What drivers said after Indy road course Cup race

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A look at what drivers said after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course…

AJ Allmendinger – WINNER: “I think (the 2014 win at) Watkins Glen was something that – I mean, it was amazing to go through all the ups and downs and win that race and for (team owners) Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) and Brad (Daugherty). But in a way, it was kind of almost like a relief, as well, like I don’t ever have to be asked about will you ever win a Cup race. So you enjoy it, but at the same point you’re kind of like, ‘Okay, thank goodness now, the relief is gone, I don’t have that hanging over me anymore.’ So it kind of takes a little bit of the enjoyment away. This is, I’m like, I don’t even know – we know showing up at the road course races, we have fast race cars, but like at Indy, the way that played out, I mean, this is just pure enjoyment that I don’t – I’m going to tell them I’m retiring now. Sorry, guys. I’m done, I’m out. I’m not going to Michigan next week. I’m kidding, by the way. I’m going to Michigan. We’ve got a (Xfinity Series) championship to win.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 2nd: “Our car looks better than most. That was a wild race, especially towards the end. I feel like we could have run 10th-12th all day and that is where we were. We just kind of got a couple good restarts and dodged some mess and we had a good shot to try to win the race. I just couldn’t put together a good enough lap and a half to get to A (Allmendinger) to try to pass. We survived all day and did a good job. The whole team did a good job sticking in there. The race got pretty crazy at the end. We almost made it a perfect weekend for Penske Racing, just missed it by one spot.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 3rd: “It was wild there at the end. My car was extremely good. Really proud of everybody on our HendrickCars.com team. We had the best car for sure throughout the second and third stage, and then just we had the caution there with like 10 to go or something and then we had to come down, put tires on, and some guys gambled and stayed out, and that kind of just got us in the mess a little bit. Was able to find my way to the front row and then just got shoved around and put in the grass. Kind of ended my shot to win there. But able to salvage a third, so happy about that, and a good points day.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 4th: “It was a wild day, but I finished fourth. It could have been worse.”

Matt DiBenedetto – Finished 5th: “There is nothing left of the car, I tell you that. We have no rad pan, no fenders, pretty much nothing left on the car. The toe was knocked out a mile and we finished fifth. All this credit goes to crew chief Jonathan Hassler for knowing the strategy and the spot we were in and throwing a ‘Hail Mary’ and running all the way until we were about out of fuel and knowing that if any caution came out we could stay out and get all the track position. This is all him. All I had to do was kind of hang on until the end, hang onto the position. Obviously, our car was missing some pieces on it so I just had to hang on for whatever we could get.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 6th: “I swear I saw a hole on the outside down the front straightaway to go to the outside of (Kyle) Larson, who blocked us a little bit. We rubbed the fence and got a little hole here but had a shot on the front row with old tires. We did all we could to battle. I put us in a hole by flat-spotting a right front early in the race with the Monster Energy Chevy. But the track has so many slow areas, there’s so much time for trouble. But all in all, we’ll take this. It’s a 6th place finish. We had a couple shots at winning but we were really just trying to navigate the day after we were one set of tires less after I made a mistake early on. But, thanks to my guys, we’ll keep digging and learn from this and find what we need to do better on some of these right-handers.”

Erik Jones – Finished 7th: “It was a major day of attrition for us in the Petty’s Garage Chevy. We didn’t really have the car we needed but kind of stuck with it all day and things played out for us, and guys were getting into wrecks and into trouble and making a lot of crazy moves. We just stuck through it and stayed on the straight and narrow and kept our car fairly clean and came home with a seventh. We’ll take a Top 10 any day and hopefully it’ll be a good stretch for us coming up with some good tracks for me and some good tracks for Richard Petty Motorsports and keep this string of good runs going.”

