What drivers said after Watkins Glen Cup race


WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Here is what drivers said after Sunday’s Cup race at Watkins Glen International:

Kyle Larson — WINNER: “It was a good day. In the beginning there I knew I had a fast car and was able to close in on Joey (Logano) and Brad (Keselowski) pretty quickly, and just couldn’t really do anything with them at that point because they were a little bit better than me in the areas where I needed to build a run. But I knew my car was good and had a lot of grip. Gave me confidence there, and once the strategies kind of worked out and I ended up mid-pack, I knew I needed to beat (Logano) and (Denny Hamlin) to the front, and then I would have better tires than those guys in front of me, and the strategy would work out.

Thankfully that’s what happened. Our pit crew did a great job on the green flag stop and got us out in front of (Truex), and we were able to kind of maintain that gap for a little while and then eventually start to pull away, and thankfully (Chase Elliott) was not close enough there at the end because he was really, really fast.”

CHASE ELLIOTT — Finished 2nd:Yeah, I made too many mistakes to get the win, unfortunately, and made it too late in the race. Super proud of our team. Been kind of an uphill battle all day, but everybody was just super prepared coming into the day, and our NAPA team just did a really good job of fighting it. If I hadn’t have let them down there, I think we would have had a shot at it, but congrats to Kyle (Larson, race winner), Cliff (Daniels, crew chief), all the guys on the 5. Happy for everybody at HMS. Hendrick Motorsports has been working extremely hard, and not only do the people deserve to win, but Mr. Hendrick deserves to win. Really happy for him, and I’ll try to clean some things up and make less mistakes next time. Maybe it’ll work out.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 3rd: “It was quite a battle. James (Small, crew chief) did a great job with our Reser’s Fine Foods Camry to get track position to put us where we needed to be. We didn’t quite have the speed on the longer runs to take advantage of that track position. We tried hard and thanks to everybody for working hard. We’re a little behind those two (Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott) right now on road courses, they’re really, really fast. I just had to burn my tires off to try to stay with them and then in 20 laps they’re gone. Heck of a fight, but we’ll take a third or a podium as they say in road course racing and go to work and try to get better.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 4th: We just didn’t quite have what we needed. That was not fun. The guys gave me a pretty decent Snickers Camry. Just not quite where we needed it and not quite good enough. Just couldn’t really hang on during the long runs. We’d lose too much time off the corners and be too slick. Fought hard all day. A lot of green flag action today and a lot of long runs. As much as I workout, I’m out of shape.”

DENNY HAMLIN — Finished 5th: Really proud of our effort today. We passed, had to be the most cars. We were really, really fast all day. Proud of this whole FedEx Express team. We’ve come a long way on the road courses. I thought we had equal pace with the 5 (Kyle Larson), especially on the long run. Obviously, we made an extra stop there for whatever reason. It’s an encouraging day when we can be as competitive as what we were.”

William Byron — Finished 6th: “We had a solid run and ended up sixth in the No. 24 Axalta Camaro ZL1 1LE. Lost the fifth spot on the last lap, unfortunately. We had a good car and it was a good run for us. We started mid-pack and worked our way forward, so I’m happy with that. Definitely a solid road course finish for us and we’ll keep moving forward.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 7th:  “Our STANLEY/Pristine Auction Camry was every bit as capable of winning the race and finished seventh. Very happy that we’ve turned a corner and now we’re frustrated with seventh. It should have been a lot more today.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 8th: “Our Busch Light Apple Ford was decent today. We just had to go into fuel mileage savings as soon as we came in the pits that last run, and just kind of ran our pace and finished where we finished because we couldn’t afford to run out of gas. So, they did a good job and had a good strategy. We scored a few stage points and had a solid finish, so we’ll go to the next one.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 9th: “We’ve only got three top 10s now, so you’ll take any of them you can get. I felt like we ran up front a lot of the day, but still weren’t quite good enough. I felt like earlier in the race I was a little bit better and as the race went on I don’t know if the other guys got better or we just got worse. Obviously, we’re in a position where we’ve got to go win, so ninth doesn’t necessarily cut it for us, but, overall, it was a good day. We got stage points and finished in the top 10, so we’ll go on to Indy. We know we’ve got to get it better if we’re gonna win one of these and just from a balance standpoint I’ve still got to get better, too. We’ll go on to Indy and back home next week.  Obviously, that one is super special, so we’ll try to capitalize there.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 10th: “We had some good speed in our No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE today but just needed the balance to be a little better overall. I was really tight throughout most of the day, especially on landing through the turns. It didn’t seem to matter which way I was turning, I just couldn’t get the front to rotate like I needed it to once I got through the first third of a turn. The adjustments we made during the day seemed to help during the last stage of the race and I was able to grab the 10th spot on the final lap. It’s good that we were able to leave the track with another top 10 to help us with the playoff cutline. I wish we were able to finish a little higher up, but we will have a good shot next week to show what we can do at another road course. There’s no other group I’d rather be fighting with to make the playoffs, and I know they’ll all continue to fight through the coming weeks.”

Matt DiBenedetto — Finished 11th: “I think we were an eighth- to 10th-place car. We probably finished a couple spots further back than what we could have got. We caught that whole group of cars at the end and just ran out of time. It was solid. We were lacking a little bit of speed, but it was a day I thought we maximized. We made good adjustments. (Crew chief Jonathan) Hassler made the perfect adjustment there at the end and it was as good as our car was gonna be without practice. There were things I wanted to change, but you can’t when you don’t have practice.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 12th: “Tough day at Watkins Glen (International) for the No. 42 MyMcDonald’s Rewards Camaro ZL1 1LE. I think Kurt (Busch) and I both struggled for turn. There was quite a bit front chatter and it was just hard to get through a lot of the rights. That’s hard on a primarily right-hand turn track. Our left and rights balance was off just a little bit.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 15th: What a day at Watkins Glen International. We started the race 16th in the No. 3 Cowboy Channel Chevrolet and finished ninth in Stage 1 to grab a couple of stage points. We struggled a little bit through the esses but overall handling was pretty good today. I think we could have finished well inside the top 10 if things would have gone just a little differently. I made a mistake that cost us maybe five spots when a car ahead of us slammed on the brakes and I just didn’t anticipate it. Good job to everyone on this RCR team all day. Everyone fought hard, just as they have all season.”

Erik Jones — Finished 27th: “The day started off okay. The No. 43 Clean Harbors Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was good, and we made our way forward. Then we lost track position and got too far back, spun out and never caught a caution to get caught back up. Not a solid end, but we proved to have an okay car. We just lost the balance a bit through the middle of the race, and got too free and didn’t really have it where we needed it. We will head to another road course next week. I think we learned some good stuff and got a few things better that will carry over.”