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What drivers said after Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex’s No. 78 Toyota did all of the talking during the race, but many drivers still had something to say after Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Here’s what they were saying:

Martin Truex Jr. – finished first: It meant a lot to me. Just kind of sinking in now, you know? We won the 600, so just really proud of my team. Everybody that made this possible and believed in me and gave me this opportunity. Man, my guys are just … they’re something special, so just got to thank all them. This is a big day, you know? Got the troops on the car – it’s a special weekend. It’s really neat to bring – to bring that name home and to victory lane, so just a lot of emotion right not and not real sure it’s sunk in yet but just an amazing day, an amazing weekend for all of us and just a weekend you dream about. … I had confidence. I had faith. I had confidence in my team. I’ve got a lot of great people behind me. Sherry’s (Pollex, girlfriend) – she gives me a lot of inspiration and we just keep fighting. We never give up. We never quit. … It feels awesome. Coca-Cola 600, man, this is one everybody wants to win. I feel like we had this thing won last year when we gave it up and just I don’t know. There are so many emotions, I had to unplug my radio and just ride around and think for a few minutes, because I didn’t even know what I was going to say or what I was going to do.”

Kevin Harvick – finished second: “Yeah, we struggled the first 450 miles, but they kept swinging at it and were finally able to find some tire pressures that were better.  At the beginning of the race, we were just having the same problem getting in the corner and then sliding the back of the car up off the corner, and towards the end we got the car on the racetrack a lot better and were able to really start driving it like we needed to keep up.  I think we’d have been better off if they would have just kept running, but when the caution came out, because we had caught (Truex), passed (Johnson) and then once he got new tires and an adjustment on there, it seemed like he was kind of able to get out in front of us, and we were never really able to make up any ground once we got around (Johnson). … We ran 10th all day.  I’m just really, really happy with when you’re able to take a 10th‑place car at best, for the first 450 miles and make adjustments on it, those are huge gains.  I was just happy we were competitive at the end of the race. We didn’t have the fastest car, obviously.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished third: ““It’s nice when you have a car like that.  I’m so proud of the effort we put in tonight.  This is the best car I’ve had in Charlotte for a long time.  It just shows you how good (Truex) was, and (Harvick) got a little bit better than us at the end.  I thought we had a chance at them a few times, a couple of times on the long run we would get close. A couple times on the restarts we would get close, but all-in-all a very strong performance for this Lowe’s Chevrolet.  Very proud of the team work and the support that we have from all the employees at Lowe’s.  Just came up a little short today.”

Denny Hamlin — finished fourth: “It was a battle, but we kept good track position all day – had one bad restart where I lost some spots, but other than that fourth is about par for us today. The pit crew did an amazing job all day keeping us up front and our car was pretty good at the end. That’s about what we had, nothing else. (Truex) did a great job, and we saw it in practice, he had a bunch of speed and really a lot of the mile-and-a-halves those guys have really hit on something really nice. We’ll go back and work and figure out what we can do to be better, but obviously a good top-five is a good step in the right direction for us.”

Brad Keselowski – finished fifth: “On the long green-flag runs, it seemed like we would be able to move up a little bit.  On short runs we would fall back, but we definitely didn’t have anything for those guys.  (Truex) and (Harvick) were just really fast, and Martin Truex deserves this finish.  He had a good run. It’s a long 600 miles and to come home fifth is decent.  It’s not what we want, but we needed a little bit more to be able to run with those guys. The day to night transition is always a challenge, but some places more than others.  I think this track in particular it’s more about the temperature and how hot it is during the day and the long mileage.”

Matt Kenseth — finished seventh: “We were kind of off all weekend. We obviously didn’t qualify good. I think that’s the worst I can remember qualifying since I’ve been over here at least, so we had pretty good pit stops most of the night. (Crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and those guys made good adjustments, and we worked out way towards the front as far as we could. … All weekend, really, just at times we could get the balance sort of OK, but we were way off on the speed and just had a hard time getting a nice corner balance and enough speed to be able to go race the good cars. (On colliding with Austin Dillon) Well, whenever you get hit on pit road it’s a surprise. I was just leaving honestly, and he was leaving his spot and I don’t know. They must have cleared him out of there and didn’t see me or something.”

Chase Elliott – finished eighth: “Definitely a long one, very difficult.  We fought hard and we are trying to get that next little bit.”

Joey Logano – finished ninth: “We got a pit road penalty. You’re trying to make pit stops so fast and you’re going to push everything to the edge.  I guess we jumped off the wall a little bit too soon.  I haven’t seen it, but unfortunately, that kind of made us make a green-flag pit stop, which is really hard to overcome.  Overall, we were able to get our lap back by racing up there, which was kind of cool.  We didn’t have to take a lucky dog or any of that.  We actually raced back to the lead lap, but we lost the balance a little bit on the last run and I couldn’t make much time once we got going. … As it got cooler and cooler out I felt like we lost a little bit of speed compared to the field.  Obviously, the more grip in the racetrack the tougher it was to try to pass, so there were a lot of things going against us there. … Yeah, we got a pit road penalty during one of those super-long green flag runs and had to make a pass-through and went down a lap.  We did a good job recovering without a caution because we were able to pass the leader back and be able to get back on the lead lap and then we finally got a caution, but it was so late in the race and you can only pick a couple off on the restart.  We kind of settled in there and it was hard to pass tonight, so I had a lot better car than ninth – that’s for sure.  I had something that could have finished in the top three or four, and maybe second.  We didn’t have anything for (Truex).  Martin Truex was on fire tonight and really all weekend.  They had it figured out. … We had our own battle to worry about.  There were times that we were racing him up front for the lead on restarts.  We’d run with him for a while and then eventually on the long run he just took off.  We had nothing for him, but at times I thought we were definitely a second-place car, but unfortunately it’s a distant second.”

