What drivers said after Cup Series race at Bristol

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Brad Keselowski – Winner: “We kind of got a Christmas present here in Bristol.  We’ll take it.  We’re in position and able to strike when it counted with the Discount Tire Ford Mustang.  Joey and Chase got together there.  I don’t know what all caused it, but we were just in position to strike and here we are in victory lane.”

(HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN TODAY AT BRISTOL? ) “It’s great.  Bristol is a tremendous track.  I wish there were all these fans here to see it, but that’s how it goes.”

(HOW ARE YOU GOING TO CELEBRATE?)  “I’m gonna go home and see my wife and daughter.  I think she’s got some arts and crafts I’m supposed to play with her, and maybe some brownies to eat.  I wish I could celebrate with my team, but you know how everything is right now.  There’s so much going on in the world I’m just so thankful to get to be a race car driver and get to do this.”

Clint Bowyer – finished second: “We actually struggled pretty bad with our setup.  I don’t know, it was floating the nose really bad up off the corner all day long.  I could gain and make some ground up in the center of the corner in, and in the middle, but if I had to pass somebody and turn underneath of them I didn’t have the real estate.  The outside was no man’s land for me.  I couldn’t get my front end to turn at all.  (Keselowski) hit (Ryan Newman) into me and clobbered my whole left side.  I was needing (Keselowski) to be a little bit closer.  I wasn’t gonna feel bad about moving him, but it just didn’t materialize.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished third: “Wild and crazy night for sure.  Very strong performance for us.  Really proud of the guys keeping our chins up through the last four weeks.  We’ve had fast cars, really haven’t had the results to show for it. To put together a solid race, start to finish, great pit stops, fast car, be a threat.  We need more long runs.  There’s only one long race in the whole race.  We were battling for the lead with Kyle.  I wish there were more long runs because our car didn’t have the short run speed in it.”

Kyle Busch – finished fourth: “Our race was okay. We were trying to exit pit road two-wide with (Martin) Truex (Jr.) there running my lights and running on the inside, it’s a shorter distance and we got pegged for speeding. That ruined our first stage results. We were able to get back up there a little bit for the second stage, got some decent second stage points and then we were able to drive to the lead. I led for a little bit and thought we had a pretty good Skittles Camry out front. It was a little bit of a struggle in traffic until we caught lapped traffic and it kind of started to mix up the leaders a little bit.

“I felt like we could make ground back up in that after 30 or 35 laps of a run. We didn’t get those runs at the end of the race. My pit crew always does a great job and unfortunately we came down leading and then we came out third and losing control of the race lost us the race. They’re normally really, really good at getting us spots and today we just didn’t have one of those days on pit road. We got the result we got and those guys all crashed in front of us. Denny (Hamlin) got a flat after he crashed. The 9 (Chase Elliott) and the 22 (Joey Logano) got together when the 2 (Brad Keselowski) had just got by me so he was already in the lead and I had to check up for those guys wrecking. We fell to fourth and that’s all we had.”

Erik Jones – finished fifth: “It was solid. We had a pretty good Stanley Camry. At times, I thought we were better than others. We got a good finish out of it, which was nice. I got caught up in a wreck with the 4 (Kevin Harvick) car. He blew a right front, and we got some damage on the left front at the end. It slowed us down for sure. We just never really got the track position all day, never got where we needed to. We were fast enough during some of the runs that I felt like we could have maintained if we had been up in the top three, we just never got up there. Good day, good finish. Top five is always rewarding, but you always want more.”

Austin Dillon – finished sixth: “P6 for the No. 3 car. The Symbicort Chevrolet was good when it mattered. We worked really hard today; hard-fought battle. The car was tight; low right front. Goodyear said they didn’t know what happened to the tire. But we recovered and made some great adjustments. We were pretty fast there at the end. Justin (Alexander, Crew Chief) made a great call to take tires with 38 laps to go and it showed up. I can’t believe (Keselowski) won; just shows you have to stay in these races until the end. We were racing him right before that last caution, came out and he goes off and wins the race. We’re close, we’re getting there. Love how these races are playing out. Getting closer and closer! Thanks for all the support – next week is Atlanta!”

