What drivers said at Atlanta Motor Speedway

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Here is what NASCAR Cup Series drivers said after a chaotic race at the newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway.

William Byron, winner: “It was so different. You know honestly the last few laps there, just trying to manage the gap to Bubba (Wallace) and trying to not get too far out front. My spotter Brandon (Lines), it’s his first win so congrats to him and just thanks to this whole team. They’ve done a great job this year. There’s a lot of changes with the Next Gen car. The Liberty University Chevrolet was awesome there. We had a pretty rough practice; worked hard on it and got it handling well. It was kind of an intermediate style with a little bit of superspeedway to it, so it was lot of fun. Thanks to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports. Super exciting.”

Ross Chastain — Finished second: “That’s the fight in Trackhouse. This Gen 7 car to take a lick like that, blow a tire out of nowhere leading. Just cruising, blow a right rear, slam the wall, I thought our day was over. Our guys went underneath the car, got the tow closer and we got the balance back where I could drive it and this Advent Health Chevy was fast. It was so fast. I mean we were fighting with William (Byron) there at the beginning. So cool to race with buddies again. I only have a few, but the last two weeks I’ve been able to race with buddies.”

Kurt Busch — Finished third: “We were on a different planet today with the draft and the way the cars raced. Wow. I was catching air off of turn two. I had to lift to not hit the rev chip. I just had a little too much damage to not be on offense, and then we were just trying to ride around and pick our poison so to speak with the Monster Energy Toyota. We weren’t on offense, so if you are not on offense, you kind of have to ride and wait for the holes to open up and I got a top five again. A lot of sarcasm here. We know we need to get better with the handling and some of our race craft, but another top-five – we will take it.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished fourth: “It was just like that, up and down. Our No. 99 CommScope Chevrolet was fast. We did a good job on pit road. We had fast pit stops. When we have a fast Chevrolet Camaro, it makes things easier. Everyone at Trackhouse Racing has been working very, very hard to build cars like this. We just have to keep it up. We have a few trophies coming in the near future.”

Corey LaJoie — Finished fifth: “We did exactly what we set out to do today. We made Atlanta Motor Speedway like a superspeedway. We missed the wrecks and put our No. 7 Fraternal Order of Eagles Camaro ZL1 there at the end and got a top-five finish. It’s great to start our season with three top-15’s and now one top-five. Hopefully, we can maintain the momentum over the next couple of weeks and put ourselves in a good points position through the summer. Thank you to everyone at Spire Motorsports and the No. 7 team for all the hard work to continue to build fast Chevys.”

Chase Elliott — Finished sixth: “It was crazy, for sure. Hopefully it was fun to watch because I felt like it was wild from my seat. It was very much so like a Daytona or Talladega. Just trying to position yourself there at the right spot and hope it goes your way.”

Chris Buescher — Finished seventh: “The pylon looks better than our race, probably. It was a hard-fought race. We had a lot of balance gremlins that a lot of the field fought early on. A lot of it was just not knowing what to expect. It got better and were definitely a competitive car at the end. We needed a little more raw speed and then going through one and two coming to the checkered I don’t know what happened there. I haven’t seen all of that yet, but coming to the finish I had what I felt like was a decent run and went to pull down and go somewhere with it and I don’t think I realized the 31 was below me there. That was the end of the day. That wreck is probably on me, so frustrating to end that way but a decent finish for us still. I’m missing the old Atlanta a lot right now. To be fair, it was my favorite mile-and-a-half before, so it was gonna be hard for this one to compare and, to me, it doesn’t right now but we’ll keep working on it and see if we can get it better for next time.”

Joey Logano — Finished ninth: “A long day. We spun out and then the engine wouldn’t start. I don’t know why it wouldn’t start, but it wouldn’t start until I got pushed. We lost a lap and then got our lap back. We just battled and battled and finished ninth. No stage points.”

