What drivers said after Cup regular-season finale

0 Comments

William Byron – winner: “I had confidence in (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and the guys that we could get four tires and make the most of it. So, I’m just extremely blessed, and this is incredible. It’s been a hard couple of years in the Cup Series and trying to get my first win and gel with this team. These guys did an awesome job today and got us in the Playoffs and it’s amazing.”

(How intense was it racing Jimmie Johnson and Matt DiBenedetto?) “This is probably the hardest track to points-race. We had a great Stage 2 and kind of got back in the pack and got shuffled when everyone went single file. I thought my hopes were up there. And we were racing around the No. 21 (Matt DiBenedetto) and the No. 48 (Johnson) in the final stage and I was like ‘Man, I’ve got to really make something happen.’ Luckily, I was able to push the No. 43 (Bubba Wallace) and he and the No. 22 (Joey Logano) made some contact and opened up a hole for me, and I wasn’t going to lift. It was awesome. Thanks to Liberty University, Chevrolet, and it’s amazing.”

Chase Elliott – finished 2nd: “It was pretty wild from my seat. I was surprised it took us as long as it did to wreck, for sure. But I’m really proud of our Hooters team. I feel like we had faster Chevrolet’s than we’ve had in the last couple of trips, which was good. It didn’t drive as good as I think it probably should have, but I do think we were better by a pretty large margin, so that was nice. Congratulations to William (Byron) – getting your first win is something he’ll never forget and that’s a really special moment for him. He’s worked really hard for that. I’m happy for him, Chad (Knaus) and all of the 24 team. They’ve done a good job.”

Denny Hamlin – finished 3rd: “Just disappointed. I didn’t do a good job. Lack of focus or whatever it is. Not executing. If you have control of a green-white-checkered on a speedway, most of the time the win is going to come from the front row and you have to just make sure you make the right moves and I just didn’t after I took the green. I don’t know what I was doing and I didn’t have a push from the 21 (Matt DiBenedetto) and I was clear of the 24 (William Byron) and just didn’t pull down. I don’t know what I was doing. Disappointing, but I guess we escaped some mayhem, we were in some mayhem. Just a crazy race. Just everyone kind of out there for themselves and all the pushing and shoving and body-slamming and what not. Decent finish, but I hate having control and not finishing.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished 4th: “We got ourselves in position there at the white flag and made a run through the tri-oval and got to the outside of the leader there. The 14 (Clint Bowyer) and those guys that were behind me, they were my pushers and they crashed. As soon as they wrecked behind me, I realized that I lost all my help and it was going to be tough from there on out. Then the 9 (Chase Elliott) just pushed the 24 (William Byron) back by us and ended up barely hanging onto fourth. Overall, it was a really good night. Our Bass Pro Toyota had a lot of speed and we passed a lot of cars at the end. We had to pit twice there at the end on those two cautions because we flat-spotted our tires and ran over all kinds of debris. To be able to come through the field in a short amount of laps was a lot of fun. Always nice when you leave here in one piece.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 5th: “A win was there and then it wasn’t. On to the next one.”

Ryan Blaney – finished 6th: “We worked pretty well together, (Joey Logano) and I, the first couple stages there and then we kind of got shuffled back once or twice, and then we were kind of mired in the back and everyone was three-wide, you can’t go anywhere, and then my job was just not getting in a wreck. I missed a couple of them and then had a decent run at the end. We had some good momentum going on the last couple laps and some big blocks and we kind of got stacked up and never kept our momentum going, but, overall, not a bad night for our strawberry banana BodyArmor Ford Mustang. It was bright, but came home clean.  We got DiBenedetto in the playoffs, which is good for that group, and looking forward to the next 10 weeks. It should be a lot of fun.”

Alex Bowman – finished 7th: “Super pumped for William (Byron) and the entire No. 24 team. Really cool to see them get the win. Bummed for Jimmie at the same time. It is a big mix of emotions there for Jimmie to miss it. Overall, not a bad day for the No. 88 team. Had a really fast car, didn’t drive really well though. I have no clue how we didn’t crash some of those times. We got really lucky there at the end and ended up with a solid top-10 finish.”

Brendan Gaughan – finished 8th: “The Beard Oil Distributing Chevrolet Camaro had a heck of a run tonight. We saw pay dirt there at the end – third place coming out of turn four. The 19 car just side drafted us and pulled us back. I didn’t have any help behind me but what a night. I just have to say thank you so much to the Beard family, Darren Shaw (crew chief) and Ron Lewis, my spotter. I also want to say thank you to Richard Childress and ECR motors for all they do for us. Two top-10s this year at Daytona – what a way to go out. It was so much fun. We will see everyone in Talladega and we’ll actually be able to take the same racecar because it’s in one piece.”

