Brendan Gaughan

What Drivers Said after the GEICO 500 at Talladega

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Here’s what drivers had to say after Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway:

Chase Elliott – winner: “What a day. … Just a huge thanks to all of our partners, my team, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet; there was obviously a lot of teamwork done today. We just had a plan and executed really well. Obviously it could have gone both ways but fortunately everybody stayed together and stayed the course and had some help on that last lap with the caution. I just appreciate all the support. This is unbelievable. This is special. This is close to home for me. It feels a little bit like a home race.”

Alex Bowman – finished second: “There was no plan coming off Turn 4, but unfortunately we didn’t get there before the caution came out. Big props to Chevrolet and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. They brought great race cars here. We had a great Nationwide Chevy from the time we unloaded. We showed a lot of speed. We all stuck to our plans and executed really well. Props to everybody back at home at Hendrick Motorsports and the fab shop and the engine shop and everybody that makes this deal possible. (If the caution didn’t come out, would you have made a move on Elliott?) Well, I’m not just going to let him win, right? I’ve got to try. I knew I could get to his quarter panel. I was pretty confident I could get to his quarter panel in the tri-oval and who knows who’s going to get to the line first at that point. I thought I could do it, but it depends on the car behind you and where he goes. It would have been fun to try, but I’m happy for Chase. … I’m glad to kind of turn things around. It’s been a rough start to the year and these guys deserve way better than the finishes they’ve had. So, to come home second is not a win, but it’s headed in the right direction.”

Ryan Preece – finished third: “It was awesome. I was only here one other time and that was in Talladega in 2016 in an Xfinity car and I was running third with three to go, went for the sucker hole and got flushed. I wasn’t going to do that today. … Great day for Kroger and JTG (Daugherty Racing) and hopefully we can keep this momentum moving forward.”

Joey Logano – finished fourth: “At the end (Kurt Busch) had a big run and I felt like I had to block that. When I blocked that I can’t block both and (Chase Elliott) got underneath me. If I chose the bottom and block (Elliott) I had (Alex Bowman) there and they were going to go by me as soon as they formed a run. I was not in a very good spot. Once I got on the outside I thought that would be a better spot to be than the bottom but the teammates there didn’t race each other to the end, which is good on their part because it made sure one of their cars won. If they had gotten side by side I think I could have made something happen but they were selfless toward each other. I really think even if it was green all the way to the end it would have looked exactly the same. There were no runs built and no momentum going. It is a tough spot to be in. You think you are in a good spot and anytime you can take the front row on a final restart you will take it, especially here at Talladega but it is tough when the numbers are stacked against you a little bit. The team did a good job though and our Mustang was really fast and that is what we have to be proud of.”

Daniel Hemric — finished fifth: “Chevrolet and all the drivers and teams put in the effort to communicate here in the last few weeks to try and stay dedicated and committed to each other. We’ve talked about it in the past, but we’ve never had such unity on the racetrack like we had today. That’s what led to us ultimately having our best finish as a group. I’m proud of that and of all the Chevrolet drivers sticking together. The first objective was to make sure a Bowtie ended up in Victory Lane today, and that’s what happened today. I’m proud of all these guys. (On the number of meetings with Chevy) Oh yeah, (there were) many of them to make sure we were all on the same page. It was cool to see people put the effort in and then us do our jobs on the track and stay committed to each other. That’s special. It’s hard to take a lot of drivers’ egos and put them to the side and try to look for the bigger cause, which was to get Chevrolet to Victory Lane. That’s what happened and I’m happy for that.”

Kurt Busch – finished sixth:I feel like we had a great day with our Monster Energy Chevy. I just didn’t deliver the win. I felt like I had it in my hands and let it drop. I didn’t make the right moves at the end to bring our Monster Energy Chevy a victory. It’s tough. I just didn’t execute what I needed to do to win the race. But all in all, it was a great day for Chevrolet and the teamwork from everybody. … Chase Elliott deserves the win. He did everything you would need a teammate from a brand to do. He put himself in position at the end. I just didn’t know what lane I needed to pick going into Turn 3 and I got swallowed up in the draft. (Thoughts on the new aero package) I think it was pretty good all the way around with each of the manufacturers doing their thing. No lane seemed more effective than years past. I’d give the package a thumbs up. … I just feel like I gave this one away today. Our Monster Energy Chevy was fast, and now we’ll go to a fast, one-mile track with all the horsepower. To have all this downforce and all this horsepower, I’ve been looking forward to Dover all year.”

