How team owner Matt Kaulig has made his mark in NASCAR by building ‘the perfect way’


No one knew Matt Kaulig was coming, yet many from his NASCAR team were unsurprised when he materialized unannounced at a Top Golf team outing in Charlotte, North Carolina.

On the day before AJ Allmendinger’s Xfinity Series victory at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Kaulig Racing closed its shop and paid for 100-plus employees (and their significant others and children) to celebrate its regular-season championship and all three of its Chevrolets making the playoffs.

Team president Chris Rice wasn’t expecting Kaulig, the entrepreneurial owner of a billion-dollar gutter protection business who was taking part in a tree-planting charity event that Friday morning in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I was on the phone with him, and he said, ‘I’ll see you in 15 minutes,’ and I didn’t really know what he was talking about,” Rice told NBC Sports. “Like, what? You’re coming here?’ ”

“I just showed up at 1 o’clock and said, ‘What bay am I in?’ ” Kaulig, 48, told NBC Sports with a laugh.

A few hours later, he commuted home via private plane for dinner … and then flew back to Concord, North Carolina, the next morning to watch Allmendinger’s fifth victory of the season. After staying over to watch the Cup race Sunday, Kaulig caught some of the Next Gen test Monday before making another round trip to Cleveland – his third in four days – to retrieve his golf clubs to play 18 holes Tuesday with Allmendinger.

“We honestly don’t know when and where Matt’s going to be when we do events like that, he just shows up out of the blue,” Allmendinger told NBC Sports. “Like you turn around and, ‘Oh hey, Matt’s here!’ He’s like, ‘If everybody is here hanging out. I want to be with my people.’

NASCAR Matt Kaulig
Chris Rice (left), AJ Allmendinger and Matt Kaulig celebrate Aug. 15 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after Kaulig Racing’s first NASCAR Cup Series victory (Sean Gardner/Getty Images).

“He’s got so many things going on, but if he can be there, he will. We do a victory team lunch on Wednesday, and he flies in for that just to hang out a bit and fly home again. He does this for fun. This is not a Richard Petty or Roger Penske to a certain extreme where (racing was) his original passion. So what makes it fun for him is all of his people. And he definitely tries to make sure he spends as much time as possible with them.”

Said Rice of Kaulig, who has become one of his best friends: “It is his M.O. He wants to show his support to the race team, and even though he lives in Ohio, that this is his main priority. He knows how hard it is to win and make playoffs. So when we do, he just wants to show everybody how much he cares for them. How much he loves the race team and how appreciative he is.”

Just like its namesake’s impromptu appearances, Kaulig Racing is becoming more and more ubiquitous in NASCAR.

Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, the team will attempt to reach the Xfinity Championship 4 for the second consecutive season and possibly with half the field. Allmendinger, the regular-season champion, is tied for the points lead and in a strong position to reach his first title round, and teammate Justin Haley is just below the cutline in bidding for his second championship berth in a row.

After needing three years to earn its first victory, Kaulig Racing now has 14 victories over the last three Xfinity seasons and scored its first Cup victory by Allmendinger at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in August. After successfully executing a five-year startup plan, the team is in the first of a 10-year blueprint that Rice and Kaulig discuss daily.

Next season will bring a two-car expansion into the Cup Series with Haley and likely a mix of drivers while also fielding two cars full time in Xfinity (for newcomer Daniel Hemric and Allmendinger). Through a $2 million renovation of a building purchased from Richard Childress Racing (its technical alliance partner/engine supplier), Kaulig Racing will add 80,000 square feet adjacent to its primary 90,000-square-foot shop in Welcome, North Carolina.

“We’ve done a really good job as an organization, even according to everyone else in the garage and NASCAR, we’ve built this thing the perfect way,” Kaulig said. “If you were going to do a textbook on ‘How do you build a NASCAR race team?’, they would use us. We’ve had other team owners ask us for our business plan. You can figure it out. It’s not hard to see how we do it.

“Philosophically, you either continue to grow or start to die. It’s true. It’s like everything. So we keep growing.”

Matt Kaulig’s first experience with exponential growth was in gutter protection.

Starting with a three-person staff in his basement 16 years ago, his LeafFilter dealership mushroomed from $350,000 in revenue to $1.75 million within its first three years. By 2015, Kaulig had acquired the company, which has since grown to more than 130 locations, $1.5 billion in revenue and nearly a million customers.