Brad Keselowski – finished 10th: “It’s good to be in a good spot for the playoffs.  We have a lot of bonus points and obviously we wanted more than what we have, but we’re allowed to be greedy.  All in all, a good finish for us.  It was not the most fun night, but we’ll take it with our PIRTEK Ford and move on to Darlington and hopefully have great runs in the playoffs and get that second championship.”

John Hunter Nemechek – finished 11th: “I’ll take P11 for our No. 38 FAS Ford Mustang after all that. It was a wild end to the day, but I’m super proud of my guys for all of their effort and hard work. We had a pretty decent setup and made a few adjustments during the night that helped get us in a position to have a good result. We got caught up at the end in a wreck with some heavy right side damage, but my guys on pit road rallied and we were able to keep rolling to get a good finish for our partners at FAS. Overall it was a good points day for us, so we’ll take what notes we can and move on to the next one.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished 12th: “It was too eventful.  I’m mentally worn out. I’m gonna sleep great tonight, but there was so much going on there at the end. First off, I’m so happy for this team and Menards, Dutch Boy, the whole Menard family, Motorcraft/Quick Lane and the Wood Brothers, Ford, our alliance with Team Penske. You name it. This means so much to get this for them, but in the race there if I could I hedged toward being on the bottom because, man, just when you’re in the bottom and the top it’s nearly a sure thing when you get that you get crashed, so I’m glad we were able to take it home because I wasn’t happy with the finish, but I came in here saying all that mattered I just wanted to make these playoffs and the finishing position didn’t matter too much.”

Michael McDowell – finished 14th: “Not the result that we wanted tonight, but our CarParts.com Ford Mustang was really fast. It sucked up really good in the draft and I was able to get up in the Top-10 and stay there pretty easily, but just got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. You know, that’s Daytona and it happens, but I’m just really proud of everybody at Front Row Motorsports. It wasn’t the finish that we had hoped for, but we still got a Top-15 finish with a crashed car. The speed that we had was some of the best that we’ve had on a superspeedway in a really long time, so I’m just really proud of everybody. Thank you to CarParts.com and CARDONE Industries for coming on board.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished 17th: “First and foremost, congratulations to my teammate getting his first Cup win like that. This setting and the drama to go with it – that’s a big win for Chad Knaus and William Byron. I’m really happy for those guys. I really felt like we had a way to transfer, to win, or point our way in the way it went in the first two stages. Things just got ugly down in turn one. Unfortunate, but that’s plate racing.”

Austin Dillon – finished 25th: “We had a fast Dow VORASURF Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Even though we had to start at the back of the field, we were able to work our way into the top five and we had speed and handling. Things were getting exciting with less than 15 laps to go. I thought there was going to be a big one and I was going to be in the clear but it didn’t work out that way. I was on the high line and had nowhere to go when everyone started crashing in front of me. I should have known better. If you stay on the bottom you have an out. We ended up with a lot of damage to our Chevy and survived several additional end-of-race wrecks to nurse it home to a 25th-place finish.”

Daniel Suarez – finished 26th: “We had a really good CommScope Toyota tonight. We were really looking forward to this race and it was a lot of fun while it lasted. I was able to drive to the front in the middle part of the race and led laps for a while before we needed to save fuel. We were able to get through the first wreck without any significant damage, but there was just no way to avoid the second one. It’s a shame because we had a really good racecar. I’m proud of everybody who was involved in getting us ready for this race. We ran up front, so that felt really good. I think we have some good momentum to take to the last 10 races.”

Joey Logano – finished 27th: “It’s just superspeedway racing. It gets so intense at the end and everyone is pushing so hard. It’s one of those situations you’re so close to the front you’ve got to stay in it and keep going for it and try to get the lead. I got a good run off the top side. We had (Bubba Wallace) pushing enough to clear (Denny Hamlin) and I knew I could do that, which we did. I was hoping I could get back up in front of (Wallace), which we did and then (Hamlin) got me just off-centered a little bit. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just superspeedway racing  It’s hard pushing and it got me in the right-rear and turned me to the right and ran me into Bubba and that cut down my right-rear tire by the time I got to turn one and you can’t control it and spun out in front of the whole field. Thanks to NASCAR we have safe cars and Team Penske for building something safe. I’m okay. The good news is we’re ready for the playoffs.”

Tyler Reddick – finished 29th: “My spotter, Derek Kneeland, and crew chief, Randall Burnett did a great job calling a race that got me up towards the front with 10 laps to go. I tried to make a move for the lead with about eight laps to go, and it didn’t work out like I planned. It unfortunately hurt our car and chance to win. I was clear for about a second when I went to make it, but it’s Daytona and things change quickly. There weren’t a lot laps left at that time, and you have to do what you can to try to win to make the playoffs.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished 32nd: “I think the race kind of played out similar to what we thought it was going to. Starting in the back, we decided we would just kind of cruise in our Kroger Camaro. It was nice running the bottom there in that final stage with the 9 (Chase Elliott) and the 88 (Alex Bowman) behind us. I felt like we were making headway, got up beside the 18 (Kyle Busch) for the lead and it was tough with the 18 and the 11 (Denny Hamlin) together. But I thought with us, the 9 and the 88, I thought that we could keep our momentum up. Something happened behind them and they got shuffled and separated from me. Then there at the end, we were just running the top lane. It looked like the 8 (Tyler Reddick) tried to pull a slider, didn’t quite have him cleared and we all just kind of bunched up. Our Kroger Camaro was fast again. I had a lot of fun, but it sucks not to get the finish out of it.”

Kyle Busch – finished 33rd: “Slide job gone bad. I just hate it for these Interstate Batteries guys. We had a good Camry all night long and made our way to the front multiple times and we were leading a lot of laps there. Just waiting for the end, for business to pick-up and I guess business was starting to pick-up, but just not clear. I saw him coming and even checked up and we still ran into each other.”

Kurt Busch – finished 34th: “We were just digging on the bottom – I thought that was the best spot to be. Our Monster Energy Chevy was fast and we were all in the right spot, I thought, for what we needed to get done. Just got clipped from behind and our day is done. But, all-in-all, we’ve been coming together as a team – we just haven’t had the results to show it. I like the clarity and focus that we have on the No. 1 car heading into the Playoffs. It’s been a consistent season all the way until these last few, but now it’s time. Now we have to lay down everything we’ve got with Darlington, Richmond and Bristol coming up.”

Erik Jones – finished 35th: “I mean, he (Tyler Reddick) wasn’t clear. Kyle (Busch) let him in, number one, to not cause a wreck and then he ran into the wall and wrecked everybody behind him. It’s frustrating. He had way too much speed to try to make that move up the hill with the grip that is left in the tires. We had a lot of laps on them. It’s unfortunate. He wrecked us a Pocono, and then to have this happen, you know, two times making racing moves that were not going to work out. Unfortunately, it was to the determent of us today. The Auto Owners Camry was pretty fast. We were up front. I think we were running third when we got wrecked, so we had a shot. We needed to win — we were there, we just didn’t get it done.”

Ryan Newman – finished  36th : “(Reddick) obviously just ran out of talent.  It seems like you can win a couple of Xfinity championships and still stick your head where the sun don’t shine when the time comes right.  I’m just disappointed.  It was kind of an average race sitting there waiting with our Guaranteed Rate Ford and never got a chance to show how good a car we had.”

 

Long: NASCAR needs to quickly correct officiating issue from Texas

2 Comments

NASCAR’s admission that it did not see William Byron spin Denny Hamlin under caution during Sunday’s Cup playoff race is troubling.

With video evidence of impropriety and Hamlin’s team vigorously arguing for relief, there were enough reasons for series officials to take a closer look at putting Hamlin back to second before the race returned to green-flag conditions. Or some other remedy even after the race resumed. 

Add the lack of access series officials had to Byron’s in-car camera— something fans could readily see at NASCAR.com and the NASCAR Mobile App — and changes need to be made before this weekend’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

While NASCAR should make every effort to judge matters between drivers regardless of their playoff status, that it was two playoff drivers involved in an incident demanded greater attention. With three races per round, one misstep can mean the difference between advancing or being eliminated. 

Just as more is expected from drivers and teams in the playoffs, the same should be expected of officials.

“If we had seen that (contact) good enough to react to it in real time, which we should have, like no excuse there, there would probably have been two courses of action,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition Sunday night. “One would have been to put Hamlin back where he was, or the other would be to have made William start in the back.”

Here is how the incident played out:

The caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash at 8:19 p.m. ET.

As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

About 90 seconds after the caution lights illuminated, the USA broadcast showed a replay from a low angle of Byron directly behind Hamlin’s car and apparent contact. 

