What drivers said after Cup playoff race at Phoenix

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Kyle Busch — Winner: “I’d like to think it gives us a lot (of momentum), but I don’t know – talk is cheap. We’ve got to be able to go out there and perform and just do what we need to do. Being able to do what we did here today was certainly beneficial. I didn’t think we were the best car, but we survived and we did what we needed to do today. It’s just about getting to next week and once we were locked in, it was ‘all bets are off and it’s time to go.’ … It’s awesome to celebrate like this and we were the first ones in the Richmond victory lane and we’re the first ones in the Phoenix victory lane and I called my shot a few months ago because they had the 48 on the map showing everyone where things are at and I said, ‘That ain’t right, that’s going to be us.’ I’m glad I could be a man of my word.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 2nd: “We definitely made the right call. It just didn’t quite work out. Man, it was close. I needed to pass (Aric Almirola) like a lap earlier and we were all racing for all we’ve got. It was close.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 4th: “I thought we were a seventh to sixth-place car and that’s what I thought we were yesterday too. (Crew chief) Johnny (Klausmeier) and all these guys fought their guts out and I fought my guts out inside the race car and gave it everything we had. We took a seventh or eighth-place car and the next thing you know we were in position to win the race. I’m just really thankful for this group and these guys on the Smithfield team are awesome. This is our first year working together. You look at all the teams we’re racing and they’ve got four, five, six, seven years working together, so what we’ve accomplished in one year is a hell of a lot, but right now all I can think about is being inside of Kyle down there in the new one and two and just not being able to get the power down to get up beside him. It’s bittersweet. It was a good day for us, but today we needed to win and we didn’t win.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 5th: “I felt (the tire) start to go down going into Turn 1 there and just slowed down to the point where I thought I could at least make it back to the pits and not hit the wall. It came at an OK time because it didn’t tear the car up. It never really drove as well after that, but we kept ourselves in position all day and there at the end it was just like with everybody wrecking and all over the place, we just needed to stay out of trouble and try to find a safe spot there.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 8th: “Yeah for sure, I’m proud of our American Ethanol E15 car and our team. It was a solid run all weekend. We had a top 10 car. That is what we had. We proved that. It kind of bit us, we pitted and the caution came out and that was… we had to really fight to get back that, but luckily the wrecks happened. It put us back in a pretty good position. We decided to stay out on old tires and fight them off to the end. That was a fun run for our team and our Camaro. We will work on that. That is two top 10’s in a row and I’m happy.”

William Byron — Finished 9th: “we haven’t had very good runs, to be honest, the whole year, but this run we kind of went a completely different direction with what we were doing and it seemed to pay off, and just kind of had a solid weekend other than qualifying. Got some damage there, but we were able to come back, I guess, and finish ninth, so I guess that’s decent, and going to Homestead next week.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished 10th: “We were up there and we had underdog speed in the top 15 three quarters through the race and I didn’t like having all those cautions. I did because it would give us a chance to fire back off, but once we got leveled out those guys could just drive right by us. We are still working on our speed. We are still making the most of it. It was nice to be able to survive, catch a couple of breaks, catch a lot of breaks actually. Just have luck on our side for once. It was great to have the Air Force on our car for Veteran’s Day and our Chevrolet was actually decent this time.”

