What drivers said at Richmond

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Here is what drivers said after Saturday night’s Cup playoff race at Richmond Raceway:

Martin Truex Jr. — WINNER: “It’s a big day. It’s an important day in our history. I think all of us here – yeah, we’re proud to win, and this car is amazing and there’s so many people to thank, but what a day to win on. It reminds you of the honor and the privilege it is to get to come out here and do this. All these great fans that come out here, we couldn’t do any of these kind of things without the men and women that take care of us and all the first responders, police officers, firefighters, the military, you name it. NASCAR is very patriotic and we’re very proud, and Johnny Morris is very patriotic; that’s why this thing is red, white and blue. So very proud of everybody to be able to do this today. … (Penalty at the start) That was frustrating; I’m not going to lie. But I knew we’d have a good enough car to overcome it. It felt pretty good the first couple laps. Just one of those things; you’ve got to put it out of your mind and you’ve got to go race, and we knew there was a lot on the line tonight. Very happy to get to do this and go to Bristol without any worries next week is always fun.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 2nd: “Our pit stops were a little slow there and we lost about two or three seconds, maybe four on pit road on those two stops, and about a second and a half behind. We were coming, just we got off track with our car right there in the middle stages of the race, but overall Chris (Gabehart) and the team made great adjustments there at the end on the FedEx Camry, just needed a couple more laps, that’s all.

Christopher Bell — Finished 3rd: “I think obviously all of our Joe Gibbs Racing cars were extremely fast, so hats off to everyone back there at the job, Toyota, TRD that gives us the resources that we need to come out here and do good. We knew going into Richmond that this is one of our better racetracks, so we needed to capitalize on that and get all the points we could. … Bristol is a really good racetrack for our company and me and a driver, but it’s a little bit – it’s just you can get caught up in stuff so easily at Bristol. It’s nice to have a buffer and hopefully we can go to Bristol and have an uneventful event.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 4th: “I’m super proud of our effort. Our entire Kelley Blue Book team did a great job preparing for this week and then coming and executing a really fast car. I’m really proud of that. I hate our incident on pit road happened. I don’t know what I would have done any different. I guess let him go is a safe thing, but it’s so close and always hard to tell kind of when they’re going to get done on the left side. I hate that. I thought I was long in the box and backed up out of a precautionary measure, but yeah, I hate that. I know that Kyle and Martin were really fast there at the end. I’m not sure if we would have had anything for them, but I sure would have liked to have found out.”

Joey Logano — Finished 5th: “That’s about where we were – a fifth-place car. Maybe sometimes a little better, sometimes a little worse depending on the kind of run. I’d say we averaged out as the fifth car and that’s where we finished. We got some good points. I think we were third in the first stage and fifth in the second and a fifth finish, so that’s some good points. I don’t know where that’s gonna stack the Shell/Pennzoil Mustang up in the playoff standings, but it should put us in a decent spot going into Bristol next week. That’s what it’s all about right now. It’s about being solid and getting every point, so we’re getting them. We’re doing what we’ve got to do. We’re grinding them out, but had nothing for the Gibbs cars tonight.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 6th: “Yeah, it’s a lot better than we were here at Richmond earlier in the year. At the beginning of the race, I thought I was going to have a really good shot to win, but we kind of lost the balance there and got it back a little bit there at the end. So, we probably finished where we deserved. The No. 18 (Kyle Busch) kind of had his problems, so maybe we finished one spot better. Not a bad day. To go to Bristol and know that we’re locked in is nice. We’ll try to be aggressive and get a win this week.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 10th: “From the spring race here I thought we could run right there and we ran 11th in the spring. I thought we figured some stuff out and we worked a little bit more on it, so we got some stage points and had a couple runs that were bad, a couple runs where we got better and better, and at the end we were able to pass a handful of cars to get home 10th. I’m proud of the team.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 11th: “We came to Richmond Raceway this weekend to finish what we started last year, when we had a great run but didn’t win. Even through we came up a little bit short in the Roland Chevrolet this weekend, I’m proud of the entire team for hanging in there. We started off the race with a very loose handling machine, but we made a big swing at adjustments at the end of Stage 1. Those adjustments helped the handling tremendously. The No. 3 Roland Chevrolet was strong tonight through the middle portion of the race, but we lost forward drive in stage 3 and never got it back to where we wanted it. All-in-all, 11th isn’t horrible. We’ll head to Bristol Motor Speedway with the goal of winning.

