What drivers said after Las Vegas Cup race

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Here is what drivers said after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

Kyle Larson – Winner: “It feels good. I guess I didn’t know if I’d ever have an opportunity to win a NASCAR race again. To get this awesome opportunity with Hendrick Motorsports and Mr. H (Rick Hendrick) taking a massive chance on me, then going out there and being strong all year, it’s been great. I knew we were close to getting a win. Our pit crew done a really good job all season long. (Crew chief) Cliff (Daniels) and everybody has been bringing really fast racecars to the track. For the most part I’ve been doing my job, too, on the racetrack. I knew if we could continue to do that, we would get a win. Today we put it all together, had a dominating race car to go along with it. Made my job behind the wheel a lot easier. Cool to get a win this early in the year, now focus ahead and try to win a lot more, rack up Playoff points, put ourselves in a good spot once the Playoffs start.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 2nd: “It’s such a strange year. I think every company is a little different. Inside every company, the teams are a little different. I think there’s a fair amount of companies that have probably punted to (the) NextGen (car), which is sensible. Then there’s some companies that have really doubled down on this year’s car, their team and lineup, which makes sense, too. To each their own. It’s hard to tell in the first three races who’s done what. I felt like all along, Vegas was the clearest indicator of what we’re going to see for a lot of the season. Both of these races, Vegas and next week in Phoenix, I think they represent what it’s going to take to win the championship, being good on tracks of these two types. We can tell the most from these races. As far as teams that might be ahead or behind others, it’s still pretty early. Certainly cause for concern if you weren’t towards the front today.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 3rd: “We fought hard obviously. We were a little behind the eight ball at the start of the green flag and just were super, super tight all day long. Ben (Beshore, crew chief) and the guys made awesome adjustments to and I was trying to give the best feedback I can to give them good information that they can base that off of and make the good adjustments. We improved each time. I don’t know where we missed it so far from the simulator, but that’s two weeks in a row where we’re not apples to apples. … Ready to keep working on it and keep improving. We were just a little off on pace, overall pace, overall lap time from the fast guys.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 4th: “We got it in the short runs, but not enough long run speed. I thought it was a great start for the FedEx Camry team, gathering data trying to figure out what we can do to be better when we come back here when it really counts. Overall, good start. We will see, gather all the data and I will figure out this week what we have to do.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 5th: “I thought it was a pretty solid day all day. We had to start pretty far in the back from our bad finish last week, and was able to make it up to ninth, I think, before the comp caution and got third in the first stage and then like fifth in the second and ended up fifth. I thought we could have run second or third. The 5 was really the fastest one all day long. It didn’t matter where he was he just drove through the field, but, overall, a really good effort by our group. We really needed that after having three pretty bad races to start off the year. It’s nice to kind of finally get a good run and just a no problem day, just having a solid car and working on it throughout the day. I’m really proud of Todd and the whole 12 bunch and nice to get a good finish. Now we can get rolling here.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 6th: “These tracks are really tough, it’s a real big guessing game on what cars to bring and what kind of approach to take. You kind of get guessing on a lot of different things – the weather, the wind and all this kind of stuff. Overall, I think our cars were decent. We definitely have to find some more speed to run with some of those guys. I would say for us, we were probably a little bit off from where we were last weekend. Definitely some stuff to build on for all of us across the board. We’ll obviously talk about it all and figure out what we need to do to be better.”

Christopher Bell – Finished 7th: “It was definitely a good week to build on. I’m really happy with the turn around from last week at Homestead, another mile-and-a-half. We were significantly better this time. It’s something to build on for sure. I felt like my Craftsman Camry drove really well. We just need to dial a little bit of speed in it.”

William Byron – Finished 8th: “We had a couple of issues. Just execution things. We struggled a little bit on pit road and then I stalled it and that killed us. We had a shot at the lead then and I could never really make it up. The Liberty University Chevy was really good and congrats to Kyle (Larson, race winner). That’s awesome. Our cars are fast right now. He did a great job.”

Joey Logano – Finished 9th: “We just weren’t as fast as we wanted to be today. There’s a little bit of confusion at the moment to figure out exactly where it is and what we need to do better. There are two different theories and hopefully we can figure out what those are, but, overall, we tried some strategy stuff to get up there in a stage, led a couple laps, but fell off on the older tires, and then tried some more strategy stuff with tires to try to pass two cars and it just seemed like we were a ninth-place car. That’s where we ran most of the day. That’s where we were on restarts. That’s where we were on the long runs, it’s just where we were. We’ve got a little bit of work to do to make up that difference, but it’s a top-10 finish. Hopefully, it keeps us up towards the front in points. We didn’t get many stage points. I’m not sure where we’re at yet, but we’ll head off to Phoenix.”

