What drivers said at New Hampshire

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Here is what drivers said after Sunday’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

Aric Almirola — WINNER: “This is by far one of my favorite racetracks. I love coming up to the New England area and racing. I love this racetrack. I had this race won a couple years ago and I gave it away. I lost it, and I am so glad to win a race here with this race team. God is so good. We’ve been through so much and I’ve just stood the test and kept the faith. The team, everybody, they’ve just been working so hard. Smithfield, Ford, Go Bowling, Pit Boss Grills, everybody, Honeystinger, Shady Rays Sunglasses. There have been so many people that have just continued to support us through the crappiest year ever, and, man, this feels so good for them. My pit crew, they did a phenomenal job on pit road. All the guys that work on this car, they just keep fighting. They just keep digging, bringing the best race car they can bring every week and it is no doubt, we have struggled, but, guess what? We’re going playoff racing.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 2nd: “I didn’t know how may laps they cut it short, but definitely whenever I saw the board and saw that we were eight laps short, it stings man. I felt like I probably had a little better pace than him and I was able to get to him. I know lapped cars were giving him a bad time, but I was able to get to him. It was going to be a heck of a race, but really proud of everyone on this Rheel Pristine Auction Camry. They did really good. Everyone on this 20 crew – we didn’t start out the greatest and then we were really good, probably the best we were all day right there at the end of the race. That’s all you can ask for is to have a shot at it and just wish we had eight more laps.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 3rd: “(Aric Almirola) was just lights-out fast that last run, or the last two runs, and just drove by everybody. It was pretty amazing. We were good, but we weren’t great, so a solid day. It was pretty smart (to call the race early). You’ve got to keep in mind that what you can see on TV is not what you can see in the car. We see a lot less in the car than you can even on site, so whether it’s Circuit of the Americas where we had no visibility or here bad things happen when you can’t see.”

Joey Logano — Finished 4th: “When you come to your home track all you want to do is win. A straight kick to the gut to start the race with a piece of rubber getting in the linkage, the throttle linkage, and not letting me get wide-open. All we did was take a picture under the red flag, underneath the hood to see what was under there. We took a picture with a camera phone and they gave us a two-lap penalty for that. I understand the rules are the rules, but it’s also a safety factor and the last thing you want is a throttle to stick and get hurt. I don’t know. Hindsight is 20/20, but you would never know what it was if you didn’t take a picture, but it still had the piece of rubber in it. It’s frustrating. We got a good finish out of it, but it’s frustrating when you’re at your home track and you feel like you could have got a win out of it, out of a safety issue that we got a penalty for.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 5th: “I thought we were pretty good.  We just got loose when the sun started to go down, and as it got darker, we got looser and just couldn’t really keep up with that.  We kind of fell off the pace there at the end. When we had the lead I was kind of riding around, and I knew Aric and (Brad Keselowski) were there and I was trying to manage my tires, but as soon as Aric got by (Keselowski), he was on me incredibly quick and I couldn’t push any harder. Overall, not a bad run. The three best cars in the top five is not bad, just still have to keep doing a little work, but we’re getting there.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 7th: “I think we just needed grip. I was just a little bit too free. Once we finally got some grip in it, my long run kind of faded a little bit. My team made some improvements, so that was good. I feel like with the improvements, we probably finished a spot or two better than we maybe would have before.” 

Ross Chastain — Finished 8th: “The No. 42 Clover Camaro ZL1 1LE ran in the top 10, right around sixth to 10th, all day long. We executed on a green flag pit stop there at the end to bring our Chevrolet home right behind Kyle (Larson). We want to be better; but a nice, solid, pretty uneventful day. I got to race around my teammate (Kurt Busch) a few times. It was good stuff. Onto the next one.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 9th: “Top 10 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the No. 48 Ally team; we’ll take it. We typically aren’t good here, so a ninth-place finish is pretty good for us. It’s a good improvement versus the last couple of times we’ve been here. I only raced one race car today, which was fantastic. I’ve raced three race cars here before, so we’re doing what we can on the Ally Camaro. Not a bad day.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 10th: “We were fortunate. I think we were just far enough up the field to be in the wreck (at the beginning), but far enough back to where I saw the leaders wrecking and were able to check up and brake 100 feet which kept us out of the wall.”