Ryan Newman – finished 10th: ““I messed up and sped on pit road and it sent us back.  I don’t know that it cost us a whole lot.  I’m just proud of everybody on the Whelen Engineering Chevrolet. They came on board for this race to sponsor us.  Got a decent finish and decent point’s day, I guess, but congratulations to my buddy Martin. He deserved that one.”

Greg Biffle – finished 11th: “That’s all the speed we had.  It was a hard-fought battle and I think we’re gaining on it.  It’s frustrating that we didn’t get up to the top-five, but at times we could run top-five lap times.  It’s a huge amount of progress from where we’ve been, but we clearly have a little ways to go.  Everybody is working hard and hopefully we’ll get there soon.”

Ryan Blaney – finished 20th: “It was a long night, man. A really, really long night. Nothing could go right for us. That was the frustrating part. I didn’t do us any favors speeding on the first stop. I think we got most of our track position back after that. Then we had a green-flag stop, and there was a total miscommunication. The next stop we were able to line up with the lead-lap cars and the left-front wheel was loose and had to come back and change that tire. We just struggled from there on out. We definitely didn’t do ourselves any favors tonight. There’s some stuff we have to work on with the race car. I probably didn’t do the best job tonight.”

Kyle Busch — finished 33rd: “It was a tough night, start to finish. The car had great acceleration toward the end, but we were tight all night and really never able to pass anybody. Definitely not the run we wanted for our M&M’S Red, White and Blue Camry.”

Results, point standings after Truck race at Las Vegas

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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his second win of 2020.

He beat Sheldon Creed for the victory.

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly finished 18th and Travis Pastrana was 21st.

Click here for the race results.

Point Standings

With his win, Austin Hill is the first driver to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Todd Gilliland is last in the playoff standings with 2,050 points. He is 13 points behind Ben Rhodes.

Click here for the standings.

Austin Hill wins Las Vegas Truck race

Austin Hill
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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading the final 39 laps to score the victory.

Hill took the lead on a restart and held off charges from Sheldon Creed over the final 20 laps.

Creed’s progress was slowed with 11 laps to go when he got loose and scraped the wall in Turn 1. He was never able to get close enough to Hill to make a challenge.

Creed dominated the early portion of the race, leading 89 laps before he struggled to get going on the final restart and briefly fell to seventh.

The win is the second of the year for Hill. He’s the first playoff driver to win in the postseason and it come after he finished 25th at Bristol.

“We didn’t have the best truck tonight by no means,” Hill told FS1. “Pit crew did a hell of job on that last pit stop getting me into the position I needed to. I just had to go out there and get it. … Sheldon was definitely way faster than me. … I was probably looking in my mirror more than I was our front. I knew he was better than we were.”

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

More: Race results and point standings

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith all matched their best results of the season … While he was the first driver to finish one lap down, IndyCar driver Conor Daly placed 18th in his first career Truck Series start … Travis Pastrana placed 21st in his second start of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Rachael Lessard finished 20th after he had to pit early in the race following contact with the wall … Ben Rhodes finished 23rd after he spun from contact with Stewart Friesen and hit the inside wall on Lap 84 … Jordan Anderson’s engine expired on the ensuing restart. He finished 32nd.

NOTABLE: Natalie Decker, who was not medically cleared to compete Friday night, was treated and released from the infield care center.

WHAT’S NEXT: Race at Talladega Superspeedway, 1 p.m. ET Oct. 3 on FS1

 

Natalie Decker not medically cleared for Las Vegas Truck race

Natalie Decker
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NASCAR announced right before Friday night’s Truck Series race that Natalie Decker hadn’t been medically cleared to compete.

No details were provided about the issue that prevented Decker from being cleared. During the final stage of the race, NASCAR announced she had been treated and released from the infield medical center.

The Niece Motorsports driver would have started 23rd. Due to her No. 44 truck having cleared inspection and having been placed on the starting grid she was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker has made 11 starts this year. She missed the June 28 race at Pocono after she was hospitalized due to bile duct complications related to her gallbladder removal in December.

Decker provided this update Saturday morning.

Brandon Brown hopes to shed underdog role in Xfinity playoffs

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Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.

“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.

But that’s not stopping him.

Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.

MORE: Saturday’s Xfinity race start time, lineup, forecast

Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.

He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.

Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.

“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”

While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.

“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”

Points entering Xfinity playoffs 

2,050 – Chase Briscoe

2,050 – Austin Cindric

2,033 – Justin Allgaier

2,025 – Noah Gragson

2,020 – Brandon Jones

2,018 – Justin Haley

2,014 – Harrison Burton

2,010 – Ross Chastain

2,002 – Ryan Sieg

2,002 – Michael Annett

2,001 – Riley Herbst

2,000 – Brandon Brown

First Round races

Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)