Friday 5: Ryan Blaney the student seeks to be the teacher at Martinsville

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After finishing 25th in the April 2017 Martinsville Cup race, Ryan Blaney studied how Brad Keselowski, then his teammate at Team Penske, won that race.

“I went back and looked at Brad’s data from that whole race,” Blaney told NBC Sports earlier this year. “What did he do at the start of the run? What did he do in the middle? What did he do at the end of a run with his feet, brake, rolling speed, getting on the gas?”

Blaney’s first three Cup races at Martinsville netted finishes no better than 19th. After studying Keselowski’s data, Blaney placed eighth at Martinsville in the October 2017 race and followed it in March 2018 by finishing third, winning a stage and leading 145 laps. 

It’s an example of how driver data, such as throttle trace, steering angle, brake usage and more, can prove helpful.

“To an extent it’s hard to teach you something new, but if you really work on it and it clicks, then it is great,” Blaney said of the driver data available to competitors. “That was probably the biggest one of night and day difference (after studying data).”

Blaney heads into Saturday night’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1), having finished no worse than 11th in his last six starts at the track. He also enters the eighth Cup race of the season tied with close friend Chase Elliott in points at the top of the standings.

Blaney has started on the front row in each of the last four races, winning the pole three times. He’s also led the most laps this season while he continues to seek his first victory of the season.

Even with that success, Blaney admits preparing for each race with the new car is challenging.

“A lot of it right now is trying to take as much notes as you can from Phoenix, Richmond, apply it to Martinsville, honestly maybe take a little bit at what we learned at the (Clash at the) Coliseum and apply it,” Blaney said this week. “Some of it is kind of shoot from the hip and you just hope that what you sim and what you engineer, kind of think up, you hope is close.

“I will say we’ve done a great job of being close unloading at all these tracks this year.”

By having the setup close to what Blaney needs, it allows him to run more laps in the abbreviated practice sessions. 

At Phoenix, he ran the most laps in practice, finishing second on the speed chart and second in best average over 10 consecutive laps. The result was a fourth-place finish that saw him win a stage and lead 143 laps. 

At Richmond, he ran 44 laps in practice, second only to teammate Joey Logano’s 49. Blaney was third on the speed chart and had the best average over 10 consecutive laps. That led to a seventh-place finish, his top result at that track.

Running all those laps helped Blaney adjust to the car at each track. He’s ranked among the leaders in laps run in practice since Auto Club Speedway, the second race of the year. 

“My biggest thing is just to have an open mind going to these tracks,” Blaney said. 

He’s also had to break some habits he had with the previous car. Those extra laps in practice help with that, but it’s not always easy.

Ruoff Mortgage 500 - Qualifying
Ryan Blaney has led in every Cup race this season. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

“I would say going to (Auto Club) and Vegas, that was really difficult because big, fast race tracks, you can wreck pretty easy at those tracks,” Blaney said of changing his habits. “The shorter tracks, it’s a little bit easier to kind of get up to speed just because you’re not going as fast, you have a general idea, sense of where you’re lifting and you can gauge the brake pedal a little bit more than running 190 in the corner at (Auto Club and thinking), ‘I hope this thing sticks, I hope I didn’t lift too late.’ 

“It’s just a little bit different. Muscle memory is hard to overcome, and I catch myself doing tendencies that I used to do with the old car with this one. Just have to kind of learn to kick those. 

“Some tendencies still work. It’s still a race car at the end of the day and you’re fighting the same things. You just have to learn to adapt, that’s the biggest thing.”

But going off into the corner at 190 mph isn’t what makes him most nervous these days. It’s off the track where nerves can strike most.

He founded the Ryan Blaney Family Foundation in 2018 and has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association and UPMC Sports Medicine. 

Blaney’s grandfather was stricken with Alzheimer’s. The University of Pittsburgh’s Sports Medicine facility offers a range of services for athletes of all ages and status. That is where Dale Earnhardt Jr. received treatment for his concussion symptoms. Blaney’s father, Dave, also received treatment there after a severe concussion in a racing accident. 

Blaney’s foundation will hold a charitable event before the Coca-Cola 600 in May to fund a pair of fellowships at UPMC. It will be the first major event for Blaney’s foundation since COVID.

“Hopefully, this goes well and we raise a bunch of money for UPMC,” Blaney said. “It’s nerve-racking. I get more nervous planning those events than racing because it is something fairly new to me and not something you have a huge control over, you just hope people support it.”

2. Helping hand

NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham turns 65 in August, but he’s not looking to slow down.