Justin Haley — Finished 11th: “Obviously, Chris (Buescher) and I were going for the same real estate there at the end, so neither of us were really to blame. I did not want to be forced down below the red and white line. I have been bitten by that rule in the past, so I obviously did not want to go below it, and I was not going to check up either. We had a really strong No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Camaro ZL1 all day, but we were just unlucky at the end.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 15th: “There at the beginning I got a little bit of damage, but our car was honestly really good. We could never lead, but I could shove people really, really good and if I had somebody that was good in front of me I could just keep going and keep picking them off. There at the end I felt like with how my car was, and I kept going to the bottom, the top was just so fast down the straightaway so I knew I probably wasn’t gonna win with the damage I had on the nose, so I was just trying to stay committed to running the top to keep our momentum up. I thought we were gonna come out third or fourth and was trying to help the 12 and, honestly, to shove him to potentially the win and I went in there and I just got him loose into one and obviously we both hit the fence because of it. It’s unfortunate. We were both gonna have a really good day and I kind of shot ourselves in the foot there.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 17th: “The 14 just shoved me into one when we were stacked up and you can’t do that. You’ve got to get off people and we ended up just getting destroyed. We were in a decent spot to win and have nothing to show for it.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 22nd: “Man we had such a fast Smithfield Ford all day. It handled great too. It was nice to run up front and get some stage points. We got spun by the No. 1 car there running up in fourth and I thought our car was fine, but we heard a rattle so we came to pit road and took tires to check on it and it looked fine. When we restarted we just didn’t have full power and some mechanical issues and just had to ride until the checkered flag waved. I think we would have had a good shot at it. This 10 team will continue to fight.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 23rd: “I don’t know. I haven’t seen a replay or anything, but I saw a hole there and tried to take it and we came together. I know he was coming down, whether or not – it kind of is what it is. Our DeWalt Camry was extremely fast today. We’ve been pretty fast all year, just haven’t got the results to show for it. Just have to keep digging.”

Cody Ware — Finished 26th: “We were just riding around. I had the 77 and a couple of guys behind me and a couple guys in front of me that we all just planned on riding around and we weren’t ready to race yet. We were still just trying to figure it out to get to the end and go racing with maybe five or 10 laps to go but got that taken away from us today. I’m just really disappointed because my team brought a great Nurtec ODT Ford Mustang to the track today and it’s just a real shame that this is how the day ended.”

Todd Gilliland — Finished 27th: “That was very unfortunate. I went high and we kind of split the field. Something for us to learn from and we didn’t want that to happen. Our Georgia Peanuts Ford was loose to start and then we broke a toe link. We fixed it, but we were laps down. We were racing it out and then got into the fence.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 28th: “Man, what a day. This was a tough one because this team brought me a really fast 3CHI Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and we were up there battling hard for the lead for most of the first stage. We cut a tire while running at the front of the field and spun in front of everyone. Our RCR team worked really hard to repair the damage and keep us out on the track, but we were nowhere near competitive after that and it ultimately ended our race. This new Atlanta is wild and hopefully the tire issues can be resolved so we can come back next time and put on a really good show for the fans. My team has been working really hard to bring fast cars to the track each week and I’m proud of the effort of the No. 8 team today.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 29th: “We had a really fast FedEx Camry. I was just trying to help Kyle (Larson) there and I just needed to let him go off turn four. The track gets light there, the car starts to lift up and that’s where I needed to back off of him and I just didn’t and spun him out. It is a shame. Our car was really fast. We definitely slowed after the first part of the damage – we were involved in that first wreck. Overall, just frustrating, but we are running well, we are just finishing horrible. I’m just making some bad decisions. It’s easy in retrospect to say I should have done this, and I should have done that, but in the moment, you are trying to battle for some stage points there and we’ve got good grip, and I’m pushing him, and everything is going well and then all of a sudden the car lifts up and he’s gone. Just split-second decision making.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 30th: “We were just coming to the end of the stage. He (Denny Hamlin) was just trying to help me get a run down the front stretch. He just got to me in the corner and got me loose. I hate that happened, but it’s a product of this racing and product of pushing; trying to draft and get your lane going. Nothing is intentional. Obviously, I wish we were still out there and both of us racing. The good thing is we have a win already. Two DNF’s in a row isn’t what we want, but our No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy is fast. We were able to drive to the front a few different times and avoid a couple different wrecks. I was happy with the car. The handling was off early, but we got it better. I know the speed was there to contend. We’ll move along and go have some fun on a road course.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 31st:  “I was just riding around and I felt really good with our No. 47. Kroger / SweetLeaf Camaro. It was really, really fast. We drove right up to the front from the back there at the start of the race. You saw a few tires let go with people leading, running in the front. I don’t know if with all the speed we have here, if the right rear can’t hang on or what. The JTG Daugherty (Racing) guys brought a really fast car. It was another race where I felt like we were running up front. We’ve done that quite often this year. We missed it last weekend in Phoenix, but we’ll go get them at COTA. Our guys are continuing to build really good race cars and that’s all we can ask for. We’ll keep trying to put ourselves in position. I had fun.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 32nd:  “It was something I’d been watching and waiting for the entire race, the leaders getting wrecked.  From my vantage point, just tried to slow down through the crash and got rear-ended by somebody. It’s just how it goes when there’s not a lot of room. This style of racing we’re all together and it’s a pretty large hit.  It’s a shame to be out of the race. We were fighting close to the top 10 range most of the day, but just kind of a victim and it’s a bummer.”

