What drivers said after Sunday’s 2018 season-opening Daytona 500

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Here’s what drivers had to say after Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway:

Austin Dillon — Race Winner: “Right now I just want to thank the good Lord above. I did what I had to do there at the end. I hate it for the No. 10 (Aric Almirola) guys. We had a run, and I stayed in the gas. It is what it is here at Daytona. This is so awesome to take the No. 3 car back to Victory Lane 20 years ago. This one is for Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and all those Sr. fans.  I love you guys.  We are going to keep kicking butt the rest of the year! … I met a fan and actually he had no favorite driver. I told him I would give him my hat if I was his favorite driver. Well I gave him the hat.  The next day he saw me in the infield and said here is a lucky penny I found heads-up and I said ‘Man, we have to put this in the car.’  We put it in the car and here we are in Victory Lane. … I said my first win I couldn’t beat it, but this does.  My grandfather has done everything for me. Everybody knows it. There is a lot of pressure on me to preform because I have had a little bit of everything. But I like that pressure. The same with the No 3.  There is a lot of pressure behind that. But I’m willing to take that and go with it.  I’m just thankful for all the people that support us along the way.  Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his family for letting us bring this number back. It comes full circle. I just can’t thank the Lord enough for this opportunity.”

Bubba Wallace – Finished second: “Just an incredible experience for me to be able to be here for my first Daytona 500. … My nerves are shot right now. The King (Richard Petty) comes in all mad at me and says, ‘After all I told you, what was the first rule I told you to do?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know, I lost my breath’ and he said ‘Don’t wreck the car.’ Thank you to the King for keeping me young, keeping him young as well. Thank you to the King as well for giving me this opportunity putting them second place, putting Click N’ Close in second place.  We know how much stress this team has been through in the last three or four months just trying to get this program together. … Hell of an ending for us tonight, but P2 for my first Daytona 500, I’ll take it.”

MORE: Bubba Wallace gets pre-race good luck call from baseball legend Hank Aaron

Denny Hamlin – Finished third: “Definitely disappointed after leading on the last restart, but it’s just a 50-50 shot. It’s about what line can stay organized and work the best. I had the 37 (Chris Buescher) committed to my rear bumper which was great, but we couldn’t get the 21 (Paul Menard) to buy in. It’s really about the third car in line. Whoever that third car in line is closest to that line goes. We just didn’t have the line to win, but congrats to Austin (Dillon). I’m really happy for Austin and his whole team. Those guys work really hard. … If I didn’t win, the 3 (Austin Dillon) car is the next one I would’ve rooted for.”

Joey Logano — Finished fourth: “There were a lot of ups and downs all day for us. Getting the left rear fender rub, needing to pit, going down a lap, getting the Lucky Dog, scoring points in that stage was amazing. To get ourselves back in position where we needed to be behind Blaney, our teammate, to try to control the race and win. It was a mental mistake on pit road. My fault. Can’t pick a worse time to do that. Once you are back there, you are kind of back there in the garbage. It was getting crazy. All the holes close up at the end of the race and it is hard to make progress and the crashes happen more often. We were able to get a top-five out of it, which is nice for the Shell Pennzoil team. Maybe we would have gotten caught up in a crash if I stayed up front but overall I just feel like I let us down a little bit.”

Chris Buescher – Finished fifth: “That was awesome. For us to even be in contention to have a shot at winning the (Daytona) 500 with our Kroger Clicklist team, that was pretty awesome, with two cars really. That was pretty neat. There at the end we just had to be a little bit too defensive with our Kleenex Camaro ZL1 to really go up there and push for it. The bottom really wasn’t the place to be all night and that is where we lined back up.”

Paul Menard – Finished sixth: “We had a really fast Omnicraft Ford today. These guys are awesome. Great race car. I ran upfront the first-half of the race. I got shuffled out. Denny (Hamlin) bumped me in Turn 3 and got loose and lost all my track position. I just kept fighting from there to get my track position back. Great run for us. We had shot to win the Daytona 500 at the end of the race. We just came up short. … To score points in all three stages is awesome. That’s good for the overall picture. I had a shot at a stage win. It was a good points day for sure.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished seventh: “It was just hard racing. You saw it all day. I was trying to be aggressive blocking the lead and kind of fell back and got a good run back up towards it. Man, the 11 (Hamlin) blocked the 41 (Kurt Busch) and the 41 kind of went high last minute and I was on his left rear and I turned him. I feel bad about that. He kinda changed lanes last minute and I couldn’t react quick enough. It stinks. We led a lot of laps. It just wasn’t meant to be. But it was a good showing. Hopefully we go into Atlanta and have a decent run.