Erik Jones – Finished 10th: “It was a really good day for us in the Richard Petty Motorsports Medallion Bank No. 43 Chevy. It was a good day to build. It was way better than last week. We’re really headed in the right direction. We tried a lot of different things this week and made a lot of different changes and it’s just nice to see them pay off and get a Top 10 out of it. That was definitely our goal for today, I felt like. So, hopefully we can keep building on that and continue to get better and better each week.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 11th: “It was a really solid day for our No. 47 Kroger team. We had a really strong run here last year, and our intermediate track program has really been improving over last year and this year. Consistency is key and with a solid run last week and a better run this week, this is exactly what we need to keep our momentum going and continue improving. Everyone at JTG Daugherty Racing has been working really hard and our pit crew has had some really solid weeks. I’m looking forward to continue improving next week at Phoenix Raceway.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 12th: “The No. 3 BetMGM Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was definitely better at the end of the race today than it was to start off. We were extremely loose for a majority of the race, but it started to come alive late in Stage 3. We were tight at the end, which is not surprising because we had a ton of wedge in our car. I tried to get the No. 47 at the end, but he was pretty good and I just had to keep backing up my entry. We didn’t have the greatest of cars, but we hung in there and turned it into a decent day. Good job by (crew chief) Justin Alexander and all of the crew on their hard work to turn things around in the race. We have some work to do, but we will get it.”

Ryan Preece – Finished 15th: “We were kind of all over the place to start the race in our No. 37 Natural Light Naturdays Chevrolet. I felt like we needed to be in the track a little bit more from the start, and Trent (Owens, crew chief) did an excellent job on pit road of adjusting every time we came down and getting our car to where it needed to be. We were strong at the end and I’m proud that we were able to hold our track position and get a top-15 finish out of it. We’re running really strong between us and our teammates and all we can do is keep digging.”

Michael McDowell – Finished 17th: “Not the day we were hoping for in the Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang. We just got behind a little bit with some of the adjustments and just needed a little bit more speed. The car drove pretty well. We could stay wide-open for quite a long time, but just needed a little bit more speed. That was a fight all day. We finished 17th, not terrible, but we were hoping for more. I’m really proud of everybody and keep the good finishes rolling here and head to Phoenix, my home track. We’ll have some fun with the family and looking forward to being in my hometown.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 19th: “We just really missed it today on our setup, we could never find the balance that we needed with the Monster Energy Chevy. It is disappointing for everyone, but there is no quit in this team, so we will go back and evaluate.”

Chase Briscoe – Finished 21st: “It felt like every race so far I’ve learned a ton just throughout the race. Obviously I wish I could start the race kind of where I end, knowing what I need from a speed standpoint. I feel like I learned a lot today, and hopefully when we come back here it’ll help. It’s just hard with no practice to show up and go, but I feel like we made gains on it, and right now I feel that’s the most important thing.”

Tyler Reddick – Finished 22nd: “Today was a tough day for our No. 8 Ben Gallaher / Quartz Hill Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, but I’m thankful to my team for sticking with me and fighting all day. I started off the day just way too edgy in the rear and couldn’t run anything but the bottom. We started to make some gains on it throughout the race, but it just stayed a touch free pretty much all day. Unfortunately, we had a tire rub towards the middle of the final stage and I thought we had a tire going down, so we had to pit outside of our window. Luckily, we ended up being able to stretch the fuel long enough to just make it to the checkered flag without pitting again. My team and I kept after it as much as we could today and will study this race to learn how to be better for our next trip to Las Vegas.”

Anthony Alfredo – Finished 24th: “We ran inside the top 25 and even inside the top 20 for the majority of the day. We actually stayed out at the start of Stage 2 on old tires, like five or six-lap tires, not that old. But I got eaten up. I was the last car to stay out on old tires, so all the guys on new tires split me four and five-wide. There’s just nothing you could do. It just stalls your momentum so bad. I did my best to get rolling again, but unfortunately, we couldn’t get all that track position back that we gave up. But we still came home in the top 25 – another 24th place finish. I can’t be disappointed with that. I’m just a little frustrated because I know we had a lot better speed than that. Still, a solid day. We finished the race, ran a lot of laps, and learned a lot. I’m excited for the next one.”

Cole Custer – Finished 25th: “That was not the day we were looking for. It was a struggle all day to find rear grip, and we couldn’t attack the corners the way we wanted to on entry and exit. We’ll do everything we can to improve our performance for the next one. We have a lot of season left.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished 26th: “We were off at the beginning of the race today. The front of the car was bouncing a lot. My crew made a lot of changes and we got it pretty decent by the end of the race. We will keep working and be better in Phoenix.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 28th: “Big bummer there. I really struggled in dirty air all day, but we were pretty fast. Once things got strung out and we could get going and get some clean air on the race car, I had an issue when we pitted and some stayed out on the restart; got back through the field, got back to ninth and then cut a left rear with like 15 (laps) to go. We definitely should have at least had a solid Top-10 day for Ally and Hendrick Motorsports. But a big congrats to the No. 5 (Kyle Larson, race winner) team. That was really cool to see Kyle get a win early. Hopefully we can join him in that next week and have a good one in Phoenix. I’m looking forward to getting to a short track.”