Cole Custer — Finished 34th: “The track is so narrow here that they got together up front and everybody stacked up with nowhere to go, so we hit the wall. We didn’t really hit that hard, but it broke some of the right-rear suspension and put us out.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 35th: “William (Byron) and I had a good run through (turns) one and two. Got to the lead and he pushed me down the backstretch. I knew the Toyotas were going to go opposite of us, so I felt like having the No. 24 block bottom and me go to the top would keep the Chevys up front. The No. 18 (Kyle Busch) decided to stick with me. I know he probably thought he was doing us a favor, but you can’t push on the left rear on exit off turn four going as fast as we’re going. He just turned me and it took us both out of the race. It was the end of Stage One. We were going to get a run down the front stretch right there, so I don’t know why he’s pushing dead center, at the three-quarter mark. It’s part of it I guess. It was fun racing there for a while with a really fast No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevy. My feelings are hurt. Just two weeks in a row we’ve been taken out of the race.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 36th: “We were taking it easy. We had a penalty on pit road, so we had to restart last there. I was just kind of chilling. I was trying to slow down with the wreck and the No. 14 (Chase Briscoe), I don’t know what he was looking at or doing. He just ran right through me and ended our day. I knew we had a good enough No. 42 Alsco Uniforms Camaro ZL1 to hopefully get up front with good track position and good pit stops. Just hate that it ended our day early.”

Noah Gragson — Finished 37th: “I just got loose there through (turns) one and two. It was still early in the race, so I wasn’t pushing it. I was just trying to bide my time and stay patient. It’s such a long race. It’s unfortunate. I hate it for the ChevyLiners.com team and everyone at Kaulig Racing. They’ve been putting in so many hours this year. My goal was to complete all the laps and finish the race. The No. 16 Camaro ZL1 was fast, it was just a mistake.”

NBC will broadcast final six NASCAR Cup Series playoff races

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The final six races in the chase for the NASCAR Cup Series championship will be televised by NBC.

The races remaining on the schedule are at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16), Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 23), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6).

NBC’s broadcasting team will be on hand Sunday for what is typically a seasonal highlight — a 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. The next week the playoffs move on to Charlotte for a cutoff race. The lowest four drivers in the playoff point standings will be eliminated from championship competition.

The Round of 8 is scheduled at Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville, with the tiny Martinsville track serving as the final cutoff race. The four drivers who advance from Martinsville will race for the title at Phoenix Nov. 6.

The high drama of the Phoenix race, in which the championship will go to the highest finisher of the four competing drivers, will be carried by both NBC and Peacock.

Post-race commentary and analysis for all six remaining Cup races will be carried on Peacock.

Kyle Larson is the series defending champion. Joey Logano carries the point lead into Sunday’s race at Talladega.

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Talladega Superspeedway

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After a messy Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move on this weekend to another potentially messy spot — Talladega Superspeedway.

Home to the Big One — an almost certain multi-car crash, Talladega also occasionally produces unexpected winners, including Richard Brickhouse, James Hylton, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Brad Keselowski.

