What drivers said at Darlington

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A collection of what drivers said following Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway:

Martin Truex Jr. – Winner: “No question, we feel really, really good about (having three wins). I think the most important part is we are winning with the low downforce package, which most of the Playoff races we run are. Phoenix was a really, really big confidence booster for us – to go there and win. I feel like we’ve carried it since there. We just have to keep this thing going. Guys are doing a really good job, all around. It’s so fun to drive race cars like that. I’m just so thank for all of those guys that work so hard – men and women back JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) for the job they do. Toyota, TRD for giving us all the help they do with the engines and everything else. It takes a lot of people to make these cars go fast, and I’m really lucky to be able to sit behind the wheel of this one today.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 2nd: “We definitely needed to get a good finish. I thought we were going to get one last week and I messed that up. Three bad weeks in a row, and to come back and contend for a win and finish second and get good stage points after speeding at the end of the first stage, too, yeah, it was a good day. Now we go to Dover, which is one of if not my best tracks. Excited about that, and Hendrick Motorsports has been pretty good at Dover from what I remember, too, so looking forward to getting there.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 3rd: “This was definitely a good weekend for us. The 750 (horsepower) races haven’t necessarily been our best. We’ve run 750 short tracks, not 750 intermediates. This was a good basis for us. I felt like our cars – 2017, 2018 time frame were always really good. I feel like this is kind of a cookie-cutter for the (Martin) Truex Jr. type era if you will. Obviously, it paid dividends for him today. Felt like we were close there for about 10 laps and then we just kind of lost the rear tires on the long runs. Just couldn’t hang, but overall the guys gave me a great M&M’s Camry to backup last week and hopefully build on a little bit of this today for Nashville (Superspeedway in June).”

William Byron – Finished 4th: “I thought we were pretty solid all day. We fell back to eighth or ninth early in the race and we were just too loose. We didn’t really have the car fully connected yet, but we just got it better and better. The long runs were still kind of our weakness. We weren’t super strong on long runs; we were just kind of a fourth-place car. But to finish fourth is good for us. Tenth top 10 in a row is awesome. I think our team is just super consistent this year. That’s a credit to Rudy (Fugle, Crew Chief) and the guys preparing awesome cars and executing well. We just have to find that little bit to kind of get with the 5 (Kyle Larson) and the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.). We’re there at times, but we can’t really kind of break that seal, which is hard. We just have to continue to build the notebook. It’s Rudy and I’s first time going to these tracks, so I feel like there’s a lot of room to go still. But we’re doing great.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 5th: “It was slick. This package was really slick and I knew before the day started that the cars were going to feel terrible, just feel absolutely terrible – even when you’re good. That was the case most of the time, even when I was catching (Martin) Truex Jr. there at the end of the first stage, the car was all over the place bad. That’s the high horsepower, low downforce. Just sliding all over the place. It was a lot of fun to drive. You had to work for all 400 miles at this race track. I thought from a statistics standpoint, they’re going to say it’s not a good race because Truex dominated, but it was a driver’s race track today.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 7th: “Tough day today. I got pretty loose on that last run and killed the right rear. During the beginning of the run, I was tight though. Not sure if I tried sliding the back too much or what. I just couldn’t figure it out.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 8th: “Not a bad day. We ran kind of top-10 all day and just kind of hit the wall one too many times. I hit it a few times and the last time I really got into it trying to protect fifth there. I just hurt it a little too much. Overall I am proud of the effort. Here and Richmond are places that I have struggled at in the past and we have had some decent runs at those this year and I am really looking forward to coming back to these two places in the playoffs, so that is big that we seem to be learning a lot.”

Chase Briscoe – Finished 11th: “We definitely wanted more but coming here with no practice and to come out with an 11th is a really good day. Truly we were probably an eighth- or ninth-place car and I just got in the fence really hard with 20 to go and killed it for the rest of the race and lost a ton of time. I feel like all year long we have been making baby steps and we will continue to get better as I get more experience and we learn each other more. I am excited to go to Dover next week. The next couple races I feel like are really good opportunities to run good with a lot of good race tracks for me and low downforce races which is more similar to the Xfinity Mustang. We will try to keep building on this and take advantage of starting up front now and try to gain some points.”

