What Cup drivers said after Kansas playoff race

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Denny Hamlin, winner: “I just had to hold the bottom and get a good push. It was all about the push that I got from the 9 (Chase Elliott) and really the 18 (Kyle Busch) those last couple of restarts. That was the most important thing for us – to get a good restart. Once we got out front, we could hold it wide open. Our car was built for downforce, so it worked out that it was just fast enough to win.”

Chase Elliott, finished second: “I was trying to make a run at Denny.  We never got our momentum up enough for me to do anything about it.  The restarts were helping his cause on tires. The good news was the bottom lane rolled good enough on the last restart to at least get back to second.  So, I appreciate the effort.  We were really struggling there at one point in the race.  You have to stay fighting in these things, especially with these late‑race restarts. Just proud of the effort today. Just excited we get to fight another race.”

Kyle Busch, finished third: (Do you feel like you made strides in today’s race?) “No, it’s about how we’re supposed to run. I guess if you’re not in control on the last restart then you don’t have a chance to win.”

(Did you work together with your teammates to ensure a Joe Gibbs Racing Camry won the race today?) “I think we proved that point when there were three Gibbs cars on the bottom row and all we did was basically push each other and stay in line with one another all the way down into the corner.”

Kurt Busch, finished fourth: “We got fresh tires at the end and the outside lane really worked well for us. I was able to give it a lot of throttle on time and knife my way up to fourth place. It was nice to have Advent Health on our car today. We had a breast cancer survivor Nicole riding with us and she got us a top five. We struggled a little bit, didn’t get any stage points but you can’t be disappointed with a top five.”

William Byron, finished fifth: “Yeah, it’s just a bummer (not advancing in the playoffs). But we had a great run today and we can take pride in that, for sure. We had a great car, one of the best cars we’ve had on a 1.5-mile track. It was fun, but we just needed to win and we couldn’t do that. But it is what it is. It was a great day for us overall, we’ll move onto the next couple of weeks and keep fighting. If we can go out and win, that’s all that really matters now.”

Martin Truex Jr., finished sixth: “It was a good race and we had a good Bass Pro Toyota all day long. We just got off there those last couple runs of the race. When it got cloudy, we got tight and we couldn’t quite get it dialed in where we needed to. Overall, a solid day and we did what we needed to do.”

Erik Jones, finished seventh: “It was a good day. Kind of up and down. We lost some track position there in that middle stage and it was just a struggle to get it back all day. I thought the Reser’s Camry was really good on the long run and we were kind of running those guys down before we had the caution come out late for the first of those final restarts. We just didn’t have a great short run car and it didn’t play out the way we needed it and not a clean enough race to contend. It’s frustrating when you have that fast of a car, but a good day.”

Clint Bowyer, finished eighth: “Obviously we wanted to be in victory lane. I like the situations that we could put the car in and it would withstand. We got a little bit of damage there on that last stage. I don’t really think that affected it that much. It was a decent day. It wasn’t a stellar day by any means. I am proud of our effort. I am proud of trying something there and it working out.”

Kevin Harvick, finished ninth: “That was not a very good weekend from top to bottom. I just didn’t have a very good car today and didn’t have a very good day on pit road. Nothing went right all weekend. It was definitely one of the worst weekends we have had in a while. We had to start in the back and had a tough day getting through traffic.”

Alex Bowman, finished 11th: “We got up to fifth or sixth there pretty quickly and obviously had a really good car to start. I got loose, I saved it and it was all good; that’s just racing. I guess just the 6 (Ryan Newman) being right there tore the left rear off of it. You wouldn’t think it, but that’s probably the most sensitive corner on these cars for rear downforce and rear side force. We really fought with it the rest of the day and all but crashed it for the remaining 260 laps or however long it was.”

“We didn’t get in (to the Round of 8), so that sucks. We had a good start and a really good car there for five laps or however long it lasted. It just sucks driving a wrecked race car for the rest of the day.”
Kyle Larson, finished 14th: “Today was our roughest day that we’ve had in a long time. I stalled it on that green flag stop and we just had some really slow stops. My pit box was really slick, so I couldn’t get in aggressive enough and I couldn’t leave fast enough. It made the pit stops seem worse than they were. It’s tough to have a day like that, but we had a fast car. We tried to gamble on tires there. It worked out for Denny (Hamlin), but it didn’t work out for us and we got ate up on those restarts. We finished 14th with a top-three car.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr, finished 16th: “We were really tight all day. No matter what we did to our Fastenal Ford it just remained tight. It’s definitely not what we wanted after running so well here in the spring but overall it was a decent finish. Our main goal is just to finish the season strong and we have done that the past few weeks.”

