What drivers said after Bristol Cup dirt race

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Here is what drivers had to say about Monday’s race on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR’s first Cup dirt race since 1970:

Joey Logano — Winner: “Man, it’s incredible. How about Bristol on dirt? This is incredible, unbelievable racetrack — great job by everyone that prepped the track. Obviously, a lot of work over here the last few days. We did a lot of work in the dirt department here the last few weeks. My buddy Ryan Flores and my car chief Jerry Kelley doing a good job with the modified and just making laps and learning where I was going. A lot of that helped. Kevin Buskirk helped a lot, too. He has a lot of knowledge and obviously Paul Wolfe, this team, great car obviously to be able to execute the race that we did and get a win. I was getting nervous. There were so many first-time winners and different winners than there has typically been I said, ‘We’ve got to get a win to make sure we get in the playoffs,’ so it’s amazing to get this Shell/Pennzoil Mustang into Victory Lane at Bristol. There’s nothing like winning at Bristol, but putting dirt on it and being the first to do it is really special.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 2nd: “We really focused on just being more consistent week in and week out. We had some really high moments last year and some really low moments. We’re just trying to even things out, take the speed of our race cars, make sure we execute when we’re at the racetrack, when we’re in the shop, just being prepared. That’s starting with me, the things I do behind the wheel, the things I do off the racetrack preparing, going into the weekend, just getting that mindset going into each race that it’s one race at a time. We didn’t get off to the hottest start. We struggled a little bit at the 500. Had a couple mistakes that cost us at the road courses. Really, other than that, we’ve stuck to our game plan and done everything that we’ve wanted to do and accomplish every week. Coming into the Bristol dirt event, I felt like I was going to be comfortable on the racetrack. But I felt like these are the best drivers out there. They were going to adapt, their teams were going to adapt, bring good race cars, as well. I didn’t want to put too much emphasis on, Hey, we have to go win. We methodically worked our way throughout this race of getting our race car better, not freaking out early in the race, knowing that the track conditions were going to change, and probably come around the balance of our race car. We did that. Got our first top five, top 10 of the year. Trying to keep that momentum going into an off weekend and start back fresh when we get going again.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 3rd: “I was kind of guessing, but I thought I could – on that last restart – run the top-end hard, but they didn’t prep it in-between cautions like they did before, so it was just marbles up there. I’m proud of this whole FedEx Camry team. Man, I thought I had a shot there. I cut (Logano) too many breaks there when he was cutting us off, but at the end of the day it looked like he had a little bit better car in the long run. I’m proud of this whole team. We are third-best again.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 4th:  “I am just very, very proud of my team that they brought a very fast car and I was able to learn as I went. It was a challenge. Last probably five days ago was my first time ever on a dirt car. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoy a lot. I enjoy a lot, as well, the entire weekend. Overall I felt that we’re very close. That always bring a smile to my face. But it wasn’t close enough. So we have to keep working. Now I’m excited actually that we’re going to come back next year with another shot to race and compete for the win in Bristol on dirt.  it was already a good day for us, running up front, leading laps, and staying in the top 10, top 5 the entire race.But if you look at it, last week we were very similar. I mean, we didn’t lead laps, but I made a mistake in the last pit stop, and that took away our chance to finish either fifth or sixth. It’s the second week in a row that we’ve been running strong. I don’t see this as, okay, we run good because we’re on dirt. I feel like everyone at Trackhouse Racing has done an incredible job to work hard on these cars, get them better. Really a lot of support from RCR, engines and chassis and everything. I feel like we still a long ways to go from where we want to be, but we’re heading the right direction.”

Ryan Newman — Finished 5th: “That was fun, no doubt. It was a good run for our Oscar Mayer Ford Mustang and a great team effort the entire week. I wish we could have had a chance to run the Truck race for Coke and Aggressive Hydraulics. I am really proud of the effort and a lot of guys got to see a lot more and experience a lot more. We got turned around there from a racing accident in turn 2 with the 24 and had to fight back and did. We just didn’t make it all the way back to the front. We had a pretty good car. I would have liked to see what we would have done with some track position but I am sure everyone else would say the same thing.”