AJ Allmendinger — Finished 12th: That was a really solid day for our Kroger ClickList team. We’ve been searching for some speed at ISM Raceway the last several years, and to be able to gain spots on pit road and track position was a huge advantage for us. That was probably the best Kroger ClickList car I’ve had here. I’m really proud of the whole team for being able to get us some solid finishes the last few weeks, and I’m looking forward to finishing out the season strong next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 13th: “We had an opportunity there and I think the (Erik Jones) got together there and going into the corner I got underneath and it looked like I got loose, I thought I got hit, but nobody was near me. I got loose and I chased it up the race track and (Kurt Busch) was right there. Then it looked like he hit the wall and I was up there and kind of pinched him and then hit the wall again. It was not going to be good. He kind of turned us then, but I can’t blame him, Kurt’s been fair to me in so many years of racing. I’ve never had one incident with him, he’s been as fair to me as anyone out there and I hate it for him because trust me, I was rooting for him – all of today I was rooting for (Busch) to be the guy that got in there. Ultimately we have to go out there to try to race to win and we were battling hard off the corner. Just ran out of real estate for sure.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 14th: “We didn’t have the greatest car, but we battled hard and we had a little bit of good fortune. Made good calls, good strategy and good adjustments on the car. We got it to where it was pretty decent. The short runs just really killed us today. It would take 40 or 50 laps for the car to come in and then a caution would come out. All in all, I’m just really proud of everybody, everybody back in Denver at the shop for continuing to bring good race cars and stay focused.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 16th: “It’s definitely probably the best run I’ve had here and I’m really proud of the guys. I made mistakes on pit road instead. It’s kind of a trick pit road now with curves and straights and I was just pushing it too hard. We were able to rebound. I wish we could have got that lucky dog a little bit sooner, but (Matt Kenseth) and I were racing hard for it and it was just a tough battle there. I’m glad to get a top 20 and get some momentum back going to Homestead.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 19th: “What a crazy day of highs and lows for our GEICO Military team. My Camaro ZL1 had a great balance through the start and middle of the race, I just needed a bit more drive through the corners. Then the battery problem hit us, and we had to switch out batteries during a caution. That could have potentially ended our day, but thankfully the voltage maintained instead of dropping. My balance wasn’t exactly where I needed it in the final stage of the race, but my team kept tweaking it to get it closer. Everyone’s hard work today earned us a top-20 finish. We came to Phoenix wanting to make the most of what we have left of the season, and I’d say that we capitalized on everything we had today.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 30th: “We had an uncontrolled tire early. I don’t know, I guess the computer told them it was an uncontrolled tire. It didn’t look uncontrolled to me, but the computer is probably a whole lot smarter than me. We kind of got off pit strategy trying to come back from that. We were going to be able to overcome it and have a decent day. It was just kind of odd. Some odd things going on and then they crashed in front of us and knocked the duct work out of it. Hendrick Motorsports builds great engines, this wasn’t an engine failure because of them, this was an engine failure because it had no duct work and it ran 350 degrees for 20 laps and it can only do that for so long.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 23rd: “Was speeding on pit road and ultimately that is what got us behind. You can’t come down pit road leading the race and speed and expect to race for a championship the next week. Just unfortunate and especially that late in the race. So, that was just my fault and really no excuse for it. So, we will try again next year.

Kurt Busch — Finished 32nd: Erik Jones was on my inside when we restarted and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t slip through the new (Turn) 1 and 2. If I could have been to somebody’s outside off two, then I thought we had a good shot of maintaining the lead and I just got cleaned out. I flat out got cleaned out. I thought it was the right decision on staying out. I’m not gonna look back on it. If the rule earlier in the race on the pit road of passing the pace car is black and white, I just need to get brushed up on my rulebook. I didn’t gain anything by doing what I did other than just digging from behind all day. It was a really good year for our Haas Automation Ford. Thanks to Monster Energy and everybody that put their talent into that 41 car. I just didn’t get the job done to get us to Homestead.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 33rd: “It looked like we just blew a tire there.  We were actually getting our Ford Fusion better and better throughout the race.  We had a great qualifying spot, but obviously didn’t feel like we were capable of running there, but we were definitely getting our car better and better.  I felt pretty competitive that last run and bummed that it ended that way.  I thought we were moving forward and passing some good cars, but, all in all, it just wasn’t meant to be today and we’ll go on to Homestead.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 34th: “I thought we were pretty good. We definitely made big gains here. We were running top five all day. They noticed some water in the pit box on that last stop and I had no water pressure. We took off on the restart and it was blowing up. We found that a lugnut went through the radiator, so it’s just pure luck. We finally have a decent run here and that happens. The good news is we made good gains here, so that’s something to look forward to.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 35th: “I guess we cut a left-rear tire down. I don’t know if it’s a product of being able to get down on the back straightaway off the race track like that. At the end of the day it’s pretty unique. We travel all across the country running on race tracks that we race on the race track and this one we spend more time off of it. It’s fun to be able to do that, but I don’t know. After I saw (Joey Logano) and then felt my left-rear go, maybe that was a product of that. We’ve run low air on these short tracks like this on our left sides and maybe that was it. It’s just kind of the way our Playoffs are going. It’s frustrating. We’ve had a great year getting to where we were part of this Playoff situation and being in contention to be able to run for a championship. There’s a lot of pride with (crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz) and all the guys on the 14 car. It’s been a lot of fun to go to battle each and every week all across the country with these guys. Stewart-Haas, I can’t say enough about the job the men and women have done at Stewart Haas getting all four cars in the playoffs and then obviously winning and being in victory lane, and everything Ford and everybody involved has done for us. I’m proud of our season, bummed for our day. It’s always fun to come out here to Phoenix. It’s a hell of a crowd today, appreciate everybody coming out. Unfortunately, we were a caution. You never want to be a caution.”

Joey Logano — Finished 37th: “The left-rear tire went flat. I don’t really know why. It just kind of came out of nowhere. We may have run something over, I don’t know. I went down on the flat a couple laps earlier to make a pass and I don’t know if it hit a little bit hard, maybe it knocked the fender into it, who knows what happened there, but she just went out. I tried to save it. I thought I had it saved, but by the time I got it straightened back out the rest of the tires were flat because I had them flat-spotted. That’s what it is. We’ll move on. We’re locked into Miami, so it doesn’t really matter, so we’ll keep our heads high.”