Joey Logano, finished 17th: (Surprised you were able to survive and advance?) “Yeah, it felt like that this whole round. Starting in Dover when we watched the race start in the garage. Then the crash in Talladega but scoring enough stage points and an okay enough finish to get some points. Then today, whew, we got that stage win which was great and that is a point that will continue on, so that is a big deal. We needed every point we could and it looked like we were in a good spot. Next thing you know they are wrecking on the outside and I get hit and I am going through the grass. I felt comfortable before that but the next thing you know – I am watching it here on the replay for the first time – I didn’t hit anything so I got lucky for sure. I have been lucky a few times. We were able to finish Talladega and I parked the thing and there was a hole in the radiator. It was hard-fought and blue-collar round for sure. We

Brad Keselowski, finished 19th: “We didn’t make it (to the Round of 8). I pushed as hard as I knew how and didn’t quite do good enough on the last restart and that was it. We clawed as hard as we could and there were times it looked like we were going to be fine and times it didn’t. In the end it didn’t work out.”

Ryan Blaney, finished 21st: “It was an up and down day. We didn’t start off great but we got better throughout the race. We were able to get up to second there but (Hamlin) was pretty phenomenal and I could only make time at the wall and had to pound the fence to do anything. Lap cars were running the fence and they wouldn’t give you the fence so I would lose time trying to run down. We couldn’t really run different lanes of the race track. That kind of stunk. Eventually I got too close to the fence trying to run it and run those guys back down and hit it. We blew a tire before we could get to pit road. We knew we had to take that chance today trying to run hard. It sucks that I blew a tire and caused that caution.”

Austin Dillon, finished 23rd: “Man, what a day. I was excited about our top-10 starting position, but we were just way too loose to start the race and lost a lot of positions. We ended up falling one lap down to the leader and struggled all day to earn our lap back. Crew chief Danny Stockman called for a lot of adjustments but no matter how many my crew made, we just never got a solid feel for the handling of the Roland Chevrolet.”

Daniel Hemric, finished 31st: “We had a fast Chevrolet this weekend, and it was really special to earn our first pole award as a group at Kansas. I was hoping once the green flag dropped we’d be able to set sail, lead laps and be in contention for the win. Unfortunately, our Caterpillar Chevrolet was just a little tricky to balance today. I needed more rear grip throughout most of the day, but never got it to where I could run both the top and bottom grooves like I wanted to. On the first attempt at a late-race restart, it all just happened so fast on the frontstretch and before I knew it, (Daniel Suarez) was turned down in front of me and we made contact.”

Daniel Suarez, finished 32nd: “We had a really good ARRIS Mustang to start the race. We held our position up front, and then I got shuffled back on one of the restarts. We were working on adjusting the car and trying to make up our track position, and towards the end we had made a lot of ground. Unfortunately, we got in an accident getting ready to take the white flag.”

Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

R. Kevin Butts photo - Courtesy of COTA
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The Cup Series will do more road course racing in 2021 with the addition of the Circuit of the Americas to the schedule, the track announced Wednesday.

The Cup race will be held May 23.

The 3.41-mile road course in Austin, Texas, has hosted Formula One and IndyCar races, among others since its debut in 2012. The track also has a 2.2-mile, 15-turn short course. Announcements regarding race length, course selection and the full weekend schedule will be made at a later date.

MORE: Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

A NASCAR event has never been held at Circuit of the Americas, but Tony Stewart piloted a Stewart-Haas Racing car there last year in a demonstration run.

COTA is located roughly 220 miles south of Texas Motor Speedway. Speedway Motorsports will be the event’s promoter.

“Our company is proud to have a 60-year history of fabulous firsts in motorsports entertainment, and we are honored to bring America’s premier racing series to one of the world’s most renowned entertainment venues and cities for the very first time,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith in a statement. “I’d like to thank COTA CEO Bobby Epstein as well as NASCAR’s executive leadership for supporting us in an endeavor to do something that we believe will be spectacular for race fans, not only in Texas but around the world. We work and challenge ourselves every day at Speedway Motorsports to create amazing experiences that will last a lifetime, and we know NASCAR at COTA will deliver in 2021.” 

