What Drivers Said after Coca-Cola 600

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On what began as one of the hottest days of the season, Martin Truex Jr. continued his hot ways behind the wheel, earning his third win in the last five races with Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 triumph.

Here’s What Drivers Said afterward:

Martin Truex Jr. – winner: I don’t know how we did it honestly. I blew that right-front tire earlier and hit the fence off (Turn) 4. I thought man, that’s not good. I know this car is pretty banged up. We just fought back from it. We kept working on the car and kept adjusting on the car. What a rocket ship this Bass Pro Toyota was this weekend. I felt good about it in practice, but you just don’t know and these mile-and-a-halfs have been tough on us this year – kind of scratching and clawing trying to find something. Kansas a few weeks ago was really a reality check for us. It’s one of our best tracks and we really struggled there and knew we had to get to work. Just hats off to the guys for listening to my input and what I had to say. We had a pretty good car at the All-Star race last weekend, but we knew it wasn’t good enough. They went to work this week and made it better.”

Joey Logano – finished 2nd: “Well, I needed (Truex) to go slower (laughing), but that’s not his job. We had a rough start to this thing. The guys did a good job fixing it up to where we were competitive at the end and had a shot to win, so that’s all you can ask for. I don’t know how we got from where we thought we were gonna be good in practice and then started the race really bad. I’m glad we made some good adjustments to get somewhat close. The Coke 600 is such a big deal to win, especially as a Coke driver you want to make it happen and we were close, but we’ll just have to wait again to next year and go at it. Like I said, if you told me we were gonna finish second early in the race, I would have taken it, but when you actually finish second and you see the lead that close you don’t want to take it. … I thought we had a good shot when that caution came back out. That was another chance and just didn’t quite get it, but overall, like I said, very proud of it. As far as Memorial Day Weekend and getting to race is a privilege, so for me to complain about second sounds pretty dumb. I’m proud to live in this country and I’m happy that I just get to race. … (When it came down to you and Truex, were you like, ‘Here we go again’?) Yeah, of course. Haven’t we every time?”

MORE: Results, standings after Coca-Cola 600

Kyle Busch — finished 3rd: “I don’t really know what all went down (in the final 5 laps). Just trying to find holes and trying to make room and trying to make ground on guys that we were around. I thought we had a second-place car tonight. If we would have gotten in behind the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.), I never would have passed him. I thought I could get the 22 (Joey Logano), but the 22 was fast at the end. I don’t know. Frustrating for how challenging it is. I guess I shouldn’t be complaining about that, but overall our M&M’s Camry was fast. It had good speed, just not the 19-car speed. I don’t know what the 19 had different than us, but they were way faster. … (What did you feel like you were missing tonight?) I don’t know. I thought that through much of the race we had a fast car. We were there. We led some laps. We ran around – the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was fast, 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) was fast. The 19 was the fastest car. I’m not sure what they had different than us. Obviously we were just off a little bit. Otherwise, I felt like we had a race-winning car capable of at least running second. Overall, the red white and blue M&M’s Camry was fast. We brought it home where we should have – close anyways I think. If you want to support the USO go get some red, white and blue M&M’s bags made through August. We’re going to be donating money and the proceeds go to the USO.”

Chase Elliott – finished 4th: We had a really solid car. It was a solid race all around. We just needed a little bit more there at the end and needed to not give up control to get to Martin (Truex Jr.) in those last 40 to 50 laps. We just needed to finish a little stronger. I think I have some work to do on my end to make sure I’m keeping up with the track, giving the right information and not getting behind. I feel like I’ve made some mistakes the last couple of weeks and have just gotten a little off. … The track just gains a lot of grip when the sun goes down. Yesterday in practice it was kind of weird that it didn’t really lose any grip during the day, but when the race started today, I felt like it was the normal Charlotte. I had to adjust to that a little bit and luckily we were able to hit it pretty close. We just needed a little bit more there at the end.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished 5th: “I wasn’t real happy about that final caution. I was hoping it was just gonna run out. We were running down the 18 and that was good for us. It’s been a while since we’ve been up there contending like that with caliber of a car. We did it at Kansas and came back here and struggled at the All-Star Race, but we made really good changes to our Fastenal Mustang to get ready for the 600 and felt really, really good with it. That’s something to build on. We still have to get more consistent throughout the race. Having a car like that at the end, we need to be able to have stage points throughout the whole race. All in all, a great night for us, a good points night, and we just have to keep this momentum going that we started at Kansas. … (When did the car come to life?) Once the sun went down. I’ve always told people I don’t really ever feel the track change a whole lot. I feel like we always stay the same, but we were making a lot of adjustments, but once the sun went down I felt like the track stayed more consistent and we were able to catch up with where our car needed to be. I felt like we had a really strong car the last 200 laps and proud to finally get a top five with it.”

