Here is what NASCAR Cup Series drivers said after a wild race at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday.
Kyle Larson, winner: “It’s always fun here to win in the home state. Hard work all weekend there. Didn’t feel great in practice yesterday. Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) and everybody made some good adjustments overnight, and the car handled a lot better. There were definitely some guys that were quicker than us, but they had their misfortunes. Just kept our heads in it all day. Long race. Just restarts were crazy. The whole runs were crazy. Definitely wild but cool to get a win here in California and hopefully get on a little streak.”
Austin Dillon — Finished second: “Huge credit to the Lord and our pit crew. Man, they were unbelievable all day. They kept us in this race. We had to make a bunch of adjustments. We were terrible at the beginning. Just kind of learning the car myself and then communicating with Justin (Alexander, Crew Chief), we just made it better and better.”
Erik Jones — Finished third: “It was good. It feels good to be interviewed after the race, too. It’s awesome, but it’s frustrating too. You’re that close and you have a car that you feel like can do it. The No. 43 FOCUSFactor Chevrolet definitely had it today. It was a matter of getting up front and taking advantage of clean air, and we did that a couple of times. A couple restarts just didn’t go our way. I probably could have done a better job here and there, and it just didn’t add up. I just haven’t raced up front a lot in the last year and a half. There are some things I need to be better at. Hopefully I have a lot of time to work on that. We want to keep running upfront and if we keep doing that, we’re going to win some races.”
Daniel Suarez — Finished fourth: “We’re going to win a few races very soon here. I just can’t thank everyone enough in my team. We had a fast car, but we went through a lot of adversity. We had a few issues. We hit the wall once. We had an issue with a diffuser. My pit crew, those guys are legends; it’s unbelievable. It’s the best pit crew I’ve ever had, and it’s a lot of fun to race like that. … I can tell you that I’m going to work very, very hard to go to Victory Lane very, very soon here.”
It stings but I’m so proud of this team. Thanks for giving me a shot @TeamTrackhouse … Those guys left their hearts out on the racetrack today.
— Daniel Suárez (@Daniel_SuarezG) February 28, 2022
Joey Logano — Finished fifth: “The guys did a great job of getting the car fixed after I wrecked in qualifying and we were fast right off the get-go. We were okay. The short runs weren’t really our cup of tea with our Auto Club Mustang here. We had a shot there at the end though going down the backstretch two-wide and I thought it was my chance. It was a low-percentage move and it was kind of too late down the straightaway to make the move but I thought I had a big enough run that I could maybe get position going in. It was just too late and I couldn’t get my amigo Daniel Suarez there to get far enough back on my quarter.
“He was on my door and I had to start chasing it. I don’t know. I probably could have finished second or third if I didn’t make that move but you have to go for the win. We were so close. I probably would do it again but maybe checked up the entry a little bit anticipating him washing up into Larson. But hey, I tried.”
Aric Almirola — Finished sixth: “We sure had our hands full. It was a crazy day, wow. These cars are certainly a handful and we worked on it all day and made it to where it was driving better. Then we got some damage and the guys worked on it and got it fixed. It was a solid day for us to come out and have a good start to the west coast swing and keep our cars in one piece.”
Kevin Harvick — Finished seventh: “We actually had a really good car and then every time we would get close we would have something go wrong. So we just had so many things go wrong that it was hard to keep our track position but I am really proud of my team. They did a great job of battling through everything and giving us a shot out there.”
Kurt Busch — Finished eighth: “I can’t describe what we went through today with all the adversity, all of the problems – the self-inflicted things, the oddball scenarios. Wow. What a top 10. That is a statement piece for us at 23XI, to get our top 10 like this with everything we have been through. I’ve got to thank all of my guys for staying focused. They showed me the way, and I showed them on what we’ve got to do this year to keep chiseling away. I think we are the highest finishing Toyota, so we know we have some work to do, and the restart fell our way on that last one, but that was the best our car had handled since the first stage, so lots to learn. Lots to go through.”
That’s not MPH… that’s # of cars passed.
Fought hard all day and it paid off! We were able to overcome everything thrown our way and check off the Top 10 box the hard way. P8, we’ll take it! pic.twitter.com/fkTgQFjJYm
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) February 28, 2022
Daniel Hemric — Finished ninth: “What a day! I felt like we had a really good car, and we were able to maintain good speed and move forward. Unfortunately, we had an issue with our shifter and lost six laps. I can’t believe we got all of them back and were even able to contend there at the end. I’m super proud of everyone on this No. 16 Poppy Bank Chevy team, My crew chief, Matt Swiderski, and everyone else at Kaulig Racing put together an incredible race car. It was really good and super fast – it was just a matter of being back on the lead lap.”