Alex Bowman — Finished 12th: “We struggled to start. We were really good at the end of stage 2. We didn’t make any adjustments and we were really bad at the beginning of stage 3. We just had a set of tires that didn’t agree with our racecar and got a lap down there. It’s hard to overcome that. Bummer for all of our guys. I feel like we did a good job throughout the course of the race at getting our car better from where we started. We just didn’t end where we needed to end. On the bubble going into Bristol, but just have to go do my job and hopefully we have a fast Ally Camaro there and go get the job done.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 13th:  “Disappointing day. Didn’t have any speed. Just ran a whole race and didn’t really make any mistakes, but that’s all we had. I was hoping this was going to be a big day for us, but we never really showed any strength.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 14th: “We didn’t have a race-winning car, but I thought we could have run fifth to eighth, so I’m a little frustrated but it’s a team sport and we’ll go to Bristol and keep fighting. … I think we’re competitive. We’re in the hunt.  Like I said, today we should have ran fifth to eighth. We had a loose lugnut and I had to pit again under green, and then got us behind. I don’t know where we finished. I think we finished 14th instead of sixth or seventh, which is about where we were running, so frustrating that we gave up those points. This situation we can’t really give up any points. It would have been a lot nicer to go to Bristol plus 12 instead of plus three or four, but it is what it is. It’s no big deal. We’ve got to put our head down and go race. It’s the same situation. We’ve just got to go racing and score as many points as we can. You just hate to five up six, seven, eight points.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 15th: “Tonight didn’t go as planned for our Childress Vineyards team, but this Richard Childress Racing team never quit fighting. We spent the first half of the race too loose on entry and tight in the center. Our Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE struggled to rotate the middle. Once we made adjustments that positively changed the handling, we had already lost track position and the cautions didn’t fall our way to get back on the lead lap. The positive coming out of tonight is that we are still in contention to advance to the Round of 12 next weekend. We will give it everything we have in Bristol to see if we can keep our Playoffs run going.” 

Chase Briscoe — Finished 16th: “This was one of my best runs at Richmond, for sure. I think we still have a long way to go, but I don’t hate it as much as I used to. It certainly helps when the car is handling the way it’s supposed to. The result doesn’t show the effort put in and how strong we were, but I feel like it was something that I can build on now that I kind of understand how to drive the track.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 17th: “It was okay. We’ve got some work to do. I think we were better than that, towards the end with the speed that we had. We were struggling a lot with the rear of the car. We will keep working to keep getting better.”

William Byron — Finished 19th: “We were just really bad. We finished seventh here in the spring and felt like we had something decent. We tweaked some stuff to try and get a little better. I think the best we got was we got to 11th one time. We just had a lack of grip. Some runs I could run with the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the 12 (Ryan Blaney). Some runs I was way off the pace. I don’t know. I fought both; tight center at the start of the race. I thought we got some more drive in the car. I thought that was kind of making us faster, but that kind of ran out too.”

Erik Jones — Finished 21st: “Decent day for us with the 43 Chevy. Cool to have the special 9/11 remembrance scheme on the car today. Lost the balance in the middle part of the race and just got a bit behind and couldn’t make it up from there. Looking forward to Bristol next week, my favorite place to go.”

Cole Custer — Finished 22nd: “Today was just a rough day at Richmond. We struggled with the balance of our No. 41 HaasTooling.com Demo Day Ford Mustang throughout the entire race. We’ll take what we learned today and move ahead to Bristol.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 28th: “Just another missed opportunity. We’re just making too many mistakes. We sped on pit road. The first time I thought, ‘Maybe it was close.’ And then I sped on my sped and it was not close, so obviously we missed the configuration on the lights, and then I backed it down again and still sped again. It’s unfortunate. Everybody did a really good job. We actually had good speed. We had a fast Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang and we just lost all those laps with penalties and unfortunately I didn’t adjust enough or quick enough. I thought I knocked enough speed off, but obviously it wasn’t enough. It’s really unfortunate.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 37th: “I was just impressed with our speed and the way we unloaded and (the speed) we had in that first 30-lap run. After the pit stop, something in the left rear wasn’t right. The guys said they got the tire tight. They made an adjustment and there was no rub and the left rear let go. I just radioed to them how loose the car was. Something happened with that left rear. It let go. It let go of our points and it let go of our whole season right now. I don’t know what we’re going to have to do at Bristol other than win.”