What drivers said after Talladega race

0 Comments

Denny Hamlin — Winner: “Just a lot of attrition. We just played the strategy and the numbers game to run in the back until we were locked in. Just things worked out. We finally got one back. This one was unexpected to say the least, but proud of this whole FedEx team, Toyota and everyone at JGR for bringing great race cars. Today we’re obviously thinking about JJ Damato (JGR executive) and his two kids. Really excited about this win. This was unexpected for sure. They were crashing in front of us. Obviously, I got forced down there just like the 21 (Matt DiBenedetto) and others did. There were a bunch of us that all crashed down there.”

Erik Jones — Finished 2nd: “It was good. Obviously, wish we could have won it there at the end. We had to throw a big block and got in the wall, but still came back and finished second there. Good day. The car was strong. The Sport Clips Camry had good speed and we led a lot of laps. Just didn’t totally play out at the end. You can’t ask for a lot more. We were there and coming to the line with a shot to win.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 3rd: “It feels great. I’m sure everyone is aware our team announced it’s selling and has been sold.  The relationship between myself and GEICO and Germain Racing and all the 47 employees at Germain Racing is coming to an end. We all promised each other when it was announced we would all give everything we had till the end.  This was a statement for our team. I can’t thank everyone enough at Germain Racing, Bob Germain, Larry Rogers, all the people at GEICO, all the people that worked there over my four years that helped me throughout my four years here.  I’m thankful for the opportunity and hopeful for the next opportunity. And hopefully some of us can get to work again, work together again. Hopefully this propelled some of us to get new opportunities next year as we’re all searching.”

William Byron – Finished 4th: “It’s tough not to get the win today but to finish fourth is good. It’s just unfortunate. We had a really good run there on the final lap and I got a good push from (Denny Hamlin) in (Turns) 1 and 2 that set that up. I was able to get to (Chris Buescher) and push him and then found some daylight on the bottom to have a run at(Matt DiBenedetto. Unfortunately, he blocked us there and put us below the yellow line. Fortunately, though we were able to save it and still finish in the top five. Today was a good run for us. We really needed to finish a race after the last couple weeks and it’s good to have a result like today.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 7th: “That was a crazy race at Talladega Superspeedway, but I’m proud of my No. 8 Cat Next Gen Dozers team for rallying all day long. They worked really hard to keep me in the game when we got into some trouble, and I really appreciate it. We got caught up in a wreck on Lap 1 that changed our game plan a little bit when we got some nose damage from the No. 95, but my team was able to make all the repairs quickly enough to get us back on our normal strategy by the time the competition caution came out. It was a lot about survival today with all the wrecks that were happening. I was able to squeeze through a couple big ones, but also got caught up in a couple others. Luckily, nothing was bad enough to take us out of the race completely. We just stayed focused, fixed what we needed to each time and kept fighting for every spot we could. It was a wild race today, so I’m happy we are able to come home with a seventh-place finish.”

JOHN HUNTER NEMECHECK — Finished 8th: “We managed to stay out of trouble the whole day, but that last caution forced us to pit for fuel – otherwise, we would have had a better shot at the win. We still came away with a nice top-10 finish.”

Ryan Preece – Finished 10th: “What a race today at Talladega Superspeedway. To be able to bring home a top-10 finish in our No. 37 Kroger Chevrolet after the season we have had feels like a win. I wish we didn’t have as much damage there at the end and we could give a little bit of a better push, but ultimately we needed fuel for the final NASCAR Overtime and needed to pit from the front anyway. I’m really proud of our Kroger team to be able to fix the damage that we did have and keep us there at the front at the end. We’ve got five races to continue finishing out this season strong and I’m looking forward to ending the season on a high note.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 12th: “This team has a never-give-up-attitude, and that is how we were able to finish so solid today in the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Off Road/E-Z-GO Chevrolet. Last week was a real bummer, but we kept fighting and only lost eight laps changing a belt. Tonight, we changed an oil cooler behind the wall and only lost two laps, so this RCR team is special. They are true professionals. Today was a fun race. We got our stage points in the first stage even with a little bit of damage. In the second stage, we just couldn’t keep up with the damage we had gotten, but to come back to 12th says a lot. This car is killed. I had a huge run down the backstretch at the end of the race. I pushed Brandon Poole way up there. Once I shoved him, I got to the bottom and then I don’t know what happened. The No. 2 car came across my nose and we lost a couple more spots at the end. It was probably a wild race for the fans to watch. I hope that we can make something happen at the Roval. We’re a little too far back in points, but we’ll see what we can do.”

