What drivers said after Texas race

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Kyle Busch — Winner: “It feels awesome. Any time you can win at a track that kind of isn’t maybe one of your favorites or isn’t one of your best, then it definitely means even more because it just – you try to focus on those tracks and make it a little bit more meaningful and a little bit more special to get it done. So cool to be in Victory Lane here … and punch our ticket into the playoffs and of course, you know also just continue our hot streak of being the points leader right now and keeping these guys focused on what we need to do all year long.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 2nd: “We did overcome a lot. That was unfortunate. We had a pathetic day on pit road, two days on pit road because of pit guns. When you have a pit gun problem like we have multiple times and been able to overcome it and then today we couldn’t overcome it. Time after time you can’t get the lug nuts tight because the pit guns don’t work.”  

Jamie McMurray — Finished 3rd: “We just had a really good car and were able to miss some of those accidents. The off-weekend couldn’t have come at a better time for us. We had such a horrible season going and it’s awesome to run as good as we did today at a 1.5-mile. We have so many of these and I feel like we have been a little bit behind on the 1.5-miles but had a really good run today.”

Erik Jones — Finished 4th: “I don’t know that we really had enough for Kyle (Busch) or Kevin (Harvick). They were really fast, but overall I thought we were a third-place car. Jamie (McMurray) had some tires here at the end and we couldn’t really do much with them. We didn’t qualify where we wanted to this weekend. It was kind of a – kind of a downer coming into Sunday, but I knew we had a good race car and you know we showed that today. A big step up. That was the first day we’ve been up in the top five. We led some laps. That’s a good builder for next week, so we’ll keep going.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished: 5th: “That was a long day. It is a good thing it was 500 miles because we needed about every bit of it. We started good running second and had green flag pit stops and an uncontrolled tire and had to come back in. Then we worked our butt off to get back up there and got a lap down and caution came out and we got the lucky dog, got some damage. We were getting back up toward the front and had a loose right front wheel and had to come back in and get the lucky dog again and then I got in that wreck and had a bunch of nose damage. It was a long day that felt like it would never end. It just felt like it would get worse and worse but everyone did a good job on this Menards Ford Fusion to get back and have a solid finish.”

Joey Logano — Finished: 6th: “Three straight sixth-place finishes in a row. We scored some stage points, finishing fourth and third in the stages but at the end the caution came out and kind of bit us and we just didn’t pass enough cars at the end to get back up there. We made some good changes at the end. My car was pretty good and probably could have ran third but that caution came and those guys were hoping for that and they got it. They got track position on us. We fought hard, it is just where we are at right now. We are stuck at sixth. We need to go faster.”

Kurt Busch  Finished: 7th: “I’m really proud of these guys and the effort that we made today. We had really good speed. We didn’t have the whole package. We’d lose the front on restarts or lose the rear. We’re just trying to find that happy medium. We should have pitted with 12 laps on our tires because the restart after that was treacherous for us and we lost all of our track position. So we got bottled-up into seventh and that’s where we finished.”

Darrell Wallace Jr.  Finished 8th: “Hell yeah, we needed that. That was a good week off for us to re-group. The guys did a hell of a job all weekend long. I thought we had pretty decent speed and a lot of people in the garage were like ‘your car is pretty good, so just don’t mess it up.’ I had a couple of opportunities there, especially the first stop coming down, but our Click N’ Close Chevrolet was pretty decent all day for us. Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) did a great job doing some pit strategy on that last call to get us out there to fourth. I don’t know if we were on the splitter on that last run, but she just wouldn’t turn going down into the corners and gave up a couple of spots.’’

William Byron — Finished 10th: “It was really good for us to get a top 10. We had a good car. Once the sun came out, we weren’t quite as good, I don’t think. Starting in the back, this was definitely a good day for us. We had a lot of adversity and kept having to go to the back. So, it’s good to come back from that and get a top 10. It feels awesome. It feels great to get a top 10. It obviously takes a lot of things to happen. We didn’t quite have the speed we wanted to. We were really good in practice, but I think some of our weaknesses showed up when the rubber laid down on the track a little bit on the bottom groove. Overall it was a pretty good day and we can definitely build on this.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 11th: “Definitely not the day we wanted. We started 20th and were able to get up to second at one point then just got tight and faded back for a while. We’re gonna keep working and move on to Bristol.”