Chris Buescher – finished 6th: “What a great night for us. Our Kroger Thrill of the Grill Camaro ZL1 had great speed from the drop of the green. The second stage we just tried to get it up a little too high and I got up in the fence. I cut a tire down later and lost a lap. We knew we had speed still, but this group did a terrific job of repairing it. We worked really hard after practice making a lot of changes. It was just a great effort all around; the pit crew did a terrific job. We were able to come out there at the end and get an awesome finish. We have to keep improving a little bit, but it was a pretty awesome night.”

Alex Bowman – finished 7th: “I fired off pretty poorly; it was just really tight to start. The guys did a really good job of getting our car better. We got up towards the front and then late there I decided to get up in the fence and tear the right side off of it. I’m really glad we were able to fix it, overcome a flat right rear, and still end up 7th. I just need to not make that mistake and we definitely had a top five car. It was my fault that I drove it into the fence, so that makes me frustrated with myself. People make mistakes and that was just one that I made. I’ll just learn from it and move on. Stuff happens.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished 8th: “This has always suited my style well. I’ve always taken a lot of pride in being competitive in this race (both) physically and mentally. We did that tonight and had a strong performance. I had some handling issues. We got ourselves through most of that and got into a good position and I hit the wall with about 10 (laps) to go and took us out of like a fourth or fifth place spot back to eighth. But, all in all, it was a solid performance. We had respectable speed and I was in the mix most of the night. … Clean air was a lot. So, I don’t know. I never really got a look at the lead. The No. 9 (Chase Elliott) led a lot and then was just right there in front of me in the end and I was trying to pass him when I hit the wall. So, I feel like we were probably fourth or fifth, if fifth, they way things kind of unfolded. And then I hit the wall and the car got super loose after that. … To have that trouble late and slip to eighth is good. We stayed in the mix for most of the night, so that was encouraging. We’re going the right way.”

William Byron – finished 9th: “It was okay. I expected the track to kind of come to us when night time came but it just didn’t really. We didn’t have the best restarts on the bottom. And, we had a couple of restarts on the top at the end and were able to finish 9th. So, that was good. We’ll just keep working and figure out what we need to do next time. We were pretty good during the day. I had pretty good speed. Top five. And I knew we were pretty tight-off but then it just kept escalating as the runs got longer. When night time fell we were just too tight. So, it is what it is. But ultimately it was a good solid two weeks in a row. And a ninth place finish is not bad. It seems like we’re getting better, for sure. With all four of us (Hendrick Motorsports teammates) in the top 10 is pretty good. And we’ll just work from there.”

Kevin Harvick – finished 10th: “It was different for sure. For us, we lost the handle on the car. We had some different shift codes in the tires that we had to run because that’s what we had. As soon as we put all those shift codes on, the car just went to absolute junk. … (What was it like with all the pushing and shoving to get around tonight?) I don’t even know.”

Aric Almirola – finished 11th: “It was a struggle most of the night. I don’t know. We can’t make it handle the way we need it to. It won’t go on restarts. I don’t know. We have to just keep working and get better.”

Ryan Blaney — finished 13th: “We had a pretty good DEX Imaging Ford tonight. I felt like we had a shot at Martin (Truex Jr.) and Joey (Logano) late. Unfortunately a late race issue with a loose wheel ruined our night.”