Matt DiBenedetto — Finished 11th: “I was hoping they were gonna throw the 10 to go when we were leading. It was getting pretty dark. (Crew chief Jonathan) Hassler and our guys made a great attempt and call trying to snag one there. We started off and had to really crank on it today, and we got it way better. Then we stayed out and knew we’d sacrifice some track position if it did stay green and we didn’t get the 10 to go deal and we didn’t. But we did a two-tire deal and made it work and instead of finishing eighth we finished 11th and it was totally worth the gamble, so great job.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 12th: “It’s just ice. Slicks don’t stick to water. I think the 18 (Kyle Busch) and I had it the worst because we were out front. We’re a half-a-lap ahead of the back of the field so it’s the wettest when we get there. The lap before I went into (Turn) 1 and about did the same thing and I hollered on the radio that the track is wet. Like wet, wet. I tried to back it down and I got in there and it just kept going. I couldn’t even slow it down. At some point you have to turn the wheel and that’s when it spins out.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 13th: “Our No. 8 Caterpillar #WeDigLandscaping Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was really strong today. I told (crew chief) Randall Burnett and the guys during the red flag that our car was sporty and could be in contention at the end. The handling built free during a long run, but it wasn’t unbearable or hurt us in any way. We barely adjusted on the handling during the race which is a sign of a really fast race car. We had to overcome a few different things – overshooting the pit stall and scrubbing the wall — but even though that cost us track position, I steadily worked my way back up inside the top 10. There were a few different strategies in play at the end when we were racing against the darkness. I hate we didn’t get to run the full distance, because I think we could have finished better than 13th. As we get closer to the playoff cutoff though, we will need to have a clean race and get a win to secure our spot. I know our team can do it and we will keep battling.” 

Cole Custer — Finished 14th: “It wasn’t out best day but it was a solid day for our HaasTooling.com team New Hampshire and something we can build on. It’s really cool to see Aric (Almirola) get the win and shows that as an organization we’re moving in the right direction. We’ll take this two-week break and head to Watkins Glen looking for another chance to make some gains.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 17th: “It was an intense day to say the least in our No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. We battled weather, ill-timed cautions and darkness. We started the race a little tight rolling through the center of Turns 3 and 4 but routine adjustments really helped the handling of our Chevy. In stage 2, the caution flag came out while we were on pit road, pinning us one lap down. I’m proud of this team for giving me what I needed to race our way into position for the free pass. I wish we could have earned some stage points today and finished a little higher in the running order, but I know we gave it our all and that is just how it goes sometimes. There’s a lot of fight left in this team so don’t count us out of the NASCAR Playoffs battle yet. We’ll take these next few off weekends to regroup before Watkins Glen.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 27th: “We had a really tough time getting our balance where we needed it all day. We’d make improvements on entry, but it was never really where I needed it to be to make up any ground. Going a lap down didn’t help, but we were able to get that back pretty quick. Playing the strategy game at the end and hoping for a caution didn’t quite go in our favor, so I’m looking forward to the break. It’ll give us a chance to regroup and come back ready for some road-course racing in a few weeks.”

KYLE BUSCH — Finished 37th: “We started the race under a mist. It never should have gone green to begin with, but then it kept getting worse and worse lap over lap. The lap before I went into (Turn) 1 and it shoved the nose really bad and I was able to keep it under control. It wasn’t bad enough. The next time I went down there, hell, I lifted at the flag stand – maybe a little past the flag stand, don’t get too dramatic – and just backed it in. We’ve been talking about it for two laps that it was raining. There’s no sense in saying what I want to say, it doesn’t do you any good.”