Kurt Busch – finished seventh: “Wow, what a day for us! The Monster Energy Chevrolet – not one straight panel on it. We went through a lot of damage, went through a lot of looseness early in the race. Man, we had a lot of lucky breaks that fell our way there at the end to be able to come home seventh. There were a couple of guys that wiped each other out, couple of guys chose the wrong lane on the restart and we were able to take advantage with our long run speed. We’ve got to work on our short run speed and how the car drives when it’s on stickers. But we’ll keep digging – we’re not going to give up!”

William Byron – finished eighth: “It was a tough race at the start for us but we finished eighth which was good. Lately we’ve had damage and just a lot of things go wrong for us. We just really needed a good finish and we did today. We had a loose wheel at the start of the race and had to start at the back of the field after that. We marched our way through the field, back to the top 10. We then again had to start at the back to make repairs to account for the loose wheel. For a third time we had to start back again later because of right-side damage. Once we finally got our track position back, we stayed up towards the top 10 and kept ourselves up there. At the end, some of those guys had fresher tires and we faded a couple spots.”

Christopher Bell – finished ninth:“We battled back and have begun to see some results, which is good. It’s nice to be getting some results after the start of the season we had. We are continuing to build and get better, which is the goal.”

 (What do you believe you and your team needs to do to keep the momentum going?) “Just keep learning. I’m a rookie and I’m learning more every race. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) is new with this Cup Series package, and as we continue to go back to the tracks we are continuing to grow and learn as a team.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 10th:  “All-in-all, it was a good day at the Bristol Motor Speedway. It was fun there at the end. It was wild – that race had pretty much everything. I have seen a lot of positive comments from fans. That’s Bristol Motor Speedway for you. We will carry some momentum over – finally got a good finish after two bad ones. We got the bad juju off our back and we will go onto the Atlanta Motor Speedway! We’ve got some work to do there. I am excited about the speed we’ve been bringing to the track each week. The speed we have been bringing has been good. We need to tweak some things to get us to the next level. We are knocking on the door. We’re doing really good things.”

Ryan Preece – finished 12th: 

John Hunter Nemechek – finished 13th: “It was a tough day, but we still fought to have a good finish under the circumstances. (Crew chief) Seth (Barbour) and the crew put together a super fast Scag Power Equipment Ford Mustang. We started off the day a little tight, needing more turn. In that last stage though, we had some issues with overheating and that cost us some precious track position. It’s a challenge at Bristol to stay on the lead lap, let alone finish top 15 after the day we had. I’m so proud of my team for sticking with me and never giving up. We fought hard and still came out of it P13.”

Michael McDowell – finished 14th: “We had a great run going today at Bristol. My Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang was pretty close to the top 10, but unfortunately got involved in a mid-race collision and had some damage. Thankfully, (Crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) and my guys on pit road did a great job of making repairs and we recovered alright to get a few spots back at the end and finish 14th. Overall, Bristol has always been a tough track for us, so to be competitive and run up front made it a solid day.”

Matt Kenseth – finished 16th: “Another tough day for me and the 42 team. We had a lot of things go right today with good stops in the pits and some runs with really good speed, but couldn’t turn it into a good finish. So, all in all a frustrating day that ended without the finish we could’ve had. We’ll keep working hard as we look forward to Atlanta and hopefully put together a better race next weekend.”

Denny Hamlin – finished 17th:

Joey Logano – finished 21st: “(Chase Elliott) wrecked me.  He got loose underneath me.  The part that’s frustrating is that afterwards a simple apology — like be a man and come up to someone and say, ‘Hey, my bad.’  But I had to force an apology, which, to me, is childish.  Anyways, man, we had a good recovery with our AutoTrader Mustang and had a shot to win.  That’s all you can hope for.  I passed him clean.  It’s hard racing at the end, I get that.  It’s hard racing, but, golly, man, be a man and take the hit when you’re done with it.”

