What Sprint Cup drivers said after Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover

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The Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway brought the first round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup to a close.

Here’s what the Sprint Cup field had to say about the race.

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished first: “We’re not messing around I guess. I don’t know — what else can you say? We are here to get it done and golly, I’m telling you, just the best bunch of guys you could ever ask for. It’s just amazing to drive their race cars and do what we were able to do. I’m just ecstatic. So many people to thank again. I mean, this is just unbelievable. Especially here I love this race track. It’s been considered a home track for me for a long time. It’s been since ’07 since I won here. Have a lot of heartbreaks here, but all in all just a phenomenal race car again today … Golly, man, it’s just – I’ve got to pinch myself. It’s unbelievable.”

Kyle Busch – Finished second: “We’re not bad. I mean, obviously our cars are really fast, we just haven’t been able to find all of it that the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) had so far. Those guys are doing a phenomenal job, but can’t say enough about everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing, (Toyota Racing Development). This M&M’s Camry today was really, really good and class of my field, my zip code, my area code. But, we just kept working on it all day long. We had loose, tight, both and it was just better to be on the looser side and just try to maintain the rear tires and keep them underneath you for the long haul and see what you could get. All in all just need a little bit more speed.

Chase Elliott – Finished third: “It’s been a decent weekend overall. We’ve been working on our car throughout the weekend and I feel like we got it the best we had had it there two runs before the end, which I guess was a good time to try to get it with that long green flag run things kind of worked out for us to get a couple of extra spots that would have been hard to get otherwise. I’m proud of the effort. Really really cool to move on this weekend, I’m proud of that like I said, this group has been doing a really good job. I’m proud of all these guys and we are excited to get on to Charlotte.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished fourth: “We had a decent day. We wanted to be just a little bit faster, but we’re just kind of gnawing away with these top-fives here these first three races, which is good. Of course, we want to get the wins, but top-fives will carry you a long ways.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished fifth: “We weren’t bad, we were just a little off all day and when you don’t get cautions that’s just kind of where you end up. Struggled a little bit passing, it was hard when I’d lose track position on a restart or what have you to get back through there I’d just kind of get stuck wherever we put my car. Then there we had a decent pit stop and good strategy and they put it in fifth and I was able to hang onto that.”

Joey Logano – Finished sixth:  “Overall, we did what we had to do. The points are back to zero and we can head to the next round and try to get a win. Every track is different. Dover is obviously a beast of its own. It’s a very cool race track, but everything is so different compared to where we’re gonna go next week to Charlotte and then Kansas and Talladega. They’re all gonna be a lot different for sure, but we’ll take what we learned here for next year and I’m sure there are some things that we can apply to the next race, but most of it is kind of track-specific.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished seventh: “Well I think today was a different set of circumstances on pit road. It was certainly, I think Chad (Knaus) still questions exactly what happened, but when I was coming into my pit box the No. 18 and the No. 43 were just leaving theirs and they were directly behind my box. I had to slam on the brakes and get turned and get underneath those guys to come in and I was pretty close to my box so I assume that just threw the rhythm off the pit stop and somebody came off the wall early. Certainly a mistake, but it’s not one that I’ve ever had happen on the No. 48 team. Thankfully, we had a strong car that we were only a lap down and still ended up seventh. I do feel like one got away, but very proud of this Lowe’s race team. I’m happy to be advancing we are certainly thrilled about that, but feel like one got away today.”

Austin Dillon – Finished eighth: “The race played into our favor. We did have a fast race car, I’m proud of that. I’m proud to be moving on to the Round of 12 where I have some really solid tracks, one being Talladega where we were able to finish third earlier this year. Just too proud of this AAA team. We didn’t panic. I had a lot of people telling me not to worry. We didn’t have a good practice, and we had a fast race car today, a really fast race car.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished ninth: “So-so day. We knew it was a so-so day and that’s what we did. It’s so hard to race and be aggressive when you have to race to not make any mistakes. We knew we were plenty fast enough today to just do what we had to do, but you can’t make any mistakes on pit lane so you’re a little bit slower. Behind the wheel I’m a lot more conservative than I would be and that equals about a ninth place finish and that’s where we were.”