Ty Dillon  Finished 13th: “There’s no doubt that this team has been working hard. The past two races have been our strongest of the year, and this weekend we had one of our best Fridays that we have had in a while. Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 didn’t have quite the speed that the leaders did, but I was able to set a good pace and hold my position. I lost some track position at the very start of the race when the car was building tight on exit, but my crew chief made great adjustments to get us back on track and ultimately bring home a top-15 finish.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 14th: “We have had some bad luck and lost a lot of points but today we had good luck and gained some points. We were pretty lucky to get through that first accident. We had a little damage but not bad enough. Not as bad as some of the others.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 15th: “The weather didn’t really break like I think we were hoping and kind of planned on. That made it a little bit tough throughout the race. We hung in there and we just couldn’t get a little bit of luck on calls. We did a good job and got lucky avoiding some of the accidents and all that. So, that was good and at the end of the day had a decent finish.  Still got some work to do.  I’m looking forward to Bristol.”

Kasey Kahne — Finished 17th: “We just missed it really, really bad early, but it got a lot better as we went. We would have definitely run top 15 if I didn’t screw up and spin out. But, we had a much better car the last 150 laps than we did during the first part of the race.”

David Ragan — Finished 23rd: “Our team did a nice job working on our car from Saturday night. I feel like our 1000Bulbs Ford was fast the first two stages. I saw the 11 (Denny Hamlin) spin and I checked up a little, and as he came back down the track I couldn’t go low quick enough and I tore our car up. We just didn’t have the car to compete in the last half. I am glad the team was able to repair the car enough to get back out there and I am really excited about the way it drove the first half of the race.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 27th: “This Grainger Camaro ZL1 had good speed this weekend. We stayed consistently in or around the top 12 for most of the race but tried to stretch our last run there and ended up blowing a tire and hitting the wall. I thought I probably could have left Texas with a top-10 finish if not for the blown tire, but things like that happen. It’s a gamble that didn’t pay off. I think the racing at Texas is exciting, and definitely fast, but we’re still getting adjusted to the new surface. We’ll be ready for when we come back in the fall, hopefully in the playoffs.”  

Alex Bowman – Finished 28th: “Today just wasn’t our day. A few laps in, I checked up when I saw the car in front of me get loose and then I think someone took the air off the rear and I got spun around. This Nationwide team worked their tails off fixing my Camaro ZL1. We kept working on it throughout the remainder of the race and we learned some stuff. We will regroup this week at the shop and get ready to go to Bristol next week.’’

Paul Menard — Finished: 30th: “Long day. We had a really fast Quick Lane Ford Fusion, but our day virtually ended on Lap 2. Disappointing. Not much you can do when someone spins in front of you at those speeds. You’re really at the mercy of what happens in front of you. Too much damage and it eventually caught up to us on that last incident.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 32nd: “We just come to these repaves and we are going really fast and all fighting for the bottom lane and the second lane isn’t as good and the third lane is really not as good. So we got down to Turn 3 and I was trying to be smart and be patient and we still have a long way to go in the race. I backed out of it to let the 18 (Kyle Busch) have the second lane and the 11 (Denny Hamlin) just got loose under me. It was a frustrating end of the day for us.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 33rd: “Somebody got loose and the next thing I knew there was a big mess in front of me and it was either pick left or pick right and I made a quick decision to pick right and it was the wrong decision. Tough break.”

DENNY HAMLIN — Finished 34th: “It all started with me speeding off pit road. I shouldn’t have been in that position, but obviously the 18 (Kyle Busch) was falling back there and I made a move to the inside and everyone is fighting for the bottom. I was obviously running the bottom there – the 10 (Aric Almirola) tried to squeeze and I realized that he was going to come down and I got out of the gas and I got loose underneath him. It’s my responsibility to keep the car under me, but we were just in such tight quarters there that it was nearly impossible to do. It all starts with me at the beginning of the race, it’s my fault and I hate it for this race team. We had a car that I thought was very capable of winning this race and unfortunately we’re back here.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 35th: “Yeah, by the time I saw what went on, the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) was backwards and smoking the tires coming up the track. I knew where his arch was taking him, and I knew that I was in trouble in the outside lane and going to get into him some. And then the crash just kind of continued from there. So, unfortunate circumstances, but a lot to build on from this weekend. A strong Friday, a fantastic Saturday and then not the best Sunday. We had a lot of different things work against us today, but we are getting closer each and every week and I’m really proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. We will get back to our winning ways soon.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 36th: “Just hate that I blew a right-front (tire) there. I was pretty tight but didn’t really expect to blow a right-front. Restarted up front there and was just really tight for a few laps and then actually got going pretty good. Just needed to get by Joey (Logano) there and I felt like I was one of the faster cars out there. So, felt like we could have had a shot at the end of the race, but it was cut short.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 37th: “I don’t know if I run something over. Speeds are really fast here today with the cool temperatures, and I don’t know if that had something to do with it or not. We’ll just have to go back and evaluate that, but all in all we were going to be in for a good day. We were making the car better and still had room to go. We were as fast as anybody. At least that’s a positive and we’ll go on to next week and see what we can do.”

