What drivers said after the Brickyard 400

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Here’s what drivers had to say following the 24th annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kasey KahneWinner: “The (win for the) career is big, for sure; but the win and the history here. To win at this track is unreal. We used to always be really close. We lost to Jeff (Gordon) and we lost to Tony (Stewart); just some fast cars back then. Today’s strategy got us here. This Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was great once I got out front. I just had to get there. I’m exhausted. But, an unbelievable win. The team just kept working. We had great pit stops. Farmers Insurance, Great Clips, and Chevrolet have been huge to us. To win at Indy is unbelievable. I wish my son, Tanner, was here.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished second: “We had a good, solid day. Anytime that you’re that close (to winning) you can certainly taste it. I had a taste of it in my mouth, I didn’t get to eat it.”

Ryan Newman – Finished third: “Just a lot of adrenaline going through the gearbox I guess.  Just guys running over each other.  Good run for the Velveeta Chevrolet.  I’ve got to thank them for jumping on board.  We were close.  We didn’t have the best race car, we had a good long run car, but we were horrible on restarts and that is what we needed there at the end.”

Joey Logano – Finished fourth:  “We’re getting better. I thought we had a fast car today. We didn’t execute as well as we needed to and that kind of got us back a little bit, and then we were able to gain some spots back at the end and get a top five out of it. I felt like the two cars that were better than us wrecked, so I feel like that was our chance to win and we just didn’t capitalize. The positive side is our car got faster. The bummer is we didn’t win.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished fifth: I mean it was just a bunch of wrecks and a bunch of restarts, you know? We just – you know, cautions always kind of breed cautions and, you know, with those stages and all that stuff you get those extra caution and just can’t get it to fall our way. We had a good Camry today. We had the third-best car and the two best cars wrecked each other, so I thought we were going to have a shot at a win if we it would have went green to the end. Just got that caution. Just wasn’t me.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished sixth: “It was different, for sure.  We knew before the day started with the stage racing everything that was gonna go on, if it didn’t go green and you had a caution come out in the middle of that cycle at the end you were gonna have a situation like that where you had guys staying out and guys doing different things.  There at the end we were in the lead cycle and then you had all those guys that stayed out and the next thing you knew we were seventh or eighth and we were in the middle of a hornet’s net back there.  There’s nothing you can do about that.  They did a great job with our Jimmy John’s Ford all weekend.  We just wound up on the wrong cycle there by no doing of our own.  We had a decent car, but it didn’t matter in the end.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished seventh: “It was tough. I feel like we had an okay car, but it was a very crazy race. A lot of accidents and a lot of stuff going on right there at the end and we are lucky that we survived.”

Matt DiBenedetto – Finished eighth: “A top 10 in the Daytona 500 and a top 10 in the Brickyard 400 finishing eighth today. It’s crazy. It was a crazy day. It’s pretty unreal what we’ve been able to accomplish this year. I’m so proud. It’s not all me. My team are the ones that deserve the credit and I’m more happy for them than myself. I’ve worked so dang hard the old-school way to get here, countless late nights for these guys working, many sleepless nights in my career thinking it was over about 30 to 40 times and that’s not even an exaggeration, and to have these kind of races this year is just unbelievable. It’s been fun.”

Chris Buescher – Finished ninth: “It felt like a battle more than a race today. Just an excellent job by our team to stick with it today. We had damage throughout a lot of this race and this Clorox team they worked really hard to make sure we got it back to where it needed to be to be able to get some drivability out of it. We were able to miss some of that craziness there at the end and got ourselves a good finish out of it.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 10th: “It wasn’t from lack of effort for sure. The guys, I can’t believe what we were doing under a pit stop to try to fix it. All goes to the guys for working so hard. We were just so off all weekend. In the race, we made it a little better, but it still wasn’t very competitive. You know just one of those days you’ve just got to keep fighting and get a little lucky. Fortunately missing all the wrecks, we’ve got to keep working on trying to get better and trying new things for sure. That is what we are doing, but we are a good bit off, so we’ve got to keep going to the drawing board and keep working on it. But, you know a day like this it’s all from the work of my guys. The pit crew, they did great, road crew, jumping over the wall, to do all kinds of mega changes to try to fix it. But, a day like this is on them. They put the effort in for sure.”