Ryan Newman – Finished eighth: “Congratulations first of all to Austin (Dillon) and his team. That is awesome for RCR and ECR and all of our partners. To get a Camaro in Victory Lane, that was special as well. For us, we just weren’t in the right place at the right time and got caught up in a little bit of a mess and that was it. We just finished with a bunch of damage, but we still finished eighth.”

Michael McDowell – Finished ninth: “We had our ups and downs, that’s for sure. I am thankful to get stage points. It takes a top ten finish and makes it like a top five. We had a fast Love’s Travel Stops Ford. Unfortunately we had a little mishap on pit road. The 6 (Trevor Bayne) was coming out of his box as we were coming in. There was no way I wasn’t going to hit him, so we had to come back through and lost a lap. Thankful to get out of Daytona with a top 10. We brought a fast Ford. Showed good stage. It was a really good run.”

A.J. Allmendinger – Finished 10th: “Today was a big positive for our racing organization. It’s a great day for both teams, to get a top five and a top 10 finish at Daytona. It was a fantastic job there by Chris (Buescher) and the 37 Kleenex team, especially at the end to have a chance to win it. Overall, any time you come out of Daytona with two cars in the top 10 that’s a big deal for us. I feel like so many times I tried to make the right move and either nobody went with me or I got hung out, but that’s the product of this racing. That’s the way it goes. It can be frustrating sometimes. Overall, just a great day for our 47 Kroger ClickList team and especially Chris and the 37 guys for doing such a great job.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 11th: “It was the last lap and we’re all trying to win the Daytona 500. It’s the biggest race of the year and it’s a career-changing race, so we were just racing really aggressively. I put every move I knew to try and stay in the lead and, unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to hold on. He got to my back bumper and was pushing and just hooked me. My heart is broken, but the beauty is we’ll go to Atlanta and we’ve got an incredible race team here at Stewart-Haas Racing and we’ll have another shot next week. … (Dillon wasn’t) driving too aggressively, he’s trying to win the Daytona 500 just like I was. I saw him come with the momentum and I pulled up to block and did exactly what I needed to do to try to win the Daytona 500. I wasn’t gonna just let him have it. I wasn’t gonna just stay on the bottom and let him rail the outside, so I blocked and he got to my bumper and pushed and I thought I was still gonna be OK and somehow I got hooked. … I’m just devastated.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 13th: “That was a hard fought race and kind of heartbreaking. We had a few times we had to recover and we were able to do it. Gotta clean stuff up and not have mistakes. The guys on the team did a great job and I am happy with how we performed today. A lot of times you leave thinking you should have done 20 things differently, but today I felt like I did all I could do. That is a great feeling. We made a day out of it. I look forward to getting to Talladega and then back here to Daytona in the summer when handling is a big deal. Congrats to the 3 team. We will go to work for Atlanta.”

Clint Bowyer – Finished 15th: “Our plan was working. A lot of cars we knew we had to beat were out of the race. We had hung back working on our handling and just waiting to the end of the race. I kept telling my guys to stay patient, there were going to be more wrecks. Sure enough that’s what happened, and we avoided any damage, but when I got on the brakes hard something happened, because we were now down a cylinder. We tried, but there was no way to fix it. We went back out there and were pretty decent, considering. Now we’ll focus on Atlanta.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 17th: “Yeah, just put ourselves in a good position all day and really shouldn’t have been in that spot. That last restart I didn’t do a good job and that is what put us there. My fault, learn from it, move on. Definitely do some things differently going forward, but everybody on this Nationwide 88 did such a great job. It’s cool to see Austin (Dillon) get the Camaro ZL1 its first win. Working with Kevin Hamlin (spotter) was great all day. Greg (Ives, crew chief) made good calls all day, but it’s just Daytona.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 18th: “Not the day we were looking for. … It was our day for a while and then it wasn’t. It’s just the way it goes. Superspeedway racing – a lot of it is out of your control. That last caution in hindsight, we probably should have gotten tires. Tried to come up from the back because we were sitting ducks upfront. We didn’t have enough speed to keep up with some of those guys up front. I’d get back there but didn’t have the speed to get by them. It was just one of those deals where we needed it to stay green to be in a good spot. It just didn’t work out in the end.”

D.J. Kennington — Finished 24th: “We had a decent car. We could’ve raced with them, I think. But we’ll take it and run with it. We almost went the distance.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 26th: “I was feeling the magic. I thought we could do it again back-to-back and win the Daytona 500. We found the right drafting lanes and I was making good moves. I just got caught in a Bermuda Triangle it seemed like when Hamlin blocked us. I hit him pretty hard and that killed a lot of my momentum. Maybe I should have just flung the 11, but you have to treat guys with respect and you’ve also got to throw your elbows out and you have to hold the hits when you get hit. We were close to going back-to-back in the Daytona 500, but I don’t have anything to show for it.”