“One of my mentors is Roger Penske,” Evernham told NBC Sports, “and he’s 85 and he’s still rolling.”

So … yes, Evernham is willing to take on another project.

“I would love to find a place in the sport for me,” he said. “I feel like I still have something to add. I don’t want to be 200 days a year on the road like I was. I would love to be able to find a way to work with NASCAR or (Speedway Motorsports) or race tracks. I want to be around it. I feel I have something to add. I’ve got over 40 years of experience, hopefully I’ve got something there.”

NHOF Class of 2021 Blue Jacket Ceremony
Ray Evernham talks with Joe Gibbs during the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 jacket ceremony . (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)

Evernham has had many roles throughout his career. He raced modifieds and had the nickname “Hollywood Ray” at the time. He moved on to a role as a crew member before he became Jeff Gordon’s crew chief. Evernham revolutionized the sport while winning three championships and 49 races in the 1990s, including a pair of Daytona 500s and Brickyard 400s with Gordon. 

Evernham led Dodge’s return to the sport in 2001 and came back to Cup as a car owner. His drivers won 13 times, including Bill Elliott’s victory at the 2002 Brickyard 400. 

He later moved into a role as a TV commentator, became a track owner and helped Tony Stewart start the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX), the summer series that debuted last year and raced at select short tracks across the country.

Evernham no longer has an active role in the series, giving him the chance to search for his next project. 

“I’ve done a lot of things in the business and development side,” he said. “I feel I’d be a good advisor … or a good project manager. What I was able to do with SRX last year was a complete combination of all those things I did. I would love to do with that NASCAR or something now.”

It would seem that there could be a valuable role for Evernham to play somewhere in the sport.

“I feel like I’ve always had an ability to look out into the future,” Evernham said.

Imagine the places he could help NASCAR go.

3. Looking ahead 

Erik Jones has taken a different approach since joining Richard Petty Motorsports last season.

Once a part of Toyota’s driver development program with Kyle Busch Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, Jones took advantage of the equipment he had, winning the 2015 Truck title as a rookie, 2016 Xfinity rookie of the year and 2017 Cup rookie of the year. He’s the first driver to win rookie honors in Truck, Xfinity and Cup in consecutive seasons. 

When Joe Gibbs Racing brought Christopher Bell in to take Jones’ spot for the 2021 season, Jones moved to Richard Petty Motorsports, which merged with GMS Racing before this season to form Petty GMS Motorsports.  

“Going to RPM, I knew it would be a shift,” Jones said. “I didn’t expect to go out and win races right away. I knew it was going to be a building process. I think everybody was on the same page as that. 

“I think that was just the outlook I had. I think that’s what kept me in the game, was looking to the future of what we can do to improve. I stayed confident in my ability, still confident in my ability. It was just a matter of getting the right people and the right people in position.

“I think multiple things in the off-season have helped that, merging with GMS, Dave (Elenz) coming on board (as crew chief). All these things were planned to help our program.”

NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 - Qualifying
Erik Jones is closing in on 200 career Cup starts. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Jones has been running better than he’s finished this year. His average running position is 14.8. His average finish is 19.1.

Jones’ best result this year is third at Auto Club Speedway. He finished ninth at Circuit of the Americas and was 14th at Atlanta, but he’s had three finishes of 25th or worse this season. Two of those results came after he was eliminated in an accident.

Saturday’s race at Martinsville will be Jones’ 191st Cup start and he doesn’t turn 26 until May 30. 

“There’s guys in this sport that have started after me and won multiple championships, and I’ve been able to be in the sport now for five years at this point and just continue to build to where I want to be,” he said.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson didn’t make his first Cup start until he was 25 years old in 2001. Former Cup champion Brad Keselowski had two Cup starts before he turned 25. Former Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. had five Cups starts before he turned 25. 

“I have 20 more years in NASCAR if I want and if I get the opportunities to be here for that long,” Jones said. “That’s kind of the way I look at it and just know that time’s on my side. I never looked at it that way until last year, but I think you have to be analytical somewhat of the situation you are in and that’s how I approach things.”

4. Race lengths

Saturday’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway will be 400 laps, marking the first time since October 1956 that the track has had a scheduled 400-lap Cup race. The Cup races have most often been 500 laps. A reason for the change is the switch to a night event.

Earlier this month, Atlanta Motor Speedway ran its first Cup race with the superspeedway configuration, making the racing more like Daytona and Talladega than a traditional 1.5-mile speedway. The Atlanta race had 11 cautions and lasted 3 hours, 57 minutes, 14 seconds.

