What drivers said at Kansas Speedway

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Bubba Wallace stole attention from playoff drivers as he charged to the front in the final stage and won Sunday’s Cup Series playoff race at Kansas Speedway.

Wallace led the final 43 laps of the race.

Following in the top five were Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr.

What drivers had to say during and after Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway:

Bubba Wallace — Winner: “Man, just so proud of this team, so proud of the effort that they put in each and every week. Just thankful for the opportunity, right? Took this jump from an idea two years ago from a text from Denny before it all even happened. He was ready to get the deal done. … Pit crew was awesome today. We had one loose wheel. Just thankful. Thanks for the opportunity, and thankful to shut the hell up for a lot of people. I knew Denny was going to be strong. That’s the things I look at, is he wasn’t that good at the beginning of the day, and he comes up and finishes P2. And that’s what I want to start doing. When we don’t have the best days, just capitalize on moments like that. It’s cool to beat the boss, but, man, we were just lights-out today once we got to the lead, and it was a lot of fun.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 2nd: “It’s a good overall day. Just still frustrated about the first half of the race. We just aren’t executing all that well. … Really happy for our 11 Toyota team. They really fought hard and in that last half, they really made the car quite a bit better. Just really happy about the outcome and really happy for the 45 team and Bubba Wallace and Bootie (Barker, crew chief). Bubba’s just really worked hard on his craft and we’ve given him fast race cars and now he’s showing what he’s got. I nearly wrecked to try to catch him and then I got bad loose and nearly got in the fence. I was driving as hard as I could. Nothing will ever come free if you’re driving for me. If you think I’m going to let you win, you better go get another job.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 3rd:  “Just got off a little bit on our balance that last run, but overall a great points day and very proud of everyone on this DEWALT No. 20 team. Great day for Toyota and happy for Bubba to get a win. He was really deserving, really fast all day. Great points day. We’ll move on and try and win one. I’m very happy that we’re finally getting the results that this team deserves. Our speed has been there all year, and I feel like we’ve given up a couple good finishes. Last couple of weeks we’ve been building on it, and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 4th: “We had a good day for our No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1. Proud of all of my guys. We had a good weekend. Obviously, we didn’t want to throw those stage points away in stage one like we did, but we overcame that in a hurry. I’m just proud of Greg (Ives) and the guys. We had a great racecar. The last 15 laps of a run is where we would fall off and get beat, but I’m still proud of all of the guys. We ended up with a solid points day.”

William Byron — Finished 6th: “For as far off as we started, we definitely made a really good rally. I just appreciate the adjustments and pit stops by everybody on the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet team. At the beginning, I thought if it was a long run, we would have gotten lapped. But we just got our car so much better through the middle part of the race. Towards the end, it was just really hard to know what we needed to be better. I’m happy with the finish and thankful for the effort. It looks like we’re plus 48-points going into Bristol, which is a tough track. It’s been a good two weeks in a row. We just need to put three weeks together and we’ll advance.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 7th: “Our No. 1 AdventHealth Chevy was on either side of tight or loose all day. It was just really a fine line. We just never really settled into a nice run. Our best run was the second-to-last, with our second-to-best run being our last run. We put the chips where they needed to go at the very end, but all day it was just a handful. We all just high-fived. It feels good. It’s been a rough couple of months here. There were times today where I thought we were going to run 14th and I thought we were just going to keep this going. We had a really good day on pit road. Our No. 1 pit crew is just incredible. We cycled ourselves back up there, and we were able to stay plugged in between the No. 48 (Alex Bowman) and the No. 5 (Kyle Larson). We were running with the guys we are supposed to be running with; and we finished around the guys we are supposed to finish by.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 8th: “For the restarts, I just didn’t have a good balance; but I also didn’t do a good job on the restarts. I think I only had two good ones. Gave up a lot of stage points early on because of that. Even when I thought I was in the right line, I was tight. There at the end, I finally got a good restart and was able to get to third. It was really loose; I tried to go for second and I got really sideways. After the green-flag stop, I felt good, but I was just a little bit on the tight side and couldn’t make enough ground in traffic to make a move and had to settle for eighth. Disappointed with that. I thought we had an opportunity to finish a lot better, but we’ll move on to Bristol.”

MORE: Kansas Cup results

MORE: Kansas driver points

Ryan Blaney — Finished 9th: “We were okay. We drove up through the field pretty decent there starting off and finished second in the first stage. I was proud of the progress we made. I had to come down pit road there after the first stage and had to kind of reset in the back. From there we just weren’t quite good enough to get back up into the top five. I was chasing it and adjusting the car after that. Overall, not a bad day. It was a good points day, and we are looking pretty decent going into Bristol. We will have to just go there and have a good day.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 10th: “Today was very inconsistent. It was a long day. At times, we were OK and then some other times, we weren’t good. We had a couple of situations there on pit road, and then we had a tire going down. We had an eventful day. But for a day like that and to finish in the top 10, I’m quite happy. We have some work to do. We are not where we need to be. At times, I felt like we were a top-five car; and at times, we were a 20th-place car. We have to be a little bit more consistent. We don’t really understand why it was so inconsistent, but we’re going to find some answers and move on to Bristol.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 11th: “Probably just bad lane choice. I don’t think we were good enough to go win. Bubba (Wallace) was really good, congrats to him and his team. That’s a big win for him and a deserving one, too. We just had a bad restart there and fell back a lot of spots. Our car wasn’t really driving any differently than it was earlier in the race when we were up front. You just kind of lose momentum, start going the other direction, and it’s difficult to rebound from that sometimes”