David Ragan – finished 15th: “Our Select Blinds Ford Mustang was a top 10 or 12 car a lot of the night. We had some trouble on pit road and felt like I had to pass a lot of cars often throughout the night, but our team did a great job preparing a good car. That was the best mile-and-a-half car we’ve had in a long time and we just ran out of tires. I had some damage from that Kyle Larson wreck with about 30 or 40 to go. We used an extra set of tires and we didn’t have any. We had some with about 20 laps on it, but I felt like if I could have got a good restart I would be able to hold them off. If it would have been two or three laps, we could have got a top five or top 10, but once all the dirty air got around we just didn’t have the grip to hang on there at the end. But that was fun. It was a fun 600-mile race and we learned a few things that will hopefully help us for down the road. … (And you weren’t going to pull over for the 19 on that restart with 5 to go?) No, absolutely not. We were doing all we could. You never know. I mean, those guys could get back there body slamming and I could have gotten a five or 10 car length lead. You just never, never know what may happen on a deal like that. I felt like I hit my marks on the restart good. I got through turns one and two and was leading down the back straightaway and that’s all you can ask for. It helped that Newman was on two tires underneath me and he kind of held them up a little bit, but five laps was just too much.”

Ryan Newman – finished 16th: “We didn’t have the best of cars, but we got ourselves in position and tried. Two tires was kind of my idea, but I just didn’t have enough to hold on. We were off a little bit in speed all day and that’s what we needed there at the end.”

Daniel Suarez — finished 18th: “Our Coca-Cola Ford Mustang was tight most of the night, but my guys kept working on it. We came back from being two laps down, and they just never gave up on adjusting the car. Unfortunately, on the last pit stop we had a penalty and that put us one lap down to end the night 18th.”

Brad Keselowski — finished 19th: “We had power steering issues and I got into the wall late in the race. A few laps later I cut the right-rear tire and spun. That pretty much ended our night.”

Daniel Hemric — finished 21st: “I really hate this night did not turn out better than it did for everyone on this Cessna Chevrolet Team. Luke Lambert and everyone on this team gave me a really fast No. 8 Cessna Chevy. We showed that in practice throughout the weekend and in qualifying on Thursday night. The car took off really well to start the race but we got so many cautions in Stage 1 that we made a strategy call to stay out and were able to grab the lead by doing that. Being able to lead in my first Coca-Cola 600 was a cool experience for sure, but the cars with fresher tires were much quicker on the restart. One of them made contact with the right rear and sent me into the outside wall off Turn 4. I’m really proud of everyone on this team, because they never gave up. We hit pit road as much as possible the rest of the night and they made repairs as best they could. We kept adjusting on it and just tried to do all we could to get to the end. When the caution came out with about 35 laps to go, we took the wave around to get one lap back and hoped for a quick caution, but we never got that when we needed and had to hit pit road under green with 20 laps to go. We will head to Pocono and try to change our luck there.”

Ty Dillon – finished 23rd: “We had a great night going in our GEICO Military Camaro ZL1. I was really happy with it while the sun was out. I could run any lane around the track, and my front end cut great through the corner. As it got darker, I started to lose my front end and kept building tight on each run. But, we were still having a good night. We were running in the top 20 and had stayed on the lead lap all night, really showing the strides that we have made with our intermediate track program. It’s unfortunate that a flat tire in Stage 3 ultimately ruined what was going to be a solid night for our team. Our strategy to make up those laps we lost almost worked out, but we got caught up in that final stage wreck while we were sitting in the free-pass spot to get back on the lead lap. We’re going to be proud of all the positive improvements from this night, though, and keep building on them for our next mile-and-a-half track because that’s what we do. We will keep grinding.”

Clint Bowyer — finished 24th: “That was a long night. We struggled with everything at some point. But you know, close at the end we were seventh, and it was looking like it was going to turn out OK. I think we were going to get a top-10. Two times tonight we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got wrecked.”

Kyle Larson – finished 32nd: “I just got in there and lost grip and slid up into Clint (Bowyer). I got stuck in the middle and then just put myself in a bad spot and got sideways. So, it was an up and down day for us. I finally put myself in a good spot for about a lap and then screwed that up. So, that was all me. So, we’ll go wherever we race next week and try to do better.”

Austin Dillon – finished 34th: I saw the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) spinning. I don’t know if I should have just slowed down and try to get stopped but I thought I had a gap there and maybe squeeze and get by as best as I could and it didn’t work. We shouldn’t have been back there. We just really didn’t have the car I thought we were going to have. I’m disappointed because I felt like in practice we were pretty decent and it just looks like the No 18 (Kyle Busch) made it through and I was the one that got wrecked. It’s just part of it. But, we’ll try better next time and get our cars a little better and hope it’s better for us.”