Matt DiBenedetto – Finished 27th: “(Ryan) Blaney was right in front of me, so I just tagged onto him and I was just gonna shove the heck out of him, being another Ford and a really strong race car. We were running anywhere between second and third and sixth-ish at the end, but you’ve got to expect anything at all that happens at the end. The Fords were really strong. My car was really strong, especially being a back-up car. It had plenty of speed, so I just tried to tag onto another Ford, but stuff happens. … It’s frustrating.  That’s the thing that I have a love-hate relationship with superspeedways. I dread coming to them because it’s so frustrating that everybody just tears up cars and it’s basically a demo derby, but, at the same time, we can also have really good runs and run really fast with our small, little team and group of guys. It’s a love-hate relationship.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 29th: “I have no clue (how he was wrecked). Unfortunately, we got some front-end damage. We were overheating there at the end of that second stage and had to pit and that really caught us laps down. We were trying to battle back and I think we were in the free pass spot there for a minute and everything broke loose and we just got caught up in it. Two laps from the end was a bummer, but we felt really good at the start of the race. I hate that we had to pit and lose our track position and the lead lap because I felt like our Fastenal Ford was really, really good all day and really strong. I could make just about any move I wanted to to stay towards the front, just had to pit there with like six or seven to go in that second stage. … All in all, it was a fun Speedweeks. I felt like our cars were good and I’m looking forward to getting to Atlanta.”

David Ragan – Finished 30th: “I think that wreck was just a product of speedway racing. You’ve got young guys with fast race cars. They were probably being a little too aggressive, blocking, moving around, pushing and sometimes you get what you ask for, and I think the two guys that wrecked got what they asked for and it’s just a shame we were caught in it.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 31st: “We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two guys, I couldn’t tell. It looked to me like there was one too many blocks and the blocking car wound up spinning out and the 2 car hit the 24 and wound up coming up the race track into me. It was like a can opener on the way by. … You really can’t block that aggressively. They got away with it, especially the 24 (William Byron) got away with it most of the weekend and didn’t get away with it that time. Unfortunately, we were one of the cars that got tore up. … (It’s frustrating) there’s really nothing you need to do early on, but those guys are very ambitious.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 32nd: “The 24 (Byron) got loose and spun out in front of us all and got caught up in it. It just really sucks. We had a great car and were in a great position. I guess that’s the way it goes. I went to pass the 24 on the bottom and he came down. I can’t tell if I made contact or not, but obviously he turned and there was nothing I could do. We were all wrecked. … You definitely didn’t see (patience) today.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 33rd: “Yes, I’m alright. I had such a fast Camaro ZL1 today, and I just wanted a shot there at the end. Tough circumstances. I was just trying to feel Blaney out and see what he was going to do; how aggressive he wanted to be. I had a big push and got light at the wrong time. Didn’t make the right move. … I just wanted to make it to the end and give ourselves a chance, so I hate that we didn’t have that opportunity.”

Kasey Kahne – Finished 34th: “I couldn’t see what happened. I was just on the outside entering the corner and then Chase (Elliott) came across, hit the wall, by the sounds of it in the infield care center, him and Brad (Keselowski) got together, but I didn’t see any of it. I’m disappointed.”

Danica Patrick – Finished 35th: “I said earlier today that I feel like the whole thing was picture perfect with GoDaddy on the car and it being that green again. But it just wasn’t meant to be today. But I am proud – we raced the whole race — other than a little bit at the end of that first stage when I just looked silly with all the cars with no tires and tires. Other than that, we raced it. It was competitive. That’s all you can do. That’s the gamble about Daytona. It can go so well and it can go so awful. So, I’m grateful for everything. Thank you to all the fans. Still got one more (race left, the May 27th Indy 500). It’s not a stock car (race), but still got one more.”