LeafFilter now is the flagship brand of Kaulig Companies, which has interests in financial services, consumer products, marketing, sports/entertainment and philanthropy (supporting more than 70 nonprofits through giving programs).

It’s helped turned Matt Kaulig, who was named a 2017 entrepreneur of the year by Ernst and Young, into a community pillar in Northeast Ohio. His LinkedIn bio has a background photo of Kaulig with NBA superstar LeBron James, whose foundation’s “I Promise School” is supported by Kaulig Companies’ media arm.

It was through his businesses that Kaulig took a cold call for a NASCAR sponsorship that led to bringing 60 employees to Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 2014, which ramped up to full-season sponsorship a year later and then team ownership in ’16.

After nearly six seasons, Kaulig still employs many business-to-business practices between his team and companies (whose brands often are on the cars driven by Allmendinger and Haley).

NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina
Chris Rice, Matt Kaulig and AJ Allmendinger celebrate after the No. 16 Chevrolet’s Oct. 9 victory at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, the third consecutive in the Xfinity Series on the course for Allmendinger (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images).

Kaulig Racing’s new shop is being wired by the IT department of Kaulig Companies, and Kaulig Media helps produce team content such as postrace video updates from the team owner that run on Cleveland’s NBC affiliate on Sunday nights (“We talked about being Northeast Ohio’s NASCAR team, so that’s helped with getting a big following.”).

But while his companies are heavily involved with the business of the team, Kaulig has stayed out of meddling in competition.

“The only question I really ever ask is, ‘Did we get through tech (inspection)?’ but that’s really the extent of me talking about the cars,” Kaulig said. “My role is just to be here and be supportive of Chris Rice, the drivers, the team. Showing up at Top Golf means a lot to them to know that I’m here. I’m in it. I’m not just sitting in Ohio writing checks. I actually am here and leading by example and help pump them up.”

That doesn’t mean, though, that Kaulig is all business – as Allmendinger learned shortly before his July 5, 2019 team debut at Daytona International Speedway.

“I knew I was at a different team when I walked into my lounge to get ready, and there were like 20 Coronas just sitting on the tables,” Allmendinger said. “Matt and his buddies were all there hanging out. He’s just enjoying this. If it’s not fun for him, there’s no reason for him to do it, so he’s going to have a good time.”

Racing has a history of independently wealthy team owners who have flamed out quickly, and there naturally were initial questions about Kaulig’s sustainability

Nearing the end of his first season at Kaulig, Allmendinger asked Rice “what the end game was” for his team owner.

“I knew nothing about him when I joined, and in a way, I was like, ‘How much money does he really got? It’s gutter protection,’ ” Allmendinger said. “It’s not like one of these many guys we’ve all seen that come into the sport like, ‘Hell yeah!’ and then say, “Well, shit, this is expensive. Never mind!” And Chris told me what the company and he was worth, and I was like, ‘Does he come from money?’ ‘No, he started the company,’ and I was like, ‘Wow.’ ”

NASCAR Xfinity Series Credit Karma Money 250
A former starting quarterback at the University of Akron, Matt Kaulig fields the No. 11 for Justin Haley in honor of the number he wore as a college football player (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images).

Rice also didn’t know Kaulig before he began working with him and immediately tested the relationship by asking Kaulig for a sizable down payment to secure the team’s first deal with Richard Childress Racing. A cashier’s check was on Rice’s doorstep the next day.

“You always are going into it thinking, ‘Man, is this guy for real? Is he going to really go racing?’ and that got our alliance going with RCR,” Rice said. “It showed them that we were real, and it’s been blue skies ever since. It’s been amazing.”

A dichotomy exists between the team’s fun-loving and off-the-cuff image (its motto is “Trophy Hunting”) and its adherence to strict planning.

The team’s 2021 budget was set last year, and Kaulig reviews its financials weekly.

“It’s definitely all calculated,” Kaulig said. “It appears like hey, we’re just having fun, and we keep it light. But all the other teams ask, ‘Why is everybody so happy? And why are you having fun? You’re not supposed to do this.’