Tony Stewart – Finished 13th: “I’m pretty excited about our day. We were much better than we were yesterday. Really proud of our team. We kept making it better all day. That is good as we had.”

Carl Edwards – Finished 14th: “I’m so grateful that we made it to this next round because now it’s a zero-zero ballgame. We did not run well these first three races. We really struggled. This place is usually one of our best. Our ARRIS Camry, we’ll work on it and get ready to go racing next week. Now we’ve just got to put all of this behind us and go onto Charlotte.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 15th: “Really proud of this team. We deserve to move on to the next round, but a day like today really tested us to let us know that we’ve got work to do. I’m ready for the challenge. Today was a challenging day, but thanks to our Monster Energy fans, Haas Automation fans, employees, everybody. We are not here just to advance through (a) round, we are here to do well and be a force towards the front. I like Charlotte and I like Kansas. We will see how they play out. We need to gain points there because you can’t go to Talladega expecting a good finish.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 17th: “Unfortunately we had a fast WIX Filters Chevrolet and nothing to show for it today. It was at least a top-10 car. We got caught on pit road when the caution came out early on and that put us down two laps and then we had several tire issues that prevented us from racing back onto the lead lap. It’s pretty frustrating, to say the least, and very disappointing for this team. We had a really good car. Congratulations to the No. 3 team for making the transfer into the next round in the Chase.”

Paul Menard – Finished 22nd: “This wasn’t the afternoon we had in mind today at Dover. The Duracell/Menards Chevrolet had speed this weekend, but starting 26th we knew we had a lot of cars to pass. We kept adjusting on the handling of the car, but the leaders were running such fast laps we fell a lap down. The speeding penalty put us even more laps down and we just didn’t have the cautions we needed to get those laps back.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 23rd:  “Now we go back to racing the same way we did this weekend. Nothing really changes. We’ve got the opportunity to test a little bit more and we still have the opportunity to take chances for the rest of the season, but I’m really proud of the guys for all the work this year. To even be in the Chase was a really big deal for Front Row Motorsports and this 34 team. My hat’s off to everybody who has worked so hard this season. It’s unfortunate this is the end of our Chase, but it was a pretty good deal to make it in our first season.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 25th: “There wasn’t much we could do. I cut the right front tire down and got in the wall and still had good speed in the race car after that but it just didn’t work out. Our team has come a long way this season from where we started the year. We were pretty awful at the start of the season but then got a win at Michigan to lock ourselves in the Chase. That was good. I know we have the speed to have made it past a couple of rounds but it’s my typical luck I guess, where it just doesn’t work out.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 38th: “I think we just blew a right-front (tire) pretty bad. We were running pretty good before that and I wasn’t really getting tight, I was kind of just riding around, and blew a big hole in it. We’ll have to look at it and see what happened, but it’s a shame. We got our car pretty good that second run and were driving up through the field pretty good. I would have liked to see what we would have had if we had a couple more chances to work on it, but we’ll try to get it fixed and make some laps. It’s a shame we couldn’t run good today but it’s a testament to our team of not starting very good and getting a lot better in one pit stop, so that’s something we can take away.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished 40th (engine): “It’s really hard when you run bad, but the fact that we have run so well the last two months and have been very consistent, both cars. You will have things like this happen. It’s frustrating that it happens at this point when you can’t really afford to have anything bad go wrong, but Hendrick motors have been pretty amazing for the last six years I think, five years that we have had them. I think I have only had two motor failures they just both have happened in the Chase.”

Short-track ace Sam Ard shares Xfinity record with Noah Gragson

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Former two-time Xfinity Series champion Sam Ard’s name returned to the forefront in the past week as Noah Gragson tied Ard’s series record for consecutive victories at four.

