What drivers said after Watkins Glens race

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Drivers had much to say after Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen, won by Denny Hamlin.

DENNY HAMLIN – WINNER: “I was probably driving a little bit more conservative there after my last-lap shenanigans at Sonoma. I thought, ‘Look don’t overshoot the corner’ and it probably lent itself for them getting closer than they probably should’ve. Just can’t thank my Toyota teammates enough. They came here and tested and gave us a good baseline setup and allowed us to have a car that could win today.”

Joey Logano — FINISHED 2nd: “It’s just awesome, crazy racing, full contact.  Just insane out there.  So a lot of fun from the driver’s seat and I’m sure the fans loved it as well in front of a sold‑out grandstand.  It was pretty cool when I pulled over for the red flag in front of the grandstands and I could hear just fans screaming and yelling and loving it.  I thought, Man, this is really cool to be in the driver’s seat right now. Having those moments, I thought it was neat. Overall our car was really good today.  Driver shot himself in the foot a little bit with getting some damage in the Bus Stop when we were working our way back through the field.  Ripped the splitter up.  That was kind of the beginning of the end.’’

Brad Keselowski – FINISHED 3rd: “I thought we had a really good Miller Lite Ford Fusion and got pushed back on a couple of the restarts. I was trying to sort my way back to the front and just couldn’t quite get there at the end. I got right up to the bumper of (Martin Truex Jr.) and couldn’t do anything there and he made a move to get by (Denny Hamlin) on the inside and (Hamlin) blocked him. I went high and (Truex) went high and by then I was already deep in the corner and got into him and turned him. That was really unfortunate and the last thing I wanted to see. This track here, when you drive into the corner, you commit and sometimes you don’t know what will happen when you commit. The last thing I wanted to do was turn him.”

AJ Allmendinger – FINISHED 4th: “Our last corner there, racing with Kyle (Larson) I just… I can’t say sorry enough. It doesn’t help the case, I spun him out. I didn’t mean to spin him out. (Martin Truex Jr.) was spinning, and I was starting to get my nose under Kyle to try to drag race him to the checkered. He was turning to come back down, but it was my fault. It would be different if we were battling for the win, but I just hate it for him. It’s not going to help to say sorry, I know, I would be pissed off. He should be.”

Tony Stewart – FINISHED 5th: “Yeah, we got some breaks there at the end. But our Haas Automation Chevy was really good. It is so chaotic here. You get under 10 laps and get restarts; you know it’s going to be a crash-fest there. But we were able to survive and got through a couple of them and got a couple of spots there coming to the line. I’ll take a top five here in the last run.”

MARTIN TRUEX, JR. — FINISHED 7th: “Yeah, definitely unfortunate. I wish we could’ve seen what would’ve happened when we got to the start/finish line. I felt like I maybe had (Denny Hamlin) squared up a little bit off (turn) 11 and maybe could’ve drag raced him to the line. It’d have been fun to see, but it was all not to be with getting hit in the left rear. It’s unfortunate, but hard racing at the end, all of us going for a win and all of us locked in the Chase it’s – I guess he (Brad Keselowski) kind of races with that mentality that ‘Hey, it doesn’t really matter where we finish or if we finish,’ so just have to be mindful of that when we’re around him for the rest of the time.”

Jamie McMurray – FINISHED 8th: “We had a really good car. We qualified well and the first run I thought we had a fifth- to eighth-place car, pretty good. I got blocked in on my last pit stop and lost about 20 spots. We did fuel only and we were the 43rd stall. Somebody was coming in and I had to stop. We lost a lot of track position. Honestly, the last couple of laps I probably could have held off the No. 47 and No. 18, but you are kind of point’s racing right now.’’

Trevor Bayne – FINISHED 9th: “This is a good weekend. A fifth (in Saturday’s Xfinity race) and a ninth. That is a good road course weekend for me considering I am not a road course ace. The thought was to try to get better and I think we did that this weekend. We made progress and that is really good. We are excited. Hopefully we can keep getting better at these and contend for a win one day.”

Kurt Busch – FINISHED 11th: “We didn’t quite time the final pit stop to our advantage. We ended up behind and then too many restarts and yellow flags at the end. There is no way to get caught up.  I didn’t drive aggressive enough and the strategy didn’t play out, but the car was underneath us we just got put in a hole.”

Ryan Newman – FINISHED 16th: “Our team never gives up. I hate it that we got behind there when we spun out. I did everything I could and luckily, no one hit us. We stayed out and restarted 28th. We managed to dodge another close call with five laps to go. Our biggest challenge was that we battled tighter than expected track conditions with the new surface. Plus, all the pit strategies and cautions made for an interesting day for all of us. I’m just happy that we were able to battle back and get our team a respectable finish with all things considered.”

Michael McDowell – FINISHED 17th: “The team did a great job all weekend. We had a good qualifying effort with an 11th-place starting spot for the race. The race result was solid but not entirely what we wanted. We’ve progressed a lot in the past few weeks as a team and the results are starting to show.”