“It has become more serious because we are running for a championship in the Xfinity Series. For me, it’s racing. You’re looking for fun. But there is pressure to perform. Everybody is doing it to make a living, every single person is. If one of our tire guys is doing a bad job, he’s going to lose his job. Same with the drivers. They aren’t performing, there’s a lot of pressure, because we’ll bring someone else in. That’s the business of sports. If that means your buddy is doing a not good job changing tires and isn’t fast, we’ve got to get rid of him.”

Many point to the cornerstone of Kaulig’s success as the relationship between Kaulig and Rice, who handles day-to-day business as the team’s president and consigliere.

When Kaulig first was contemplating team ownership, he was introduced by Blake Koch (his first driver) to Rice, who gave him a price tag for the startup that drew a “hard no” from Kaulig.

“I sat down with him and told him the truth, and I’ve always told him the truth,” Rice said. “Never have once had to do any different, and we became best friends. We have great conversations about everything, not only racing related but personally related. We have some amazing conversations.

“He trusts me with anything, but also man, I hold nothing back. If something goes wrong or something’s haywire, I tell him.”

Rice’s initial cost estimate was within $100,00 of what Kaulig spent after changing his mind and deciding to start the team three months before the 2016 season.

“We were spending a good amount of money on sponsorship, even in the millions, and when you’re starting a race team, it’s different than having a race team for several years,” Kaulig said. “It was a little more than I was comfortable with, but then we’re talking several months later, LeafFilter is doing great. My business is doing really good. Better than expected. So we just decided let’s do it. We can do this.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series Wawa 250
Matt Kaulig shares a hug with Justin Haley after the driver won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Aug. 28 at Daytona International Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images).

Said Allmendinger: “He gives us all the resources we need. But you counteract that with Chris’ overseeing of the team and making sure it’s just not money being blown and wasted. It’s a great dynamic that Matt and Chris have. It’s ultimately Matt’s decision, but it’s basically on Chris to tell him yes or no. If you tell him this is the right thing to do and is going to make us better, Matt’s going to do it because he wants to win.”

The team owner has strong relationships with his drivers, too. Allmendinger said it’s “probably the most friendship with a car owner I’ve ever had.” The bond grew out of impromptu trips for celebratory golf outings (such as a last-minute trip to play TPC Michigan) after starting during the early stages of the pandemic last year.

“I really got to understand what type of person he was,” Allmendinger said. “He would call me a lot. Just for no other reason than, ‘Hey man, how you doing? You good? Can I do anything for you? What do you need?’ And as a lot of teams started cutting down, whether it was cutting people’s salary or whatever, he was the first person to step up right away and said, ‘Everybody at this shop, don’t you worry about it. You’re getting paid normal, and we’ll all get through this, but I want to make sure that’s not even on your radar.’

NASCAR Matt Kaulig
A quote from team owner Matt Kaulig hangs above the shop floor in Welcome, North Carolina (Nate Ryan).

“I know he’s my boss still, but I don’t even really look at it that way. And he makes sure that I never look at it that way. We’re just close friends, and I’m very fortunate that I drive his race car as well.”

Haley said he spends 30 minutes talking to Kaulig in his motorhome after every race and “most of the time it’s not even about racing, just about life and fun stuff.

“I’ve never seen Matt Kaulig down in the dumps,” Haley said. “He is always positive, no matter where he’s at in life, he’s always a leader. And he always is looking at the best in every situation. After every race, I go in his motorhome, and we sit for probably a half an hour and talk and most of the time it’s not even about racing. I think he’s really done a good job at leading the team and putting the right people in place. He’s just a fun, bubbly kind of guy, and he’s also super serious.”

Matt Kaulig said he made two promises to himself in becoming a NASCAR Xfinity team owner: “That I would have fun, and that it would not ruin my weekend or my life.”

But he recognizes the degree of difficulty in entering Cup next season will make the competition much more difficult – and more reminiscent of its first three Xfinity winless seasons that produced only one top five.

“When we started, and the team would talk about having a fast car and then you’re running 22nd all day, and that can dampen your spirits,” Kaulig said. “That’s tough to deal with, so it’ll be even bigger next year when we’re in the Cup Series. Now you’re running with the big boys, and now it means something. It’s not just going out to have fun and race. We’re trying to get better to do that. But I try to keep that in perspective. If we wreck, you’ll rarely see me just pissed or want to go fight somebody because they ran us off the track.

