What drivers said after the 64th Daytona 500

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Here is what NASCAR Cup Series drivers said after Sunday’s 64th running of the Daytona 500, which opened the 2022 season Sunday at Daytona International Speedway:

Austin Cindric, winner: “Oh, my God. Do you know what makes it all better? A packed house. A packed house at the Daytona 500. I’ve got so many people to thank. First and foremost Roger Penske, happy birthday. Oh, my gosh. Appreciate Ryan being a great teammate. Obviously, he wants to win this one. Everybody works so hard with this Next Gen car, through this whole process, and damn, I am so excited. This makes up for losing a championship last race I did.

“I’m surrounded by great people. That’s all there is to it. I know there’s going to be highs and lows, being a rookie in a field of drivers this strong. I’m just grateful for the opportunity, excited to climb the mountain we’ve got ahead of us on the 2 team. But we’re in the playoffs. That’s one good box checked. My gosh, what an awesome group of fans, what an awesome race car. Just really thankful.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished second: “Yeah, first of all, that’s pretty damn cool to win the 500, so congrats to Austin (Cindric). What could have been, right? Man, need to talk about some happy stuff here. Just dejected, but the thing that keeps me up is just the hard work that we put into our speedway stuff and the hard work from everybody at 23XI, proud of them, can’t thank them enough. I knew this was a big move last year for me to go out and be competitive, and we’re showing that. It’s always the first race of the season and you’re getting through everything, but when you come out of the gates like that, it’s empowering, it’s encouraging. So thanks, everybody, back at the shop, McDonald’s, almost got them another one — back-to-back superspeedway wins. That would have been awesome, especially with it being the 500. But just short. I thought our Toyota teammates did good work until they got picked off one, two, three throughout the race, so we just had to survive.

“Great Speedweeks, though. We’ll come home second. I’m going to be pissed off about this one for a while. I was happy on the first second place we got a couple years ago. This one sucks when you’re that close, but all-in-all, happy for our team, happy for our partners, and on to California.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished third: “It’s crazy.  You dream when you grow up racing just being in the Daytona 500, and I never in a million years thought I would ever get an opportunity to even run in one. To be restarting sixth with a green-white-checkered was pretty surreal in the first place, but I just couldn’t get to Brad.  I kept trying to get there and I just couldn’t. He was having to drag so much brake to get back to me.  I just wasn’t much help to him, to be honest with you, and then Kyle got me really good into three and I had such a run that I had to take it. I wish it was Talladega because I felt like if the start-finish line was a little further down I may have had a shot at that thing, but really cool to start our year off with Mahindra Tractors with a third-place finish in the Daytona 500.  It’s cool for one of my best friends to win the race.  It’s pretty cool.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished fourth: “Yeah, the last lap I got good pushes on the bottom from the 23 (Wallace) and then I was able to get Austin in front and off of four where we were good enough to make a move I got blocked and I ended up getting fenced.  I’m happy for Roger Penske, winning the 500 on his birthday.  I’m happy for (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins and everyone that works on that 2 car.  It’s just one of those things.  It didn’t work out.  We still ended up fourth, but I don’t know another perfect position we could have put ourselves in to win the race.  It just didn’t work out. I made the decision of I wasn’t gonna make a move until I was 100 percent sure that one of our two cars was gonna win, and one of our two cars were going to win and one of them ended up winning.  I was committed to him until I was 100 percent sure that one of us was gonna win and one of us did.

“I wanted to try to win the race for Roger Penske.  Whether that was me or another car, that’s what I was doing and I didn’t want to make a move too early because that throws a big chance out the window.  That’s about it.” (Was the block by Cindric fair?) “I don’t know.  Congrats to him, I guess.  You’ve got to throw a block in that situation.”

Aric Almirola — Finished fifth: “I honestly thought I was in a really good position.  I knew it was gonna get kind of dicey and haywire there with the leaders and I thought that they would kind of shove each other around and come disconnected and I would have a bunch of momentum coming from behind.  We’d seen that in the Duels and other races, so I hate to come up short.  I had a really good feeling going into today.  I just felt like it was kind of gonna be one of those storybook type deals where the last Daytona 500 I thought we had a shot at going to Victory Lane and just came up a little bit short. Dang, that’s fun. That’s fun.” (Did you allow yourself to think about winning during the red flag?) “Absolutely.  Yeah.  I thought so.  We were coming there to the end and I thought for sure like, ‘Man, this is setting up nicely to have that kind of storybook ending.’ Yeah, I believed it. I really did. I believed it in my heart that it was gonna happen and I still felt like I was in a really good position off of turn two on the white flag. I’m like, ‘Man, if they let us race back and there’s no crash, we’ve got a shot to win this thing.’ We came out fifth, but it was still fun.  I’m proud of our team.”