Although Ard has been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, his exploits generally aren’t well-known among many who follow the modern sport of stock car racing. He was on the Hall voting list for the 2023 class but was not elected.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Ard was a short-track master in the vein of stars like Jack Ingram, Harry Gant and Butch Lindley, drivers who could show up at virtually any half-mile track across the country and take home the trophy.

He won the NASCAR Late Model (now the Xfinity Series) championship in 1983 and 1984, scoring 18 wins across those two seasons. He put together four victories in a row late in the 1983 season, winning at South Boston, Virginia; Martinsville, Virginia; Rougemont, North Carolina and Charlotte.

Ard was so dominant in 1984 that he had wrapped up the seasonal championship with two races remaining. In 28 series starts that year, he had 24 top-five finishes and 26 top-10 runs. He won eight times.

In the next-to-last race of the 1984 season, at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, Ard suffered critical head injuries when his car slid in fluid from another vehicle and hit the track’s outside wall.

That crash effectively ended Ard’s career and impacted the rest of his life. Ard often talked of learning to walk again as part of his recovery. He said he would use a walker in a pile of sawdust in his backyard so that the landing would be softer when he fell.

Ard eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. In 2006, responding to Ard’s financial problems, drivers Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., among others, launched a drive to raise funds for his family.

Ard, a native of Scranton, S.C., died in April 2017. He was 78.

 

 

 

 

 

Drivers to watch in Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway

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The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs will reach a critical point Sunday in a 500-mile chase at treacherous Talladega Superspeedway.

The overriding factor in any race at Talladega, NASCAR’s biggest track, is the unknown. With cars running so fast and so close together, multi-car accidents are not only possible but expected, and it’s easy to become the innocent victim of someone else’s mistake.

MORE: NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

The tension is doubled for the 12 playoff drivers. A bad finish at Talladega could open the door for a probable playoff exit at the end of the round Oct. 9 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

The playoffs to date have seen four wins by non-playoff drivers, an unprecedented result. Tyler Reddick was the most recent to join that list with a win last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

A look at drivers to watch at Talladega:

FRONTRUNNERS

Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 6th
  • Last three races: 10th at Texas, 9th at Bristol, 2nd at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 2 career wins

Although he hasn’t won, Hamlin has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. In the past six races at Talladega, he has four finishes of seventh or better. Now if he can just keep people from running into him…

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Last three races: 7th at Texas, 3rd at Bristol, 6th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is a second

Byron stands alone as the only playoff driver who has been able to avoid major crashes and trouble in the pits, and he has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. After Tuesday’s penalty for his incident with Denny Hamlin at Texas, he sits below the cutline entering Sunday’s race.

Brad Keselowski

  • Points position: 24th
  • Last three races: 8th at Texas, 13th at Bristol, 25th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 6 wins, the active leader

Even in trying times, Keselowski is a threat at Talladega, where he last won in April 2021 (his last Cup victory). He has led 268 laps there in the past 13 races.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 15th
  • Last three races: 36th at Texas, 34th at Bristol, 26th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2008

Is Busch going to steadily disappear into the mist as he rides out the final weeks of his final year with Joe Gibbs Racing? His best finish in the past four races is 26th. On the positive side this week, he’s the only driver to finish in the top 10 in this year’s three races at Daytona and Talladega.

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 8th
  • Last three races: 32nd at Texas, 2nd at Bristol, 11th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2019

Can Elliott rebound from a fiery finish and a 32nd-place run at Texas? Playoff points give him some comfort, but a second career win at Talladega would be greatly appreciated in the Hendrick camp.

Martin Truex Jr.

  • Points position: 17th
  • Last three races: 31st at Texas, 36th at Bristol, 5th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is 5th

Will one of the sport’s most enduring mysteries continue at Talladega? In 70 career starts at Daytona and Talladega, Truex, a former champion and a smooth driver, has zero wins. At Talladega, he has only three top-five finishes in 35 starts.