Danica Patrick – Finished 11th: “The weekend was a bit of a challenge, but everyone on the Aspen Dental team gave it their all and never gave up. We definitely dodged a lot of bullets today, from handling issues to cars wrecking in front of us and more. It wasn’t pretty, but I really don’t care. We’ve had plenty of races where our luck went the other way, so I’ll take it today.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished 15th: “I really don’t know what happened. I think there was a lapped car, but I’m not sure.  We had a really good car.  We had a really good car we just struggled in the pits again this weekend and that got us behind every pit stop.  It’s a hard track to pass at, you can’t make up for what you lose in the pits.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 19th: “That was heartbreaking. The GEICO Chevy crew did an awesome job keeping us in the game on pit road today. We made adjustments that helped the car and we learned so much that will help us when we come back to this place. This Germain Racing team worked so hard and we were in position for a good finish. I love Indy. I don’t love leaving it with unfinished business like that. We will be back.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 20th: “We had the strategy to win it. I was kissing the bricks in my head. (Crew chief) Matt Puccia and the guys gave me a great AdvoCare Ford and I was so thankful to have a shot to win the Brickyard. It’s just really disappointing.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 21st: “Everybody got bunched up there. (Trevor Bayne) got hooked to us and that got me a little bit frustrated because I was forced to get out of the car and I thought it was still able to at least roll. We could have finished the race. But, it’s over. I saw a lot of blocking and drivers trying to win one of the biggest races. It’s the Brickyard 400. Everybody wants it. Hopefully it’s good for the fans to see the aggression out of all of the drivers. We all want it really bad.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 23rd: “I saw smoke. A car got sideways. I checked up and got run over. If I didn’t check up, I’d run into it. I checked up and got run into. It stinks. We shouldn’t have been back there. We were kind of on the bad side of that strategy there with guys out there needing a caution to come out and got pushed back to ninth or 10th. Then we got into it with (Ty Dillon) and (Kyle Larson), got damage, had to come back in to pit and were going to ride it out to the end and got caught up in another wreck. That’s the way it goes in this day and age I guess.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 27th: “I’m not sure I was blowing up. I was definitely smoking and it was definitely engine oil smoke, I could smell that. I didn’t know where it was coming from and I had decent grip through (Turns) 1 and 2, and so I went into Turn 3. I had a shot to win the Brickyard 400 for the fifth time; and I was hoping one, the engine would live, and two, we would make it through Turns 3 and 4. And, I got really loose going into the corner, so I don’t know if I spun out in my own oil or if it was an aero situation, but I was so close to my fifth win here at the Brickyard.”

KYLE LARSON – Finished 28th: “He (Ty Dillon) was inside all the way off Turn 4. He just kept running me down and running me down. We’re to the end and I’m not going to lift. He just ran me down far enough where I had nowhere to go and I clipped his left rear and it got me loose probably down the speedy dry and I just came across the track. A ton of blocking today. It was pretty aggressive. I got blocked a few times and I saw people blocking pretty aggressively. It was pretty annoying. But, I was there the whole time on that one, so it was pretty bad. But it was just Indy.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 29th: “Cars were spinning in front of me. Bowyer went left, (Erik Jones) was going right. I tried to shoot the middle and Bowyer ricocheted back up onto the track. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Clint Bowyer – Finished 30th : “Yeah, he was getting crowded pretty hard through (Turns) three and then in four. They got together and parked in front of us and we just had to make an evasive move. I knew the 77 had a run on me there and all hell broke loose. It was a pretty hard hit. And then somebody hit me again. I don’t know when. It felt like they did. It pretty much sucks.”

ERIK JONES – Finished 31st: “(Clint Bowyer) just turned left, I was at his door almost and wrecked me and him, it looks like (Kurt Busch) got into it somehow, so just unfortunate. I don’t know. There’s just been a lot of stuff like that happen to us this year, you know, I think with the pit cycle the way it was going to all work out, we were going to get a top-10 finish, so it’s just unfortunate. It seemed like on that our Sport Clips Camry was fast, got better all day and we had a top-five car it seemed like at the end of the race. Just didn’t get to see it all play out.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR – Finished 33rd: “I just got loose and wrecked him (Kyle Busch) I guess, totally my fault. Didn’t really know what to expect in that position and didn’t really realize that he was going to drive in that deep and suck me around. I will take the blame for that and obviously it was my fault. I hate it for Kyle, he had a great car and we did as well, but that’s racing. Glad I was able to get out, fire was bad. I had no brakes and I had to run into the wall a second time just to get it to stop so I could get out. Fortunately I’m okay and we’ll live to race another day.”