Erik Jones – finished 40th: We just blew a right-front. There was no real warning. It’s unfortunate. We had a pretty good car. The Reser’s Camry was moving forward and driving really well. I was trying to get some track position and work my way to the front. It sucks. It’s a long race and we are obviously out of it early. We had a really good Reser’s Camry. I think we were in a really good position to work our way forward and just lost a tire. That hasn’t happened to me in a long time so it’s just unfortunate. I don’t know if we ran something over. It’s a bummer, you don’t want to be out of the 600 this early and we had a car that could have contended today. Just have to go back to work and go get them next week.”

We’ll continue to add driver quotes as they become available. Please check back.

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GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.

 

Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter

Silly Season Scorecard: Front Row Motorsports adds John Hunter Nemechek

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Front Row Motorsports filled one of the last major vacancies in the NASCAR Cup Series when it announced Thursday John Hunter Nemechek will compete for the team full-time in the No. 38 Ford.

With the announcement also came the news the team is retracting to two cars after fielding three in 2019.

As a rookie, Nemechek will have Michael McDowell as a teammate.

Here’s how the rest of NASCAR’s Silly Season has played out so far.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 00: Quin Houff will race for Star Com Racing full-time. Announced Nov. 27.

No. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Nov. 1 a multi-year extension with Kurt Busch.

No. 6: Roush Fenway Racing announced Oct. 30 that Ryan Newman would return to the car as part of the news that Oscar Mayer would sponsor the No. 6 through 2021.

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer was announced Oct. 17 as returning to Stewart-Haas Racing for a fourth season.

No. 15: Brennan Poole will make his Cup debut and will drive for Premium Motorsports full-time. Announced Dec 11.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 32: Corey LaJoie will return for a second straight full season with Go Fas Racing and the No. 32 Ford. The team announced on Nov. 1 it would enter a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing next year.

No. 37: Ryan Preece moves over from the No. 47 to the No. 37. He will have a new crew chief, Trent Owens, who has been crew chief on the No. 37 for the past three seasons.

No. 38: John Hunter Nemechek replaces the now retired David Ragan for Front Row Motorsports. Announced Dec. 12.

No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing announced Nov. 15 Cole Custer will replace Daniel Suarez.

No. 47: JTG Daugherty Racing announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Preece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher. On Dec. 2, the team announced Stenhouse will drive the No. 47, with Brian Pattie serving as his crew chief.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

Rick Ware Racing: JJ Yeley will drive one of the team’s three full-time rides.

 

YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Daniel Suarez — The driver revealed Nov. 14  he would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020 after one season driving the No. 41.

 

ANNOUNCED PLANS IN OTHER NASCAR SERIES

Xfinity Series 

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, joining Justin Haley.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Announced Oct. 17 Harrison Burton will drive its No. 20 Toyota full-time in 2020. Announced Oct. 31 Brandon Jones would return for a third year in the No. 19. Revealed Nov. 5 it would field a third full-time entry with Riley Herbst in the No. 18.

JR MotorsportsJustin Allgaier will return to the team for a fifth year in the No. 7 Chevrolet. The No. 8 car will be driven by Daniel Hemric for 21 races, Jeb Burton 11 races and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race. Noah Gragson will also return for a second season in the No. 9 car, while Michael Annett returns for a fourth year with the team in the No. 1 car.

Richard Childress Racing — Will field a part-time car in the No. 21, which will be shared by Myatt Snider and Anthony Alfredo.

Stewart-Haas Racing – The team has not announced plans for the No. 00 Ford with Cole Custer moving to Cup or whether Chase Briscoe will return to the No. 98.

JD MotorsportsJesse Little will compete full-time for the team.

 

Truck Series

GMS RacingDriver lineup will include Brett Moffitt, Sam Mayer, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum

Kyle Busch MotorsportsRaphael Lessard will drive the No. 4 full-time while Christian Eckes will drive the No. 18 full-time.

Halmar Friesen Racing — Stewart Friesen will return for a third full-time season in the No. 52 Truck. The team will also switch from Chevrolet to Toyota Trucks in 2020.

Hattori Racing EnterprisesAustin Hill will return to the No. 16 Toyota for a second year.

Niece Motorsports: Ty Majeski will drive the No. 45 truck full-time, taking the place of Ross Chastain. Announced Dec. 10.

DGR-Crosley: Has not made any driver announcements, but will switch from Toyota to Ford. Announced Dec. 11.

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