Chase Elliott – finished 22nd: “Just going for the win, trying to get a run underneath (Logano) and got really loose. … As soon as I turned off the wall I had zero chance in making it. I’ll certainly take the blame. I feel like I had to keep him behind me right there to win the race. I hate that we both wrecked but can’t go back in time now.”

JJ Yeley – finished 25th: 

Aric Almirola – finished 29th: “We had such a good car today. We would have had a shot at a top-three finish. That’s Bristol. I felt like I had a tire going down at one point, so we pitted and even came back to the top 10 from that pretty quickly. We had a loose-wheel later and had to pit under caution that put us 10th. We were definitely making our way back towards the front and had a promising finish if we didn’t get caught up there. It looked like (Martin Truex Jr.) got into me. The car just took off towards the wall and we were done. I hate it for this Smithfield Ford team. We’re flirting on the edge of some really good runs. The good news is we came to Bristol with a setup that can win, so we’ll have confidence coming back.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished 31st: 

Corey LaJoie – finished 32nd:

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished 34th: “We just got crashed. Our Kroger Camaro was just so good. Two weeks in a row, I feel like, we had one of the best cars I’ve had at that given race track. We were just racing hard. The No. 42 (Matt Kenseth) had to check-up and the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) just ran into our left rear and spun us. But, it was a bummer. I felt like we had a really good shot at racing them for the win. We were getting it dialed-in there. Starting on the inside was a little tricky on re-starts in trying to get yourself up, and we were starting to get some momentum back to the top five there and just got crashed. He about got us last week. He got us this week. But, it’s just part of it. It’s short-track racing.

Cole Custer – finished 35th: “Well, that stinks. We were getting our car a lot better and then caught up in the wreck. Just so little time to react so you get caught up in them pretty easily here at Bristol. That’s just how it is here. I thought our HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang was getting a lot better. I felt like we could’ve run in the top 10. We were a lot better than where we were running. We were going forward but our pit stall wasn’t helping us either. We were getting blocked in about every time and that hurt us too. We’ll move on to the next one, but man, I thought we were going to have a good day here.”

Tyler Reddick – finished 36th: “We had a handful with the balance of our Alsco Uniforms Chevrolet today and weren’t quite where we needed to be to start the race. We worked really hard though and got it to where I thought it needed to be. We were even able to start clicking off some top-five lap times, just needed some track position to get up there and start contending. We had started to weed away at that, and I’m confident we would have gotten up there. I could run the top lane pretty well, which was helping a lot. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time at Bristol. I saw the No. 47 (Stenhouse) get spun, and I saw him go down but then I couldn’t see him anymore. I was worried if I checked up too much I’d get caught up in it, but it didn’t matter and I got caught up in it anyway. Just a tough situation and a tough way to end our day.”

Alex Bowman – finished 37th: “It looked like the 47 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) crashed and I just couldn’t get stopped in time. I was hoping they would stay low and as they all came up, I got on the brake pedal, just locked the fronts up and couldn’t turn. … We had a really good car, just had some weird stuff happen today. We cross-threaded a lug nut, had to come back down and change that out. The clutch pedal fell off inside the race car, so that wasn’t good for pit stops by any means. So, we struggled with that the last pit stop and lost some more track position. And then, just wrong place wrong time.”

Ty Dillon – finished 39th: “Rough day for the third race in a row. Obviously today we got caught up in a wreck after having the car fall off the jack during a pit stop. It’s just unfortunate, but our Germain Racing team is strong though. Our cars are really fast. Our GEICO Camaros are a lot stronger than we have been in the past couple years. We have plenty of time to rebound and accomplish our goals this season. We will keep our heads up, keep digging and fight until the end. Bad days will come; it’s just how you fight through them. We will go try again in Atlanta.”