NASCAR Matt Kaulig
In moving to the Cup Series next season, Kaulig Racing will add this second building that as adjacent to its primary shop (Nate Ryan).

“That’s one of my jobs is just to make sure that everybody is in a good place, and it’s a great work environment where people are happy. Nobody wants to be around a team or if the crew chief is a jerk. It’s not fun.”

While Haley has been named the driver for one of its full-time chartered Cup cars next season, Kaulig Racing has yet to announce its plans for the second Camaro in NASCAR’s premier series, which will be moving to the revamped Next Gen model in 2022.

NASCAR Matt Kaulig
Matt Kaulig moved into NASCAR team ownership after a season of sponsorship (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images).

Kaulig said the team is leaning toward a lineup of multiple drivers sharing the car, but “we’re still talking to drivers and sponsors to see what the options are. I’m more than fine if we have to run it that way.

“The whole thing is we want to win Xfinity championships and build our Cup program the right way,” Kaulig said. “We just don’t want to throw a bunch of money at it, and we aren’t even used to Cup as an organization. It’s not just about the driver. It’s the equipment and figuring out the program, so it’s great timing for us as far as the Next Gen car because nobody has experience with it.”

Kaulig also will benefit from increased support by Chevrolet. A contingent of General Motors executives, including the president of its North American operations, visited with Matt Kaulig before and after Allmendinger’s recent victory at the Roval – another sign of the team’s growing stature.

“It’s kind of strange because Kaulig Racing went from, even in just the time I was here, from, ‘Oh yeah, this just is one of those little teams that could,’ to ‘No, it’s a big team now,’ ” Allmendinger said. “It’s a big organization now. I keep trying to work on Matt a little bit about, ‘Hey, remember what it was like to start Xfinity and how you guys ran back then? Times that by 10 now because it’s Cup. It’s the best of the best.’

“There’s definitely going to be struggles. I think you’re going to have competitive runs, but you’re definitely going to have days that are miserable, and that’s life in the Cup Series as a brand new team. But with Matt’s drive and what he wants to get out of the sport and how truly passionate he’s gotten over the last couple of years about the sport, I think the ultimate goal is to try to be a championship-caliber team, however long it takes.”

Blown tires end race early for several Texas contenders


FORT WORTH, Texas — A Goodyear official said that air pressures that teams were using contributed to some drivers blowing tires in Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. all crashed while leading after blowing a tire. Among the others who had tire issues were Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher Cole Custer and Christopher Bell twice. 

“We’re gaining as much information as we can from the teams, trying to understand where they are with regard to their settings, air pressures, cambers, suspicions,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing Sunday. “For sure I can say without a doubt air pressure is playing into it. We know where a lot of the guys are. Some were more aggressive than others. We know that plays a part.

MORE: NASCAR says it missed William Byron spinning Denny Hamlin under caution 

“I’m not saying that’s the only thing, but it’s certainly a factor, so we’re just trying to understand everything else that is going on with regard to specific teams. We know a lot of guys have not had issues. We’ve had guys put full fuel runs on tires, but, obviously, other guys have had issues. We’ll be working with them to try to sort through that is.”

Eight of the 16 cautions were related to tire failures that caused drivers to spin or crash.

“It’s not a good look, that’s for sure,” Ryan Blaney said of the tire issues others had. “How many leaders blew tires tonight? Three or four?

“You just don’t understand what is making these things do that. From last week to this week, it’s really unfortunate. It’s just luck now.

“You never know if you’re going to blow one. You go into (Turn) 3 almost every lap with 40 laps on your stuff and I don’t know if one is going to blow out or not. That’s not safe. That’s for sure. Running (180) into (Turn) 3 and the thing blows out and you have no time to react to it. It’s unfortunate. I hope we can figure that out.”

Blaney said he was confused that the tires were blowing partly into a run instead of much earlier.

“It was weird because those tires didn’t blow right away,” he said. “Like the pressures were low. They blew like after a cycle or two on them, which is the weird thing.”

Asked how he handles that uncertainty, Blaney said: “Nothing I can do about it. Just hope and pray.”