 

 

Eight Cup teams to be penalized practice Saturday at Phoenix

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Eight Cup teams will be docked practice Saturday for inspection issues at ISM Raceway. Only one team is a playoff team.

The cars of DJ Kennington, Ty Dillon, JJ Yeley, Jimmie Johnson, Timmy Hill and Tanner Berryhill will miss 15 minutes of practice Saturday morning for being late to pre-qualifying inspection.

Practice will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. ET on CNBC.

The cars of AJ Allmendinger and Berryhill will miss 15 minutes of the final practice session for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice.

Playoff contender Martin Truex Jr. will miss 30 minutes of final practice for failing pre-qualifying inspection three times.

Final Cup practice is from 2 – 2:50 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

Kevin Harvick wins Cup playoff race at Texas in overtime

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Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway in overtime to claim his series-leading eighth victory of the year.

Harvick easily cleared Ryan Blaney on the restart and went unchallenged to the finish. He locked himself into the championship four at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver led 177 laps and swept every stage on the way to his first win of the playoffs. It’s his second win in three races at Texas after not having won at the 1.5-mile track prior to last fall.

“Just really, really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing for these cars we’ve had, really for five years now,” Harvick told NBCSN. “The expectations are to win. It’s like I told you guys before the race, we don’t race for points, we race for wins. We don’t come here to count our fingers and toes to figure out how to win. We want to earn it. Today we earned our way in.”

The victory gives Harvick a playoff win in seven consecutive seasons.

The top five was completed by Blaney, Joey Logano, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson.

The overtime finish was set up by a wreck that involved Daniel Suarez, Joey Gase and AJ Allmendinger.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kevin Harvick

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kevin Harvick

MORE: Race results

MORE: Point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Joey Logano led 54 laps and earned his sixth straight top 10 … Erik Jones finished fourth for the third time at Texas … Martin Truex Jr. rebounded after starting from the rear for an engine change, an unscheduled pit stop for a vibration and a pit penalty to finish ninth. It’s his first top 10 this year that wasn’t in the top five.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer placed 30th and 26th respectively after Bowyer got loose and made contact with Hamlin on Lap 1 in Turn 2. They went multiple laps down to repair damage on pit road …  William Byron, who started from the rear for an inspection failure, finished 16th after he got into the back of Jimmie Johnson on Lap 97 and spun … Kyle Busch was unable to bounce back from an unscheduled pit stop for a wheel vibration in Stage 2 and placed 17th.

NOTABLE: Kevin Harvick is now tied with Bobby Allison for third all-time for wins in a season for a driver 40 or more years old.

QUOTE OF THE RACE NO. 1: “When (Miami) comes around, if I’m not in it, he’ll know it.” – Aric Almirola expressing his displeasure to NBCSN on how he was raced by Joey Logano.

QUOTE OF THE RACE NO. 2: “I don’t know what genius decided to pave this place or take the banking out of (Turns) 1 and 2.  Not a good move for the entertainment factor, in my opinion.” – Chase Elliott after he was asked about the difficulty to pass.

WHAT’S NEXT: Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway at 2:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 11 on NBC

Check back for more.

JTG Daugherty Racing reveals changes for this weekend, next year

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Changes are taking place this weekend and next year at JTG Daugherty Racing.

Ernie Cope, JTG’s competition director, confirmed to NBC Sports Friday that Chris Buescher’s car has a Hendrick Motorsports engine this weekend.

The organization uses Earnhardt Childress Racing engines — AJ Allmendinger’s car has an ECR engine in its car this weekend — but will switch to Hendrick engines next year.

The team will have a Hendrick engine in its car only this weekend before switching over next season, Cope said.

“The reason we did it is just because the wiring and everything is different,” Cope told NBC Sports of getting acclimated to the differences with the Hendrick engines. “We just didn’t want to go into Atlanta (next year) not knowing … it was worth doing. We found a lot of little things that we needed to get. It was definitely worthwhile doing. Now we’re going to go into the winter time fix all the little bugs instead of next spring.”

Also, Cope confirmed to NBC Sports the team’s driver-crew chief pairings for next year.

Trent Owens will go back to the No. 37 team and be Buescher’s crew chief next season. Tristan Smith will be rookie Ryan Preece’s crew chief next year.

“We’re basically putting Chris’ team back together,” Cope said.