Austin Cindric – Finished 9th: “It is unfortunate. I felt like there were a lot of high expectations coming into today. Maybe not from my end, I just wanted to get to the end, which we did, just with a lot of damage and a lot of adversity. Then we got dumped by (Kurt Busch) at the worst time in the race. Right around the pit cycle and we lost 20 seconds. We came back from whatever it was, 26th to finish ninth. I probably could have gotten a few more spots but we stayed out of trouble on the restarts. We had a lot of close calls where I was in the middle of the pack. A lot of people I was racing around had to drop out of the race. It was a crazy day for our MoneyLion Ford Mustang. I am happy to end my Cup season with a top-10, it is what these guys deserve.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 19th: “Not the day we wanted for our Mobil 1 Ford team, but we certainly made the most of it. We got caught up there with nowhere to go and took on a lot of damage. The guys worked hard all day to keep us on the lead lap. We never gave up all day with a torn-up racecar to get ourselves a top-20. On to Michigan.”

Tyler Reddick – Finished 21st: “We had a fast No. 8 BetMGM Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE this weekend, just ended up needing a little more luck. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course is a lot of fun, really flat and tricky at first. I really started to get the hang of it during the race and was able to attack more and more during the turns as the race went on. It’s great that we were able to capture two Stage wins during today’s race. That will help with our Playoff situation and hopefully gained us some points to close the gap on (Kevin Harvick). I’m disappointed we got that damage in the closing laps of the race, since killed the momentum we had after a great pit stop and cost us a shot at a top-10 finish. The positive is that we were one of the teams able to continue on to the end. Every single point matters, and I know this team will continue to fight as the Playoffs approach.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 23rd: “I’m not going to harp on it. You have to live with the result. You know why? Because you can’t change it. (Chase Briscoe) can’t change it. I can’t change it. I got crashed. He made a mistake. It happens. I think he was in desperation mode like he said and it came at my expense. Certainly, if the roles were reversed down the line – he’s certainly going to be here awhile – I’m probably not going to cut him any breaks at the end. It all comes back around one way or another. It doesn’t mean I’m wrecking him. It just means I won’t cut him any breaks from here on out.”

Cole Custer – Finished 25th: “We had a really good day in terms of execution and sticking to our plan. Unfortunately, that changed toward the end and we were involved in a wreck during overtime. Our Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang was a top-five car but luck wasn’t on our side, so we’ll head to Michigan and give it another shot.”

Chase Briscoe – Finished 26th: “There at the restart, everybody is trying to out-brake each other getting into one and we all kind of missed it to a certain extent. I was getting ran wide and had nowhere else to go. I knew I was going to go through the grass. It was just a matter of do you go through it slow or gas it wide-open and hope you get through it. I don’t know if there would have been a penalty if I had gone through it slow but that was my only chance to win the race at that point. I went for that and stayed on him tight and knew (A.J. Allmendinger) was right behind me. He was on newer tires. A lot of guys were getting lazy through that turn and would just swing it out wide and leave the bottom wide open. So I was kind of all over him (Denny Hamlin) in the esses and when I went to go underneath him I just clipped him in the right rear. He was already trying to get back to the left so it just turned him right around. It is unfortunate for them. They were probably going to win the race if (Allmendinger) didn’t get to him. For us we got a penalty and I don’t even know where we finished. It is frustrating to be that close. You can taste it and imagine what it would be like and then it gets taken away. I have a lot to be proud of. I feel like I showed that I belong here and I will get another chance next year.”

Ross Chastain – Finished 29th: “I have no words. That’s one of the craziest races I’ve been in. It ripped the paint off one of those times the curbs came up and started losing oil at the end, so I pulled off. I don’t know. But we were okay. We were pretty fast. The Clover Chevy was okay. We were probably a 10th place car and yeah, on to Michigan.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 31st: “We knew strategy would be important today so our RCR team worked hard on a plan and adjusted throughout the race, and our hard work and preparation paid off. The Dow MobilityScience Chevy was tight on the lefts and loose on the rights to start the race, but by Stage 2 handling was pretty good and we were able to finish the stage second to grab some valuable Stage Points. Stage 3 was nothing short of wild. I had nowhere to go and ended up with too much damage to finish the race. Honestly, it was frustrating and disappointing. We took a historic race like the Brickyard and turned it into a demo derby. Truthfully it’s not the track’s fault. It’s the drivers’ fault. Everyone wants to just run over curbs. I do hope the fans loved it though. With only two races remaining in the regular season, we’ll be bringing our A-game to try and get wins at Michigan and Daytona to lock ourselves into the NASCAR Playoffs.”