William Byron — Finished 6th: “We had a lot of fun today. I felt like we were really good in Stage 1 and 2, and then I got too loose. The car just didn’t have enough to lean on and we struggled on the restarts because of that. We got it really good by the end and came back from eleventh to sixth. It was good; a lot better than I would have thought. We’ll move onto Martinsville and try to win that one.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 7th: “That was a tough day for everybody, but I’m really proud of my BetMGM team for sticking with me all day long. It was truly a battle out there to keep up with the changing track conditions. I felt like we had everything come at us today. Our No. 8 BetMGM Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE fired off too loose and then built too tight as the track changed. Visibility was a huge challenge too. My spotter, Derek Kneeland, did a great job helping me through all the restarts when I couldn’t see anything on the track with all the dust. Towards the end of Stage 2, my engine temps started pegging and we were all worried that was going to ruin our race, but thankfully a caution came out at the right time. I was able to cool it off long enough under yellow to make it to the stage break and have my team work on it. We had a shot at a top-five at the end today, but I went for it on the top and the grip just wasn’t there like I hoped. But overall, a really good day for us. We’ll take this top-10 finish and build on it in a couple weeks at Martinsville Speedway.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 8th: “Obviously, it was a long day, for sure, starting up towards the front and just hanging around there. We ran fifth or something in the first stage, but we were struggling a little bit with our race car and trying to find the best way to work on it and fix it. It was pretty tight in the middle. We couldn’t get the tightness out of it all day until the last run, really.  And then we got really good, but we faded a little bit there and then had a restart and I couldn’t see nothing. Everyone was in the dust, and I think I chopped down on the 18 and we wrecked and, luckily, we were able to fix it up nice and made some really good changes there for that last run. We drove all the way from like 22nd or 23rd to eighth, so just really proud of the effort. It’s a shame we didn’t find that change a little sooner than what we did, but, overall, a good comeback by the 12 group.”

Erik Jones — Finished 9th: “It was a good day for our No. 43 Tide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE at the Bristol Motor Speedway. We started a little bit further back in the lineup, and worked our way towards the top-10. Our Richard Petty Motorsports team ended up getting some good stage points throughout the day (Stage 2, eighth place) and ended up coming home in the ninth place. It was a solid day. What we were looking for today was getting back towards the top 10, and I think our Chevrolet Camaro was probably a little bit better than that even. We just kind of ran out of laps and ran out of time the way the race was sectioned out. We got some good notes. It sounds like we are going to do this again in the future, so hopefully we can take something we learned from today, move forward with it and bring it back next time.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 11th: “We had a solid day with our Discount Tire Ford. I learned a lot for when we come back here next time. I’m happy for Joey and his team.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 12th: “It was a fun day on the Bristol dirt.  Our Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang was hooked up at the end. We passed a lot of cars on that last stage with 50 to go. I think we ended up 12th, so it was a solid day, a good points day, a lot of fun on the dirt. Visibility was tough. It was hard to see, but it was great racing there at the end. Thanks to all my guys. They brought a really fast Ford Mustang and it was a lot of fun. For a guy that doesn’t have any dirt experience this was a pretty good run.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 16th: “We tried the slow and steady approach, tried to keep all the fenders on the Monster Energy Chevy, maybe that was too much of the old man sequence. Not many scratches on it, but not much speed, just tried to take care of it. It was good to see to see fans back at the track.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 17th: “We had a good M&M’S Messages Toyota. I was able to get out front, but then we had too much mud on the grille and overheated, and it got us behind. I was able to get back on the lead lap, but when you get back in the pack like that, it was really hard to make up a lot of ground. We’ll put this one behind us, take the week off and get ready for Martinsville.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 20th: “That was not the race we wanted for our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. Obviously, we had high expectations for this weekend. After running the Truck Series race earlier today I knew it was going to be a challenge. A lot of what happened there was out of our control with the accidents. We actually were heading in the right direction there in Stage 2 but, once again, got hit from behind and just never really recovered from it. I’m just looking forward to the week off before we head to Martinsville.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 21st: “What a day at Bristol Motor Speedway. We fought hard all day, but we just never had the Bass Pro Shops / TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet we needed. It’s perplexing because it was a night and day difference from our practice sessions to the race. The team never gave up and worked all day to improve our handling. We’ll go back to Welcome to evaluate everything and start working on a game plan for next year’s race.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 22nd: “Not how we wanted to end our day. We lost fourth gear early on and it just affected the rest of our race. I really think we could have been up front at the end. It’s going to be nice to have a weekend off this week and we will come back strong in Martinsville.”