Paul Menard – FINISHED 22nd: “Today isn’t what we wanted, but I’m proud of my team for not giving up. We didn’t have an ideal starting position. We tried some things during qualifying that just didn’t work out, so we knew going into today that we had a battle ahead of us. (Crew chief) Danny Stockman and the guys worked hard to get a new setup ready for today. Handling didn’t feel right at the beginning of race, so during the first caution we made a few big changes that really helped. We decided to take a chance and went with a pit strategy that got us to the front. It was a lot of fun to be up there and play the strategy game. The brakes started to give me some trouble near the end, so guys were beating me in the braking zones. It’s something we will go back to the shop and work on.”

Kyle Larson – FINISHED 29th: “We were about a 10th-place car and we were going to get a top five day out of it. We were running sixth coming to (Turn) 7; (AJ Allmendinger) was behind me. He is always aggressive. I figured he would be smart. Obviously, (Martin Truex Jr.) was spinning in front of us. That is a free spot for both of us and just dumped me. He had already ran me down to the front stretch wall once with about 15 to go or so. Pretty dumb move right there too, but I was the smarter one racing for points, lifted, could have wrecked him, but didn’t. I don’t know.  He wrecked me earlier in the year at Vegas. He has ran me hard, but we always race pretty well, but today was flat out stupid.”

Chris Buescher – FINISHED 30th: “That is not how we expected that one to go. We got down to it at the end and were racing through the bus stop and came out of it and I am not sure who but a couple guys went through the dirt and caused a wall that we couldn’t see through. I came through the other side of it and (Kevin Harvick’s) car was sitting there backwards. I tried to get down to avoid it and hooked the splitter in the mud, tucked it under, and got stuck. I was trying to get it where I could drive back around but I had to get out and go through all that. These CSX guys, they worked really hard to get this fixed quickly and got back on track and took the green flag with everybody else there. I am proud of them for that. They did a good job and we were still running there at the end. In the grand scheme of things, from a points standpoint, it was a little bit of a gain but we definitely don’t want to do it like that anymore.”

Austin Dillon – FINISHED 31st: “This definitely wasn’t our day. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up with some damage on the Dow Chevrolet that required a trip to the garage in the middle of the race. When you’re in a tight Chase battle like we are, you have to do everything you can to get back out on track. This Richard Childress Racing team knows how to keep digging. With all the repairs, we only lost four laps. Every lap counts in this championship battle. All the cautions at the end of the race really helped. We made up all but one of our laps. We won’t give up. We’ll regroup over the off weekend and be ready for Bristol.”

KEVIN HARVICK — FINISHED 32nd: “Yeah, I started getting checked-up and I think (David Ragan) hit me from behind and we all just kind of piled in there. I was battling some brake issues and just trying to maintain the brakes, but they got me great track position and up in the front. And then, coming to the yellow that one time, I got into the Speedy Dry and the front tire locked-up and we had to pit. But, we had it where we needed to be. We just got back there and we got tore up.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — FINISHED 38th: “We were just hustling hard on that restart and got loose over the curb and just kind of spun. From that point we were just along for the ride. It looked like everybody scattered and it was probably pretty hard to see. We got hit pretty hard. The guys had a fast car. We had some issues yesterday in qualifying that put us toward the back and we were fighting all day to get back up there.”

Greg Biffle — FINISHED 39th: “It just looked like (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) started wrecking up in front of us. I started slowing up to avoid it. I remember the 24, a vivid memory of him going up and hitting and coming back across. I started slowing up because I wasn’t sure where (Stenhouse) was going. I thought he was coming back across so I started slowing up and got wrecked from behind. They were on both sides of me. They hit me from behind and both sides to send me spinning. It is tough. You can’t see up there.” 

Jimmie Johnson — FINISHED 40th: “Yeah, we had a rough first pit stop and then we were just kind of biding our time and trying to get on a fuel strategy that could benefit us. The cars started checking up in front of me and they all moved out of the way and (Ricky Stenhouse) was sitting there, stopped. I remember seeing a door number and I was so thankful it was the passenger-side door and not the driver-side door because I plowed him. I really hit the car hard. I was afraid that I might have injured him. But, thankfully he’s okay and everybody is all right.”

Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas: Start time, TV channel

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The second round of the Cup playoffs begins with the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 1.5-mile track kicks off the Round of 12. Winning the race and stage points are a premium for playoff drivers before the races at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval.

Kevin Harvick, who won at Bristol, starts from the pole.

Here is all the info for the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis at 7:07 p.m. The green flag waves at 7:17 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at Noon. Drivers report to their cars at 6:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7 p.m. by Motor Racing Outreach Chaplain, Billy Mauldin. The national anthem will be performed by Sierra Black at 7:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 6 p.m with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 6:30 p.m. Race coverage begins at 7 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 96 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Kevin Harvick beat Kyle Busch to win at Bristol and claim his ninth win of the season.

