What drivers said after Pocono

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Kyle Busch — Winner: “I just can’t say enough about my teammate (Daniel Suarez). What an awesome race. He was probably the third-best car – (Kevin) Harvick was the best car and we were the second-best car and then Suárez was the third-best car. He gave us a run for our money there on those last couple restarts. The last one I spun my tires a little too much and he got a really good run and I think that gave (Erik) Jones an opportunity to make it three-wide down into one and those guys got to racing and just kind of let me get away. Just can’t say enough about Adam Stevens (crew chief) and all my guys. This Caramel Toyota Camry was awesome and had a lot of speed, but we fought it all weekend. Glad to get here and glad to get another win for all the Rowdy Nation fans out there and everybody here at Pocono. We swept the weekend and taking home both eagle trophies this week.”

DANIEL SUAREZ — Finished 2nd: “Well, I thought I was a little better than Kyle (Busch) and the 18 guys with new tires with five, seven laps or so, but in the longer runs he was better than me. He was just turning better for whatever reason. I was getting too tight and I was trying to adjust my tools as much as I can to free the car up a little bit, but it wasn’t helping the rotation – what I needed – and every restart I felt like I was decent, but, no, not great. I felt like if I was able to complete the pass by corner one I was going to be able to hold him off, but I just never had the help from behind.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 3rd: “We really struggled all weekend until today. Then the boss showed up, so maybe Mr. Hendrick just needs to come to every single race and we will all run better. It’s kind of some light at the end of the tunnel. We didn’t have the raw speed it looked like the No. 9 (Chase Elliott) did. We were a little off, but anytime all four of us are running better is a good week for us.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 4th: “It was eventful. I think we went to the back twice and made our way back to the front each time. We made a good race out of it but it is hard to swallow on a day like that when our Mobil 1 Ford was the class of the field. You never know what is going to happen on these days. It is hard to put them together and you win some and lose some.”

Erik Jones — Finished 5th: “I think at that point, if I stayed and pushed the 19 (Suarez), I run the same spot I do now. I mean, if we make the move we did, we at least had a shot and we have a chance to go down there and clear, so we had to do what we had to do to win and that was our one chance in the Reser’s Camry and it just didn’t work out, so still a good, top five day. We ran up in the top five all day and just had a good car, so need to probably be a little bit better. I think the 4 (Harvick) was the class of the field today, but, you know, it was good to run up there in the top five and lead some laps.”

William Byron — Finished 6th: “There are a lot of big positives. I feel there are a couple of things we could have worked on and we’ll keep working on those things. Our cars are just getting faster. Now we have the speed to run in the top 10, which makes it a lot easier to do things and allows us to be more aggressive and allows me to drive the car the way I know how to drive it. I feel like our speed is just starting to get us in a position to be more aggressive, which is really good.”

CHASE ELLIOTT — Finished 7th: “I think a little bit of everything. I don’t even know why some race tracks seem to be more suitable for what we have, and some don’t. We think we’re better as a whole, but I think we still have some work to do.”

Ryan Newman — Finished 8th: “I don’t ever give up and this No. 31 Bass Pro Shops / Cabela’s Camaro ZL1 team doesn’t either. Our race was pretty frustrating to me. I knew we had a top 10 car, but we got blocked quite a bit which caused us to lose momentum and track position, especially during the middle portions of the race. All and all another solid job in the pits for the pit crew. For a while there, our track position didn’t reflect the kind of Chevy Luke Lambert and the team prepared for me, but it doesn’t matter now. We finished eighth and we’ll certainly take that result.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 9th: “We have nothing much to show for the effort but we do have a lot to show for it at the same time by going through all that adversity. I didn’t think we would get a top 10 out of today with the damage on the splitter. The left front tire was weird. It blew out halfway down the front straightaway and I was able to keep it off the wall and keep most of the damage to a minimum. The guys were able to fix me up and we just kind of battled through and took advantage of other people’s mistakes.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 12th: “It was a long weekend. We struggled a little bit off the truck and just could never really get where we were very good. I was hopeful that we would get a little better in the race but we never really did. We have work to do. Hopefully we can get there.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 13th: “The American Ethanol Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was extremely tight through Stage 1. We made chassis adjustments that we were confident would help with handling, but when Stage 2 started it felt like I was driving a pogo stick, and by the end of Stage 2, the car was just way too loose. I have to give it to the entire No. 3 American Ethanol team for working hard and never giving up. I feel like we were actually pretty good on takeoff, so we pitted during a late-race caution for 4 scuff tires, which is all we had left. On the restart, I ended up scraping the Turn 3 Wall with the right side of my car. Luckily, I was able to continue but it killed my momentum and made the car really tight. In the end, it was a hard-earned 13th-place finish.”