William Byron – Finished 33rd: “It was so weird. I’ve never had that experience. Like, I come through that corner the same every single lap. We were running fourth there behind (Kyle) Larson, and he gets over the curb in the same spot and something, like after he hit with his right rear, it like peeled up. And as soon as I got there I hit something and it just threw me completely off line. It tore the front end right off of it. Yeah, I wasn’t offline at all. I was actually safe because I saw what happened to him and it looked like he jumped in the air with his right rear. And so I was like, man, let me try to get a little bit further left and I obviously nailed something that came up off the track. Just a bummer. This Axalta Chevrolet was really fast. We weren’t as fast as the No. 5 car (Kyle Larson), but we were a second-place car and made a couple of mistakes early that cost me some track position that we got back. I think we were poised to finish in the Top 5 there. It’s definitely a bummer.”

Joey Logano – Finished 34th: “Thank God those tire packs were there. The hit wasn’t that hard at all. The tires absorbed a lot of it. I don’t believe in luck but that time I feel like it was just bad luck. Wrong place at the wrong time and unfortunately it ended our day. We had a decent run coming to us and maybe a top-five finish for our Shell Pennzoil Mustang and the next thing I knew I was airborne and headed to the wall. I had a lot of time to think about it. I was just along for the ride as a passenger knowing what the end result was going to be. All the fans were cheering right there. They were happy to see me get out which was good do see. It will be an exciting finish to watch on TV I guess.”

Christopher Bell – Finished 36th: “Just a bunch of carnage, that’s for sure. Whenever you are packed up like that racing, you are just kind of following the guy in front of you. I didn’t really see much, just a bunch of crashing.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished 37th: “Somebody wrecked the lap before. I didn’t know who it was. But the lap before, I went through fine. I was on my line. I was making sure I was on the right line because I wanted to keep that car on the right side. I was on the regular race track and I hit something almost like the curb was on the race track. I have no idea. I haven’t seen the replay really, I just know that the curb came apart.”

NASCAR Power Rankings: Chase Elliott leaps to the front

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A slick late-race move by Chase Elliott carried him to Victory Lane Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway — and back to the top of the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Elliott is the only driver with five victories this season. No one else in the playoffs has more than two (Tyler Reddick, eliminated from the championship hunt, has won three times).

Elliott, already qualified for the Round of 8 with his Talladega win, will be among the favorites in Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (2 p.m. ET, NBC).

Here’s how the rankings look approaching the end of the Round of 12:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Chase Elliott (No. 3 last week) — Elliott’s power move to win at Talladega was quite impressive and gave him four top-five finishes in the past 10 races. Clearly, he has re-established himself as the championship favorite.

2. Denny Hamlin (No. 1 last week) — Hamlin drops a spot despite a strong run (20 laps led and finishing fifth) at Talladega. Count him in the hunt for an elusive first championship.

3. Ryan Blaney (No. 8 last week) — Blaney simply will not go away despite continuing as the playoffs’ only winless driver (not including the Texas All-Star Race). He was victimized by Chase Elliott on Sunday at Talladega, finishing .046 seconds short of victory and a push into the next round.

4. Kyle Larson (No. 2 last week) — Superspeedway racing generally is not Larson’s strong point. He finished 18th Sunday despite leading eight laps and being in the front group much of the day.

5. Joey Logano (No. 4 last week) — Logano had an unusually poor performance at Talladega. He was involved in an early-race accident and struggled much of the rest of the day, finishing 27th.

MORE: Elliott celebrates, Logano laments

6. Ross Chastain (No. 7 last week) — Chastain tied Aric Almirola for most laps led (36) at Talladega and has been consistent as of late with three finishes of seventh or better in the past four races.

7. William Byron (No. 5 last week) — Byron’s worst news last week came off the track as he was penalized by NASCAR for dumping Denny Hamlin under caution at Texas. He finished 12th at Talladega.