 

 

 

NBC will broadcast final six NASCAR Cup Series playoff races

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The final six races in the chase for the NASCAR Cup Series championship will be televised by NBC.

The races remaining on the schedule are at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16), Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 23), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6).

NBC’s broadcasting team will be on hand Sunday for what is typically a seasonal highlight — a 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. The next week the playoffs move on to Charlotte for a cutoff race. The lowest four drivers in the playoff point standings will be eliminated from championship competition.

The Round of 8 is scheduled at Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville, with the tiny Martinsville track serving as the final cutoff race. The four drivers who advance from Martinsville will race for the title at Phoenix Nov. 6.

The high drama of the Phoenix race, in which the championship will go to the highest finisher of the four competing drivers, will be carried by both NBC and Peacock.

Post-race commentary and analysis for all six remaining Cup races will be carried on Peacock.

Kyle Larson is the series defending champion. Joey Logano carries the point lead into Sunday’s race at Talladega.

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Talladega Superspeedway

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After a messy Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move on this weekend to another potentially messy spot — Talladega Superspeedway.

Home to the Big One — an almost certain multi-car crash, Talladega also occasionally produces unexpected winners, including Richard Brickhouse, James Hylton, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Brad Keselowski.

The mix of tight drafting, the Next Gen car and general playoff tension should make Sunday’s 500-mile run quite the adventure.

On Sunday at Texas, Tyler Reddick became the second driver (after Chase Elliott) to score three wins this season.

Joey Logano enters Talladega with the playoff point lead.

Playoff rookies roll on

The four drivers participating in the Cup playoffs for the first time remain factors approaching the second race in the second round.

Ross Chastain is second in the standings, 18 points above the cutline entering Talladega.

MORE: NBC NASCAR rankings put Denny Hamlin first

Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate, is seventh. He’s four points above the cutline.

Two other playoff rookies — Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric — will start Talladega below the cutline. Briscoe is four points below the cutline. Cindric is 11 points below the cutline.

Looking for wins

Only six of the remaining 12 playoff drivers have won races at the two remaining tracks in the second round (Talladega and Charlotte Roval).

Among the six, Joey Logano has the best win record at Talladega, having finished first there in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Other Talladega winners in the group: Ryan Blaney (two), Denny Hamlin (two), Chase Elliott (one), Ross Chastain (one).

The Charlotte Roval is relatively new, of course, but Chase Elliott already owns two wins there. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson also have won at the Roval.

An opening for Brad?

Few people who watched it will forget the first Cup Series victory scored by Brad Keselowski.

It occurred at this week’s tour stop — Talladega Superspeedway — in April 2009. Keselowski and Carl Edwards made contact approaching the finish line and notched the win, even as Edwards’ car flew into the frontstretch fence, spraying car parts into the grandstands.

Thirteen years later, Keselowski returns to NASCAR’s biggest track having recorded six Talladega wins. No other active drive has more than three.

Keselowski’s refurbished team — Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing — has new fire with Chris Buescher winning at Bristol and Keselowski winning the pole and finishing eighth at Texas.

RFK Racing has led 309 laps in the past two races, more than the team had led in the prior 105 races combined.

Although he hasn’t won a Cup race since scoring a victory in a Team Penske Ford in April 2021 at Talladega, Keselowski must be considered a threat Sunday.

Entry lists

Thirty-seven drivers, including Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson and reigning Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric, are entered for Sunday’s Cup race.

Talladega Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are Trevor Bayne, Parker Kligerman, Timmy Hill and Jeffrey Earnhardt.

Talladega Xfinity entry list

Forty-one drivers are entered for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Included are Kaz Grala, Ryan Preece, Natalie Decker, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Parker Kligerman.

Talladega Truck entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 30

Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 77. (Weather note: There is the possibility that Hurricane Ian could impact the race weekend, depending on its path).

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Forecast: Overcast with showers at times. Potential for heavy rainfall. High of 73. 60% chance of rain.

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Forecast: Sun in the morning, increasing clouds in the afternoon. Slight chance of a shower. High of 74.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)