Kyle Busch — Finished sixth: “Overall, a good day and a good effort. I’m pleased with how far we came from behind to get a decent finish there. We were tore up a lot most of the race so that was a good finish. (The damage) definitely slowed us down a little bit. Any time you get damage, it’s not optimum but otherwise we were able to hang in the draft well and race around some of the other guys that were fast, but there were definitely guys that were faster than us and they were noticeable.”

Michael McDowell — Finished seventh: “I was not exactly where I wanted to be. I would have liked to been a row or two up. It’s hard to win from sixth, but I had my Ford teammate in front of me, Aric Almirola, and saw that everybody was pushing hard.  You can’t see too much through the back window of the car, so you’re just kind of pushing and hoping it all works out. I thought we were gonna get to the finish line, so as I was crossing the line I just got hooked in the right-rear and went straight in the wall.  That was unfortunate because we had a pretty clean race. That’s not what we wanted.  We wanted to come back here and challenge for the win, but we were close to being in that position again – being in that top five coming to the white, but we just needed to be a few more spots further forward.  All in all, it was a great race. I thought the Next Gen car did really well and put on a good show. The pack stayed together quite a lot – more than I thought from the Duels and practice, and we had a fast Ford Mustang. All in all, other than a destroyed race car, we had a decent day going and it would have been nice to get across the line without destroying the car, but glad to come out of here with a top 10 or a top five, I’m not sure where we ended up and get ready for California.”

David Ragan — Finished eighth: “For some reason the outside lane just didn’t get the surge that maybe we got two restarts prior. I saw Brad back just a little bit and I was kind of surprised it was that clean on the white flag lap and then coming through three and four no one lifts and everyone is real aggressive. The first thing that I saw was the 12 car come across the racetrack and we all started kind of squeezing down and then I felt Michael McDowell come across my left-front fender and that kind of ran us into the wall.  It was right at the start-finish line. That’s unfortunate to tear up a lot of race cars for that reason, but you’re going for the win in the Daytona 500 and no one is gonna lift and everyone is gonna do what they’ve got to do. I couldn’t be more proud of our effort. We really did a perfect job executing the whole race long. We made some adjustments. We just kept fighting and tried to be careful and get aggressive when it counted, so happy to come home with a top 10, but you’re disappointed to have a torn up race car. It was a lot of fun and I’m sure we’ll come back one day.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished ninth: “I thought down the backstretch we were going to win the race and just the 12 (Blaney) and the 2 (Cindric) got a really good push from the 23 (Wallace) and basically cleared our lane and then our lane kind of broke up there at the end. It was really close, just green-white-checkers. (What happened in the crash with Harrison Burton) “I was just pushing and it just turned sideways and spun immediately out. I don’t know what happened there.  It was a shame to see it.  I hate it for him. I was trying to help him win the stage and certainly didn’t want to see him spin out.” (And with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.?) “The same thing. I was just pushing. We weren’t even all the way up to speed, so I feel like it was a crazy time to be pushing, but obviously the results say different. Whenever somebody spins out obviously there’s somebody over aggressive, but in the moment I didn’t (feel aggressive). (On seeing his former car win) “I’m happy for them. There’s a great group of people over there and they deserve all their success.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 11th: “That was our goal today. Race smart and race when we needed to in order to get to the finish. I am really proud of these guys because we accomplished what we wanted; to get in position late in the race and have a shot at a good finish. It’s a great start for this team and we are looking forward to Fontana and the rest of the season.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished 18th: “Our day was OK. We had a fast No. 99 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevy, we just got behind there with the speeding penalty. The No. 42 (Ty Dillon) kind of pushed me to the grass and then we had a loose wheel. It wasn’t a clean day, but we’ll move onto Auto Club (Speedway).”

Cole Custer — Finished 20th: “I thought we did a pretty good job with our Mustang at the start of the race. We had good pit stops, we got off pit road well, things were looking pretty decent at the start of the race. We came down pit road the second time and it wouldn’t take fuel, so it’s just one of those things with this NextGen car. It’s one of those things we learned from for the next time how to make it better. You want to go out there and race for the win in the Daytona 500, but we still brought home a clean racecar and get to head back home to Southern California for the second time in three weeks. But, man, I wish we could’ve raced for the win today.”

Erik Jones — Finished 29th:  “Tough ending for our race. The Chevrolet was strong throughout, and it felt nice getting up front to lead laps and run inside the top five. The speed in our car was shown by earning stage points in the first stage and then driving our way back forward in the second. I’m proud of the effort that Dave (Elenz, crew chief) and the Petty GMS guys put forth all week long. We will now shift our focus to California and the West Coast swing.”