After his crash, Elliott was diplomatic toward Goodyear’s situation:

“I’m not sure that Goodyear is at fault,” he said. “Goodyear always takes the black eye, but they’re put in a really tough position by NASCAR to build a tire that can survive these types of racetracks with this car. I wouldn’t blame Goodyear.”

Tyler Reddick, who won Sunday’s race at Texas, said his team made adjustments to the air pressure settings after Saturday’s practice.

“We ran enough laps, were able to see that we had been too aggressive on our right front tire,” he said. “So we made some adjustments going into the race, thankfully.”

This same time was used at Kansas and will be used again at Las Vegas next month in the playoffs. 

Reddick is hopeful of a change but also knows it might take time.

“I just think to a degree, potentially, as these cars have gotten faster and we’re getting more speed out of them, maybe, hypothetically speaking, we’re putting the cars through more load and more stress on the tire than they ever really thought we would be,” he said. 

“I know Goodyear will fix it. That’s what they do. It’s going to be a process. I know they’re going to be on top of it. Hey, they don’t want to see those failures. We don’t want to see them either. They’re going to be working on looking through and trying to find out exactly what is going on. We’ll all learn from it.

“It’s a brand-new car. It’s the first time in the history of our sport we’ve gone to an 18-inch wheel and independent rear suspension. All these things are way different, diffuser. All these things, way different. We’re all learning together. Unfortunately, just the nature of it, we’re having tire failures.”

NASCAR says it missed William Byron spin Denny Hamlin under caution


FORT WORTH, Texas — A senior NASCAR executive admitted that series officials did not see William Byron spin Denny Hamlin under caution on the frontstretch of Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway. 

The missed call could have major implications in the playoffs — even if series officials decide to penalize Byron later this week, as was hinted Sunday night. 

The issue occurred after Martin Truex Jr. blew a tire while leading and crashed in Turn 3 on Lap 269 of the 334-lap race.  

With the caution lights illuminated, Hamlin slowed. Byron hit him in retaliation for forcing him into the wall earlier. Hamlin spun across the infield grass. NASCAR did not put Hamlin back in his original spot before the contact and did not penalize Byron.

“When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition said after the race. “The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing, we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass.

“By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green. I’m not sure that that issue is completely resolved as of yet. We’ll be looking at that when we get back to work.”

Miller did not elaborate on what NASCAR could do this week.

Hamlin expressed his shock on social media at Miller’s comments:

Miller explained how officials missed the Byron-Hamlin incident: “The cameras and the monitors that we’ve got, we dedicate them mostly to officiating and seeing our safety vehicles and how to dispatch them. By the time we put all those cameras up (on the monitor in the control tower), we don’t have room for all of the in-car cameras to be monitored.

“If we would have had immediate access to (Byron)’s in-car camera, that would have helped us a lot, being able to find that quickly. That’s definitely one of the things we’re looking at.”

Race winner Tyler Reddick said NASCAR needs to address the situation to avoid other contact under caution in the future.

“In William’s situation, whether he ran him over on accident or on purpose, there should be some sort of penalty for him on that side because he’s completely screwed someone’s race up, whether it was on purpose or not,” Reddick said. “I feel like there should be something done there.

I’m sure (NASCAR will) make some sort of a decision. I’m sure there will be something they’ll address this week, updates, on NASCAR’s side. I’ll be curious to see what that is. We can’t really have this where you dump someone under caution, they go to the back and you don’t. That could potentially be an interesting situation in the future.”

Byron said he hit Hamlin to show his dissatisfaction for being forced into the wall. 

“I felt like he ran me out of race track off of (Turn) 2 and had really hard contact with the wall,” Byron said. “Felt like the toe link was definitely bent, luckily not fully broken. We were able to continue.

“A lot of times that kind of damage is going to ruin your race, especially that hard. I totally understand running somebody close and making a little bit of contact, but that was pretty massive.”

On the retaliatory hit, Byron said: “I didn’t mean to spin him out. That definitely wasn’t what I intended to do. I meant to bump him a little bit and show my displeasure and unfortunately, it happened the way it did. Obviously, when he was spinning out, I was like ‘I didn’t mean to do this,’ but I was definitely frustrated.”

Hamlin didn’t see it that way.