Austin Cindric — Finished 12th: “I felt like we made the car better all day, and we just got hosed at one point on a restart, the final restart there. We lost all the spots that I had gained, and we never got those back. I just drove the car too hard trying to make it up and got too loose by the end of the race. Overall, like I said, we didn’t beat ourselves. We check that box the last two weeks. Bristol will be a big unknown and big challenge. We can’t take points for granted. I feel like we gave a few away today. I want to win at Bristol. That would be awesome. I have had a lot of heartache at Bristol, okay? I would like to change that, but maybe I will just take moving on to the next round. I have a lot of work ahead and a lot of really good guys I am going to have to beat.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 13th: “Our balance was way different than in practice. I was worried at the beginning, but our team did a good job of making good adjustments and good pit stops and good restarts to get up to fourth or fifth there. We were able to run top-five if we could maintain track position. We came down pit road, and the 51 (Cody Ware) just buried us and pinned me in. I couldn’t get around him, and we went from running fourth to running 15th and was stuck there the rest of the day. I wish we could have got our Mustang up there. I feel like we had top-five speed. We just needed the track position to go with it, and we weren’t quite good enough to drive back through the field again. Going to Bristol not in on points isn’t the end of the world. I would love to be nine points up, obviously, but being nine points out, I feel like we can go there and get some stage points and be in good shape.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 14th: “We just fought balance on our No. 3 Get Bioethanol Camaro ZL1 all day. The same thing we’ve fought all year, really. We had high hopes because we qualified pretty decent. I’m proud of our guys, we fought hard. We kept ourselves in it and we have a shot at Bristol (Motor Speedway). Bristol is going to be wild and anything can happen. We’ve given ourselves a good shot. Nobody knows what to expect when we get there, but it’s a long race. If you’re there at the end of the day, you’ve got a good shot to make it.”

Joey Logano — Finished 17th: “Not a great day for us. We were hanging in there in the beginning for a little bit, and it looked like at one point, in the middle of the race, that we were the fastest car on the track. We were up to second and running down the leader and it was good. Caution came out and we put scuffs on and we lost a little bit of track position. Not much. We put new tires on and it just was not good. The balance was off without changing anything. Beats me. We are plus-40 in points, so that is a decent spot to go racing. I wish we were positioned first, but it is what it is.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 21st: “I thought we had a really good car. Having a motor issue in practice and not getting to qualify really just put us behind because we got given the last pit stall. I was having to come around the 12 (Ryan Blaney), and I kept getting blocked in by the 42 (Ty Dillon). So every time we’d drive from 30th up to 15th, we come down pit road and get blocked in and have to restart 30th. We restarted 30th one too many times, and I got wrecked on a restart and got a lot of damage, and the car was never as good after we got all the damage.”

Cole Custer — Finished 22nd: “It was just a battle and we couldn’t really find the balance on the car. We got it better through the race, but we just couldn’t really find it today. But we’ll come back stronger from it and figure out what we need to do the next time. The guys on pit road did an awesome job, so that’s definitely a positive.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 26th: “Just got really loose and it snapped around me. Then I had damage from going through the grass. Kind of ruined the rest of our day, but it was whatever happened on that pit stop that set us backwards to get us back in traffic there. Tried to make an adjustment to the car to make it faster and it did make it faster, but definitely made it looser. We’ll go and try hard and if what Bristol has always been to me occurs, we’ll be fine. With the way this year has been, if that occurs, it’s going to be ugly.”

Erik Jones — Finished 29th: “Definitely not the day we were looking for at Kansas Speedway with our FOCUSfactor Chevy. We were off in practice yesterday and made some adjustments to help today, but just never had a good handle on our Chevy. We started the day too tight, adjusted to then be too free. Had contact with a couple of other cars racing three-wide in stage two, and then the handling was just never where it needed to be. Not sure if we broke something when we made contact, but struggled the rest of the race. We’ll go back to the shop, look over everything and refocus on Bristol next week.”

Ty Gibbs — Finished 34th: “I don’t really know. We were just a little free and got ourselves back running in a bad area. We got a little bit of contact I think, but I haven’t seen the replay yet. … I feel like we should have run really well today and we didn’t. All of my teammates’ cars were good. I just need to work on my craft and need to make the car a little tighter. We had the right adjustments there and we were good right then, but just didn’t have enough time to go right after the green and then we were in the wall. Not really sure how, just haven’t seen the replay.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 35th: “The right-rear tire just blew like we’ve had a few times. At Fontana (Auto Club Speedway), I was able to save it. But here, it snapped at the worst possible point, and we just killed the wall. It broke the control arm on the right-front, so our day was over. We leave here with not a lot of points, so we’ll have to fight hard at Bristol (Motor Speedway).”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 36th: “When those two cars (Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain) came up in front of me, I just got super tight. When I lifted it grabbed and got loose. I just wasn’t expecting them to come up and my car getting that tight. It is what it is. We were racing to win anyway today, so that is what we will do again next week.”

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.