Alex Bowman  – finished 14th: “This group of guys worked their butts off on pit road – very thankful for their hard work. Our Truck Hero Camaro, with Patriot Foundation on the side of it, was not really where we wanted it be to start the race. We made some changes, got it better and then I became a Ford sandwich there getting off turn two. I got pushed into the 10 (Aric Almirola) there – that was a bummer. If that was my fault, apologies to the 10. I felt like I got shoved into him, but it’s one of those deals you never want to be in that situation and crash somebody or cause a crash like that. So, bummed out about that.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 18th:  “I hope Tony Stewart is watching because he would be proud. We wrecked every car in the field and I wrecked four times in somebody else’s mess. This rules package just has everybody so on top of each other. Runs are just so fast and everybody wants to block and the runs are too fast to block and causes a lot of wrecks, but we made it through somewhat okay, I guess. We finished 18th and scored a lot of stage points, got a decent points cushion going into the Roval, but that’s gonna be a madhouse because there are a lot of cars next week that are gonna need a big race.  Hopefully, we just get through there with a solid day with the Discount Tire Ford and move on.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 20th: “We tried to take care of our Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang most of the day and wound up starting fourth on one of the restarts toward the end and wound up part of the attrition for the day.  Looking up and down pit road it doesn’t look like there’s very many cars that don’t have damage.”

MATT DiBENEDETTO — Finished 21st: “It’s just a crazy finish. I haven’t been able to really process it. I just really want to get this thing in Victory Lane. This Tuscany Faucets team. I feel like this is the same story a lot of times, just heartbreak. My wife and I have had a stressful week again just with the uncertainty — always fighting for my life — but I’m so appreciative of this team.  The Wood Brothers, I want this 100th win for the Woods so bad. Our alliance with Team Penske, Ford — I appreciate them putting me in this car. It’s so much fun to drive and have a shot to win. Denny did a great job. Deja vu. Holy cow.  Denny deserves all the support in the world. He’s an incredible racer. He was my biggest threat. I tried to block all I could. This is tough.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 23rd: “It was textbook, as perfect as Talladega could go for us. Just nowhere to go obviously in that last wreck. Proud of the effort, strong car. We wanted to get stage points and we got a stage win, that was a nice little bonus. Had fun up until the crash. Just wrong place, wrong time. Wish we could have ran until the end.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 24th: “I don’t really know – I haven’t seen a replay yet. It was a big learning curve day for me. I think I came down on the No. 37 (Ryan Preece) there and started that whole deal, so that’s on me. It’s just unfortunate. It was a really good day for us in our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 World Wide Technology Camaro ZL1 1LE. We’ve got a lot to look over and review, which is good. We led some laps and had a really solid car. Hats off to my guys for a really solid effort – getting it fixed there at lap one. It was definitely a hard hit, but all-in-all, we’re good. We’ll try to take what we can from today. I love coming to these plate races. It’s showing, but we didn’t get the finish that we deserved today. All-in-all, we’ll go to the Roval and have some fun.”

Ryan Blaney – finished 25th: “Certainly not the day we wanted. A big thank you Todd Gordon and the Menards/Pennzoil crew doing a great job repairing our Mustang to where we could be competitive. Stinks we don’t have the results to show for, but we’ll move on to the Roval next week.”

Joey Logano — Finished 26th: “We had a lot of speed in our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang car. It was fast and it was up towards the front the whole race, leading a lot of laps. We were right where we wanted to be at the end of the race and (Chase Elliott) had a huge run. I probably shouldn’t have tried to block it. He was so fast and I lost a lot of momentum when I tried to block that, and that gave the 24 a big run and then I got in the middle and then I got in the soup and the next thing that happens is they all crashed, so it’s gonna be a tough week next week.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 27th: “The car was just real slow due to all of the damage, obviously, so I’m just holding up the line. I was trying to draft off the guys in front of me and I’m pushing too much backwards on the guys that are trying to push me forwards and it creates a wreck. Oh, well. The M&M’s Camry guys did a great job and just wish there was more for it. I just hate it when I’m right.”