KYLE BUSCH – Finished 34th: “I guess we could have continued to play the teammate game and try to settle it on a green flag pit stop, but he could be that much faster than me and yard me by three seconds on a run with the clean air then I would never be able to get the opportunity to pass him back even if we had to settle it on a pit stop. That’s the way it goes, just chalk it up to another one that we figure out how to lose these things by. It’s very frustrating and I hate it for my guys, they build such fast Toyota Camrys and the Skittles Camry was really good again today. Had wanted to go out there and put ourselves in the record books for three in a row, but not happening

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 35th: “Everybody is racing hard on the restart.  (Jimmie Johnson) kind of pinched me and I kind of checked up.  When I did my car got loose and then when I got beside of him I was trying to get back to the gas and just got a little bit more loose.  Then I lost it and got the inside wall.  That was the best Sunny D Ford we’ve ever had here.  We were really good, a lot stronger than we were yesterday in practice.  That’s something to hang our hats on.  I thought for the most part we had a solid day running inside the top 15.  That was our goal.  I thought that we could have squeaked out a top-10 there if everything went right, so I’m really happy with our performance, it was just a little costly mistake there.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Finished 36th: “I don’t know. There were just a bunch of cars slowing down and stopping and it was a chain reaction and we got into the back of the No. 6 (Trevor Bayne) and I guess they were all kind of running into each other and it just knocked the radiator out of it. We hit the No. 2 car (Brad Keselowski) earlier in the race kind of doing the same thing and it damaged the front end and I think it knocked the bumper bar out of it then, so we really had no protection after that. But, we had a great car and I was having a lot of fun. The car was fast. We had a top 10 car for sure. It’s kind of frustrating because I was really enjoying being out there. Hopefully our luck’s going to turnaround. It’s been pretty tough and this is a difficult one to put up with.”

David Ragan – Finished 38th:  “I was just on the outside of (JJ Yeley) and we were on exit of turn one and I don’t know if he just pushed up the race track a little bit, but we were really tight. Restarts are about the only spot that you can pass, so for those first three or four laps you have to be pretty aggressive. I guess the 7 just ran over our left-rear and spun me out.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 39th: “We don’t know but it was some type of motor issue. We went down a cylinder and then started blowing smoke out the pipes. I don’t know what it was. We’ll dig into it and see. But, I’ve been racing Hendrick engines since 2013 and this is the first engine problem I’ve ever had. So, I’ll take those odds all day long. We still have the best engine shop in the business and stuff’s going to happen. We’re pushing it as everyone is. So, we’ll move on to next week and see what we’ve got there.”

Chase Elliott leads drivers with career-best days at Sonoma

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Chase Elliott said his third Cup start at Sonoma Raceway, which ended with a career-best fourth-place finish at the road course, was a “lot more fun” than his first two trips.

Elliott, who also started a career-best third, earned his second top 10 and first top-five finish at the track.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver was one of four who placed in the top 10 for career-best finishes in Sunday’s race at the road course. The others were Erik Jones, Aric Almirola and Alex Bowman.

“I made a lot of gains, personally, I think, for me at this track,” Elliott told Fox Sports 1. “It’s been one of my worst.”

Elliott started and finished eighth in the race last year. He placed 21st his rookie season.

On Sunday, he positioned his No. 9 Chevrolet to finish Stage 1 in fourth and Stage 2 in second.

He was running second late in the final stage until Kevin Harvick and his fresher set of tires passed him with nine laps to go. Elliott was later passed by Clint Bowyer.

“To come here and have pace on Friday and qualify good on Saturday, and to have pace today, it was just a lot more fun,” Elliott said. “We had a fast Chevrolet all three days. And that’s nice to show up and get rhythm. We kind of had to pick our battles today. We elected to get some stage points and that set us back a little for that last stage, but I don’t think we had the pace that the leaders had.”

Elliott’s result was his fourth top five this season and his first in six races.

In his second Sonoma start, Jones started 20th and finished seventh, a significant improvement over his 25th-place finish from his rookie year.

The result came after his No. 20 Toyota suffered minor damage from contact with Michael McDowell at the beginning of Stage 1.

“It was a great day for us, really,” Jones told FS1. “I felt like it’s a little like a win for us. We were aiming for a top 15 today and to get a top 10 is just a bonus.

The result is Jones’ second top 10 in the last nine races.

Behind Jones was Almirola, who earned his first top-10 finish in seven Sonoma starts. His previous best result was 14th in 2015.

“We are just plugging away,” Almirola said. “As solid as they come. We are a top-10 car and this just goes to show me and all of our guys that we are a top-10 car everywhere. I have just run top 10 at my two career worst race tracks, Pocono (seventh) and Sonoma. If we can do that, that is incredible.”