“I guess we can just wreck each other under caution,” Hamlin told NBC Sports’ Kim Coon. “I tried to wreck him back. I don’t think we touched. I’ve got to look. I don’t think we touched. Obviously he sent us through the infield under caution.”

Asked about having a conversation with Byron, Hamlin said: “I keep hearing these guys, but I’ll just add it to the list of guys when I get a chance they’re going to get it.”

Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gabehart both were frustrated with NASCAR not putting Hamlin back to second after the contact. Instead, NASCAR put him outside the top 15. After pitting, Hamlin restarted 19th. Byron, after pitting, restarted 10th. 

“The man wrecks you under caution and he gets no penalty?” Gabehart said on the team’s radio. “What are they doing?”

Said Hamlin after the race: “I can’t argue the rules with them inside the car and the team did everything they could to try to make a case but ultimately we went spinning through the infield under caution.”

The result is that Byron finished seventh. That puts him third in the playoff standings. He’s 17 points above the cutline going into next weekend’s race at Talladega.

Hamlin finished 10th and is sixth in the playoff standings. He’s eight points above the cutline. 

What drivers said at Texas Motor Speedway


What drivers said during and after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway, where Tyler Reddick scored his third win of the season, outrunning Joey Logano by 1.19 seconds:

Tyler Reddick — Finished first: “I was extremely worried, I’m not going to lie. Unfortunately, just about every time we’ve had fast cars, we’ve had some tire problems. Yeah, that last run the right sides were vibrating really, really hard there. I was just trying to maximize and use the gap that I built over Joey (Logano) just in case. I mean, every time we’ve had a strong car, we’ve been bit by something. This will make that, the pain of not making it through (the first round), a little bit easier. Even though, yes, it would have locked us into the Round of 8. We’re winning races. That’s what we’ll keep trying to do.”

Joey Logano — Finished second: “Yeah, the tires, if they aren’t blowing out then they are square. They were shaking like crazy. That is what happened there the last run. The last couple of runs really, just shaking the car. We got tight a couple runs and last time I got one that was off in the rear and we got loose. I think (Tyler) Reddick was fighting the same thing from what I heard there. You get that close to the win and you just know that if you just had that it might have been good enough to win the race. At the same time we should be happy that we scored a bunch of points today. It is bittersweet, I guess. It was a successful day for points scored. We got stage points in both stages and we were able to get a bunch by finishing second there. Yeah, it was a sloppy race for everyone on the track. We were just able to position ourselves really good at the end. Paul (Wolfe) did a good job calling the race and putting four tires on when we needed to and putting two tires on when we needed to cycle forward.”

Justin Haley — Finished third: “This was a long, challenging race. We finished third at Darlington earlier in the season and started pretty much last there, as well, so it’s pretty cool to have another really great run for this Kaulig Racing team. Our No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Camaro ZL1 definitely wasn’t what I liked, but we kept working on it and actually when it turned dark, we got some good track position and made a heck of a run out of it. I’m really proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing. At the end, I was just worried that the right rear is going to go down, so I was just trying to make it to the end. P3 is everything we could want right now.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished fourth: “It was a long night, for sure. It didn’t start out very good at all. We got better and better through the night and throughout the day we were able to win a stage and claw our way back from pretty far back in the pack there that last run to get to fourth. I thought our Mustang was probably the best car at the end. We just couldn’t pass anybody. Overall, not a bad night. A pretty wild night. Luckily, we were able to put together a solid race.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished fifth: “The first 90 percent of the race we were struggling. We couldn’t get the balance of the car right. We would be too loose or too tight and could never find where we needed to be. After that red flag, I think the nighttime coming in kind of helped us a bit. With 80 to go we were hoping to catch more cautions and make it on fuel, and we were able to get our track position that way and it ended up working out. We did what we needed to do for our Rush Truck Centers Ford. We were not a fifth-place car. We weren’t even a 15th-place car. To steal some points like that is huge. Going to Talladega, we are not in a massive hole, and that is the most important thing. We will go there and hopefully have a little luck go our way and see what happens.”

Erik Jones — Finished sixth: “It ended up being a solid day for our FOCUSfactor Chevy team. The day started out a little rough. We were just struggling with the balance and got it better late in the race. We ended up taking tires with about 30 laps to go and were able to come back through the field for a sixth-place finish. I’m proud of that. We struggled at Texas in the All-Star race, and we got a lot better from then to today. It’s good to have a good week. We needed one after the last few weeks. Hopefully, we can carry some  momentum to Talladega next weekend and try to close one out there.”