8. Chase Briscoe (No. 9 last week) — Briscoe is quietly making the case that he could make the Round of 8 and challenge for the title.

MORE: Winners and losers at Talladega

9. Daniel Suarez (unranked last week) — Suarez maneuvered through the Talladega draft with style and came home eighth. He has three top 10s in the past seven races.

10. Christopher Bell (No. 6 last week) — Bell had a rough day at Talladega and will be looking to Sunday’s race at the Roval for redemption.

Dropped out: Tyler Reddick (No. 10 last week).

Talladega’s tale of two drivers: One celebrates, one laments

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — It’s dangerous to forecast what is going to happen next in these playoffs in a Cup season unlike any other. 

So keep that in mind, but Chase Elliott’s victory at Talladega moves him one step closer to returning to the championship race for a third consecutive season.

It’s easy to overlook that beyond earning a spot in the Round of 8 with his win Sunday, Elliott scored six playoff points. That gives him 46 playoff points. He has the opportunity to score seven more playoff points this weekend at the Charlotte Roval — an event he has won twice — before the next round begins.

Once the current round ends, the points will be reset to 4,000 for each of the remaining playoff drivers and they’ll have their playoff points added. 

At this point, Elliott would have a 21-point lead on his nearest competitor and a 31-point lead the first driver outside a transfer spot to the championship race.

The next round opens at Las Vegas, goes to Homestead and ends with Martinsville. 

A key for Elliott, though, is to avoid how he has started each of the first two rounds. A crash led to a 36th-place finish in the playoff opener at Darlington. He placed 32nd after a crash at Texas to begin this round.

The up-and-down nature of the playoffs, though, hasn’t taken a toll on the 2020 Cup champion.

“I feel like I’ve been doing this long enough now to understand the roller coaster that is racing,” said Elliott, who is advancing to the Round of 8 for the sixth consecutive season. “It’s going to roll on, right? You either learn to ride it during the good days, during the bad days, too, or you don’t. That’s just part of the deal.

“So, yeah, just try to ride the wave. Had a bad week last week, had a good week this week. Obviously great to move on into the next round, get six more bonus points. All those things are fantastic, we’re super proud of that.

“This deal can humble you. We can go to the Round of 8 and crash again like we did the first two rounds, or you can go in there and maybe have a really good first race. I don’t know. You show up prepared, do the best you can, figure it out from there.”

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Joey Logano has always been one who wants to race at the front in a superspeedway event instead of riding at the back.

When asked last month about the idea of Texas Motor Speedway being reconfigured to provide superspeedway-type racing — as Atlanta Motor Speedway was before this season — Logano questioned the value of that type of racing.

“Is that the type of racing fans want to see?” Logano said. “Because when you look at the way that people have finished up front in these superspeedways lately, (they) are the ones that are riding around in the back. 

“Do you believe that you should be rewarded for not working? Because that’s what they’re doing. They’re riding around in the back not working, not going up there to put a good race on. 

“They’re riding around in the back and capitalizing on other people’s misfortune for racing up front trying to win. I don’t think it’s right. That’s not racing. I can’t get behind that.”

Logano sought to race at the front as much as possible Sunday at Talladega, even after his car was damaged in an early incident, but he took a different tack on the final restart. He restarted 24th and dropped back, finishing 27th.

“We just wreck all the time, so we thought, ‘Boy, we’ve got a big points lead, let’s just be smart and don’t wreck and we’ll be able to get out of here with a top 10, assuming they would wreck because they always do,’” Logano said after the race. 

“That was the only time I’ve ever stayed in the back, ever, was today and they didn’t wreck. We gave up a bunch of our points lead. We’re still plus-18, which is a decent spot to be, but, the goal was to race for stage points and then drop to the back and wait for the crash. I hate racing that way. I’ve gotten beat many times from people that do that, then I tried it and it didn’t work.”

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Michael McDowell’s third-place finish continues his strong season. 

McDowell’s finish extended his career-high of top-10 finishes to 12. He has five finishes of 11th or better in the last seven races. 