Ryan Blaney – finished 40th: “I got in the marbles and spun out. Thought we were going to be OK and the we got destroyed about six seconds later. That’s just Bristol. I don’t know. I probably shouldn’t have been pushing that hard but trying to get back to the lead. I thought we found some speed up there. Just a mistake on my part.”

 

All-Star Race, Open entry lists

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It’s officially All-Star Race week.

For the first time the annual exhibition event that awards $1 million will be held at Bristol Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET Wednesday on FS1).

Twenty drivers will compete in the 140-lap, four-stage main event. Sixteen drivers currently make up the field following Cole Custer’s win Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.

Three drivers will qualify for the main event via the All-Star Open, the 85-lap preliminary race that’s divided into three stages. The winners of all three stages will advance. The remaining driver will advance via a fan vote.

Here are the entry lists for each race.

All-Star Race 

Drivers who automatically qualified for the All-Star Race: Those who won points races in 2019-20, past All-Star Race winners and previous Cup champions.

Drivers who have clinched an All-Star Race spot: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Cole Custer, Chase Elliott, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

Click here for the entry list.

All-Star Open

Twenty-two drivers are entered in the preliminary race.

Notable drivers include Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, rookies Tyler Reddick, William Byron and John Hunter Nemechek, as well as Bubba Wallace.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR in ‘good place’ with Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson after fight

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Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, says that series officials will keep an eye on Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson moving forward but that the sanctioning body feels it is in a “good place” with those drivers after their fight last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Gragson punched Burton after Burton repeatedly shoved him in the garage area as they discussed their contact on the track late in Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway. A NASCAR spokesperson said Friday night that no penalties were anticipated.

Asked about where matters stood between NASCAR and the two drivers, Miller told “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday morning:

“I personally wasn’t in the post-race conversations. (NASCAR Xfinity Series Managing Director) Wayne Auton does a great job with that and the report that I got from him is he talked to some of the crew members that were involved and obviously both of the drivers. I think we got to a good place. They’re going to have some words this week and try to make sure we’re in a good spot when we start the weekend next weekend in Texas. We feel like we’re OK.

“This is an emotional sport and there’s going to be things like that that crop up. It’s not a great situation for us to deal with as a sanctioning body, but we also want the emotion in the sport. That’s what makes it so special. Those things are unfortunate, but we do know from time to time those are going to happen. If we feel good about the conversations we’ve had, in a lot of cases we’re going to move on from that and keep an eye on those individuals moving forward.”

Race and Sports in America: Conversations to air at 8 p.m. ET Monday

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Damon Hack will host two roundtables with athletes and former athletes for a conversation on race and sports in America. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel and the NBC Sports Regional Networks.

Appearing with Hack will be Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, NBA superstar Steph Curry, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, NFL player Kyle Rudolph, pro golfer Troy Mullins, former tennis player James Blake, Major League Baseball player James Rollins and Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

Among the topics discussed are: The conversations they’ve had with family in the last few months, what they hope things will be like in a year’s time, the level of optimism vs. pessimism and their experiences.

 

 

Winners and losers from Kentucky

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WINNERS

Cole CusterHe entered Sunday’s race well out of a playoff spot at 25th in the points. He took advantage of a series of events in the final laps to score a dramatic victory and earn a playoff spot.

Martin Truex Jr.Lost the lead on the last lap but recorded his first top-five finish since his Martinsville win last month.

Matt DiBenedetto He was 18th with 14 laps to go and finished third.

Christopher BellSeventh-place finish was his fourth finish of 12th or better in the last six races.

Austin Cindric Had not won on an oval in the Xfinity Series before sweeping both series races at Kentucky Speedway.

LOSERS

Matt KensethA week after finishing runner-up at Indianapolis, he spun twice and finished 25th at Kentucky.

Ryan PreeceFinished last for the second race in a row. He was eliminated in a pit road accident at Indy and by transmission issues at Kentucky. He has failed to finish five of 17 races this season (29.4%).

Jimmie JohnsonWas third on a late restart when contact with Brad Keselowski spun him. Instead of contending for his first victory since 2017, Johnson finished 18th and had a little warning for Keselowski.