Almirola, who helped put all four Stewart-Haas Racing cars in the top 10 for the second time this year, has earned career-best results at five tracks this season: Sonoma, Pocono, Phoenix (seventh), Las Vegas (10th) and Michigan (11th).

“It speaks true volumes about how great this race team is and how great our race cars are because they carry me at those two places where I know I struggle,” Almirola said. “I have tried really hard to become a better road course racer and I put a lot of effort into this weekend running the K&N (West) car to help me for today and it certainly did.”

Almirola placed second in Saturday’s K&N West race.

Another driver who pulled double duty this weekend was Bowman.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver placed ninth for his first Sonoma top 10 in three starts. He previous results were 29th and 31st.

“(Crew chief) Greg (Ives) made a good call on the box to I guess one (pit) stop that (in the final stage),” Bowman said. “It looked like some people two stopped it, but I don’t know, I still don’t feel like I do a very good job at these places, but I feel like I learned some today.  Definitely made some mistakes and there is plenty I can improve on to keep getting better and learning. That is all we can really ask for.” 

Daniel Suarez misses Sonoma top 10 after contact with Jimmie Johnson on last lap

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Daniel Suarez was on the verge of his first top-10 finish at Sonoma Raceway until he was spun by Jimmie Johnson on the last lap of Sunday’s race.

Suarez was running in 10th when slight contact from Johnson as they navigated Turn 4 sent his No. 19 Toyota around.

After recovering, Suarez managed to place 15th, one spot better than his 2017 result. Johnson went on to finish 11th.

“We started wheel hopping after 10 laps into a run,” Suarez told Fox Sports 1. “We just missed something with the brakes. … After finally we figured it out, I felt like maybe we had a top-10 car. We just got dumped on the last lap.”

Suarez said that Johnson apologized to him about the contact.

“I was loose, so it didn’t take a lot for someone to spin me out,” Suarez said. “He didn’t hit me hard, he just put his bumper there a little bit. It was enough to spin me out because I guess I was loose already. We came from a little rough few weeks and a top 10 was going to be nice for us.”

Suarez has not finished better than 15th in the five races since he placed third at Dover.

What Drivers Said after Sonoma race

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Martin Truex Jr. — Winner: “Last year, I felt like we had the best car, and we didn’t win and then this year I wasn’t sure we could beat (Kevin Harvick). We were real equal. He was better early in the race. I felt like we caught up to him a little, but he was going to be hard to beat either way. To get off strategy was the perfect call and then you just hope it works out for you, so sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield.”

KEVIN HARVICK — Finished 2nd: “I don’t really know what is going on up on the pit box and who is doing what. I just do what I am told. Those guys do a great job. You make some right ones, you make some bad ones and sometimes you guess right and sometimes you guess wrong. Who knows what is right or wrong. I thought that was a good call at the end to put tires on in case the caution came out. We got right back up to where we were running and put ourselves in position to have a chance in case the caution came out.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 3rd: “I am happy to be in this equipment and have this opportunity, but I am also frustrated because we were one of the three that were the class of the field and had a legitimate shot at racing for a win. They just took a little different strategy than we did and that is what it took. You had to separate yourself some way. It was a lot of fun out there. I had my struggles just like they did. It seemed like (Kevin Harvick) had a little better turn than I did, and (Martin Truex Jr.) was better. On long runs, I was coming to him, especially that real long run we had. Then we started pitting, and I didn’t know what to expect. All in all, it was a solid day, and I am proud of the guys for going out there and getting the job done. We just came up a little short.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 4th: “It was a lot more fun, this trip out here, than it was the last two times. I made a lot of gains, personally, I think, for me at this track. It’s been one of my worst. To come here and have pace on Friday and qualify good on Saturday, and to have pace today, it was just a lot more fun. We had a fast Chevrolet all three days. And that’s nice to show up and get rhythm. We kind of had to pick our battles today. We elected to get some stage points, and that set us back a little for that last stage, but I don’t think we had the pace that the leaders had. So, it was a good finish for me, and we’re looking forward to the next road race.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 5th: “I thought we had enough to beat (Chase Elliott), maybe. That’s where our strategy put us there. Overall a good day for us. We struggled being able to find speed here, and I don’t know, it’s just a little bit each lap. There’s a few areas on the track where I kind of lack at, but it’s hard to make up that ground and then beat somebody that is so good here like (Martin Truex Jr.) and (Clint Bowyer). I feel like those guys all have that and we’re just the best of everybody else.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 6th: “I went 12 rounds, and there should be no-decision today. I feel like we gave it everything we could. We didn’t have superior lap times in the beginning and then we figured we would just do a two-stopper at the end. That is what won it last year but I was on a three-stopper last year and a two-stopper this year. I feel like we did everything we could to just find the right rhythm and you never know when yellows will come out, but we were in position. We were a top-five car and couldn’t quite hold off my little brother at the end. We battled.”