“I’m grateful for Marcus Smith’s vision and determination to make this event possible,” said Circuit of the Americas CEO and Chairman, Bobby Epstein in a statement. “His teams in Charlotte and at Texas Motor Speedway have created a spirit of partnership that will make for a spectacular weekend of fun and competition. Speedway Motorsports, along with the leadership at NASCAR, have a ‘Fans First’ attitude and have responded to everyone who has long desired to see a Cup Series race at COTA. Fans who’ve been here before will witness stock car racing at its finest for the first time, and first-time visitors will be amazed at the views and friendly experience. It will be our pleasure to write another chapter of motorsports history alongside Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR in 2021.” 

The complete 2021 schedule will be announced this afternoon by NASCAR.

Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

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The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021 but will race on the road course for the first time instead of the oval, track officials announced Wednesday.

Cup will race on the road course on Aug. 15. That race will be held a day after the NTT IndyCar Series races on the Indy road course.

“Our first NASCAR-IndyCar weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants involved,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and IndyCar together during this exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

MORE: Atlanta to have two Cup dates in 2021

MORE: Darlington to run Cup races on Mother’s Day, Labor Day weekend in 2021

The Cup Series has raced at Indy since 1994. But as the racing there has been questioned and the sport has made a push for more road course races, NASCAR moved the Xfinity Series to the road course this year as a trial. The event was well received, creating the opportunity to move next year’s Cup race to the road course as well.

“Indy is Indy, no matter if you’re on the road course or you’re on the oval,” Joey Logano said of what a win there would mean. “It doesn’t matter. If you’re on the dirt track, I don’t care, it’s Indy. It’s that big deal to win there. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a Cup car, IndyCar or a tricycle, you want to win at that race track.”

Indy’s road course is 2.439 miles and features 14 turns. Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity race there after a four-car battle for the lead in the final laps.

The full Cup schedule will be announced Wednesday afternoon. The Xfinity schedule will be announced at a later date. Boles said on a media Zoom he was unsure of the Xfinity plans but talked with Logano about an interest Logano would have in running in a Xfinity race there to get more track time for the Cup race.

 

Darlington Raceway gets second Cup race for 2021

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Darlington Raceway will have two races in 2021, marking the first time since 2004 that the track has been scheduled to hold multiple Cup races in a season. The track announced its schedule Wednesday with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster at the Governor’s mansion.

“Congratulations. Thank you. Hallelujah,” Gov. McMaster said after the dates were announced.

Darlington was scheduled to host one race in 2020 but added two more in NASCAR’s return to racing after the season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MORE: Atlanta to host two Cup races in 2021 for first time since 2010

The track will hold its first Cup race next season on May 9. That is Mother’s Day. It marks only the third time in the last 40 years the series will have run on Mother’s Day. The series last raced on Mother’s Day in 2007 when rain forced the Darlington race to be held that afternoon. The only other time NASCAR raced on Mother’s Day in the last 40 years was 1986 when the All-Star Race was held at Atlanta.

Darlington’s second date will be its Southern 500 event on Sept. 5, Labor Day weekend. That race will again open the  Cup playoffs.

NASCAR will announce the 2021 Cup schedule on Wednesday afternoon.

Darlington hosted two Cup races a season from 1960-2004. It held one Cup race from 2005-19.

The track stated that 2021 schedules for the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be announced at a later date.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, tweeted that the Darlington races would be run with the low downforce package.

 

 

Atlanta to host two Cup races in 2021

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Atlanta Motor Speedway will host two Cup races in 2021, marking the first time since 2010 that the 1.5-mile speedway will have multiple Cup events in the same season.

Atlanta will host Cup races on March 21 and July 11.

The July 11 race will be the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart, moving sponsorship that had been with Kentucky Speedway. Kentucky Speedway will not be on the 2021 schedule. Its date becomes the second Atlanta date. The March race will be known at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

The July race marks the first 400-mile race at Atlanta since 1966.

The track announced its dates Wednesday morning. The full 2021 Cup schedule will be released Wednesday afternoon.

Atlanta Motor Speedway stated on its website that it plans to host fans in its stands and camping areas in socially distanced, limited capacity for each of its Cup races in 2021.

“We’re beyond excited to deliver what our fans have been yearning for: a second weekend of NASCAR action in Atlanta once again,” AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison said in a statement. “Folds of Honor and QuikTrip continue to be phenomenal partners for our spring weekend of racing and we’re thrilled to have Quaker State and Walmart on board this summer as we put together two weekends of entertainment and excitement for race fans.”