Cole Custer — Finished 31st: “Our HaasTooling.com Mustang was fast and they just all started pushing real hard on the bottom or the middle and then they started spinning. I was like, ‘Hopefully, I can make it past it,’ but we didn’t.  It sucks. I thought we had a really fast car.  All the guys at SHR built some fast cars coming here, but we’ll move on to the next one.  It was fun racing up there, it just didn’t work out there at the end.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 32nd: “Yeah, it was a wild ride. That’s the nature of this sport. You’re on top one week with a win and everything’s fantastic. And then this week here at Talladega, we were hoping for a nice, smooth run and to gain some points. I was just doing my job as a Chevy helper running top-five and next thing you know, I’m going for one of the wildest rides I’ve ever been in.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 33rd: “You’ve got to go. You’ve got to push him.  The 22 and the 21 were trying and obviously they gave up on it for some reason. As soon as I got to (Jimmie Johnson), I push him in the front and the whole rear of the car went down and I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ and before I know it he was tank swapping all over the place. I don’t know if that was how they had their cars built or whatever, but as soon as you got close to him he was all over the place. Obviously didn’t mean to wreck him, but you’re going hard and three-wide and people are behind you pushing.  I was hoping he would save it, but he didn’t and we all wrecked.”

Daniel Suarez – 34th: “That was definitely not the way we were hoping to end our day. You never know what’s going to happen at Talladega and Daytona because so much is out of your control, but we had another good Team USA Toyota today, like we did at Daytona. We just needed to get to the end of the race so we could fight for a good finish and we got caught up in something. It is what it is. Now we go to the road course at Charlotte and we’ll hope to make the most of our day there next week.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 36th: “Man, what a shame. We had such fast Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang; it was really, really fast. Unfortunately, we had a trackbar extension from another race car come through the grille and knocked all of the water out of the radiator. I’m thankful to everybody at Love’s Travel Stops and Luber-finer for their continued support. We had a really fast race car and it’s just really unfortunate that we weren’t able to make it to the end. It just wasn’t our day.”

ARIC ALMIROLA — Finished 37th: “I got hit from behind and turned in the outside fence. It’s such a shame. We had such a fast Smithfield Power Bites Ford Mustang. I’m just disappointed. We were doing everything we needed to do. We were closing in to the end of stage one and it looked like we were gonna score a lot of points there, which is exactly what we needed to do.”

Talladega’s tale of two drivers: One celebrates, one laments

0 Comments

TALLADEGA, Ala. — It’s dangerous to forecast what is going to happen next in these playoffs in a Cup season unlike any other. 

So keep that in mind, but Chase Elliott’s victory at Talladega moves him one step closer to returning to the championship race for a third consecutive season.

It’s easy to overlook that beyond earning a spot in the Round of 8 with his win Sunday, Elliott scored six playoff points. That gives him 46 playoff points. He has the opportunity to score seven more playoff points this weekend at the Charlotte Roval — an event he has won twice — before the next round begins.

Once the current round ends, the points will be reset to 4,000 for each of the remaining playoff drivers and they’ll have their playoff points added. 

At this point, Elliott would have a 21-point lead on his nearest competitor and a 31-point lead the first driver outside a transfer spot to the championship race.

The next round opens at Las Vegas, goes to Homestead and ends with Martinsville. 

A key for Elliott, though, is to avoid how he has started each of the first two rounds. A crash led to a 36th-place finish in the playoff opener at Darlington. He placed 32nd after a crash at Texas to begin this round.

The up-and-down nature of the playoffs, though, hasn’t taken a toll on the 2020 Cup champion.

“I feel like I’ve been doing this long enough now to understand the roller coaster that is racing,” said Elliott, who is advancing to the Round of 8 for the sixth consecutive season. “It’s going to roll on, right? You either learn to ride it during the good days, during the bad days, too, or you don’t. That’s just part of the deal.

“So, yeah, just try to ride the wave. Had a bad week last week, had a good week this week. Obviously great to move on into the next round, get six more bonus points. All those things are fantastic, we’re super proud of that.

“This deal can humble you. We can go to the Round of 8 and crash again like we did the first two rounds, or you can go in there and maybe have a really good first race. I don’t know. You show up prepared, do the best you can, figure it out from there.”

————————————————————————————————————————————————

Joey Logano has always been one who wants to race at the front in a superspeedway event instead of riding at the back.

When asked last month about the idea of Texas Motor Speedway being reconfigured to provide superspeedway-type racing — as Atlanta Motor Speedway was before this season — Logano questioned the value of that type of racing.

“Is that the type of racing fans want to see?” Logano said. “Because when you look at the way that people have finished up front in these superspeedways lately, (they) are the ones that are riding around in the back. 