William Byron — Finished seventh: “Yeah, he (Denny Hamlin) ran me out of room. The toe link. We’re lucky we finished. It was really, really hard contact. It wasn’t like just a light contact or anything like that. Yeah, I didn’t mean to obviously spin him out over there. Obviously, I’m pissed off — just not going to get run like that. We’ve always raced so well together. I don’t know what it was all about. The 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) took his air away, he ran out of racetrack, so he chose to run me out of racetrack completely. Again, look, it’s not like it was just contact. I thought we were going to be done. I went to go show my displeasure. I didn’t mean to hit him and spin him out. There’s a ton of guys that do this and go do something like that. I see it all the time. I’m just not going to get run like that. Yeah, there’s really no reason. We’re running second and third I think. Had a shot to win. Killed our car, for sure. That was a bummer. We’ll probably talk. Look, we’ve never had issues, so I didn’t really get it. … Yeah, it was uncalled for. Feel like we handled it.”

MORE: Texas Cup results

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Kyle Larson — Finished ninth: “You try to shake it off the best that you can and go out there and put together some good runs. We were able to overcome all the spots that we would lose on pit road. I felt like I drove from the back to the top five or six — almost every run. Really, really good car. Proud of the effort there at the shop, the piece that we brought here to Texas. It’s good we were above the cut, but yeah, we’re plus 16. I feel like we could have been plus 34 or something at least. Bummer there. Potentially could have won the race, I think. We had the best car. The weather delay really hurt, too. I think we were by far the best when the track was hot. When it got cooler out, I got loose, everybody seemed to get faster. It was just harder to pass. I mean, hopefully I would love to get some stage points (next week at Talladega), pat ourselves a little bit, cross our fingers and pray to God that we see a checkered flag.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 10th: “I guess we can just wreck each other under caution. I tried to wreck him (William Byron) back. I don’t think we touched. I got to look. I don’t think we touched. Obviously, he sent us into the infield under caution. I keep hearing these guys. I’ll just add it to the list of guys when I get a chance. They’re going to get it. It all just works itself out. We’ll be racing each other at some point. He’ll lose a lot of spots because he’s racing me. This is hard racing, obviously. I’m fine with hard racing. But wrecking me under caution is obviously not what we were bargaining for.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 12th: “It was a tough day. We got decent points, but the car wasn’t what we were hoping for. The entire weekend, we were kind of off. The car had good speed, but the balance of the car wasn’t good. We just have to continue to work. I think we had a decent points day. We just have to continue to work and get better.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 13th: “There were just a lot of ups and downs today. We cycled up to get stage points. The balance was neutral all day, but we got loose when we wanted it to be our last pit stop. We pitted and then we were back there in the very back for the second-to-last restart and got involved with the No. 10 (Aric Almirola) there. We just struggled with the balance the last 80 laps or so, but other than that, it was a good day for our No. 1 Renu Camaro ZL1 team.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 15th: “I felt like we had a really fast Discount Tire Ford Mustang. We made the right changes throughout the day. I would say we didn’t execute very well at the beginning of the race but passed a lot of cars throughout the day and then got caught up in somebody else’s mistake that took us out of a top five or top three or even a shot at the win. I am very upset about it. Getting stage points has been our weakness as a race team. We were able to get that in both stages today and really grind one out and show a lot of poise but have nothing to show for it so I am pretty upset about it. We are still on offense. We will put our heart and soul into it just like everyone else does. I have a great team behind me and I believe in myself and believe we can make the Round of 8, whether that is with a race win or on points. But it was a missed opportunity tonight, for sure.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 16th: “Today was a back-and-forth day with strategy. Our Black Rifle Camaro had good speed. We brought a good piece, and I thought it raced well, just the strategy was kind of back and forth. I think we made the perfect call there at the end of when to pit, and it was looking like we were going to get a top 10. I just caught a little bit of the slime in turn one and had a big moment and lost spots, unfortunately. I’m proud of our effort, proud of the speed in our Camaro. It’s been a lot of fun to drive these fast cars the last couple of weeks.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 17th: “We had a really fast True Velocity Chevrolet tonight at Texas Motor Speedway, so thanks to everyone at RCR and ECR for working hard to give us great equipment. We led the field in practice on Saturday, had a decent starting spot and were strong for a lot of the race. It was nice to lead some laps and earn some stage points. Strategy just didn’t play our way. We lost some track position at the end of the race, and it was really hard to make it up.”