Tyler Reddick – Finished 12th: “Our No. 8 Joe Nichols / Quartz Hill Records Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE not only looked good for NASCAR’s Throwback weekend, but was also really fast today at Darlington Raceway. I fired off way too loose and lacked rear grip pretty much from the start of the day, but we were able to capitalize on a strong starting spot to gain valuable stage points in Stages 1 and 2. This is the second week in a row we’ve scored a lot of stage points, and those have been key to helping climb up through the standings. Once the sun started to set, the handling of my Chevy changed dramatically. It was tough to be able to move around and search for different lines at times, especially when I would get snug on one end of the track and loose on the other. We kept working at it, and I felt like we were decent on handling at the end of the race, but we just lacked some speed. I wish we could have got back in the top 10 to grab the finish we deserved, but we’ll at least take these stage points and move on to Dover. I really enjoyed throwing it back to Marty Robbins and his iconic pink and yellow machine today with the help of Joe Nichols and Quartz Hill, and I hope all the fans enjoyed it too.”

Ross Chastain – Finished 15th: “It was a good day for our No. 42 Throwback McDonald’s Chevy. I got trapped a lap down early in Stage 1 and never got it back. I missed two decisions on the choose cone; went in the wrong lane and gave the free pass to two other guys and never got it back the rest of the day. There were no more cautions to cycle us back to the free pass. 15th is okay, but we definitely had a faster car, our best car I believe, of the year. We’ll just keep moving along (with) more progress, more progress. I’m proud of this group. I hate that the No. 1 car (Kurt Busch) wrecked out early. We’re making progress, so it’s good stuff.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 16th: “It was fun to work with Bass Pro Shops to pay tribute to NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts for this weekend’s NASCAR Throwback race at Darlington Raceway. I just hate that we couldn’t get them into Victory Lane. We started off loose and lost track position late in Stage 1. We put together a really solid run from start to finish in Stage 2 even though we were still trying to fine-tune the handling of our Chevy. Overall, we were just a little too late on the car adjustments and didn’t get the cautions we needed to get back on the lead lap. The entire No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team did a nice job sticking with it all day, but we’ll go back to the drawing board for next time we race at Darlington Raceway. We’ll go get them at Dover International Speedway.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 17th: “Today was not our day. We were super tight all day and just couldn’t get the front tires in the track. We will move on to Dover.”

Erik Jones – Finished 18th: “We did not get the finish we wanted today with our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 STP Camaro ZL1 1LE. It was pretty decent. We had a good run early and lost the balance a little bit late, and then cut a tire and got in the fence. We came back and salvaged a decent day, so I am happy with that. It was the best run we have had in a few weeks, and it is something to build off of when we come back in the fall. Overall a decent day, but we can do a little bit better.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished 23rd: “It was a very, very difficult day. We have to regroup and try to see where we are a little wrong. We started the race extremely off. We made a few steps in the right direction and then we lost it again by the end. We have a lot of work to do. But we have very good people and have to regroup to try to see what we’re going to do.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 35th: “I was racing hard and there’s no give and take. Guy’s running for the Lucky Dog; you can’t fault him for that. But you still have to race the track and the give the room to the lead lap guys. But man, just got ran into, got taken out and we’re on this end of it. It’s been too many times. It’s been a rough year and this just adds to it.”

Cole Custer – Finished 36th: “They all checked up in front of me and just turned down into me. I didn’t have anywhere to go. It is really frustrating. We wanted to give Margaret Haas a really good run in our Mother’s Day car. It just didn’t work out for us. We will move on to the next one. We were really looking forward to this race but it didn’t go in our favor. It is so slick out there. It is pretty crazy. Really slick. That is the slickest I have ever seen Darlington. We were just struggling. We couldn’t really find the balance on the car.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 37th: “I got wrecked. Pretty simple. We were really fast. We had to start last and we were passing a bunch of cars. We were three-quarters of a second faster than the next 10 to 15 cars in front of us. We were passing about one a lap and I got to the 47 and passed him in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2 and then at the exit of (Turn) 2 I had to check up just a little bit because I got tight and he ran right into the back of me and wrecked me.”