Erik Jones — Finished 7th: “It was a great day for us, really. I felt like it’s a little like a win for us. We were aiming for a top-15 today and to get a top-10 is just a bonus. We struggled a bit on the first run. Once we got an adjustment under it, and I started to get settled in and comfortable with racing through traffic, we just kind of started plugging along and picking up spots. Our strategy worked out for us.”

Aric Almirola Finished 8th: “We are just plugging away. As solid as they come. We are a top-10 car, and this just goes to show me and all of our guys that we are a top-10 car everywhere. I have just run top 10 at my two career-worst racetracks, Pocono and Sonoma. If we can do that, that is incredible. It speaks true volumes about how great this race team is and how great our race cars are because they carry me at those two places where I know I struggle.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 9th: “Yeah, Greg (Ives, crew chief) made a good call on the box to I guess one-stop that. It looked like some people two -topped it, but I don’t know, I still don’t feel like I do a very good job at these places, but I feel like I learned some today.  Definitely made some mistakes and there is plenty I can improve on to keep getting better and learning. That is all we can really ask for.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 12th: “Yeah, it was a good finish there at the end. I’m proud of this team for the work put in this weekend. I didn’t get as much out of qualifying as I needed to, and it put us a little bit behind there at the start, but through some excellent strategy and a good car, we gained a lot of points today.  It was a good day.  I enjoy road racing, something to break it up a little bit, and I’m ready for the next one.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 18th: Even though we didn’t run up front all race, this race comes to down to attrition and pit strategy. Brian (Pattie, crew hief) made an excellent call resulting in my best finish here.”

William Byron — Finished 25th: “I felt like the biggest thing was just trying to learn the racetrack. The first run was really tough and after that I felt like our pace got a little bit better and improved. If I could have started the weekend where I finished the race, I feel like I have a much better idea what I needed. Now we will go back and write some notes to see how we can improve for the next road course race.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 33rd: “Today wasn’t the ending that we wanted, but I’m not going to let a mechanical issue bring this team’s morale down. There were bright spots this weekend that are worth focusing on. This is only my second time ever racing here, and I continued to learn more about how to get through this course.

Jamie McMurray — Finished 37th: “Something with the oil pump pulley mechanism broke. I really don’t know. They were going to try to fix it, but when that breaks, the engine shuts off on its own like in an oil protection mode, and we started the engine a couple of times, we kind of tricked the engine to not think it was in that mode. And so, I think they were a little worried now that maybe it ran too long and  … we are not going back out.  They are going to work on it for a while, so our day is done.”

AJ Allmendinger — Finished 38th: “I haven’t missed a shift on a road course in 10 years. It was just me. I was trying to be so patient and so smooth. It was unexpected. It’s on me. I let everybody down here. The car was good. I don’t know if it was a race-winning car. We needed a little work on the long run, but it’s just all on me. I don’t know what else to say. I just let everybody down.”

With fewest Cup winners through 16 races since 1978, who’s in playoffs on points?

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With 10 races remaining in the regular season and 10 spots still up for grabs, the points battle remains fierce in NASCAR’s premier series — and most of non-winners held serve Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

There was only minor shuffling among those without a victory who still are vying for a playoff spot. Ryan Blaney (11th) fell two spots in the rankings, while Kyle Larson (ninth) and Aric Almirola (10th) each gained a spot.

But all still hold provisional playoff spots along with Brad Keselowski (fourth), Kurt Busch (seventh), Denny Hamlin (eighth), Jimmie Johnson (12th), Chase Elliott (13th), Erik Jones (14th) and Alex Bowman (15th). Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (16th) is 17 points behind Bowman for the final provisional playoff spot.

Sonoma marked Martin Truex Jr.‘s third victory this season. Other winners who have clinched playoff berths in the 16-driver field for the 10-race playoff that begins Sept. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon.

The last time there were so few winners through 16 races was 40 years ago. In the first 16 races of the 1978 season, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Benny Parsons, David Pearson and Darrell Waltrip had accounted for all of the wins.

Kyle Busch, who finished fifth at Sonoma, remains the leader in the 2018 points standings by 72 points over Kevin Harvick (second Sunday to Truex). Winning the regular-season championship results in 15 playoff points, vs. 10 for the runner-up.

Click here for the Cup Series points standings after Sonoma.