the rules in the driver’s meeting that it was going to be a complicated night. All this is to give the fans a great finish and we’re trying to fabricate something for them to look at this All-Star race and say that it’s exciting. You want to create a last lap pass every race you can, but you also don’t want to get too goofy trying to create it.”

Kyle Busch – finished 10th: “I have no idea what the race looked like on TV so I can’t really comment on what it was. … I thought our strategy was perfect – poor execution on the driver.”

Kevin Harvick – finished 11th: “We just had something that went wrong. It’s unfortunate, because we had a really fast Busch Light Chevrolet. It was really, really fast, but I just got to a point where I couldn’t steer anymore in traffic or in the corner. It just made it tough.”

Kyle Larson – finished 16th: “I’m super disappointed. I hate that I keep letting my team down. They did everything right. They worked their tails off after I got all the damage in the Showdown. We had a really, really good Target Chevy and were able to get to the front pretty quick there to be in the best position possible there for the last restart. I got clear right away and thought I could cruise. … I’m really disappointed but congrats to Logano and their team. Hats off to my guys. They’ve worked their tails off. We’ve had fast cars the last few weeks where we had struggled with that recently. I’m having fun but this will be hard to get over.”

Matt Kenseth – finished 18th: “I got more than bumped from behind, I think I got drove over. I hope everybody understands this race better than I did from the cockpit, because ever since the first car pitted in that first segment, I have no idea of what’s going on.”

Tony Stewart – finished 20th: “I’m as baffled as everybody,” Stewart said on Fox Sports 1. “It’s the most screwed-up All-Star Race I’ve ever been a part of. I’m glad it’s the last one (for him). I’m alright, I’m just madder than hell. I don’t understand how they’ve officiated this thing from start to finish.”

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NASCAR fines Ty Gibbs $75,000 for pit road incident at Texas

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NASCAR fined Ty Gibbs $75,000 and docked him 25 points for door-slamming Ty Dillon on pit road during last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Crew members from other teams were nearby when Gibbs hit Dillon’s car, causing it to swerve. No crew members or officials were hit.

NASCAR has made it a priority that drivers are not to cause contact that could injured crew members or officials on pit road. NASCAR also penalized Gibbs 25 Cup driver points and docked 23XI Racing 25 car owner points for the No. 23 Cup car that Gibbs drives.

NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

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NASCAR has docked William Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution in last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Byron drops from third in the playoff standings to below the cutline heading into Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe moves up to hold the final transfer spot with 3,041 points. Austin Cindric is the first driver outside a transfer spot with 3,034 points. Byron is next at 3,033 points.

Hendrick Motorsports was docked 25 owner points as well.

Hendrick Motorsports stated it would appeal the penalty.

The caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash. As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

“I felt like he ran me out of race track off of (Turn) 2 and had really hard contact with the wall,” Byron said. “Felt like the toe link was definitely bent, luckily not fully broken. We were able to continue.

“A lot of times that kind of damage is going to ruin your race, especially that hard. I totally understand running somebody close and making a little bit of contact, but that was pretty massive.”

On the retaliatory hit, Byron said: “I didn’t mean to spin him out. That definitely wasn’t what I intended to do. I meant to bump him a little bit and show my displeasure and unfortunately, it happened the way it did. Obviously, when he was spinning out, I was like ‘I didn’t mean to do this,’ but I was definitely frustrated.”

Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gabehart argued and questioned NASCAR for not putting Hamlin back in second place — where he was before Byron hit him — and also questioned Byron not being penalized.

“I guess we can just wreck each other under caution,” Hamlin said after the race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told reporters after the race that series officials did not penalize Byron because they did not see the incident. 

“When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” Miller said. “The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing, we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass.

“By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green.”

Kurt Busch ‘hopeful’ he can return from concussion this year

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kurt Busch said Tuesday he remains “hopeful” he will recover from a concussion in time to race again before the end of the NASCAR Cup season.

The 2004 Cup champion has been sidelined since he crashed July 23 during qualifying at Pocono Raceway. He’s so far missed 10 races – both Ty Gibbs and Bubba Wallace have driven the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing since Busch was injured – and withdrew his eligibility to participate in the playoffs.

“I’m doing good. Each week is better progress and I feel good and I don’t know when I will be back, but time has been the challenge. Father Time is the one in charge on this one,” Busch said.

There are six races remaining this season and 23XI co-owner Denny Hamlin said the team has contingency plans for Busch’s recovery and is not pressuring the 44-year-old to get back in the car. Busch is under contract at 23XI through next season with an option for 2024.

