What drivers said after Talladega

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A look at what drivers said following Monday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway…

Bubba Wallace – Winner: “It’s really cool and humbling. I’ve gone through a lot of stuff as every athlete would. I’ve thought about this moment a lot and it’s not your traditional burnout and celebration in victory lane, which is unfortunate. This was the same feeling I had going into Martinsville 2013. Just prepared more than ever and I didn’t even do anything different. Just something clicked. I was like, I want to be more aggressive and make sure that we’re there at the end. Didn’t know the end would be the rain, but just had to be there. I had a good feeling about it. Thanks to everybody at 23XI Racing, Toyota, McDonalds, DoorDash, Root, Dr. Pepper. I didn’t dream about being here when I was a kid, but this is kind of a dream come true.”

Brad Keselowski (playoffs) – Finished 2nd: “It was a good day for us, not the win. Gosh, if I would have known it was gonna rain right then I had a move I could have made and I was like, “No, we’ve got five laps in the stage left, I don’t want to burn that move yet,’ and then it rains, so I feel like I kind of let one slip away here. All in all, it’s still a great day. We scored a lot of stage points, which is really positive and put ourselves in a good position next week to go to the Roval.”

Joey Logano (playoffs) – Finished 3rd: “(Brad Keselowski) had a run on (Bubba Wallace) to take the lead and enough push from me to be able to kind of continue that and try to get the both of us clear. Hindsight is 20/20. He didn’t know that they were gonna crash on the backstretch and there is still five to go in the stage. It took probably three or four minutes after they crashed before it actually started raining, so it probably would have got to the end of the stage. It would have been kind of hard to decide when to make that move or not to. Overall, though, take that piece out of it and with the points we scored today it’s a big win, I think, for us. (Wallace) winning doesn’t hurt anybody because he’s a non-playoff contender, so no big deal there and able to score solid stage points. They had us second, but then changed us back to third, so I don’t know. We’ve got to kind of go back and see where we actually finished, but, either way, it was a good points day and puts us in a good spot.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 4th: “Yeah, I raced as smart as I could and raced on the unselfish side. The teamwork has to be there and has to be there at the right moment. For us, with the rain and the end of the Stage, we wanted to get everything we could and I am really proud of the way our car drove. This Monster Energy Chevy was fast and did everything we needed it to do. I stayed committed to the low lane and it was just a matter of when the low lane versus the high lane had the momentum and whenever the yellow was going to come out. So, we just didn’t quite have all the luck on our side today.”

Christopher Bell (playoffs) – Finished 5th: “Just disappointing not to get stage points in stage one, that was a big turning point, but the guys that we’re racing all had good days. We’ve got a long way to go and we’ll head to the Roval, which is a good track for us, but it’s going to take a little bit of luck.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 6th: “We were really focused out there today. We were having a lot of fun with the Violet Defense Ford and I think we had a really good chance to be there at the end if the weather could have held out.”

Denny Hamlin (playoffs) – Finished 7th: “It means so much (to see Bubba Wallace win). It’s a learning process and we knew it was going to be a learning process. I’m so happy for the team and I’m so happy for his sponsor, McDonalds as it’s been decades since they’ve been in victory lane. Just great that we’re able to show off our partners here at 23XI and this is just a building step. We’re still in just the beginning stages of our team and we’re still growing. We have some great things on the horizon, but this is just a great moral booster for everyone.”

Kevin Harvick (playoffs) – Finished 8th: “We got a little bit behind. I got shuffled out there too late for the rain storm, but our Ford Mustang was fast and we were able to make up some ground and get back up closer to where we needed to be. I hate that it started raining. Our car was fast.”

Erik Jones – Finished 9th: “Good day for the Air Force Chevy. Thought we had good speed all day and kept it up front. Thought the race was coming to us and then the rain came. Proud of the effort to have a top ten and hopefully keep it rolling at the Roval.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 11th: “What a weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. Our No. 3 BREZTRI AEROSPHERE Inhalation Aerosol Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was strong this weekend so I wish that Mother Nature would have cooperated a little more and we could have raced to the finish. Spotter Brandon Benesch did a great job helping to navigate us around the track, and we raced our way into the top-three several times. It was a really intense out there today, so I’m glad we were able to skirt our way through several wrecks. We’ll take this top-10 finish and head to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval next weekend.”

