What drivers said after Martinsville night race

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Martin Truex Jr. – Winner: “We’ve been working a long time at trying to figure this place out and just chipping away at it. The last couple years we’ve been really strong. 2018 was a heartbreaker at the end of the race there. Last year to get the win and this year, just hats off to the guys. We started the first run and it pushed the right-front tire off and we were terrible. Really good adjustments from the guys, just want to thank all of them. … Congrats to James (Small, crew chief) on his first win. He’s doing an awesome job and really proud of him. It’s a big day for us. I want to say hi to all the fans at home, we definitely miss you. This just doesn’t feel right, but exciting to win for sure.”

(How hot was it during the race?) “It was really hot. I don’t know if it’s just going back to this aero package, but this car felt a lot hotter than I expected it to. It’s not that hot outside, but all in all, we did what we had to do and I’m just really proud of my team. Thanks to everybody back at JGR for working through all these tough times and everything else. I don’t even know what else to say, kind of speechless. It feels a little strange out here to be honest.”

Ryan Blaney – finished second: “It was a very interesting race. We started off really bad. I mean, we went from starting on the pole to being a lap down in 60 laps. That’s kind of tough to do. We found a way to do that. We already dug ourselves a hole early. We pitted.  Actually after the first pit stop, we got our car a lot better, a lot better. I think just the green racetrack didn’t really go well with what we had or something.  We really wore our tires out.  I had to run the top a lot, was getting passed.  I don’t think that helped.

“After that I felt more competitive. We got the Lucky Dog there right before the first stage end. After that we drove all the way up to second.  We had a great long‑run car. That was great.To be able to get the lead there at the start of the third stage, kind of biding our time, taking care of our stuff. Caution came out. We got a penalty on pit road. That set us all the way back again with not a lot of laps to go. We had 170 to go. Last restart we started ninth. 19 just got away from me. I couldn’t run him down. By the time I got to second, he was gone. My stuff was a little worn out having to pass a lot of cars.”

Brad Keselowski – finished third: “Decent finish for us. We ended up third. I felt like we had a pretty good car. Had a rough start there.  Started in the outside lane.  I guess with the track not having any rubber, when you started on the outside lane, the tire completely blistered and corded.  We lost almost two laps the first run, thought something was broken, didn’t know what was going on.

“New tires on lap 60. We were a lap down. By the time we were able to get the lap back, we were at stage two, running 10th or 11th.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any stage points, but rallied to get up to the lead there about 150 to go. Wasn’t quite good enough to hold off the 19.  He was super, super strong. He proved why he’s so good. He just kept passing cars, just flying. Pretty impressive.”

Joey Logano – finished fourth: “At the beginning of the race we were just lights out, super-fast. I don’t know why, but the balance was just right on and everyone was falling off so hard. Everyone looked like they were just really tight and no front tire left on it. I was just creeping around passing everyone, so that was a great feeling for a while.  We were able to get a stage win. I’m proud of the stage win. Those playoff points add up. They mean a lot, so that’s good. We got a third-place in the middle stage, a lot of points, a lot of laps led. I say we didn’t keep up with the track, but we tried to.  We were going the right direction with it, but we just couldn’t make the right adjustments.

“As the track rubbered up we lost the center two-thirds turn, and we tried freeing it up and just really couldn’t hit that spot that I needed and really lost our entry and exit, and lost a little bit of speed to the field. It was still good enough for a top five, finishing fourth. We’ll take that.  Take the points that we got today. No grandfather clock.  hat’s the goal, but it’s nice to finally finish where we should. We’ve had issue after issue these last few races, so it’s nice to see a nice finish.  It’s not what we wanted, but the direction is right.”

Chase Elliott – finished fifth: “I think we got everything out of our NAPA Chevy that we could tonight. (Crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) did a good job making adjustments throughout the race, we just needed something to help us on the long runs. Hopefully learned some things that we can bring back here in the fall.”

Alex Bowman – finished sixth: “Man, it was a pretty good day for us for short track racing. Our ChevyGoods.com Camaro came home P-6. Really good for us at a short track with how we’ve struggled over the last two years. I’m so proud of my team for making improvements and we’ll go get them at Homestead!”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished seventh:

William Byron – finished eighth: “P8. Not bad for going to the back twice. Man, we’ve had to start in the back quite a few times lately, so got to clean that up. But, overall, we needed a good finish and got it. I feel like the short tracks for us have been good – three top-10’s is nice. Just got to clean it up, continue to progress and improve. We’ll go onto Homestead and hopefully have a shot at a top-five or a win there.”

Kurt Busch – finished ninth: “We started the race really well tonight, and with the way the track was rubbering up and going from day to night, it really changed the character of Martinsville. We had no rubber on the track to start and then those long green runs affected how the tires were wearing, so we zig-zagged a little on our setup. I thought we were a bit better in the first half of the race, running in the top five, and fell off a bit in the second half to run sixth to tenth. But we battled all night and came away with a top 10 and earned some stage points. We still need to clean up some things, but we’re chugging along with our No. 1 Monster Energy/GEARWRENCH Chevrolet team and showing consistency with another top 10.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished 10th: “We had a great car tonight and then just didn’t keep up with the track. My pit crew was on fire, they got me spots every time on pit road. We are gaining on it, so I wish the result was better but overall, still a positive night.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 11th: “Our left-front tire wasn’t getting-off the ground completely (during pit stops), so we had to do three pumps. That was unfortunate, but man, our car was so good. Our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was so good on the long runs, so we definitely did not need those cautions towards the end of the race. All-in-all, great job to come here and execute with no practice at my favorite track. I’ll tell you what, it was awesome to race with 7-Time (Jimmie Johnson) there at the end. Jimmie Johnson has won so many times here and when we’re running him down – that’s hats off to my guys. Good job fellas!”