JACQUES VILLENEUVE — Finished 22nd: “It was amazing.  It was a handful.  The car was more difficult to drive than I expected. It was tight. It was loose and that was not expected after testing, but just getting the draft was complicated – especially at the start because everybody just jammed and hit the brakes and that was it. That’s frustrating.  It’s really hard to get back in the pack. It was amazing. All the energy. The concert. The show, not just the race, the whole atmosphere. It was really, really amazing. I want to do more, obviously. I’ve always wanted to do more and more racing. Right now, there was only this race planned, but we’ll see how it pans out. We got a good result. The car is intact and maybe we can get some sponsors and go racing again.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – Finished 28th: “We put ourselves in the perfect position really for us to come down to leading the Daytona 500 with five laps to go. All and all, our No. 47 Camaro just got pushed in the wrong spot. We did everything we could today to put ourselves in the right position. We’ve got to be happy about that and move on.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 32nd: “It’s disappointing. I had a run there on the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick). I didn’t realize how close he was to the No. 17 (Chris Buescher). I got to him right as he was getting to him and it got him out of shape. I hate that I did that. It’s so hard see in front of him, especially on the straightaway like that. I didn’t realize how close he was to him and it just got him all jacked up. I hate that it ended our day, as well as a bunch of others. Our No. 5 Chevy was fast and hopefully we can see a Chevy win here with Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) out front.”

Todd Gilliland — Finished 33rd: “That was like the one wreck that I thought I had missed from the beginning. I was going low. I was on the apron and the 43 was trying to miss it, too, and it looked like he got hit and hit my right-rear and right-reared me into the fence. That’s racing here at Daytona. They were joking in the infield care center that this place takes a lot more than it gives. I feel like I was having a really good day until then, though, so we’ll take the positives out. I still think this was a pretty good first points Cup race, so we’ll keep moving on. I was super happy with where I was at (with 10 laps to go). I thought I was in a great position. LIke Michael always says, he wants to be third on the last lap.  I felt like I could have easily been right where I wanted to be, so our car wasn’t the fastest out there today, but I feel like I made a lot of good moves in the draft. I was always hopefully going forward in the correct lane, so I just think overall I learned a lot and could have been in a great position at the end.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 35th: “We had a really fast Chevrolet all week and felt really good after our team worked hard to make adjustments during today’s race. We had a part break which caused me to spin and wreck on the frontstretch. With the shortage of parts for these new cars, that definitely puts more work on my team and that’s tough. I’m looking forward to getting to the west coast and improving our performance. The entire RCR team and everyone at ECR worked really hard to make these cars fast.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 36th: “It looked like the two cars on top. The 6 (Brad Keselowski) was pushing the 21 (Harrison Burton) and you could see the 21 was kind of getting out of control there, so you know the mindset was that you’ve got to back off but I think the 6 was just insistent on pushing him at all costs and eventually turned the 21 around. Tough, you know, considering it was just for the stage. We were kind of boxed in there where I noticed that something was going to happen, but I was boxed in, I was behind a teammate and I wanted to try to help. Again, just too aggressive pushing right there when they weren’t lined up and in control.”

William Byron — Finished 37th: “It looked like the bottom lane was pushing well; nice, balanced and controlled. The outside lane was getting a little squirrely the last lap or so. I noticed that, but there’s nothing you can really do. You’re just trying to push your guy out front. It was (Martin) Truex Jr. in front of me and Kyle Busch. We were doing a good job of kind of managing that gap on the bottom. I think the No. 21 (Harrison Burton) just got loose, slid down the track and I slid to the inside wall. There was nothing we could really do. I think we were definitely going to finish in the top-five in that Stage. Our No. 24 Camaro seemed really fast. It’s disappointing, but we’ll go onto California (Auto Club Speedway) and we’ll be fast there.”

HARRISON BURTON — Finished 38th: “I’ve hit a lot harder before, that’s for sure.  It’s just unfortunate. I hate it for the Wood Brothers group. They brought a really fast Ford Mustang down here and ended up on our lid, so that’s never good. I’d like to look back and see what happened. I don’t know. I just got pushed, and the car didn’t take it the right way or got pushed in the wrong spot. I’m not sure. I couldn’t really tell. I was looking out front to see what I had to do next to side-draft the next guy that was on me, so just a bummer. I don’t really know what we could have done different, but we’ll move on and get better from it. I don’t know if (Keselowski’s push) was too much. I just think it might have been in the wrong spot. It’s hard. These bumpers don’t line up as good as the old ones did. Through the testing I always found that dead center was the best, so when I was pushing Joey or whatever you want to push in the center of the bumper. I couldn’t tell. I haven’t watched a good video of it yet, so don’t take what I say to the bank. Obviously, I’m not questioning Brad’s ability, but I think he just got a little wide on my right side and kind of shot me on the inside there. We were working good together up to that point. There were a couple moments where I was having to save it kind of sideways and obviously just one too many and we ended up upside-down.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 40th: “They were just wrecking and I saw a car upside down. Just wrong place, wrong time for our No. 1 Chevrolet. Bummer. Everybody I was around was pretty calm. I saw the tandem up front. Everything looked fine. I was blind to what happened, so I don’t really know what went wrong.”