Contact can happen in multiple ways. It can come from the lead car hitting the brakes and forcing the car behind to hit them, or it can come from the trailing car ramming into the car ahead. The first video replay did not make it clear what caused the contact, making it difficult for any official to rule one way or the other based solely on that.

This also is a time when NASCAR officials were monitoring safety vehicles on track, checking the lineup and making sure pit road was ready to be open. It’s something NASCAR does effortlessly much of the time. Just not this time. 

A different replay aired on USA 11 minutes, 16 seconds after the caution that showed Byron and Hamlin’s car together. That replay aired about a minute before the green flag waved at 8:31 p.m. ET. Throughout the caution, Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart argued that Hamlin should have restarted second.

But once the race resumed, the matter was over for NASCAR. Or so it seemed.

Three minutes after the green flag waved, the NASCAR Twitter account posted in-car video that showed Byron running into the back of Hamlin’s car while the caution was out. Such action is typically a penalty — often parking a driver for the rest of the race. Instead, Byron was allowed to continue and nothing was done during the rest of the event. 

After the race, Miller told reporters that series officials didn’t see the contact from Byron. 

“The cameras and the monitors that we’ve got, we dedicate them mostly to officiating and seeing our safety vehicles and how to dispatch them,” Miller said. “By the time we put all those cameras up (on the monitor in the control tower), we don’t have room for all of the in-car cameras to be monitored.

“If we would have had immediate access to (Byron)’s in-car camera, that would have helped us a lot, being able to find that quickly. That’s definitely one of the things we’re looking at.”

But it didn’t happen that way.

”By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green,” Miller said.

NASCAR didn’t act. By that time maybe it was too late to do so. But that’s also an issue. Shouldn’t the infraction be addressed immediately if it is clear what happened instead of days later? Shouldn’t officials have been provided with access to the in-car cameras so they could have seen Byron’s actions earlier and meted the proper punishment? Instead, Miller hinted at a possible penalty to Byron this week.

Miller didn’t reveal details but it wouldn’t be surprising to drop Byron in the field, costing him points. He’s 24 points from the cutline, so a penalty that drops him from seventh to 30th (the position ahead of Truex) could be logical and that would cost Byron 23 points, putting him near the cutline. 

Texas winner Tyler Reddick said something should have been done. He knows. He was parked in a 2014 Truck race at Pocono for wrecking German Quiroga in retaliation for an earlier incident.

“In William’s situation, whether he ran him over on accident or on purpose, there should be some sort of penalty for him on that side because he’s completely screwed someone’s race up, whether it was on purpose or not,” Reddick said. “I feel like there should be something done there.

“I’m sure (NASCAR will) make some sort of a decision. I’m sure there will be something they’ll address this week, updates, on NASCAR’s side. I’ll be curious to see what that is. We can’t really have this where you dump someone under caution, they go to the back and you don’t. That could potentially be an interesting situation in the future.”

Texas shuffles NASCAR Cup playoff standings

1 Comment

Texas marked the fourth consecutive playoff race that the winner didn’t advance to the next round.

All three races in the first round were won by drivers not in the playoffs. Tyler Reddick won Sunday at Texas, a week after he failed to advance from the Round of 16 and was eliminated from title contention.

Texas did shake up the playoff standings. Chase Elliott entered as the points leader but a blown tire while leading sent his car into the wall, ending his race. He falls to the No. 8 spot, the final transfer position with two races left in this round. He’s tied with Daniel Suarez, but Suarez has the tiebreaker with a better finish this round.

Chase Briscoe, who scored only his second top 10 in the last 22 races, is the first driver outside a transfer spot. He’s four points behind Elliott and Suarez. Austin Cindric is 11 points out of the transfer spot. Christopher Bell is 29 points out of a transfer position. Alex Bowman is 30 points from the transfer line.

The series races Sunday at Talladega (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

 

XFINITY SERIES

Noah Gragson’s win at Texas moved him on to the next round. The win was his fourth in a row.

Ryan Sieg and Sam Mayer are tied for the final two transfer spots to the next round. Riley Herbst is one point behind them. Daniel Hemric is eight points from the final transfer spot. Brandon Jones is 13 points from the last transfer spot. Jeremy Clements is 29 points shy of the final transfer position.

The series races Saturday at Talladega (4 p.m. ET on USA Network).

 

 

CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

The series was off this past weekend but returns to the track Saturday at Talladega. Ty Majeski has advanced to the championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

 

Winners and losers at Texas Motor Speedway

2 Comments

A look at the winners and losers from Sunday’s marathon race at Texas Motor Speedway:

WINNERS

Tyler Reddick – Reddick isn’t acting like a lame duck. Headed for 23XI Racing in 2024 (if not sooner), Reddick now owns three wins with Richard Childress Racing, the team he’ll be leaving.