That race was 91 seconds shorter than last year’s Coca-Cola 600, which had 100 more miles.

This year’s Atlanta race was nearly 30 minutes more than what each of the last four 500-mile races at the that track were. Each of those four races had five cautions. 

Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president, racing development and strategy, addressed the Atlanta race and its length this week.

“I think race length is something that we’re always certainly thinking about,” he said. “To your point, that was a longer race than I think we had expected. 

“The racing product was compelling the entire day. A lot of side-by-side racing. A lot of hard racing between the competitors. I think it made it really exciting for our fans. Something we’ll continue to monitor as we think about the event and the lengths of the event. I think overall, certainly an exciting event, and a good way to kick off our season with one of the earlier events.”

5. Stage points

A look at the drivers with the most stage points this season (via Racing Insights):

74 – Ryan Blaney

64 – William Byron

62 – Chase Elliott

61 – Joey Logano

53 – Kyle Larson

51 – Martin Truex Jr.

43 – Ross Chastain

40 – Chase Briscoe

38 – Tyler Reddick

35 – Brad Keselowski


Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.

What drivers said at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — What drivers had to say during and after Monday’s 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

Ryan Blaney (Winner) — “I might shed a tear. This has been a cool weekend. Obviously, Memorial Day weekend means a lot, growing up here watching Dad run this race for a long time. It’s so cool just to be a part of it, let alone win it. I just was able to get the lead, and that car was so good that I could kind of bide my time a little bit and then we were able to drive off. I was hoping no caution just because you never know. I know we had the car to do it, but restarts can be crazy. … You start to get to feel like you can’t win anymore when you don’t win in a while. It kind of gets hard. So just super thankful to the 12 guys for believing in me. It’s just so cool. What a weekend with (Josef) Newgarden and Roger (Penske) winning at Indy and us winning the 600. I mean that’s just so cool. That kind of snaps our winless streak right there and that’s even better. We just kept working on it all night, and I think the track took a change. I didn’t feel great at the end of Stage 3. I was kind of getting pressured by a couple guys and we had to work on our car, and it was getting cooler outside.”

MORE: Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott crash and disagree

MORE: Charlotte Cup results, driver points

William Byron (Finished 2nd) — “We just needed a little bit. Really happy for Ryan. He really deserves it. He’s a good dude. Cool to see him get a win. We just needed a little bit. I felt like there were enough restarts for him to get back to the front. He had that one pit road where he lost a few spots, and it was kind of between us and the 5 (Kyle Larson). I knew the 12 (Ryan Blaney) and 45 (Tyler Reddick) were a little bit stronger than we were. Thanks to this Liberty University Chevrolet team. The car was great tonight. Just not quite good enough. Really proud of the effort. Pit crew was phenomenal on pit road. Those guys are just high energy, and that pit stall helps.”

Martin Truex Jr. (Finished 3rd) — “It was a handful. We just battled really hard and never gave up on the car. We had some stumbles on pit road – had some issues there. We had some issues getting a flat tire with some contact leaving pit road, which wasn’t our fault, either. Just battled a lot of adversity today, but our Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boats Camry was really fast. At the end of Stage 3, I thought that we had a shot to win this thing and then we got some damage out of nowhere on the splitter, and then I got too tight. We made some adjustments to try to get us balanced back out, but it just wasn’t as fast then, and we still ran third. Just proud of everybody for the effort. We definitely had a shot at this one tonight, just didn’t get enough things to go our way and we didn’t do a good enough job on pit road. It was a fun day overall. We had just too many hiccups, too many issues on pit road with a couple of bad stops and the damage that sent us to the rear and had to come back. I thought through Stage 3 we were going to have a shot at this thing, and out of the blue at the start of the final stage, we got some damage on the splitter from debris and the car was never quite as good. … It means a lot to have all of the soldiers on our cars this weekend. I got to meet an amazing family this weekend. Really wish I could have taken them to victory lane, so it’s a little bittersweet, but overall, it’s a solid day for us.”

Bubba Wallace (Finished 4th) — “It started on Friday. We didn’t get through tech. We are trying to push all we can get, and didn’t happen, so bad pit selection really set us back all day. I knew it would be a grind. I need my pit crew to know that as well – they made a couple mistakes – but they rebounded. We were playing the cards that we were dealt. I’m super proud of this Dr. Pepper Toyota team. Just continuing to make strides and continuing to show up and be a part of the factor. Just makes you think – if you were that close on the final restart, or closer, what could have happened. It looked like the 12 (Ryan Blaney) was lights out all day. About time he got him one. I thought he was done washed up (laughter).” (On confrontation with Aric Almirola) Yeah, we were just frustrated on how we raced each other. We were in Stage 2 of the Coke 600. I finished fourth and that’s a good day for our team.”