Ryan Newman – finished seventh: “That was crazy. I took the inside line and started there and stayed there. Never had many places to go but either way it was a good run and a good team effort. Proud of the entire team to be able to keep it together. I think we kept most of the race cars on the race track which was probably a lot of luck. We will go on to Dover. (Was he surprised at Chevrolet’s domination?) No, I think it was mostly luck, honestly. They did a good job of orchestrating the pit but I don’t think that won them the race. … We put two tires on it there at the end and went. We just ran out of time. I think we finished sixth, I feel like I was ahead of one of those guys. It was a good run for the Acorns Ford. We got some good stage points and race points. We need to get a win. We need to get a top five. We have top 10s rolling and that is good. We need to keep going in the right direction. (Was it a different Talladega, using tapered spacers rather than restrictor plates?) I don’t know that it was much different. You got bigger runs but the end result was basically the same. We are still at the mercy of other people’s mistakes which will always be a part of racing here. In the end I am glad all the race cars stayed on the race track.”

Brendan Gaughan – finished eighth: “I was telling the guys, ‘I don’t know what y’all think is so tough about this. I show up once every three months and drive into the top-10.’ I miss this sport. It is a lot of fun. I don’t miss it enough to want to be here every week. I know now I can hold my breath for a minute and 45 seconds! It was pretty impressive. Thank you to the Beard Family, Richard Childress and ECR. I’m here four times a year and we end up with a chance to win every time we show up. I love driving for this team. It was unbelievable out there at the end of that race. I tucked up and stayed up under Ryan Newman. I sat on the bottom and tried to go forward. I’ll take eighth today.”

Aric Almirola – finished ninth: “We had a really good Smithfield Ford Mustang. I thought we had a car capable of winning but just a few mistakes on my part and then a few thing didn’t go my way. I worked my way back up to the first two or three spots and got shuffled out, one time late in the race there and fell to the back. Had to fight really hard just to get back up into the top 10. I am really proud of all of our guys. I thought we had a car capable of winning and circumstances and some things didn’t go our way. The Fords were really fast. The only thing I am happy about is that we finally stopped the bleeding. We had a really crappy couple of weeks with Bristol and Richmond. We fell from fifth to 11th in points. We stopped the bleeding there, got another top 10 and are back on track going to a great race track for us in Dover.”

Kyle Busch – finished 10th: We restarted outside the front row and I thought the 1 (Kurt Busch) behind me would want to race for the win and not just fall in line behind Fords and in front of Chevrolets and he would go with us a little bit there. Team order prevailed I guess. That kind of sucked. We weren’t able to have the run. As soon as he bailed off from behind me and then two others behind me got double-wide and then it just sucked me six rows back. I had to try to recover after that and all I could get was whatever I got. When you got older on tires and cars started to ill-handle a little bit, it was interesting. We got more downforce and yet the cars are driving worse, I don’t know how that’s possible. It was just interesting how you could be all over the place and not just be stuck. Guys were moving a little bit, you could make some moves a little bit. There was a section of race where the bottom lane didn’t move anywhere and the top lane didn’t move anywhere – we were stuck where we were at for like eight laps. That was about all I really saw.”

Daniel Suarez — finished 12th: “We had a very fast Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola Mustang today, but at the end we just didn’t have enough time to get in the lane that was moving the best. I was trying the top groove with a few laps to go, but it wasn’t going anywhere. With the new package we’re still trying to figure out how the car reacts in different lanes and those types of things. Overall, we escaped all of the accidents and the guys on the No. 41 Mustang are doing a good job and we keep improving.”

Brad Keselowski — finished 13th:Erik Jones and I had an awesome run going on the top with three laps to go but it didn’t work out. Major props to the 2 crew for adapting and overcoming when I slid into our pit stall.”

Austin Dillon – finished 14th: “I thought Chevrolet did a really good job today. The racing was pretty good. We didn’t tear up too much stuff, and with all of the downforce this new package has, we could really move around. If you did get hit, you could try to save it, so I thought there was some really good racing going on out there today. I chose the outside lane on the last run. Kyle Larson and I were committed to each other, but I don’t think the outside works with the spoilers we have on our cars now. There’s just not enough grip until the end of a run. At the end of a run, it becomes stronger. I’m proud of everyone on this No. 3 Dow Chevrolet team for their efforts today. We’re headed to Dover to try and earn a win for RCR and ECR.”

Ryan Blaney — finished 15th: “It was a tough race today for the Menards / Knauf team. The new package allowed us to make moves, but unfortunately we got shuffled out late and didn’t have time to get back to the front.”

Ty Dillon – finished 17th: “I’m really proud of our effort today. We want to win the Geico 500 but we did win something today (Stage One) so that’s always good. (How was the racing today?) Crazy! It’s crazy. Hopefully the fans enjoyed it, and that’s all that matters. (What does a second stage win mean?) It’s massive. I don’t think anyone expected us to win two stages this year, so we’re proud of that. We’re going to keep clicking along. We were really happy with the way we did it at Bristol and we surprised ourselves to do it here at Talladega. Who knows how many more we can do it, but I’m just really proud.”