Matt Kenseth — Finished 18th: “We were definitely better than the spring race when we couldn’t even stay on the lead lap. This time we had a pit road problem, sped and lost a lot of track positions. I thought we ran better, we were just really weak on restarts and would lose a lot of spots. In today’s day in age of racing it is a huge disadvantage because you just can’t get those spots back. I felt we took a step up in performance, not where we need to be yet but still a step up. The stat sheet doesn’t show it but it is a step in the right direction.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 24th: “Pocono is definitely a hard track to get a handle on. You have to be perfect in each corner on every single lap, and all of the corners are completely different from one another. It is a challenge to be able to have a car that’s set up to get through all three turns perfectly. It’s called the “Tricky Triangle” for a reason. We battled with the balance of our GEICO Camaro ZL1 on exit through all of Stage 1 and most of Stage 2. My crew chief and the team were able to get the handling closer to where we needed it to be, but we have to be there from the very beginning. We know that, and this team continues to work hard week in and week out to keep us competitive and moving in the right direction. We are going to keep digging.”

BUBBA WALLACE — Finished 33rd: “Yeah, I’m okay. Just brake failure there. It blew up going down the straightaway the right front, I believe. I can’t remember if I turned left or if it just kind of jolted to the left and I should have stayed to the right. And I went for a hellacious ride and just for about two or three seconds you can really slow it down and you are just helpless. There is nothing you can do and you are just like, please stop. And it does, it does when it hits the fence and all-in-all it was okay, knocked the wind out of me. It took me a minute to let the window net down because that was the last thing I thought about, so apologize to everybody worried about that, but just an unfortunate ending for us and our Mile 22 Chevrolet.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 38th: “We just blew a rear tire in the corner and backed into the wall. The car wasn’t terrible but wasn’t enough to get fixed in the time that was allowed so we limped it back to the garage and they made me come to the care center. That is just the way it was today for the Alliance Ford.”

Brad Keselowski puts on driving clinic with convincing win at Martinsville

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Brad Keselowski put on a driving clinic Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, leading 446 of 500 laps to win the STP 500. It was Keselowski’s second win of the season (also won at Atlanta), and his fourth top-3 finish in the last five races.

It was also Keselowski’s 29th career Cup win and his second Cup Series triumph in 19 career starts at Martinsville, having also won in April 2017, as well as his eighth top-5 and 13th top-10 there.

Chase Elliott finished runner-up.

Kyle Busch, making the 1,000th overall start of his NASCAR career, finished third, snapping a two-race winning streak (Phoenix and Fontana). Busch and Keselowski are now the only two drivers to win more than one race thus far this season.

Ryan Blaney finished fourth, followed by Denny Hamlin. Sixth through 10th were Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez.

There were only three leaders in the race: Keselowski, Chase Elliott (49 laps) and Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate and pole sitter Joey Logano (6 laps).

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brad Keselowski (first stage win of season)

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

WHAT’S NEXT: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 31 (Fox); green flag shortly after 3 p.m. ET.

We’ll be back with more information, including quotes, full results and updated standings. Please check back soon.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Kyle Busch has idea for NASCAR’s Xfinity, Truck limits

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Kyle Busch would entertain the opportunity to pursue the one NASCAR championship that has eluded him – in the Gander Outdoor Truck Series – when his Cup career is over.

But he’s got an idea that would allow him to run both series concurrently and address the limits on Cup drivers running in lower series.