Tyler Reddick (Finished 5th) — “We had a great car. We were really, really strong there. Just made a lot of mistakes – we kind of went to the bad side of it on that one strategy in the second stage. We had a million cautions because we just kept crashing. We got behind there and we had to fight to get our track position back after that and we did. We got to the 12 (Ryan Blaney), and just being too aggressive, got sideways and hit the wall, and front there, hit the wall about 10 more times and pretty much took all of the life out of the race car. We had a fantastic car. We just couldn’t get around the 12 (Ryan Blaney). We were way faster than he was for most of the day. I tried to take our time, because it’s obviously a 400-lap race, but yeah, made a few mistakes along the way and then I knocked the fence down and then every time we did, we lost a little speed in our Jordan Brand 23XI Toyota. So yeah, fifth.”

Kyle Busch (Finished 6th) — “Coca-Cola 600s are normally up-and-down, so we definitely had an up-and-down day. But the guys fought hard all race long and made some good repairs. We made a lot of good adjustments. There were a couple that we had to go back on, and then go back on again. But all-in-all, just proud of everyone on the No. 8 Alsco Chevy team. Our car wasn’t as fast as we wanted on the fire-offs there – we wanted the long run to finish. Even though we hadn’t been good on the long runs all night, we adjusted for that, but we just didn’t get it. We’ll take a good solid effort and top-10 finish.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Finished 7th) — “I feel great. I got up and did the ‘Murph’ workout this morning. My trainer wasn’t too thrilled about that, but went ahead and did that, and then came out here and ran 600 miles. Our No. 47 Kroger/Coca-Cola Chevy was so good all night. We just fought some track position every now and then, and then the No. 8 (Kyle Busch) fenced us there. I felt like we would have had a top-five if it wasn’t for that. But all-in-all, it was a great Coca-Cola 600 for us. It was what we needed after last week at the All-Star Race. We kind of got beat up there a little bit. But it’s cool to get another top 10. This team is doing a lot of good things.”

Chris Buescher (Finished 8th) — “It was a really strong day. Our Fastenal Mustang was really good. We got hit on pit road and definitely took a decent amount out of us, so I’m upset about that, but at the end of the day it was a good recovery. We kept digging back and it’s cool to have this camo paint scheme up front for a lot of the day, but I want to do more.”

Austin Dillon (Finished 9th) — “We never gave up all night, and it feels like we passed more cars than anyone else all race long in our Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevrolet. It was a hard-earned top-10 finish. We started this year’s Coca-Cola 600 deep in the field – 33rd — after practice and qualifying were canceled due to weather, but I knew that we would have a chance to be in contention at the end because this is the longest race of the year and there are plenty of laps to work our way forward. It was challenging, though. Pit road was tight for us today, and it felt like every time we gained positions we would pit and get trapped in our box and lose everything we worked so hard for. We never gave up and to finish in the top-10 is a testament to the tenacity that this No. 3 team has. We were just too tight at the end to advance any further, but I think we showed how hard we are willing to work. Today is about our heroes who served and made the ultimate sacrifice. I’m thankful that I can do what I love, which is race, because of them. Thank you to the families of Navy Seal Mark Crampton and Army soldier Rusten Smith for allowing us to recognize them.”

Zane Smith (Finished 10th) – “I am so happy, as happy as could be, really. I was worried when we didn’t take tires there and were running really good and had a really good day. It just worked out, so just a great job by this whole 38 Boot Barn FRM team. We got our Mustang better and better every single stop and that’s so cool. We run on half the budget, if that, than a lot of these guys, so to finish top 10 in our sixth start at the Coke 600 is really cool. It’s been a rough three weeks for me. The Cup Series is a different level and obviously I’m trying to prove I belong here and it’s just an outstanding run. Ryan does an outstanding job and it’s so cool to finish this race, but better yet with a top 10.”

Alex Bowman (Finished 12th)“It doesn’t feel very good at the moment, but about what I was expecting. There was no pain in the car really, but now that I’m out, I feel it a little bit. Just proud of my No. 48 Ally Chevy team. We had a really fast long run car. Obviously the short runs were what we needed, but we were just too tight for that. We got stuck on pit road – every stop, we came in like 10th, but lost spots coming out. But that wasn’t on my guys, it was just pit stall selection. We’ll move onto Gateway. Hopefully we’ll get to qualify there, have a good pit box and just go have a normal day.”