Cole Custer – Finished 13th: “We had a fast Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Mustang today. We were able to drive to the front, even after we took a pretty decent hit from behind during that first wreck. The guys did a great job making sure everything was buttoned up, and I think we could have ended up with a really good finish if the race went the distance. Congrats to Bubba (Wallace) on getting his first win.”

Chase Briscoe – Finished 14th: “The damage early on really put us behind, but once we got back on the lead lap we were able to still draft really well. I wish we had more time to get a better finish out of it, but I’m happy with how it turned out, and I’m ready to move on to the Roval next week.”

Ryan Blaney (playoffs) – Finished 15th: “I would have liked to have been a little bit more points to the good. I think we’re 17 or something like that, which is nothing to complain about by any means, but coming out of here less than what we came in here with points to the good is like, ‘Man, I wish we could have capitalized a little bit more,’ but that’s the way it goes. We could definitely be in a worse spot, so we just have to go and have a good race next week.”

Chase Elliott (playoffs) – Finished 18th: “Well, the A SHOC team survived the day. I just got into the wrong lane there in the closing laps. Once that got sorted back out, I didn’t have a ton of options and we just ran out of time with the rain. Not the finish we needed, but we will head onto the Roval.”

Landon Cassill – Finished 24th: “It was just kind of uneventful for us. I was just biding my time, and we just didn’t get to do what we wanted to do. We kept seeing all the activity out front and let them all wreck. Luckily, we were able to avoid all the wrecks. We just needed a restart.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 26th: “We had a fast Smithfield Ford. It handled really well and had a lot of good speed today. We stayed out of trouble all day. After the last pit stop we had a serious vibration, so I just hung at the back until the caution came out. Unfortunately, the rain hit at the same time and at the wrong time for us.”

Kyle Busch (playoffs) – Finished 27th: “Just go to Charlotte and have a 10th place day – that’s all we need. You look at the guys that you’re racing around a little bit. A couple of the Hendrick (Motorsports) cars are right around us. They’re out right now, but they’re fast on the road courses so any one of them could possibly win. We just have to keep ourselves above the cut line.”

Ryan Preece – Finished 32nd: “Just superspeedway racing. This is just a common cause in this kind of racing. There is strategy and it’s a game of chess; but when the rain is coming like it was, everybody starts pushing harder and harder. Unfortunately, I was on the bad end of it. Like Chris (Buescher) and I work really good together and it was just a bad situation I guess.”

Matt DiBenedetto – Finished 35th: “We went up there early and led some and were feeling our car out. We had good speed and was as good as always. The Quick Lane Mustang and Wood Brothers always bring really fast race cars here and really wanted to feel it out. We got shuffled a little and was just riding. We were committed to that before the day started. Leverage the situation to our advantage that we don’t need stage points, so we were gonna cruise and let the wrecks happen and then in stage three go and try to run up front and go for the win, but Mother Nature threw a little kink in our plans here and obviously we see what happened.”

William Byron (playoffs) – Finished 36th: “(Ryan Preece) was just coming down the track and I was kind of trying to run a third lane. Just part of Talladega. We’ll go to the Roval, try to win that one and advance that way.”

Kyle Larson (playoffs) – Finished 37th: “I didn’t even see what happened and had no time to react or anything like that. It’s just part of this racing when you are not situated in good track position and just got collected there. So, yeah, a bit of a bummer, but could have been worse today.”

Alex Bowman (playoffs) – Finished 38th: “Just dumped over on the left rear and turned us around really bad. Bummer for the Ally (No.) 48 team. We had a fast car; we were leading there. That’s just superspeedway racing and the box that we’re put in by these racetracks. You’ll have that. Bummed to have torn up racecar, but we’ll move on and try to go win the Roval.”