Chris Buescher – finished 13th: “Not a bad day for our Fastenal Ford Mustang. A long day. A hot day. We worked hard and kept getting better throughout. We overcame a really bad draw, and had to start 24th. We ended up having a nice clean day. The car is a little twisted in places like they normally are when leaving Martinsville. We escaped the rain, which was pretty fortunate looking at the radar and seeing all the rain that fell around us. I am really proud of the group. We really needed that after a tough couple of weeks. We will take that and head to Homestead and keep on digging.”

Michael McDowell – finished 14th: “That was an awesome run for us tonight at Martinsville Speedway. Running inside of the top 15 for most of the day was great, especially considering that we started 29th and were able to drive up and inside of the top 10 for a while. (Crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer_ and the guys did a really nice job of bringing a fast No. 34 The Pete Store Ford Mustang; this was definitely one of our best races at Martinsville. We just needed a little bit more at the end as we battled hard with our Roush Fenway Racing teammates, but it’s hard to pass guys when you have similar cars. Overall, I’m really proud of everyone at Front Row Motorsports; It was a really good run for us tonight. Thanks to The Pete Store for all that they do for our team, it was great to have them on board with us.”

Tyler Reddick – finished 16th: “Man, I missed this place! I hadn’t raced at Martinsville Speedway in a little over three years, so it was a big learning experience for me tonight with our No. 8 Caterpillar Fleet Monitoring Chevrolet. We fought a tight-handling condition pretty much the entire night and needed to be looser. We were able to manage it fairly well for most of the night, but our adjustments didn’t seem to do what we wanted them to during the final 100 laps. The track changed a lot more than we thought it would tonight, but we managed it the best we could. We were able to race in the top 10 for a portion of the night, so that’s a positive to build on. Martinsville is a really tricky track, so for us to be able to do that without any practice in a Cup car for the first time for me is pretty good. We learned a lot tonight that we can use to our advantage when we come back in the fall, which is a race that could have really big implications for the driver standings.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 17th: “That was a tough night for us. I don’t know if we were chasing the track or what. We went from one of the fastest cars to one of the worst. I didn’t have any turn, zero right rear grip and just couldn’t get the power down.”

Corey LaJoie – finished 18th: 

Matt Kenseth – finished 23rd: “We struggled tonight, and just couldn’t get it put together throughout the race. A disappointing night for sure, but the guys worked hard, making a lot of adjustments to get the car handling better for me and I really appreciate their effort. I’ve been working really hard at it, and I know things will start to fall into place and we’ll get better results. We’ll learn what we can from tonight for the fall race back at Martinsville, and turn our attention to Homestead on Sunday.”

John Hunter Nemechek – finished 25th: It was a tough night for our No. 38 FAS Ford Mustang. We fired off pretty loose and Seth and the crew tried to make adjustments as the night went on, but we weren’t able to get it to where we needed. My team worked hard and I’m proud of the effort everyone continues to put in each and every week. Big thanks to Fire Alarm Services for continuing to support us. We’ll take our learnings and head to Homestead on Sunday.”

Daniel Suarez – finished 27th: “That was rough. I had a hard time in there, and I understand it was that way for just about everybody. The temperatures were so high – the air, the pedals were hot, the shifter, it seemed like everything. The CommScope Toyota was pretty decent at the start, but it kept getting more and more loose on entry and exit and very tight in the center. The last part of the race, it actually felt really good, so Dave (Winston, crew chief) and the guys did a good job giving me a good car for the finish. We just need to keep working hard to try and keep finding more speed.”

Cole Custer – finished 29th: “That’s about the most frustrating race I’ve been a part of. It’s tough not having any practice and being a rookie, especially at a place like Martinsville that I haven’t raced at in a few years. We’ll be better next week.”

Aric Almirola – finished 33rd: “It was nice leading 19 laps there at the beginning. Everything went downhill from there. We found out we had issues with the right-front tire and then we had alternator issues. Looking forward to Homestead. Hopefully we got all the bugs out.”

Austin Dillon – finished 37th: “We had a fast No. 3 Symbicort Chevrolet. Right at the start of the race, we had a puncture in the right-rear tire and had to pit, which put us a couple of laps down. It may have been cut from the very beginning of the race, because as soon as we took the green flag something felt off. Our Chevy remained really fast and at times we were a half-second faster than the rest of the field. We just couldn’t catch a break to get our laps back with long green-flag runs tonight. We were also battling brutal temperatures in the cockpit because the crush panel got knocked out when the right-rear went down at the beginning of the race. Eventually we had to retire early from the race. We had a really good car, so it’s a shame that had to happen.”

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