Cole Custer — Finished 11th: “I was really happy with the progress our team made. We made really good adjustments all day and got our car better. We got a little off there at the end and I wish I did a few things different on the restarts but overall it was a solid day and we got some stage points and we can take that into the next one.”
Austin Cindric — Finished 12th: “It was a really solid day in our Menards Quaker State Ford Mustang getting points in both stages and being a contender in the top-10 the entire race. I felt like I was a bit married to the top lane. I will have to understand why that is and look over how I can be better on the bottom and do a better job on the restarts. It wasn’t our day as far as being involved the wrong things and even recovered back to the top 10 and got a wheel stuck on. We have some things to clean up but it was overall a solid performance and it was good to be in the top 10 all day.”
Chase Briscoe — Finished 16th: “I think dirt guys like Larson and Reddick and me, we like it slick and worn out and you can move around and search for grip. I felt like I was able to try different lanes and try to find grip. I felt like our car was really good too and that obviously helps. But yeah, this place has always been really good for us guys and I think that is just because of how slick it is.”
Had a fast car today, led some laps, and passed a lot of cars. Looking forward to this season. Just gotta finish it off.
— Chase Briscoe (@ChaseBriscoe_14) February 28, 2022
Ryan Blaney — Finished 18th: “We had really good speed today in our No. 12 WURTH Ford. It felt like the balance was pretty good and we were able to make our way through the field. Unfortunately, we’re still learning on the setup stuff and how that impacts the ability to get the wheel off quickly during a pit stop. We’ll learn from it and go to Vegas next week and hopefully carry over the speed we had today.”
Wow craziest race weekend ever.What a day,so thankful for the opportunity to drive this car! Green flag was lap 10 in the #NextGen car 😬
Career best 21st place cup finish!
— Garrett Smithley (@GarrettSmithley) February 28, 2022
Justin Haley — Finished 23rd: “Overall it was a good race. We stayed on the lead lap and raced in the top 15 quite a bit. We made the car better with each stop as the race went on, so l’m proud of everyone the No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy team for working hard all day. At the end, we were racing hard for 11th or 12th and made contact with the 12 car. It wasn’t the finish we wanted, and the car is a little torn up, but I’m happy with the performance of the car and the gains we made.”
Tyler Reddick — Finished 24th: “Absolutely gutted by how our race unfolded but I couldn’t be prouder of this whole team and what we were able to do a majority of this race today. We will learn from this; we will become stronger from this and be hungrier than ever before. It was really fun having all of the Lenovo guests here today and it was really exciting to have such a strong run for them today. We will keep this momentum going to Las Vegas next week.”
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) February 28, 2022
Ross Chastain — Finished 29th: “To use a backup car and start the race without any laps on it was a handful. We were really loose to start and I was not sure if we’d be able to get on the other side of it. My crew chief Phil Surgen and the Trackhouse team kept changing a lot of things on the car and got the balance where I could drive it. At the beginning of the race, I was pretty worried that we were just going to be loose and slow all day. Obviously, we got a lot better and had a shot at a top five and I messed up. I made an unforced error running around the sixth spot. I was just riding along and hit a bump wrong and didn’t catch it in time. A mistake on my part. Seeing the transition from the beginning of the race to the end gives me a lot of hope.”
Well..today was eventful. Cut a left rear tire early in the race, spun and lost 3 laps. Gained ALL of our laps back just to cut another tire and lose another 3 laps. 🥴 Appreciate the never give up attitude from @SpireMotorsport. See y’all in Vegas
— Josh Bilicki (@joshbilicki) February 28, 2022
Harrison Burton — Finished 33rd: “It just looked like they stacked up in front of us there. I don’t know how many crashed but there was a lot of smoke and I couldn’t see where I was going. I kind of had to take a guess on where they wouldn’t be and ended up finding the 23 I think. It was a frustrating day. It felt like we weren’t running as well as we needed to be anyway. I guess those things happen when you don’t have great track position. We were fighting in the teens and 20’s all day and we need to be fighting further up to be able to avoid that mess.”
William Byron — Finished 34th: “So frustrated I made that mistake for our team today. What a fast car and we were making our way back to the front. I got loose getting under the No. 8 (Tyler Reddick) who had a flat. Thankful for such a fast car and I know we’ll be back stronger next week.”
Chris Buescher — Finished 35th: “That was certainly a disappointing way to end our race. The Fastenal Ford was fast today and we were getting stronger as the day went on. We’ll just have to take what we learned here today and move on to Las Vegas where I’m confident we will continue to improve.”