What drivers said after Martinsville


A look at what drivers said following Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Martinsville Speedway…

Alex Bowman – WINNER: “These last couple months have been painful. It’s been so frustrating. Honestly, our teammates have kicked our butts for quite a while now. I think (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and myself have both been pretty down and frustrated, not understood what was going on. We weren’t doing things any differently. We weren’t approaching weekends differently. We just have been off. To come to a place that was probably our worst place when we started together, have such a good day, get another win, it feels great. Obviously four wins this year feels great. Wish we were in the (Championship) 4. We just need to figure out consistency and this team will be something really, really special.”

Kyle Busch (eliminated from playoffs) – Finished 2nd:

Brad Keselowski (eliminated from playoffs) – Finished 3rd: “We gave it all we had. We just needed to be a little bit faster in stage two to get us a handful of points and be closer, and then at the end, I was just too loose. I just couldn’t quite get it perfectly tweaked in, but, all in all, a pretty good run.”

Martin Truex Jr. (Championship 4) – Finished 4th: “The Auto Owners Toyota Camry was really good, first of all. Solid day. We didn’t have a winning car, but we had a third or fourth place car and that is where we ran. Everything was going smooth and then the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and 18 (Kyle Busch) came up to the front kind of out of nowhere. I got some damage running side-by-side with the 2 car, and fell back and then the 10 (Aric Almirola) stuffed me three-wide out of the groove in turn one and two and then the 1 car came by and clipped my left front and drove me into the fence off of turn two. I was like oh, damn, we are in big trouble here, but then we just fought back and did everything we could. We got a little break on the last restart. Everybody took the bottom and I saw the hole up there and I was like I have to go for it, and that worked out for us. Just thanks to everybody who helped us all year long to get us to this point. Everybody at the shop, TRD, Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops, Auto Owners, all of the friends who were here today, just so much support that allows us to do this. Hopefully we can go to Phoenix and make them proud.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 6th: “Today, we ran where we know we could run all year. We had a great car, and the pit crew was on it. We had the balance pretty close right off the start and we tried not to adjust too much today, and it paid off. We were best on the long run, and with all of the cautions at the end, we didn’t get to find that long-run speed where it mattered. But I’m so proud of this team for capping off the season with solid speed. Looking forward to Phoenix, where I think we have a good shot at it again.”

Erik Jones – Finished 8th: “Really solid day at Martinsville Speedway for the No. 43 Goody’s Cool Orange Camaro ZL1 1LE. It was kind of an up-and-down day. There were times where I really didn’t think we were going to have the finish we did. It kind of worked out there at the end. We had a set of tires we put on and the car kind of came back around to us, balance-wise, and we were able to come home with a top-10. Just good to keep the string going. We’ve had a good couple of runs here the last month. Hopefully, we can go to Phoenix (Raceway) next week and finish it out on another good note.”

Joey Logano (eliminated from playoffs) – Finished 10th: “We just weren’t fast enough. We couldn’t get the car to turn. It was just a struggle all day. We tried different things, but the car just wouldn’t fire off good and ultimately at the end you had to fire off good and we didn’t have that either. We tried compromising to try and make everything better, but all that is is a compromise. The guys that win aren’t compromising and it just wasn’t there.”

Ryan Blaney (eliminated from playoffs) – Finished 11th: “It was definitely a disappointing day. We started off kind of good and never really got better. We had one run I thought we kind of went forward and then we made a change to try and make it better and it got worse, so I don’t know. I’d love to tell you what kind of went wrong, but we weren’t really any different than where we’ve been here the last three times, just small little tiny changes, but we were just way off today. It’s disappointing for sure. I was really looking forward to today’s race just knowing how strong we run here and it just wasn’t quite enough today and kind of missed it by a long shot. I appreciate everyone sticking with it all day and trying to get better, but it just wasn’t quite enough.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 13th: “We had a fast Cowboy Channel Chevrolet today at Martinsville Speedway. It was good to lead laps and run up front. We fought hard today, coming back from damage in Stage 2 and cutting multiple right-front tires. Our forward drive was ridiculously good. We started the race 14th and quickly drove into the top-10, ultimately finishing Stage 1 seventh. It was really challenging once we fell back in the running order because we were in the middle of the pack and around a lot of other cars and a lot of action. We worked as a team to get back on the lead lap, though, and survived some wild action out there to finish 12th. Good job by everyone on this RCR team.”

Kyle Larson (Championship 4) – Finished 14th: “Not good. Just bad execution on my part on pit road. I felt like our car was probably top-three, top-five, at times; and there were times it was tenth or worse. But my team did a good job working on it. I just sped (on pit road) too late in the race there again. From then on, just tried to not make anybody upset, knowing that I’m not going to get back up there for a win. Just try to keep everybody on my good side.”

Chase Elliott (Championship 4) – Finished 16th:

Tyler Reddick – Finished 18th: “Racing at Martinsville Speedway is always a fun challenge. When you hit it just right, your car can make up ground quickly and roll through the corners. Today though, our Childress Vineyards Chevrolet battled a tight-handling condition for most of the race. It felt like the front tires were asleep. My Richard Childress Racing team kept working on the overall balance and we would make gains on the short run, but once the track rubbered up, it went back to the front tires not being awake enough. This No. 8 team showed perseverance all day and fought as hard as we could. We will now set our eyes on Phoenix next week and look to finish the season on a high note.”

Chase Briscoe – Finished 22nd: “Finishing on the lead lap at Martinsville is never a small accomplishment, but it was a frustrating day in a couple of areas. Braking is so important here, and I had little to no brakes for about the whole race. And that made it difficult to find just the right changes to make to help our struggle with a tight-handling racecar and keeping the rear end on the racetrack. We’ve got one more shot to get a good finish for everyone out at Phoenix, so we’ll try to take advantage of the extra track time and get something out of it.”

Cole Custer – Finished 23rd: “Honestly, we just struggled all day. Martinsville is a tough track, and that proved to be true in this race. We struggled with the balance on the No. 41 Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail Ford Mustang and just couldn’t get it right. Wish we could’ve gotten a better finish for Dixie Vodka, but we’ll head to Phoenix.”

Denny Hamlin (Championship 4) – Finished 24th: