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

Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images
14 Comments

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.”