What drivers said after the Coca-Cola 600

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Brad Keselowski – Winner: “I’m tickled to death. One (major) left, the Daytona 500.  It’s been a great 10-year career I’ve had so far and I hate it took me 10 years to get this one.  I feel like I’ve had cars and a team good enough to do it many times over and it just slipped through our hands and today it didn’t.  I’m just really proud of everyone and persistence pays off.”

(Did you question decision not to pit?)  “No, we’ve lost too many races that way and I knew we had to take the chance.  If it didn’t work out, I knew it was the right call.”

(Why did you restart on the inside?) “I think first off I felt confident that if I took the bottom with (Ryan) Blaney up there that he would have an opportunity to take it three‑wide, slow that lane down.  If you take the outside, you risk that happening to you.  I didn’t want that to happen. It’s a little bit like a game of blackjack where you count cards there.  You’re thinking to yourself, when Chase (Elliott) pulled off, I think we made the right move.  How many cars stayed out behind us?  I think I heard it was like six or seven that stayed out behind us.  I knew it would be really hard for him to pass all those cars in two laps.”

Chase Elliott – finished second: “You just make the best decision you can based on the information you have.  When you are leading the race like that, people behind you are going to do the exact opposite of what you do. That was the situation we were put in.  (Crew chief) Al (Gustafson) made the decision, we stuck with it, and it didn’t work out.

(Would this be the toughest stretch you’ve had in your career, these couple races?) “Yeah, this week’s been pretty unfortunate.  We’ve had some tough losses in my career, for however many years I’ve been doing this, five, six years, unfortunately.  It is what it is.”

Ryan Blaney – finished third: “We started towards the back and gained a lot of spots in the beginning, but we got boxed in on the first stop and lost all those spots we gained. I had to pass a bunch of cars tonight.  I think we got that award.  I thought we were in a good spot on the restart with 45 or 48 (laps) to go and somebody got loose on the bottom into (Turn) 3 and we had to go all the way up to the wall to miss him in the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4  We lost a lot of spots right there and that really hurt us.  That lost us all the track position we gained towards the end.  I was feeling really good about it.  We restarted sixth or maybe even eighth on the top and I thought we were gonna roll, but that dropped us back to maybe 12th and we had to fight back from there.  I thought our car was pretty competitive, probably not the best car out there, but definitely a top-five car all night.  It was a good call to stay out there at the end, I thought.  We restarted fourth and gave us a chance.  We would have come home with a decent day, but we passed a lot of cars and definitely had a long night working on it.”

Kyle Busch – finished fourth: “During the middle stages of the race, I thought we were really fast. I feel like we had a great M&M’S Red, White, and Blue Camry and ran up front and got back up front from having to go to the back. But we put tires on it and it was never the same after that from about lap 280 or 290 when we put tires on it and it wasn’t the same as it was before that. We were lucky to steal a fifth-place finish out of it today and we’ll have to go back to work and figure out some things to make our stuff better for when we come back on Wednesday and get back after it.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished sixth: “It was a long and typical 600. You battle the car all night long and you just keep making adjustments and trying to stay up with the race track. The Bass Pro Toyota was really strong when we started off and I was able to pick off a few spots and work our way towards the front. I really rode there behind the 88 (Alex Bowman) for the first two stages. I felt like at times we were stronger than he was and just couldn’t make the move. Track position was crazy important tonight with the cooler temperatures and everybody having a year under their belts now with this car.

“Everybody is getting so close and they changed the tire and it was way different. It just felt really hard and had really low grip and it was really bouncy. We tried to keep up with the track, and at times, I felt like we were the best car. When we could get the lead, we could pull away. We had the lead late there in the last stage – early in the last part of the last stage and just had some trouble in the pits. It seems like every week we’re having a little bit of hiccups here and there and it set us back. The guys are working hard trying to get better.”

Kurt Busch – finished seventh: “We got the pole with the GEARWRENCH Chevy and led some laps; it was great to be up front and had good pace early. After the rain delay we just got buried in some dirty-air back in traffic. We just got to get our car a little better to maneuver in traffic. We just need the front tires front aero to be a little better in dirty-air. I know (crew chief) Matt McCall my guys are going to work on it; I’m gonna work on it, but a top 10 after all that, I will take it.”

Tyler Reddick – finished eighth: 

Christopher Bell – finished ninth: “I think we are headed in the right direction. We have to obviously keep making gains – getting a little bit faster, me doing a better job. We’re gaining on it. We are creeping up on it. I think we snuck a little bit of a better finish out than what we probably deserved, but we will take it after the first couple weeks.”

Cole Custer – finished 12th: ”Man, definitely a persevering night for the HaasTooling.com Mustang. I could’ve done better at the start of the race. We definitely got the car better throughout the race. We fought hard all night. We fought hard to stay on the lead lap and got our lap back that one time. To finish 13th in my first 600 that I’ve run was definitely pretty cool. I got a good restart at the end. We have some things we know we can do better when we come Wednesday. I can do some things better. I’m looking forward to it. We’re moving in the right direction with this package. We just have to keep grinding through it.”