“Do you believe that you should be rewarded for not working? Because that’s what they’re doing. They’re riding around in the back not working, not going up there to put a good race on. 

“They’re riding around in the back and capitalizing on other people’s misfortune for racing up front trying to win. I don’t think it’s right. That’s not racing. I can’t get behind that.”

Logano sought to race at the front as much as possible Sunday at Talladega, even after his car was damaged in an early incident, but he took a different tack on the final restart. He restarted 24th and dropped back, finishing 27th.

“We just wreck all the time, so we thought, ‘Boy, we’ve got a big points lead, let’s just be smart and don’t wreck and we’ll be able to get out of here with a top 10, assuming they would wreck because they always do,’” Logano said after the race. 

“That was the only time I’ve ever stayed in the back, ever, was today and they didn’t wreck. We gave up a bunch of our points lead. We’re still plus-18, which is a decent spot to be, but, the goal was to race for stage points and then drop to the back and wait for the crash. I hate racing that way. I’ve gotten beat many times from people that do that, then I tried it and it didn’t work.”

————————————————————————————————————————————————

Michael McDowell’s third-place finish continues his strong season. 

McDowell’s finish extended his career-high of top-10 finishes to 12. He has five finishes of 11th or better in the last seven races. 

“I’m proud of the season we’ve had and the run that we put together,” McDowell said. “Everyone did a great job on pit road executing and getting us track position when we needed it. It’s good to be there at the end and have a shot at it, just disappointed.”

Front Row Motorsports teammate Todd Gilliland finished seventh. 

“Race car drivers are greedy,” Gilliland said. “I wish I could have gotten a couple more there, but it was still a really good day. We ran up front most of the day and my car handled really well, so, overall, there are definitely a ton of positives to take out of this.”

Sunday marked the second time this season both Front Row Motorsports cars finished in the top 10. They also did it at the Indianapolis road course. 

————————————————————————————————————————————————

NASCAR confirms that the Hendrick Motorsports appeal of William Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas will take place Thursday.

Should Hendrick lose that appeal, the team could then have a hearing before the Final Appeals Officer. That session would need to take place before Sunday’s elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

“Twenty-five points in the playoffs is a ton,” car owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday of Byron’s penalty. “I mean, in the regular season if you got a bunch of races, you can make it back up.

“I’ve seen other cars under caution hit each other. In that situation, (Byron) wasn’t trying to spin him, but they got a tower full of people, they could have put him in the back, could have done something right then rather than wait till Monday or Tuesday, then make a decision.”

Byron is 11 points below the cutline after Talladega.

Talladega jumbles Cup playoff grid heading to elimination race

0 Comments

In an unpredictable season and topsy-turvy playoffs, it only made sense that Talladega would deliver a wildcard result.

A playoff driver won a playoff race for the first time this season. How about that?

Chase Elliott’s victory moves him to the next round, the only driver guaranteed to advance heading into Sunday’s elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric are tied for the last transfer spot, but Briscoe owns the tiebreaker based on a better finish in this round. At least for now.

Hendrick Motorsports will have its appeal this week on the 25-point penalty to William Byron from the Texas race. Byron is 11 points below the cutline after Talladega, but if the team wins the appeal and he gets all 25 points back, Byron would be back in a transfer spot and drop Briscoe below the cutline.

 

XFINITY SERIES

AJ Allmendinger became the second driver to advance to the next round, winning at Talladega.

Ryan Sieg finished fourth and holds the final transfer spot heading into the elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (3 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock). Reigning series champion Daniel Hemric is six points behind Sieg. Riley Herbst and Brandon Jones are each 10 points behind Sieg. Jeremy Clements is 47 points behind.

 

CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

Matt DiBenedetto’s first career Camping World Truck Series victory didn’t impact the playoff standings after Talladega since DiBenedetto is not a playoff driver.

Reigning series champion Ben Rhodes holds the final transfer spot. He leads Christian Eckes and Stewart Friesen by three points each. John Hunter Nemechek is five points behind Rhodes, while Grant Enfinger is 29 points behind Rhodes. Ty Majeski is the only driver guaranteed a spot in next month’s championship race.

The Truck Series is off this weekend. The next Truck race is Oct. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

Winners and losers at Talladega Superspeedway

0 Comments

A look at the winners and losers from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway:

WINNERS

Chase Elliott — After a rough race at Texas, Elliott returned to the role of championship favorite Sunday with a victory. He takes the point lead to Charlotte and, with Sunday’s win, is locked into the Round of 8.

