What drivers said after Michigan Cup race


Here is what drivers said after Sunday’s Cup race at Michigan International Speedway:

Ryan Blaney — Winner: “We were going to be fourth and the front row was open. You have to take the front row. It gave us a shot to win the race and Kyle (Busch) gave us a really good push to get us clear into Turn 1 and then I was playing defense. We were wide open. Especially with (Kyle) Larson and William (Byron) laying back and trying to get runs. That made it tough. It was cool to persevere all day. We didn’t start off very good but we worked on it all day and found ourselves in a spot to capitalize on it at the end and did that. A very cool day and nice to be in victory lane here in Michigan. This is huge for Ford and Mr. Penske and a lot of fun. … The first run wasn’t very pretty. We slid backwards pretty good and we put packer in the right front and did a lot of stuff to try to free it up. There were a lot of changes but hopefully it paid off in the end and the last restart went our way too and we were able to hold those guys off the last 10 laps or so. That was stressful. That is not the ideal way to race, just blocking everybody, but it is what you have to do nowadays and Josh did a really good job up top. It is nice to be in victory lane.”

William Byron — Finished 2nd: “Just (needed Denny Hamlin) to stay with us. He tried to shuck us into (Turn) 1. I had to stay with him to not sacrifice my right rear. Once you get put three-wide middle, it’s game over. I gave up the lead trying to protect the top. Just didn’t have the loyalty there to kind of push me to the lead. Overall really good car. Axalta Chevrolet was extremely fast. Definitely know we can bring that to the playoffs. Stinks to finish second, but feel like we had a really good car to go to battle with.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 3rd: “The restart, worked out a little better than I thought it was going to for me. (Denny Hamlin) tried to stick (William Byron) three-wide. They got loose. I got to the middle. I think came out third or something there. Was able to get to second. Just made a couple bad moves, I guess. I think honestly just a little too patient behind (Ryan Blaney). Could have made some later, you know, dives I guess to the inside. Who knows. I need to watch the replay. Just made a couple wrong moves, allowed William to get by me. Once I was in third, I hoped they would get racing, get side drafted. I was never close enough to William to help him generate a run on (Blaney). Ended up third. A good points day. Wish we could have had more, but all in all a good day for the Cincinnati Chevy.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 4th: “I had an excellent No. 1 Monster Energy Camaro ZL1 1LE thanks to (crew chief) Matt McCall and all my Chip Ganassi Racing guys. They’re digging hard. The first little sequence, I knew we had a good car today. I just made a couple of mistakes in the aero-situational events. It’s like a mini-superspeedway race out there. And then you have handling mixed in because it’s a 2-mile track. We did really good today. We were right in the mix. Fourth place is bittersweet. I wanted to win so bad. I had three different plans in my head and I cannot believe a Chevy didn’t win today.”

DENNY HAMLIN — Finished 5th: “We were really fast there right before that last green flag stop. We had run down the leaders from way back, I guess we restarted 18th. It was fast. We just didn’t need that caution – the second-to-last one. We got a good restart on the second-to-last one and then I tried to make a move on the 24 (William Byron) and he was so concerned with me that he lost the lead as well. Just crazy racing. Everyone is just sliding on each other, but it was a decent amount of fun. … I think we’ve got good momentum. We’re fast. Every single week we can win. There’s only maybe three cars that can say that every single week. Just feel like we’re in a good place. We’re steady. We just have to keep climbing towards the top.”

Matt DiBenedetto — Finished 6th: “We had a rocket for a while. Then, something went sideways. We didn’t change anything but we lost the handle on it. I am not sure what exactly happened. Either way, we made good calls and the team did a good job. We got the day going really good and were really fast and then had some things go wrong. We had trouble on a pit stop and had the car go a little off and then had to rebound at the end and fight. My spotter Doug (Campbell) does an excellent job and we work together well. We were super aggressive and made it back up. It was a proud team effort.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 7th: “We had an eventful day with our Interstate Batteries Camry. We had a good car and for some reason the set of tires we put on it were not good. Ben (Beshore, crew chief) decided to put four tires on the next stop and then I also slid through the stall. We battled hard and got back up there, but we needed the track position to have a shot to win.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 9th: “We were really good in the sun. Those scattered clouds at the end took away a little too much handling I think. We had a pretty good Discount Tire Ford. I am bummed. I wanted of course to get a win and I hate that I had that contact with (Austin Dillon). That really sucks for everybody. It really hurt our day and obviously ruined his. That was crappy. So it goes.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 11th: “We definitely didn’t start off how we wanted to. The guys kept working on it and making it better, and I felt like at the end we got two really good restarts. I thought I was going to be looking really good for a top-five finish, but Kurt (Busch) got loose and I had nowhere to go. It caved the nose in, and obviously we were struggling those last few laps. From where we started to where we finished it was great. I just thought for a second we would finish way better than 11th. We’ve made big gains the last month and a half. It’s really encouraging, and we have one more week to try to make it in the playoffs at Daytona, where anything can happen. So we’ll go there and try to get in.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 16th: “Man, we definitely wanted to finish better for Ally at their home track. We received some damage early on and we just battled tight conditions throughout the race. Just really tight. We made some gains on pit road, which was what we needed. We will come back strong in Daytona for the final race of the regular season.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 17th: “Our Smithfield Ford Mustang had the handling we needed after making some adjustments, but we just didn’t have the speed to contend up front today. We had to really play defense on the restarts and then hope our long-run speed gave us a shot to pass more cars. Ready to head to my hometown race to cap off the regular season in Daytona and gear up for the playoffs.”

Erik Jones — Finished 18th: “It ended up being an OK day; it was just up and down. We got caught a lap down early with a loose wheel. The middle part of the race, there just wasn’t much going on. It was good to get back on the lead lap and at least salvage a top 20 out of it for our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Medallion Bank Camaro ZL1 1LE. We were just tight all day and couldn’t really get it to do much other than that. We’ll go on and see what we can learn from it. Hopefully, we’ll go to Daytona (International Speedway) and get a win.”

Cole Custer — Finished 23rd: “It was a frustrating day, for the most part. We started out really, really loose with our Feeding America/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Mustang and kept working on it. We made improvements each time, but it never quite got to where we could make significant forward progress. This is a tough track to get everything right, especially with no practice or qualifying. It’s on to Daytona next week, where anything can happen, and we’re certainly going to try and make something happen in the last race before the playoffs.”

AUSTIN DILLON — Finished 36th: “I was just trying to get as many Stage points as I could get right there and did a good job of side-drafting and came down to the apron and I’ve seen just one quick replay, but it was after the Start/Finish Line. I was starting to come up off the apron because it’s so rough down there. But I figured by that point, he would have given me a little room. I hate it. I’m thankful that the good Lord kept me safe today. That was a heck of a wreck, but I feel fine. I hate it for BREZTRI and my guys, most of all. The built a rocket ship. They really wanted this one, and I did too. Just working our tails off right there. I think we would have had a shot to do something there at the end with our race car. It’s the best race car we’ve brought to the track at RCR this year, I feel like. It’s just a bummer but we’ve got Daytona left and I just hate it. I don’t know why it happened, really. I thought I had a little room to come up and he just held me down there a little bit too long, I guess.”