Jeffrey Earnhardt — finished 22nd: “Today was a tough day for the Xtreme Concepts team. I was tight all day, and we’d start to make progress on it with the adjustments, but by the end of the race it was worse than it had been all day. I really thought in the last laps we were going to come out of here with a top-10 finish. There was just nothing I could do to save it there. I took a hit from the side and then I saw the 42 barrel-rolling. I’m just glad it wasn’t worse. That’s Talladega, though, you never know what you’re going to get. We had two great cars this weekend and ran well in both. We’ll look back on what we learned today and be ready to give it another shot when we come back for the Cup race in the fall.”

David Ragan – finished 23rd: “I was in the middle there after we took the white flag and I just got loose and wrecked the 24 (William Byron). I spun him out across my nose and he collected a few other cars. That last wreck was my fault. I was pretty stupid to wreck like that when you are running 10th or 15th on the last lap. We didn’t have a shot to win. When you get three-wide there is just nowhere to go and everybody was pushing and shoving and my car just jumped sideways and when I corrected it I caught the 24’s left rear and spun him across my nose. That was unfortunate for our team. Our Mustang was fast all day and had a lot of fun out there but just made a stupid mistake there at the end. (What he thought about the new package) I thought it was pretty intense. I felt there were times guys raced really hard up front and sometimes when guys got single file and rode. You are gonna have that in a 500-mile race. You can’t race that hard for 500 miles without carnage. That first wreck set the tone and guys chilled out a little bit. The cars are going 200 mph and it is exciting and they are hard to race and ultimately you will make some mistakes out there.”

Kyle Larson – finished 24th: “Initially I thought I was going to hit the inside wall and right before I got there, it started to lift. That was probably the longest flip I’ve ever had. I just didn’t know if it would ever stop. I knew I was flipping and was just hoping I wouldn’t get any closer to the catchfence. It was a little bit scary, but I’m all right. Thanks to the fab shop at Chip Ganassi Racing for building safe race cars. Like I said, it was scary, but I’m just thankful I’m okay.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — finished 25th: “Our Fifth Third Ford was sporty all day,” Stenhouse said. “The No. 1 got me loose on the last restart which he was doing what he needed to do to get on the inside so that shuffled us back. It was just a bummer since we had such a great car to end up blowing a tire there at the end and not getting the finish we deserved.”

Daniel Hemric — finished 26th: “It was a successful day for us, that’s for sure. Thanks to everyone on this No. 8 Caterpillar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team for sticking with me all year; this was the run we needed. We earned some stage points, brought home a clean Camaro, and scored our first top-five finish as a group. We weren’t able to be too aggressive all day but a great job by Chevrolet and all of our guys to stay committed. We did everything we could through the restarts and green flag stops to stay together and fortunately we were able to keep our Chevrolet on the bottom and had a couple of us lined up there together in the closing laps. The racing was wild. I tried to stay dedicated and patient throughout the race, and that was the most difficult thing for us. I’m proud of all the effort put forth by all of the Chevrolet teams and drivers to get Chevy back in Victory lane, that helps us all on the manufacturer side of things. Hopefully these fans enjoyed the show; I know I did.”

Chris Buescher – finished 30th: “We just got turned (talking about his late-race crash). We had a good driving car and put ourselves in a good position there with a handful of laps to go. We just turned right, got hit and turned right into the fence, destroyed our race and and several race cars. It’s typical of these race tracks. It gets frustrating every time you come to these places and something like this throughout the race. It’s just not very much fun.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished 31st: I’m about tired of superspeedway racing for the year. Daytona – good car, good run, crashed. Here – I was actually fighting really tight there at the end. Just was struggling to maintain, but once we got up to second (place) cars kept getting underneath me off the corner. But I don’t know what happened. I saw (Chris) Buescher got turned and we absolutely clobbered him. I had nowhere to go, nothing to do – just speedway racing. I’m sure I’d love it if it was going the opposite direction, but it seems like we crash in every one of these things.”

Denny Hamlin – finished 36th: We had to start in the back, got up to the top five there. Then Bubba (Wallace) and Ryan (Blaney) were kind of bouncing off of each other. Bubba got sideways in front of me and I ran into him. That caused a little damage then we blew a tire – Jimmie (Johnson) blew a tire, no caution. Clint (Bowyer) blew a caution, wrecked, no caution. Then we blew a tire and no caution. We didn’t really get an opportunity to fix it all the way we needed to and ended up ending our day. We’ve been pretty fortunate to miss a lot of wrecks on the superspeedway races for the last four or five years, but today was just the day that bad luck dropped on us.