The mix of tight drafting, the Next Gen car and general playoff tension should make Sunday’s 500-mile run quite the adventure.

On Sunday at Texas, Tyler Reddick became the second driver (after Chase Elliott) to score three wins this season.

Joey Logano enters Talladega with the playoff point lead.

Playoff rookies roll on

The four drivers participating in the Cup playoffs for the first time remain factors approaching the second race in the second round.

Ross Chastain is second in the standings, 18 points above the cutline entering Talladega.

MORE: NBC NASCAR rankings put Denny Hamlin first

Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate, is seventh. He’s four points above the cutline.

Two other playoff rookies — Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric — will start Talladega below the cutline. Briscoe is four points below the cutline. Cindric is 11 points below the cutline.

Looking for wins

Only six of the remaining 12 playoff drivers have won races at the two remaining tracks in the second round (Talladega and Charlotte Roval).

Among the six, Joey Logano has the best win record at Talladega, having finished first there in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Other Talladega winners in the group: Ryan Blaney (two), Denny Hamlin (two), Chase Elliott (one), Ross Chastain (one).

The Charlotte Roval is relatively new, of course, but Chase Elliott already owns two wins there. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson also have won at the Roval.

An opening for Brad?

Few people who watched it will forget the first Cup Series victory scored by Brad Keselowski.

It occurred at this week’s tour stop — Talladega Superspeedway — in April 2009. Keselowski and Carl Edwards made contact approaching the finish line and notched the win, even as Edwards’ car flew into the frontstretch fence, spraying car parts into the grandstands.

Thirteen years later, Keselowski returns to NASCAR’s biggest track having recorded six Talladega wins. No other active drive has more than three.

Keselowski’s refurbished team — Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing — has new fire with Chris Buescher winning at Bristol and Keselowski winning the pole and finishing eighth at Texas.

RFK Racing has led 309 laps in the past two races, more than the team had led in the prior 105 races combined.

Although he hasn’t won a Cup race since scoring a victory in a Team Penske Ford in April 2021 at Talladega, Keselowski must be considered a threat Sunday.

Entry lists

Thirty-seven drivers, including Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson and reigning Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric, are entered for Sunday’s Cup race.

Talladega Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are Trevor Bayne, Parker Kligerman, Timmy Hill and Jeffrey Earnhardt.

Talladega Xfinity entry list

Forty-one drivers are entered for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Included are Kaz Grala, Ryan Preece, Natalie Decker, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Parker Kligerman.

Talladega Truck entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 30

Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 77. (Weather note: There is the possibility that Hurricane Ian could impact the race weekend, depending on its path).

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Forecast: Overcast with showers at times. Potential for heavy rainfall. High of 73. 60% chance of rain.

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Forecast: Sun in the morning, increasing clouds in the afternoon. Slight chance of a shower. High of 74.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

 

 

 

NASCAR fines Ty Gibbs $75,000 for pit road incident at Texas

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NASCAR fined Ty Gibbs $75,000 and docked him 25 points for door-slamming Ty Dillon on pit road during last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Crew members from other teams were nearby when Gibbs hit Dillon’s car, causing it to swerve. No crew members or officials were hit.

NASCAR has made it a priority that drivers are not to cause contact that could injured crew members or officials on pit road. NASCAR also penalized Gibbs 25 Cup driver points and docked 23XI Racing 25 car owner points for the No. 23 Cup car that Gibbs drives.

NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

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NASCAR has docked William Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution in last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Byron drops from third in the playoff standings to below the cutline heading into Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe moves up to hold the final transfer spot with 3,041 points. Austin Cindric is the first driver outside a transfer spot with 3,034 points. Byron is next at 3,033 points.

Hendrick Motorsports was docked 25 owner points as well.

Hendrick Motorsports stated it would appeal the penalty.

The caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash. As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

“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 and crew chief Chris Gabehart argued and questioned NASCAR for not putting Hamlin back in second place — where he was before Byron hit him — and also questioned Byron not being penalized.

“I guess we can just wreck each other under caution,” Hamlin said after the race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told reporters after the race that series officials did not penalize Byron because they did not see the incident. 

“When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” Miller said. “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.”