LAST POINTS RACE AT LAS VEGAS: Joey Logano beat Matt DiBenedetto and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in February.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the lineup.

CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS’ COVERAGE:

Kurt Busch seeks first Las Vegas win but without hometown fans

Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

Carolina Blue: Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan bonded by NASCAR

Germain Racing sells charter, will exit sport at end of season

Charlotte Roval to host limited number of fans

Friday 5: Team’s departure adds to ‘extremely stressful’ time

NASCAR fines Hendrick Motorsports $100,000

NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

Bubba Wallace to receive Stan Musial award for extraordinary character

Long: 100 days left in 2020, what else can happen?

Kurt Busch seeks first Las Vegas win, but without hometown fans

Kurt Busch
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A win by Kurt Busch in tonight’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN) couldn’t come under more bittersweet circumstances for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

Should Busch claim the victory on the 1.5-mile track, he’d go from being the last driver on the playoff grid (3,001 points entering the race) to the first driver to advance to the Round of 8.

While it would be his first victory of the year, it would also be his first NASCAR win at his home track in 23 starts across the Cup and Xfinity Series.

More: Stage points critical at Vegas

“The Vegas track has definitely been one of the tough ones for me over the years with results and finishes not where I would have expected them to be,” Busch said this week. “And the teams that I’ve raced for just have never quite found that right magic set-up or combination. And then for me, it’s a track that I just have that trouble with.

“There are a few tracks like Indianapolis and Martinsville; those are a few places where I struggle. And so with Vegas, I always put that little extra hometown pressure on myself and I would love to win there.”

The 42-year-old Las Vegas-native rolls off ninth on the 1.5-mile track. It’s his fourth while driving for Ganassi.

In his 21 Cup starts in Las Vegas, Busch’s best result is third in 2005 when he competed for Roush Fenway Racing. He has just one other top five. That came in last year’s spring race when he drove a throwback paint scheme to his 1999 NASCAR Southwest Series championship.

That day he led 23 laps. It was only the seventh time he’d led laps there and just the third time he’d totaled more than six laps led.

In February, Busch finished 25th.

If Busch were to finally make it to Vegas’ Victory Lane, the celebration would be somewhat muted.

It was announced last weekend that fans would not be allowed to attend the races at Las Vegas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would love to win through the spirit of the camera and everything on NBC Sports; and I know the fans there, local, will be watching and cheering on the Busch brothers,” Busch said. “So, that’s where I would connect. And hopefully do it through the TV side of it. We’ll get fans back one day and we’ll come back and race.”

Busch enters the Round of 12 having earned just one top 10 in the first round, an eighth-place finish at Darlington. He finished 13th at Richmond and 15th at Bristol.

“What I like is we have had better lap times at all three races so far compared to maybe the five or six races leading into the playoffs,” Busch said. “We know that our cushion is gone. We ended Bristol with 33 points to the good. And now we start Vegas minus four (points behind Austin Dillon in the cutoff spot). So that’s just part of the system and now we have to be perfect. We have to get every point possible that we’re able to get on our own at Vegas, Talladega, and the Roval. And, that should help us advance.”

Carolina Blue: Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan bonded by NASCAR

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Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan were teammates from 1982-84 at the University of North Carolina and Eastern Conference rivals throughout the 1980s and ’90s in the NBA.

But their friendship was about more than just hoops. While growing up on opposite ends of the Tar Heel State, Daugherty and Jordan both developed a passion for following NASCAR.

Tobacco Road meant fast cars and hard-driving heroes for these two North Carolina natives.

LIFELONG FAN: Michael Jordan explains why he’s partnering with Denny Hamlin

In a NASCAR on NBC feature, Daugherty recalls how NASCAR impacted his life and Jordan’s and led both into team ownership. Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin announced they will form a team to field cars for Bubba Wallace next season.

Daughterty notes in the feature that Wallace “has led a dynamic transformation as NASCAR banned Confederate flags and recommitted to inclusion amidst times of great unrest. This is a huge moment for NASCAR, a cultural momentum shift. This is people of all colors coming together to create an all-American race team already with championship lineage.

“With proper funding, equipment and crewmembers, this will be the best chance ever for a Black driver to win – and while driving for a Black owner. An opportunity to shock the world like Muhammad Ali once did.”

Watch the feature above on Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan or by clicking this link.

Las Vegas Xfinity results, driver points

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Chase Briscoe‘s victory Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway sends him into the next round of the Xfinity playoffs.

Noah Gragson led a 2-3-4 finish for JR Motorsports. Gragson was second and followed by Daniel Hemric and Justin Allgaier. Ryan Sieg finished fifth.

Briscoe dominated the race, leading 164 of the 200 laps.

Click here for Xfinity race results

POINTS

Ross Chastain finished 16th, last among the playoff drivers, and fell out of a transfer spot to the second round. He’s two points behind Harrison Burton for the final transfer spot. Michael Annett is 10 points behind Burton. Riley Herbst is 14 points behind Burton. Brandon Brown is 20 points behind Burton.

Click here for driver points report