 

Austin Dillon’s car fails pre-race inspection, will start from rear

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Bristol, Tenn. — Austin Dillon‘s No. 3 Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection three times Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Dillon will start from the rear and his car chief, Greg Ebert, has been ejected from the event.

Dillon had qualified 18th.

Dillon will have to serve a 30-minute practice hold in two weeks at Darlington Raceway.

Kyle Larson seeks turnaround at ‘by far my favorite racetrack’

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – With his team in a mini-slump in midsummer, Kyle Larson is back in his happy place, and the Chip Ganassi Racing driver wouldn’t mind returning more often.

“I love racing here,” Larson said Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “I wish we could race here weekly. I think our sport would be in a good spot if we could.

“I didn’t watch a ton of NASCAR growing up, but I’d never miss a Bristol race. If you were to ask me what Bristol race stands out, I couldn’t tell you. I just loved watching Bristol. It was always a lot of fun. Ever since they added the progressive banking, it’s been a lot better, too, as far as style of racing goes. It’s by far my favorite NASCAR track.”

The love of Bristol grew only stronger Friday night as he won the Food City 300 and scored his first victory in 18 Cup and Xfinity starts at the 0.533-mile oval.

Larson will be trying for his first win in NASCAR’s premier series at the track – and his first in Cup this season – while starting from the pole position in tonight’s race.

A victory would be a welcome result for Larson’s team, which is virtually locked into the playoffs but has only two top 10s in six races since his memorable runner-up finish to Kyle Busch at Chicagoland Speedway.

While Chevrolet teams Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing seem to have gotten faster in recent weeks, Larson’s No. 42 Camaro seems to have tailed off slightly after easily being the best Chevy in the first half of the season.

“I don’t know where we might be off,” he said. “Nobody really honestly knows where other teams have gotten speed from, so we’re working on all areas, really, I’m pretty sure, to try and get faster. We have moments where we’re really fast, but I would say we’re just a little inconsistent from track to track.

“You look at last year, we were good everywhere. This year, we’re good at our good tracks. Not as good at the tracks that we have struggled at years prior.”

But what about starting and finishing 17th last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, where he won three consecutive races from 2016-17?

A loose wheel after his first pit stop mired Larson in traffic and out of sequence, and then contact on a restart hampered into using an older set of tires for the last run of the race.

“It just snowballed into a bad run where I felt like we were going to have a shot to run top 3 or 5, but it just doesn’t show for it, and other people look at it as we just ran bad all day,” he said. “If you look at lap times, we were running some of the fastest laps of the race, just buried in traffic. I feel like we’re not that bad. We just had a little bit of a bad luck that cost us finishes we deserved the last few weeks.”

The urgency to maximize his speed stems more from being well positioned in the playoffs than making the 16-driver field. Larson is one of three provisionally qualified who have no playoff points yet.

“That part is a little frustrating,” he said. “It makes you more nervous when it comes to the playoffs, but the good thing is there’s been three guys taking up all the playoff points, so the other ones don’t have a whole lot, either, but every point matters.

“You look at it as you need to win some stages and win a race, but I also view Bristol as being my best opportunity to get some playoff points. I feel like we can win both stages and win the race. Not easily but this is our best shot. That five to seven points would be huge.”

And after getting bumped from the lead by race winner Kyle Busch at Bristol in April, Larson has earned some leeway in playing rough – not that he plans to use it.

He prefers the “options” afforded by the 2007 addition of progressive banking (which was retrofitted in 2012 in a manner that often makes the top groove the fastest).

“If there was progressive banking 20 years ago, the racing would have been a lot better back then,” he said. “I’m not a fan of the bump and run. I’m just a fan of Bristol.

“I’d much rather see two to three wide racing at Bristol than single file. I think the racing is really good, and that’s why I love coming here to race.”

Staff picks for Bristol night race

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Here’s who NBC’s NASCAR writers think will triumph tonight under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway (6:46 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Dustin Long

Ryan Blaney gets the win he should have had at this track in April.

Nate Ryan

Kyle Larson. On Thursday, he told reporters he was convinced he could sweep both stages and win. On Friday, he took a big step toward convincing the rest of us.

Daniel McFadin

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins in his last good shot to get into the playoffs with a victory.

Dan Beaver

Really? I’m the only one going with Kyle Busch? I just hope everyone in my fantasy NASCAR league ignores him as well.

Trophy for Charlotte Roval race revealed

Dustin Long
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BRISTOL, Tenn. — The trophy for the Sept. 30 Cup race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval was revealed Saturday prior to the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The trophy is inspired by Bank of America, which sponsors the 400-kilometer race.

It is designed to resemble the Bank of America building in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.

The track also announced a Sammy Hagar concert the night before the race. The “Rock the ROVAL” concert will be held at 9 p.m. ET on pit road.

 

Photo: Daniel McFadin
(Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images)