“I’m proud of the season we’ve had and the run that we put together,” McDowell said. “Everyone did a great job on pit road executing and getting us track position when we needed it. It’s good to be there at the end and have a shot at it, just disappointed.”

Front Row Motorsports teammate Todd Gilliland finished seventh. 

“Race car drivers are greedy,” Gilliland said. “I wish I could have gotten a couple more there, but it was still a really good day. We ran up front most of the day and my car handled really well, so, overall, there are definitely a ton of positives to take out of this.”

Sunday marked the second time this season both Front Row Motorsports cars finished in the top 10. They also did it at the Indianapolis road course. 

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NASCAR confirms that the Hendrick Motorsports appeal of William Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas will take place Thursday.

Should Hendrick lose that appeal, the team could then have a hearing before the Final Appeals Officer. That session would need to take place before Sunday’s elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

“Twenty-five points in the playoffs is a ton,” car owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday of Byron’s penalty. “I mean, in the regular season if you got a bunch of races, you can make it back up.

“I’ve seen other cars under caution hit each other. In that situation, (Byron) wasn’t trying to spin him, but they got a tower full of people, they could have put him in the back, could have done something right then rather than wait till Monday or Tuesday, then make a decision.”

Byron is 11 points below the cutline after Talladega.

Talladega jumbles Cup playoff grid heading to elimination race

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In an unpredictable season and topsy-turvy playoffs, it only made sense that Talladega would deliver a wildcard result.

A playoff driver won a playoff race for the first time this season. How about that?

Chase Elliott’s victory moves him to the next round, the only driver guaranteed to advance heading into Sunday’s elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric are tied for the last transfer spot, but Briscoe owns the tiebreaker based on a better finish in this round. At least for now.

Hendrick Motorsports will have its appeal this week on the 25-point penalty to William Byron from the Texas race. Byron is 11 points below the cutline after Talladega, but if the team wins the appeal and he gets all 25 points back, Byron would be back in a transfer spot and drop Briscoe below the cutline.

 

XFINITY SERIES

AJ Allmendinger became the second driver to advance to the next round, winning at Talladega.

Ryan Sieg finished fourth and holds the final transfer spot heading into the elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (3 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock). Reigning series champion Daniel Hemric is six points behind Sieg. Riley Herbst and Brandon Jones are each 10 points behind Sieg. Jeremy Clements is 47 points behind.

 

CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

Matt DiBenedetto’s first career Camping World Truck Series victory didn’t impact the playoff standings after Talladega since DiBenedetto is not a playoff driver.

Reigning series champion Ben Rhodes holds the final transfer spot. He leads Christian Eckes and Stewart Friesen by three points each. John Hunter Nemechek is five points behind Rhodes, while Grant Enfinger is 29 points behind Rhodes. Ty Majeski is the only driver guaranteed a spot in next month’s championship race.

The Truck Series is off this weekend. The next Truck race is Oct. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

Winners and losers at Talladega Superspeedway

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A look at the winners and losers from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway:

WINNERS

Chase Elliott — After a rough race at Texas, Elliott returned to the role of championship favorite Sunday with a victory. He takes the point lead to Charlotte and, with Sunday’s win, is locked into the Round of 8.

MORE: Talladega Cup results

MORE: Talladega Cup driver points

Ryan Blaney — Despite another tough race day and a second-place finish in a race he could have won, Blaney remains in good shape in the playoffs, even without a points win. He is second in points to Elliott, only two behind.

Denny Hamlin — Hamlin took some time off from leading the charge for changes in the Next Gen car to run an excellent race. He led 20 laps, finished fifth and is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all five playoff races. He gained a spot in points to fourth.

LOSERS

Christopher Bell — Bell zipped onto pit road with too much speed during a round of pit stops and slid to a stop, earning a speeding penalty. He is 11th in points.

Kyle Larson — Larson led eight laps Sunday but was not a part of the drafting mix at the front at the finish. He was 18th and fell three spots in points to sixth.

Joey Logano — Logano held the point lead entering Sunday’s race. At day’s end, he had a 27th-place finish and had fallen four spots to fifth.