Noah Gragson — Finished 21st: “Solid run by our No. 16 Freedom by Ed Morse team. We had a lot of fun out there and ran up in the top 10 for a lot of the race. I’m really thankful and grateful for the opportunity with Kaulig Racing, Freedom by Ed Morse, and the entire Morse family. I had a lot of fun out there. It was a long, long race. We had some strong runs there throughout the race and got sent by the 11 late in the race when we were running like 10th or 11th. That’s part of it. You’ll have that, but we’ll keep working hard and try and be better in the future.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 31st: “I blew a tire. Simple as that. I guess the same thing as everybody else has been having. Man, I’m ready for this year to be over. Strong Bass Pro Shops Camry. Really strong car. Went to the back and passed a lot of cars today. Spun out in the first stage and I was like, okay, what was that all about. Good car — couldn’t do too much with it. Just kept going to the back and as soon as we got track position the unthinkable happens. It’s a shame. It’s a crazy day for sure – a lot of blown tires.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 32nd: “I’m not sure that Goodyear is at fault. Goodyear always takes the black eye, but they’re put in a really tough position by NASCAR to build a tire that can survive these types of racetracks with this car. I wouldn’t blame Goodyear. Something came apart. I could hear it flapping in the right rear fenderwell. I don’t know, but if it wasn’t down, it was certainly coming apart. One of the two. It’s not a great position to be in for sure, but it is what it is now. … We were actually decent here for once, so that was nice while it lasted. We’ll go to Talladega and try to get a win and go on down the road.”

Cody Ware — Finished 33rd: Team manager Robby Benton said Ware had discomfort in his ankle and would be checked again by medical personnel in Charlotte. “He has been treated and released. We are thankful to the track crew here. We had a bit of a delay going through the normal protocol of x-rays and reviews and making sure there were no fractures. All of that came back clear. He will be on the team plane with us to return to Charlotte tonight and we are happy he is okay. No broken bones. I feel like we will probably follow up just as a precaution. He will see a specialist with Ortho Carolina once we get home. For as hard of a hit as that was, we are thankful it is as clean as it is and he will be okay to go home tonight.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 34th: “Just the second right rear blown of the day – that was disappointing. I’m in a pretty bad spot now. Talladega – I guess we are going to go roll the dice. Roval, I think we will be all right. Road courses haven’t been our strength, but we have been good at a couple of them. I don’t know if we are going to be able to get out of this points hole, but we will give it our best. To have two right rears go in the first half of the race is very strange. I don’t know. It’s a very disappointing day. We are probably going to be in a deep hole now.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 36th: “I was just getting closer to the 11 (Denny Hamlin), and I knew if I tracked him, followed him in the lower groove, I would lose ground, so I went to the high groove where I was making time in the spray and the sticky stuff, but it is not so sticky, apparently, I crashed. I’m trying to go, trying to race. Banana peels out there for me. Too many conditions that you’ve got to be around or go around or figure out or be smarter about. I guess I wasn’t very smart. I didn’t know as a race car driver you could push too hard, but certainly it was a resin issue. I guess you would think being a hundred-and-something degree track temp it would be activated and ready to go, but I tried to get in it earlier than everybody else. Once these cars snap, they are gone. They are not like the old one where you have a little bit of time to react and catch it, but yeah, just trying hard trying to go and conditions are not ready. Banana peels out there it seems. When that stuff is not activated, it is just ice.”

Texas Cup results: Tyler Reddick wins


Tyler Reddick won Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Several playoff drivers, including point leader Chase Elliott, ran into trouble during the race as numerous teams experienced tire problems.

MORE: Texas Cup results

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The race was pockmarked by cautions and extended by a red flag for rain.

Following Reddick, who won for the third time this season, were Joey Logano, Justin Haley, Ryan Blaney and Chase Briscoe.

Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. both led the race in the late going but were victims of blown tires.