What drivers said after Southern 500

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Here is what drivers said after the 67th annual Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Martin Truex Jr. – Winner: “This is just – this is unbelievable. So many people to thank obviously. I’ve always loved this race track. I’ve led a lot of laps here in my career. I feel like just something always happened and just so proud to get to victory lane with this group. The pit crew was flawless tonight. They won us the race. They took a lot of heat from last week with what happened. I’m glad he’s (Ryan Newman) not riding home with me – he’d be waiting a while. But just a big weekend for us to – we’ve had a terrible string of back luck. We’ve had super-fast race cars. Auto-Owners Insurance, this is their second race with us and one more with us this year and really excited for them. They went a little retro. I’ve got my zoot suit. This is something here that’s really special to us – I ran this wheel today and it’s real special to take that thing to victory lane. We do a lot with our foundation for ovarian and pediatric cancer. It’s awareness month for both of those diseases, so big day for us there, but just can’t say enough about this team and Barney Visser (team owner) and Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) – the engines have been unbelievable this year – and Bass Pro Shops and Furniture Row, Denver Mattress and everybody that’s made this possible. Cole Pearn (crew chief) and these guys are just amazing. I knew when the bad luck would stop coming we’d start racking them off and tonight we weren’t the best car for once and we actually won, so that was really cool and just couldn’t be more excited to win at Darlington, the Southern 500. I’ve been wanting to win this thing a long time and got to thank Sprint, the fans were great – tons of fans here today – and really excited. Glad they stuck around for a good finish and I don’t know – I could go on and on for hours I guess.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 2nd: “Our team in the garage did a great job. They brought the fastest race car to the track once again and we just didn’t do a good job on pit road and gave it away … We (re)started 12th and eighth and sixth and we had a great race car all night just got to thank everybody in the shop and in the garage for putting the race cars under us. We can’t just continuously shoot ourselves in the foot every few pit stops … It’s just the same old thing. You get in position where you bring a dominant car. The guys in the shop and the guys in the garage are doing a great job, and the guys on pit road are doing a terrible job. You get in a position to win races, and they continually step on their toes and don’t make it happen. You’re not going to win races like that. I’m really proud of the car that we brought tonight and the things that we’ve done on the race track, but you can only make so many excuses for pit road.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 3rd: “It was long. My spotter said we were halfway and I was like ‘are you kidding me we still have however many to go?’ But it was a good night. We had to fight pretty hard to get to the top four or five. Our pit stops weren’t great there in the beginning, but they rebounded and we had some good stops there at the end to maintain. The last probably five or six stops I thought were pretty good. We were able to get past Denny (Hamlin) and get to the lead and lead some laps. We had a really good car out front. In traffic, I was just too tight for a little while and as we went I would get too loose on exit, but I found some lines that worked for me and that helped, but a tough race. It is good to come back after the win last week and finish third. I’m really happy with everybody on this Target team for working so hard and digging deep there throughout the race to get us in position.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 4th: “Proud of the top-five run that we got going on, but definitely been a great a track for us. Just want more wins obviously, but we needed long runs really for that to try to materialize. Our car was very good when the track was rubbered up and really slick. Just didn’t go on restarts. Didn’t go on the short run and that was probably our Achilles’ heel tonight.”

Joey Logano – Finished 5th: “Yeah, it just doesn’t matter if it isn’t a win. At this point I guess momentum means something so I guess something matters. I disagree that I didn’t have anything for them. I did on the long run. We were the fastest car on the long run every time. We hit a lot of short runs at the end and that would kill us. I lost two or three spots every restart for the first five or six laps and then it would kick in and off I would go. I was fighting to get them back. We kind of hurt ourselves there with restarts tonight. We needed to go green from about 100 to go. We would have been good then.”

Kasey Kahne – Finished 7th: “Yeah, we had great pit stops. The guys did a really nice job the entire race, but really at the end it gave us some positions, which was great to get a top 10. We just had a nice car with the Liftmaster Chevrolet. We had a vibration that really hurt us a lot throughout the race and we had it again the final run. When we had that I was nowhere near as good as I was when I didn’t have it. I only didn’t have it like once or twice, but it seemed like that was a pretty big part of our night. But when we didn’t have it I felt like we had a pretty nice car. A couple of things we could work on to be better though.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 8th: “Yeah a good effort, but I mean guys have got to step it up in the pits. I mean we try hard, but trying hard ain’t good enough when you are losing three spots at a time.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 9th: “It was an up and down night for us out there tonight with the Miller Lite Fusion. We fought real hard but didn’t get the finish out of it that we wanted. We had to fight through a lot of adversity out there tonight. Darlington will do that to you. I am proud of my team for that. They never stop fighting.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 13th: “That’s a long race to begin with and we made it longer by having bad racing luck with that caution early in the race, which put us down two laps. Then I got into the wall in (Turns) 3 and 4 that caused a flat tire, then got together with the 47 (A.J. Allmendinger) and we were down two laps. At about the halfway part of the race there wasn’t much to feel positive about but the team kept working and battling and we ended up with a decent finish.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 17th: “Yeah, from that side of things it was a good points night for our Love’s Ford. At the end of the night it wasn’t a bad race for us. If we could have qualified and had a better spot maybe it would have been different. We worked hard on this thing all day and the team made good adjustments to get it rolling forward. It isn’t bad for our first Cup series race here in Darlington.” 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 18th: “We got a lucky break there. I got to run up front a little bit but all in all we didn’t get our balance right all night. It was back and forth all night. It was a tough night for us with the Fastenal Ford. We couldn’t do anything to make it fast and ran the same speed all night. Some of those cars got us at the end. They made their cars better and we weren’t able to do that tonight.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 34th: “We had a tough night. You’ve got to be ready for battle on these restarts. Just not enough give. Too much take. For me, we had a tough night. We were trying to get the loose and tight worked out. He’s (No. 27 Paul Menard) just sideways. He just pushed too hard. That’s what happens when I didn’t give him enough room. He overdrove. I was right there on our limit. It’s the end of our night. It was just a tough night for all the hard work that goes into it. All these races come down to the restarts at the end. There’s no such thing as a long green flag run anymore. And you’ve got to be ready to battle on these restarts. The problem is that everybody’s got good give and take at early in the race, nobody has it at the end.”

Tony Stewart – Finished 35th: “Yeah, overheating was the first part of it, and it finally grenaded. It was 375 degrees on water temperature. There’s a screen in there that keeps all the trash from getting into the radiator and it got separated from its mount, so all the trash was getting underneath it and going up inside the radiator and it just kept blocking it until we finally lost the motor.”

Brian Scott – Finished 39th: “I was trying to let those guys go that had newer, fresher tires. I was trying to let Tony (Stewart) go there and I think he got inside of me and got loose there. I was pointing him to the inside to let him go. Apparently he got mad at me … I have a lot of respect for Tony. He has always raced me really clean. I am not sure what he thought was going on there. I am not sure if he thought I was trying to hold him up there, I wasn’t. I was trying to let him go. I even pointed him to the inside. Maybe he thought I was giving him the finger or something. I will talk with him. We will figure it out. It is a tough race. The Southern 500 is a tough race. Everybody is slipping and sliding a lot. It is getting to the point where people’s tempers are getting short.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 40th: “I really hate that that happened. Matt (Puccia, crew chief) made some great adjustments that got our AdvoCare Ford to handle great but we were in a tough position because we were down a cylinder. I’m proud of all of my guys’ effort this weekend. We’ll give it everything we can next weekend and go for the win to get into the Chase.”

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