MORE: Talladega Cup results

MORE: Talladega Cup driver points

Ryan Blaney — Despite another tough race day and a second-place finish in a race he could have won, Blaney remains in good shape in the playoffs, even without a points win. He is second in points to Elliott, only two behind.

Denny Hamlin — Hamlin took some time off from leading the charge for changes in the Next Gen car to run an excellent race. He led 20 laps, finished fifth and is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all five playoff races. He gained a spot in points to fourth.

LOSERS

Christopher Bell — Bell zipped onto pit road with too much speed during a round of pit stops and slid to a stop, earning a speeding penalty. He is 11th in points.

Kyle Larson — Larson led eight laps Sunday but was not a part of the drafting mix at the front at the finish. He was 18th and fell three spots in points to sixth.

Joey Logano — Logano held the point lead entering Sunday’s race. At day’s end, he had a 27th-place finish and had fallen four spots to fifth.

 

 

End of stages at Talladega could have lasting impact in playoffs

0 Comments

A spot in the next round of the Cup playoffs could have been determined in just a few laps Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

They weren’t the final laps of the race, but the final laps of Stage 1 and Stage 2. 

The end of the first stage saw a big swing for a couple of drivers that could impact on who advances and who doesn’t after next weekend’s elimination race at the Charlotte Roval.

MORE: Chase Elliott wins at Talladega 

With six laps left in the opening stage, William Byron was second to Denny Hamlin.

Byron was in need of stage points because of the uncertainty of his place in the standings. NASCAR docked him 25 points for spinning Hamlin under caution last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hendrick Motorsports is appealing the decision and will have the hearing this week. While car owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday that he felt the penalty was too severe in a three-race round, there’s no guarantee the appeal board will change the penalty or reduce it. 

With such unknowns, Byron’s focus was scoring as many points as possible since he entered the race eight points below the cutline. Sitting second in that opening stage put him in position to score the points he needed.

But when the the stage ended, Byron came across the line 11th — 0.036 seconds behind Erik Jones in 10th — and scored no stage points.

“I was working well with (Hamlin),” Byron said. “I tried to work to the bottom and he stayed at the top and the top seemed to have momentum.

“I just made a wrong decision there that kind of got me in a bad position further. I was still leading the inside lane, but the inside lane wouldn’t go forward. That was just kind of weird. That was kind of the moral of our day — was just not being able to advance forward.”

Byron wasn’t in position to score points in the second stage, finishing 13th. That left him as one of two playoff drivers not to score stage points (Christopher Bell was the other).

“It was frustrating the whole time,” Byron said. “I felt like the race was just going away from us. We couldn’t make anything happen. We were just kind of stuck. I don’t know what we need to do next time.”

When Byron failed to score points in the second stage, it only added to a challenging day and put more pressure on a better finish.

He managed only to place 12th. Byron finished with 25 points. He outscored only three playoff drivers.

The result is that Byron is 11 points below the cutline.

While the first stage was a harbinger of Byron’s woes Sunday, that stage proved critical for Austin Cindric.

The Daytona 500 winner was 15th with six laps to go in the stage. He finished fourth, collecting seven points — despite suffering some nose damage in an incident earlier in that stage.

“Stage points are a big deal,” Cindric said. 

He got those with quick thinking.

“I think when everybody tries to scatter to do what’s best for them, it’s very important to be decisive,” Cindric said. “I was able to make some good moves and be able to be in some lanes that moved. I’d call it 50-50 decisiveness and 50 percent luck. 

“It certainly puts us in a good spot to race for a spot in the Round of 8 at the (Charlotte) Roval.

Cindric entered the race seven points out of the last transfer spot. While he didn’t score any points in the second stage, his ninth-place finish led to a 35-point day. 

That gives him the same amount of points as Chase Briscoe, who owns the last transfer spot because he has the tiebreaker on Cindric in this round.

For Briscoe, he earned that tie by collecting one stage point. 

In the first stage, he was running outside the top 10 when he sensed a crash was likely and “decided to bail” to protect the car and avoid being in a crash.

That crash didn’t happen and he was left without stage points. In the second stage, Briscoe was 14th with two laps to go. He beat Ricky Stenhouse Jr. across the finish line by 0.035 seconds to place 10th and score that one stage point.

“You don’t think that one (point) is important until you see that you are tied,” Briscoe said. “One point could be really, really important for us next week.”