What drivers said after the Cup race at Martinsville

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Joey Logano — Winner: “That was just a hard great race. NASCAR racing at its finest. It was a lot of bumper banging towards the end and a hard race. You know, we didn’t wreck each other. We bumped into each other a lot and that is what this sport was built on. I know a lot of fans out there aren’t too happy about it but it is racing and that is what NASCAR is about and what stock car racing is. I am just glad we finally won here. It has been so long and we have had so many chances and it feels like sweet redemption after everything that has happened here.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 2nd: “I knew they were going to get into each other. They were leaning on each other pretty good there for a couple laps. It seemed like whoever was on the outside could kind of pinch the inside guy off. I knew it was coming, but I just hoped it would be a little more dramatic.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 3rd: “I was next to him for six laps. I never knocked him out of the way. We were going to race hard for it in my book. I cleared him fair and square. We weren’t even banging doors for me to pass him. He just drove into the back of me and knocked me out of the way. That’s short track racing, but what goes around comes around.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 4th: “I think that hopefully it was covered well. Everybody – there was a battle for the lead, battle for second, battle for fifth, fourth, third and everywhere. We fought hard for what we had. We were racing (Martin) Truex there obviously. I saw the front two kind of get at it. It wouldn’t surprise me that teammates wreck each other, so we were hoping that that would happen so we could get up there and have a shot to race for the win, so I kind of held Truex a little bit up more than maybe I should have.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 5th: “Our car the last run got really tight in the center and I was really losing quite a bit of rolling time and that is what was allowing cars to get to me and then it was really hard to exit with cars right behind me as I lost air on the spoiler. A big challenge trying to hold everyone off.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 6th: “We had as solid of a day as you could have on the 41 Monster Energy Ford. Thanks to all our guys at SHR. I have never had a car that would run this consistent throughout the whole race at Martinsville. I am really happy with our effort. I needed a different outcome with the winner but I am really glad that Joey won and has his ticket to Homestead, it just makes our road tougher. We finished fifth in the first stage, fifth in the second stage and sixth at the end and we probably lost points today. That is what the playoffs are about. We had to be a fuzz better today and I don’t even know where.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 7th: “Yeah, (the car) was just really bad, really poor execution on our qualifying effort and better in the race, but not near where we needed to be. So, I’m sure we are in a hole and probably going to have to win one of these next two races.”

Ryan Newman — Finished 8th: “We had a good car all day. Seems like we had some inconsistent tires that had us chasing the balance a little bit. Good run for the E-Z-Go Chevrolet. No sure about the speeding penalty. My lights were on so don’t know if we just missed our margin or what? Overall it was a good day. Speeding penalty took us out of the game, but good strategy got us back in the game.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 10th: “As the sun started to go down our speed was definitely better. Everybody just kind of hung in there on our Busch Beer Ford. Our goal is always to come here and kind of just not defeat ourselves with a horrible finish. We had a good day. A decent day. Not a great day. Lost a few spots there at the end racing Newman. His car gets as wide as his neck there sometimes. You know, it is Martinsville and everybody is racing hard and we wound up finishing 10th and we go to Texas and hopefully have a good day.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 11th: “We just missed it today. The car was just off and we had one run where we made an adjustment and a set of tires but the car was really fast. We drove from 15th up to fifth and thought we had a really good shot there. We only made one more minor tweak and the car just lost its handle again. I don’t know. I am just frustrated. I thought we had a really good Smithfield Ford Fusion going into today and thought we could capitalize on an opportunity here at Martinsville. For whatever reason all of our cars were off a little bit. We didn’t have the speed and grip that we had here in the spring race.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 13th: “It was a good Martinsville for our Busch’s Chili Beans Camaro ZL1. I’m proud of this group. That was a good effort start to finish. Martinsville has been hit and miss for me, I’ve had good runs and I’ve had bad ones, and this is a good one here. So, just proud of the effort. From the time we unloaded this was a good car. We had good feel to it, we qualified well, and we executed well. We got a little bit behind there in the middle of the race. We were able to come back from it and just a good job. It’s fun when you can run like that at these short tracks it’s a good time. It looks like a short track car, i’s a little beat up, but all in good fun.”

AJ Allmendinger — Finished 14th: “It was a solid day for our Kroger ClickList team. As the track changed, it really changed the handling of our Camaro ZL1, but overall, we had a fast car. We just couldn’t seem to get the track position we needed. I love racing at Martinsville Speedway and I’m proud of the hard work the guys put in all weekend to get us something we could really race with.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 15th: “We have been building on this thing and getting better and better each week and Martinsville is a place we knew that we could get more and more competitive and kind of jump ourselves. We really executed well we had a great race car the GEICO Camaro was great. I’m proud of the effort and I’m proud of the way we are building these Camaros to get better and better each week. So, hopefully we can roll this momentum into Texas and finish out the year strong.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 15th: “It was a really frustrating day. The car wasn’t at all like it was in practice, and it got away from us. It’s a bummer to have Nationwide’s last race go like that, but we will learn from it and move on.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 37th: “Just blew an engine out there, and ended our day early. But it wasn’t much of a day anyway. I hate it for First Data. They sponsor the event, and I have yet to do anything special for them here. Just keep working hard and try to figure this place out some day.”