Joey Logano – finished 13th:

Austin Dillon – finished 14th: “I feel really good, overall, physically, so that’s a good thing. We ran in the top 10 all night. We had a really solid car. We showed sometimes when we were up front in the top five, we ran some of the fastest laps of the race at times. Bummed when you go all night long running like that and give it away at the end. Our call was if a couple pitted, we were going to stay out. I actually said if all of them stay out, I’m pitting. Not all of them stayed out; I thought more would stay out. Probably should have came and got two tires. The 18 (Kyle Busch) was running one position in front of us, came and got two, and ended up fifth. You never know – my teammate Reddick had the outside and ended up being able to maintain and run ninth. We were too tight at the end and I kind of drove the wheels off of it, and the caution came out. Just a little over-confident, I wanted to get another good finish.”

Aric Almirola – finished 15th: “From the start of the day to the end of the day it was just a tough day. I was loose on the qualifying lap and spun, but was able to keep car from having much damage. We started in the rear and, on the pace laps, debris came out of the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) car and damaged some of the splitter, so we had to make some repairs there later on. We battled both ends of the balance with the car all four stages and started to ease our way to the top 10 at the end before that final caution came out – then the restart didn’t go my way. The Coke 600 is such a long race and so much can happen. I’m proud we battled back up there, but didn’t get the finish we wanted.”

John Hunter Nemechek – finished 16th: “It was kind of an up and down day, but overall, we had a good run in our No. 38 YANMAR Ford Mustang. We started off the night pretty free. Once we re-fired after the rain delay, we had a pretty tight race car for most of the night. (Crew chief) Seth (Barbour) and the crew kept trying different adjustments to get our handling better and we managed to run in the top 20 for most of the last stage. We never gave up and got some good notes to come back on Wednesday.”

Michael McDowell — finished 18th: “Our No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang had a tough time getting over the bumps in Turns 3 and 4 to start today’s Coca-Cola 600 … my guys on pit road did a good job of making adjustments all race long to get us more competitive. Thankfully, we caught a lucky caution with two laps to go and were able to get back on the lead lap.”

Alex Bowman – finished 19th: “That finish does not show how great of a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE we had today in Charlotte. We won two stages, led over 160 laps and really had a solid car. We would get loose or tight in certain areas, but (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and the guys made some good adjustments on pit road. At the end there, it just went straight. Not much I could do with that and unfortunately don’t have a finish to show how strong we were today. We learned a lot and hopefully can come back strong on Wednesday.”

William Byron – finished 20th:

Ty Dillon – finished 25th: “First and foremost, the Coca-Cola 600 is about so much more than ourselves and it was an honor to have SPC Richard C. Emmons III on our car. While we missed having his family at the track with us, hopefully we were able to honor them the best we could. Tonight wasn’t what we were looking for. The balance of our GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 1LE was pretty good, but unfortunately, we had to make an unscheduled pit stop under green in Stage 1 and never were able to recover. We usually don’t see a lot of cautions at Charlotte and that trend proved to be the same again. Just couldn’t dig ourselves out of the hole. It’s a shame, because I thought we were going to have a good night after a solid qualifying effort. The positive is we do have a good baseline setup for Wednesday night and we will try to have a better result then.”

Daniel Suarez – finished 28th:

Bubba Wallace – finished 38th: “Well, what a bummer. Tonight wasn’t our night. We burned-up a hub, and it put us way behind. I don’t know if we had other issues going on with the car or what, but it wasn’t worth the risk. I thought we had a really good car, especially before all this stuff happened. We were running some really good lap times, so I was excited to try and get some track position and go race with our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 U.S. Air Force Camaro ZL1 1LE. But sometimes you’re the bat and sometimes you’re the ball; tonight we were the ball.

Clint Bowyer – finished 39th: “It pretty well sucks.  It knocked the wind out of me there.  I mean, we’re 100 laps into a 400-lap race and to be out already, you talk about a helpless feeling.  The guys worked really hard on the Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Delvac Ford, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  We’ll get ready for next Wednesday and we’ll be back at it. I’m gonna go somewhere and take this (mask) off and find somewhere where I can find a cold beer.  I’m outta here.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished 40th (disqualified): “When that pit stop happened at the end, it’s so hard to know what the right thing to do is. We were talking about it too maybe for ourselves, but (crew chief) Cliff (Daniels) had a great sense of the right call to make. I feel for Chase (Elliott). He had such a great car on Wednesday, and to be leading here and have the caution come out with a couple to go, I feel bad for him. But I’m very proud of my team, very proud of everybody on this Ally Chevrolet. Second is OK – I’m very proud of the effort we’re putting in. But second, stinks. It’s tough being this close to victory lane, but we’re knocking on the door and we’ll get there.”