Cole Custer — Finished 24th: “It was so cool to be a part of something this historic. It was definitely uncharted territory to put our Cup cars on dirt. But everybody did their best to adapt to everything that happened throughout the weekend, and I think the fans got a new kind of show. Looking forward to taking what everybody learned this weekend and making everything better for when we come back next year. I think our HaasTooling.com Ford team did its best to deal with everything that was thrown at us. Our biggest issues turned out to be trying to find forward bite on the straightaways and finding ways to tighten up the car. We now have a notebook to work with for next time.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 26th: “I think the event was fun, for sure. It was unique, and I think we’re all still learning what it takes to run this event, whether it’s the teams or the track. We were running well, we were in the top 10, top 20, all day, which was really nice, and I think we just missed it a little bit on our last adjustment. You get bobbled out of place one time and you lose all your spots. It’s just unfortunate we ended up not where we ran all day. That’s a bummer, but all day we ran in a good position, where we should’ve been running. It’s a positive. We learned a lot. When we come back, I think we’ll definitely have a chance at improving that spot. I thought managing your tires would help, but it didn’t seem to help lap times if you saved your tires. Whether you burned them off or saved them, it didn’t seem to help the grip in the car and the speed. Definitely a lot of learning this weekend. When we come back, we’ll be massively improved.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 34th: “I was just trying to run the water in under yellow. I knew it was a little bit slick, but I felt like I could go up there and make some time and I kind of entered shallow underneath of it and tried to pick it up on exit and it was just really greasy up there. I hate it for all of our partners – IRWIN Tools, PristineAuction.com, Toyota, TRD. That was a lot of fun, being able to be out there for that first run was really cool and hate it that I can’t be out there longer.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 35th: “Just a disappointing day for the Clover team. We were making progress and working to see how the track conditions would change. Unfortunately, we didn’t even make it to the end of the first stage. Just a wrong place at the wrong time kind of moment.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 36th: “It started before that.  The 77 slipped off the bottom.  I was hunting the bottom and he slipped off the bottom, and I was trying to get in between him and the silly humps there and he turned back down across my nose and hit me in the right-front and kind of ran me up over the dirt hump and I spun.  You can’t stop.  You can’t see.  That’s honestly the biggest problem.  In dirt racing you don’t have a windshield in front of you, so you can pull a tearoff.  We can’t reach out there and pull a tearoff off our windshield, so you can’t see anything.  Everybody just comes piling in because you can’t see.”

SHANE GOLOBIC — Finished 37th: Bristol on dirt was awesome. Bummer that the heat races got rained out because I feel like that would’ve helped a little bit (with the lack of experience in a stock car.) Nonetheless, we were pretty good. The first however many laps we got to run, we were passing cars and having a lot of fun. It’s just a shame we couldn’t get more laps in. That’s part of racing sometimes, getting caught up in someone else’s mess. I had a lot of fun, obviously Live Fast (Motorsports) has got a good car cause we were rolling pass some pretty good teams out there, with a guy like myself, who doesn’t have a lot of experience out there. “