Erik Jones – Finished 36th: “It looked like the 17 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) just got freed up there by the 12 (Ryan Blaney), unfortunately. We tried to check up and everybody got stacked up, and caused a big wreck.  It’s unfortunate because the Dewalt Camry was definitely fast – we just didn’t get to the end to see what we could really do. We were in position I thought to have a good race. We were staying upfront and out of trouble, it just didn’t work out.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished 37th: “I was just trying to stay out of trouble either in the front or in the back and at that point we were at one lap to go to the end of the stage and 60 laps into the race and everyone was blocking very, very close. Everyone was being aggressive and it was a little bit too early and somebody turned my teammate the 20 (Erik Jones) and then he hit the 42 (Kyle Larson) and the 42 hit me and after that it was pretty much nothing I could do.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 38th: “There was some great racing throughout. It looked like everybody thought that was the finish of the Daytona 500 and it was really only lap 59 coming to 60. Unfortunately, we lost our third car for the weekend. … Just racing that hard coming for a green and white checkered flag. I’m not sure everybody was thinking big picture and really using their head through that. … It’s been tough lately (for him at Daytona). I have had some great days and nights here through the July race and this race, but of late it’s been tough. That is just how it goes. If I want to think too hard about it I can look at (Dale) Earnhardt’s record here and know how long it took him to get his first.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 39th: “I was trying to get some stage points. It’s really important for us to kind of come out with a good start and I was wanting to be aggressive in the first stage, get some points so we could do whatever we wanted to later on in the race. I saw them crossing lanes up there in the front and I was kind of pinned to the top, so I didn’t really have anywhere to go and once they started crashing, I was just stuck in the oil and didn’t really have anywhere to go.”

NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

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Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.

The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.

The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Here are the changes.

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.

His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.

Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.

Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).

Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.

Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.

“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”

Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.

Cup playoff standings

 

 

Kurt Busch win capped off big racing weekend for family

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After hopping from the door of his No. 1 Chevrolet Sunday night, Kurt Busch let out a primal scream.

The source of his emotion?

“20 years of agony and defeat” at the his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, had been replaced by “triumph.”

After the fortunate timing of a caution and pit strategy Sunday night, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver led the final 26 laps and visited LVMS’ Victory Lane for the first time, a day after his brother Kyle Busch experienced a special win.

There was plenty more for the 42-year-old driver to celebrate. He’d entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings. But with his first win in 46 races, Busch became the first driver to plant in his flag in the Round of 8.

But the Las Vegas native’s focus was on the 1.5-mile track, which he’d seen evolve from a “desert gravel pit” into the site of two NASCAR race weekends each year.

“This feeling of growing up here and watching the track get built … when Speedway Motorsports came in and bought it, I’m like, ‘Man, there’s going to be a Cup race there, I hope I can make my way up through Legend cars (and race there). And just all the memories, all the memories of everybody, my mom and dad, every Saturday night, all the commitment they gave me and my little brother (Kyle Busch) to make it in racing.

“For me it was a hobby. I never knew I’d get this far. A guy named Craig Keough here locally in Las Vegas, the owner of the Star Nurseries here in Las Vegas, took a chance on me and let me run his late model a few times and we won a couple races and started working our way up.”

Busch made his first NASCAR start on the Las Vegas oval in 2001 driving for Roush Fenway Racing. Between then and Sunday, he won 31 Cup races, the 2004 championship and the 2017 Daytona 500.

But his home track eluded him until his 21st year competing on the sport’s top circuit.

Busch said Sunday’s win is “right there underneath” his Daytona win and the championship.

“Any time you win, it’s special,” Busch said. “But to do it in front of my hometown crowd and nobody was there (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and all the people that I see every time I come to Vegas and I get to say thank you and I can’t right now, that’s the hardest part. So this one is easily ramping up to being my third most favorite win ever.

“Right now it’s my favorite because it’s here, it’s Vegas, and I have so many people to thank. They know they helped me, and they know who they are, and it just all started with mom and dad taking me to the racetrack right here at the Bullring in Las Vegas.”

The Busch family got to celebrate more than one win over the weekend.

The night before Kurt’s Vegas breakthrough, a third generation racer got his first taste of victory.

Kyle and Samantha Busch’s son, Brexton, won his first karting race and celebrated with his parents in Victory Lane.

“It’s so much fun to watch him and just to see his excitement and how much he enjoys going to the race track and being with is friends,” Kyle Busch said after his sixth-place finish Sunday. “It’s three generations worth, I guess. My dad (Tom) did it, myself and Kurt and now him. It’s pretty fun to just be out there. My dad is kind of the truck driver, the team manager, the crew chief, the lead mechanic and all that stuff on his kart.

“He’s got a big task at hand in order to get it all ready to go and get us to the race track every week. It’s been fun to see (Brexton) and to see how excited he was when he was able to win and beat the other competition that was out there and to see his joy. I told him, ‘Whatever that feeling is, whatever you’re feeling, however that sits in you, that’s feasible, that’s possible a lot more often than just one time. So don’t rest on just getting one, we gotta go out there and fight for more.'”

Kurt Busch wasn’t there for his nephew’s win, but he got all the details from his sister-in-law as they flew to Las Vegas.

“It definitely felt like a generational shift was happening,” he said. “But maybe not. Maybe not. This old guy has still got it going on.”