Ryan Preece (Finished 13th) — “What a night. We battled all night long. Some of those cautions just did not work in our favor at all, but we had a good car and just needed track position and clean air. We made strong adjustments throughout the night, and my crew was on it. I think we had a top-10 car. We’ll take 13th after a day like that, and it’s definitely the momentum our team needed. Those top 10s and top fives are coming, and I’m looking forward to St. Louis.”

Justin Haley (Finished 15th) — “We fired off tight today, but the No. 31 team made some great adjustments and had good pit stops. We made it as high as eighth and thought we would get a top 10 there but just got shuffled at the end. A top 15 is not a bad day, but our car was by far the best car we’ve had all year. We made some major gains today as a team.”

Joey Logano (Finished 21st) — “Tough night for the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang team. We struggled with the balance and unfortunately couldn’t miss the late accident and got damage. So happy for Team Penske, Josef and Ryan on a weekend sweep.”

Aric Almirola (Finished 25th) — (On confrontation with Bubba Wallace) “It was early in the race, and I felt like he ran me all over the racetrack and then when he got by me he shot me the bird, so I just went by and asked him why you shot me the bird. I felt like I gave him a lot of room and a lot of respect and he started mouthing off and saying a lot of bad things and cussing at me after he shot me the bird, so I just wasn’t gonna take that. I think it’s squashed. I got my point across. I let him know it’s not acceptable. He’s not gonna cuss at me and shoot me the bird. It was a good night, honestly, for our Smithfield Ford Mustang. It’s Memorial Day and such an honor and privilege to race on Memorial Day. We were running 10th there with 20-something to go and got caught up in that restart wreck in the middle of one and two and got a lot of heavy damage that really killed the race car after that. I hate we didn’t get out of here with a top 10. I felt we certainly had a top 10 race car, got loose on a restart early and hit the right-rear toe link, we fixed it, got two laps down, got all of our laps back and drove from the back to the top 10. I’m really proud of the effort and the fight, not the result, but we certainly fought hard. We’ll go get ready for Gateway. That was a really good racetrack for us last year.”

Austin Cindric (Finished 31st) – “You’re patient for 550 miles; why be patient for the last 40? I probably could have helped myself there by not drifting up the racetrack and knowing my own strength and weaknesses. It’s just unfortunate to get so close to the end of this race and not being able to finish it last year and the same with this year. I felt we had a lot of positives from today – some really good pit stops. We had good speed at times, but just having to put the whole race together as a team. I definitely made some mistakes today and unfortunate not to be able to finish it off.”

Erik Jones (Finished 32nd) — “We had a fast No. 43 U.S. Air Force Chevy, but nothing to really show for it. Appreciate the U.S. Air Force and their support. Just hate that we had the radiator issue, but hopefully we’ll go to Gateway with the same speed and have a good day.”

Chase Elliott (Finished 34th) — “The 11 (Denny Hamlin) ran us up into the fence there. Once you tear the right-side off these things, it’s kind of over. I hate it. I thought our No. 9 NAPA Chevy was getting better. It was nice to be making some gains there throughout the race. Our pit stops were really good. We had some pretty good fortune to get up towards the front there. I was just trying to get to mile 600 and have a shot, so unfortunately failed to do that again.”

Denny Hamlin (Finished 35th) — “I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightaway (referring to his collision with Chase Elliott). It’s a tantrum, and he shouldn’t be racing next week. Right rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. I don’t care. It is the same thing that Bubba Wallace did with Kyle Larson. Exact same. He shouldn’t be racing. It’s a tantrum.”

Noah Gragson (Finished 36th) — “Bummer day for the No. 42 Black Rifle Coffee Company Chevy team. We made it through the first stage clean. Something went through the radiator. We replaced the radiator and the motor blew up. Just frustrating. Thank you to Black Rifle Coffee Company and the Menusa family for coming out here. Wish we could have had a better run for them, but it was an honor to have Sgt. Menusa on the windshield. It makes this weekend all worth it. Wish we could have given him and his family a better run, but we’ll try again at Gateway.”

Jimmie Johnson (Finished 37th) — “I just didn’t know we were put in that three-wide situation. There were a bunch of us cars that were wrecked and just trying to limp it home. Unfortunately, I ended up in a situation I wasn’t aware of and got turned around. It’s a bummer for the No. 84 Club Wyndham Chevy team.”