“Why don’t you let us run as many races as we want to run and then once we miss one, we’re done?” Busch pondered after his victory Saturday in the TruNorth Global 250 truck race at Martinsville Speedway. “So if I go all the way to (the June 15 race at Iowa Speedway) in the trucks and run 10 races and can’t go to Iowa, I’m done.

“You can race for points or whatever and so if that ever came down to that, then maybe there’d be an opportunity years down the road that then you can run multiple series and try to go after a championship that way.”

What was NASCAR’s reaction to the plan?

“That’s probably the first time I’ve said that or thought about it,” Busch said with a laugh. “Now that it’s out there … there’s not a damn fan that’s ever going to let it happen.”

Indeed, Busch’s 201st career victory in a NASCAR national series drew the usual outrage on social media Saturday, both from his Rowdy Nation legion of fans and those who vehemently believe he should be limited beyond the NASCAR cap of five truck races and seven Xfinity races allowed for full-time Cup drivers.

Busch has won in seven of 11 starts in trucks, Xfinity and Cup this season.

“Could have been nine or 10 (victories) probably, that’s what the scary part is if it wasn’t for simple mistakes,” Busch said. “Overall, it’s been fun. It’s a damn shame I’m only allowed five and seven.”

Busch has two 2019 starts left in trucks: at Texas Motor Speedway next week and Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

He said the chances are solid for going 5 for 5.

“I’d like to think Texas is a good place,” he said. “I think our guys have a good baseline. Charlotte is always one of my best tracks, favorite tracks and enjoy running there with the trucks, especially. There’s a good opportunity.

“It’s kind of an expectation (to win every race). We just go out, work hard and smart, and today we let the race play itself out and come to us.”

Busch won the 2009 Xfinity championship in the last season in which he ran full time in NASCAR’s top two series. He has focused solely on Cup full time since then, and NASCAR has changed rules over the past eight years limiting the ability to run for more than one title.

Despite 148 starts (and 54 victories), he is yet to run a full truck season, but the 2015 Cup champion has said he’d like to become the first driver to win a championship in each of NASCAR’s top three series.

Three Cup cars fail prerace inspection at Martinsville Speedway

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The cars of William Byron, DJ Kennington and Jeb Burton failed inspection Sunday morning at Martinsville Speedway.

Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet failed mechanical measurements. His sixth-place qualifying time will be disallowed, and he will have to start from the rear.

Kennington failed the OSS. He qualified 34th.

Burton had qualified 33rd.

The three cars will officially start behind those that passed inspection. Cars that qualified behind them will move up one spot.

The No. 24 suffered a right-front tire problem in the opening minutes of first practice Saturday morning, and the team made repairs to put the car back on track.

Today’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway: Start time, lineup, more

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MARTINSVILLE — High downforce could bring hot tempers to Martinsville Speedway, where today’s STP 500 will mark the first short track of the 2019 Cup schedule.

In the last visit to the 0.526-mile oval, Joey Logano bumped Martin Truex Jr. aside entering the last two corners in one of the most thrilling finishes of the 2018 season.

Here’s the pertinent information for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Robert DeRidder, the senior vice president and general manager of Energizer Holdings Inc. (owners of STP), will give the command to start engines at 2:01 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 2:07 p.m.

PRERACE: The crew chief and drivers meeting is at noon. Driver introductions will begin at 1:20 p.m. The invocation will be given by track chaplain Mike Hatfield at 1:54 p.m. The 380th Army Band will perform the national anthem at 1:55 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 500 laps (263 miles) around the 0.526-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 130. Stage 2 ends on Lap 260.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race with coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race. MRN’s coverage begins at 1 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast, which is also available at MRN.com.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 63 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: In a race delayed to Monday by a snowstorm, Clint Bowyer scored his first victory for Stewart-Haas Racing. Kyle Busch finished second. Ryan Blaney placed third. Joey Logano won at Martinsville last fall. Denny Hamlin placed second. Martin Truex Jr. was third. 

TO THE REAR: William Byron (mechanical measurements), DJ Kennington (OSS) and Jeb Burton will start from the rear after failing inspection Sunday morning.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.