Hamlin said this past weekend at Texas that Busch has a doctor’s visit scheduled in early October that could reveal more about if Busch can return this season.

Busch has attended a variety of events to stimulate his recovery and enjoyed an evening at the rodeo over the weekend. But his visit to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday for its 10th annual honoring of Breast Cancer Awareness Month was Busch’s first official appearance as a NASCAR driver since his injury.

He attended for the second consecutive year as part of his “Window of Hope” program in which all the window nets on the Cup cars will be pink meshing in next week’s race on The Roval at Charlotte. Busch credited the Toyota Performance Center at TRD’s North Carolina headquarters for helping his recovery and getting him out to events again.

“I feel hopeful. I know I have more doctor visits and distance to go, and I keep pushing each week,” Busch said. “And TPC, Toyota Performance Center, has been a group of angels with the workouts and the vestibular workouts, different nutrition as well and different supplements and things to help everything rebalance with my vision, my hearing. Just my overall balance in general.”

He said his vision is nearly 20/20 in one eye, but his other eye has been lagging behind in recovery. Busch also said he wasn’t sure why he was injured in what appeared to be a routine backing of his car into the wall during a spin in qualifying.

NASCAR this year introduced its Next Gen car that was designed to cut costs and level the playing field, but the safety of the spec car has been under fire since Busch’s crash. Drivers have complained they feel the impact much more in crashes than they did in the old car, and a rash of blown tires and broken parts has plagued the first four races of the playoffs.

Busch said his concussion “is something I never knew would happen, as far as injury” and likened his health battle to that of the breast cancer survivors who aided him in painting the pit road walls at Charlotte pink for next week’s race.

“Each situation is different. It’s similar to a breast cancer survivor. Not every story is the same, not every injury is the same,” Busch said. “It’s not like a broken arm and then you get the cast taken off and can go bench press 300 pounds. It’s a process. I don’t know what journey I’m on, but I’m going to keep pushing.”

NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin returns to first place

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Four races into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs and drivers who are eligible to win the championship remain 0-for-4 in pursuit of race wins.

Tyler Reddick became winner No. 4 on that list Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

And now we go to Talladega Superspeedway, where there is potential for drivers from the far back end of the field to emerge victorious, given the impact of drafting and, more significantly, wrecking.

Sunday’s tire-exploding, wall-banging, car-wrestling craziness at Texas Motor Speedway jumbled the playoff standings again, and the same is true for the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, which see a new leader in Denny Hamlin.

MORE: Winners and losers at Texas

Hamlin could be a busy guy the rest of the season. His potential retaliation list grew Sunday with the addition of William Byron after they had a major disagreement.

Here’s how the rankings look in the middle of the Round of 12:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Denny Hamlin (No. 3 last week) — Despite everything — the tires, the wrecks, the hassle, the weather and a brouhaha with William Byron, Hamlin finished 10th Sunday and is sixth in the playoff standings entering Talladega. He has the best average finish — 5.75 — in the playoff races. Unless his “list” gets in the way, Hamlin might be ready to seriously challenge for his first championship.

2. Kyle Larson (No. 4 last week) — Larson led 19 laps at Texas and probably should have led more with one of the race’s best cars. Now fourth in points, he figures to be a factor over the final two weeks of the round.

3. Chase Elliott (No. 2 last week) — Elliott was not a happy camper after smashing the wall because of a tire issue and riding a flaming car to a halt. He finished 32nd.

4. Joey Logano (No. 6 last week) — Logano was chasing down winner Tyler Reddick in the closing laps at Texas. He jumps to first in the playoff standings and gains two spots in NBC’s rankings.

5. William Byron (No. 5 last week) — Byron might be No. 1 on Denny Hamlin’s list; here he slides in at No. 5.

6. Christopher Bell (No. 1 last week) — Bell had a rotten Sunday in Texas, crashing not once but twice with tire issues and finishing 34th, causing a precipitous drop on the rankings list.

7. Ross Chastain (No. 7 last week) — Chastain’s team played the tires and the cautions right and probably deserved better than a 13th-place finish Sunday.

8. Ryan Blaney (No. 8 last week) — Mr. Winless (except in All-Star dress) rolls on. A fourth-place run (and 29 laps led) Sunday keeps him relevant.

9. Chase Briscoe (No. 9 last week) — Briscoe’s Texas run started poorly but ended nicely with a fifth-place run.

10. Tyler Reddick (unranked last week) — Reddick Sunday became the only driver not named Chase Elliott with more than two race wins this year. Now totaling three victories, he got his first oval win at Texas.

Dropped out: Alex Bowman (No. 10 last week).