Justin Haley – Haley, who has shown flashes of excellence this season for Kaulig Racing, matched his season-high with a third-place run.

Chase Briscoe — Briscoe wrestled with major problems in the early part of the race but rebounded to finish fifth. It’s his second top-10 finish in the last 22 races.

LOSERS

NASCAR Officials – Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, admitted that series officials missed William Byron spinning Denny Hamlin under caution after Martin Truex Jr.‘s crash. Such a situation could have major playoff implications, although Miller hinted that series officials may still act this week.

Christopher Bell – Bell met the wall twice after blown tires and finished a sour 34th, damaging his playoff run in a race that he said was critical in the playoffs.

Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. – Harvick (finished 19th) and Truex (31st) were late-race victims of the day’s tire dilemma. Both crashed while leading.

Track workers  Somebody had to clean up all that tire debris.

Chase Elliott – Elliott remains a power in the playoffs, but he left Sunday’s race in a fiery exit after a blown tire while leading and finished 32nd. He holds the final transfer spot to the next round heading into Talladega.

 

 

Blown tires end race early for several Texas contenders

0 Comments

FORT WORTH, Texas — A Goodyear official said that air pressures that teams were using contributed to some drivers blowing tires in Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. all crashed while leading after blowing a tire. Among the others who had tire issues were Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher Cole Custer and Christopher Bell twice. 

“We’re gaining as much information as we can from the teams, trying to understand where they are with regard to their settings, air pressures, cambers, suspicions,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing Sunday. “For sure I can say without a doubt air pressure is playing into it. We know where a lot of the guys are. Some were more aggressive than others. We know that plays a part.

MORE: NASCAR says it missed William Byron spinning Denny Hamlin under caution 

“I’m not saying that’s the only thing, but it’s certainly a factor, so we’re just trying to understand everything else that is going on with regard to specific teams. We know a lot of guys have not had issues. We’ve had guys put full fuel runs on tires, but, obviously, other guys have had issues. We’ll be working with them to try to sort through that is.”

Eight of the 16 cautions were related to tire failures that caused drivers to spin or crash.

“It’s not a good look, that’s for sure,” Ryan Blaney said of the tire issues others had. “How many leaders blew tires tonight? Three or four?

“You just don’t understand what is making these things do that. From last week to this week, it’s really unfortunate. It’s just luck now.

“You never know if you’re going to blow one. You go into (Turn) 3 almost every lap with 40 laps on your stuff and I don’t know if one is going to blow out or not. That’s not safe. That’s for sure. Running (180) into (Turn) 3 and the thing blows out and you have no time to react to it. It’s unfortunate. I hope we can figure that out.”

Blaney said he was confused that the tires were blowing partly into a run instead of much earlier.

“It was weird because those tires didn’t blow right away,” he said. “Like the pressures were low. They blew like after a cycle or two on them, which is the weird thing.”

Asked how he handles that uncertainty, Blaney said: “Nothing I can do about it. Just hope and pray.”

After his crash, Elliott was diplomatic toward Goodyear’s situation:

“I’m not sure that Goodyear is at fault,” he said. “Goodyear always takes the black eye, but they’re put in a really tough position by NASCAR to build a tire that can survive these types of racetracks with this car. I wouldn’t blame Goodyear.”

Tyler Reddick, who won Sunday’s race at Texas, said his team made adjustments to the air pressure settings after Saturday’s practice.

“We ran enough laps, were able to see that we had been too aggressive on our right front tire,” he said. “So we made some adjustments going into the race, thankfully.”

This same time was used at Kansas and will be used again at Las Vegas next month in the playoffs. 

Reddick is hopeful of a change but also knows it might take time.

“I just think to a degree, potentially, as these cars have gotten faster and we’re getting more speed out of them, maybe, hypothetically speaking, we’re putting the cars through more load and more stress on the tire than they ever really thought we would be,” he said. 

“I know Goodyear will fix it. That’s what they do. It’s going to be a process. I know they’re going to be on top of it. Hey, they don’t want to see those failures. We don’t want to see them either. They’re going to be working on looking through and trying to find out exactly what is going on. We’ll all learn from it.

“It’s a brand-new car. It’s the first time in the history of our sport we’ve gone to an 18-inch wheel and independent rear suspension. All these things are way different, diffuser. All these things, way different. We’re all learning together. Unfortunately, just the nature of it, we’re having tire failures.”