“It’s just one of those things where I felt like I did everything I was supposed to do, but sometimes in NASCAR racing when somebody else makes a mistake you get caught up in it. That was the case today. I guess maybe I could have been a little more aware of the guys I was racing around. The runs are big. It’s very hard to defend the lead once you do get up there. You have to be on your toes more so than ever with this package simply because the runs are so big. We’ve got some information, we’ll move on and go to Daytona.”

Kevin Harvick – finished 38th: “I went to the back to start and thought that was going to happen several times throughout the day. I got myself back there and it looked pretty tame so I decided to go back to the front and drove back up there fairly easy. I don’t know what happened. They all wrecked and I slowed down and somebody hit me in the door and I hit the wall.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 39th: “All I was trying to do was just some wreck avoidance. I didn’t want to wad up the No. 12 (Ryan Blaney). That’s the last car I want to wad up out there. Had such a big run on him. And the No. 22 (Joey Logano) pulled up and he checked up a little bit. I went to go to the bottom, where I was safe. I don’t know if I crossed his bumper or whatever. But it got him wiggled down and shoved me even farther down than I wanted to go. So, I went back up just to stay off the apron and it just unloaded. It’s just unfortunate, but I tried not to wreck my buddy, Ryan, and it cost our day and some others. I apologize. But, we should have been wrecked a couple of laps before that. The No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) had a big run on us and let me in throughout the middle, so I appreciate that. We were fast. I was just trying to ride and not wreck somebody and I wrecked myself.”

Michael McDowell – finished 40th: “Looked like the 43 was being real aggressive and making stupid moves at the beginning of the race. … That is pretty early in the race to be making dumb moves like that … to be that aggressive. Unfortunately for the Love’s Travel Stops Ford we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I saw the 43 (Wallace) coming up the race track and that was about it. It is disappointing. We have had such good speed and such a great superspeedway program and we were really hopeful for today. To be out so early on is very disappointing. It is out of our control though. It is part of superspeedway racing.”

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Chase Elliott wins Talladega Cup race

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Chase Elliott won Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway as the race finished under caution because of two wrecks on the last lap.

Elliott led 44 of 188 laps, including the final four laps. He beat Alex Bowman, Ryan Preece, Joey Logano and Daniel Hemric.

The win is the fourth of Elliott’s Cup career and came after a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 13. It’s also the first win for Chevrolet in 2019 and ends Ford’s streak of seven consecutive Talladega victories.

“What a day,” Elliott told Fox Sports. “We just had a plan and executed it really well. Obviously, could have gone both ways. Fortunately, everybody stayed together and stayed the course. Had some help on that last lap with the caution. … This is unbelievable. This is special. This is close to home for me. Kind of feels like a home race.”

Hendrick Motorsports is just the third organization to win this season, joining Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing.

Bowman’s runner-up finish is his first top 10 of the season and his best result in 127 career Cup starts.

“There was no plan coming off of Turn 4, but unfortunately we didn’t get there before the caution came out,” Bowman told Fox Sports. “I am glad to kind of turn the season around.  It has been a rough start to the year. These guys deserve way better than the finishes they’ve had.  To come home second, it’s not a win, but (we’re) headed in the right direction.”

The final run was set up by a wreck with seven laps to go that involved Martin Truex Jr., Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher and Justin Haley. Truex was the only one able to continue, and he finished 25th. Haley, making his Cup debut, finished 32nd.

The wreck on the final lap included William Byron, Paul Menard, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Ryan Blaney, David Ragan and Kyle Larson. It ended with Larson sliding toward the inside wall, going airborne, hitting the wall and then flipping multiple times. Larson was able to exit the car under his own power.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ty Dillon

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Elliott

Click here for race results and point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Rookies Ryan Preece (third) and Daniel Hemric (fifth) each earned the best finishes of their career … Ryan Newman finished seventh for his third straight top 10 and his best result of the season … Brendan Gaughan placed eighth for his sixth career top 10 … Corey LaJoie placed 11th, tying his career-best result.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Bubba Wallace, Kevin Harvick, Matt Tifft and Michael McDowell were eliminated via a six-car wreck on Lap 11Jimmie Johnson finished 33rd after he cut a tire on debris and hit the Turn 3 wall on Lap 24 … Denny Hamlin exited the race in Stage 2 with damage from the Lap 11 wreck … Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led 16 laps but finished 25th after he wrecked on the last lap, separate from the incident on the backstretch.

NOTABLE: With a new rules package that includes a tapered spacer and a taller spoiler, there were 37 lead changes, the most at Talladega since May 4, 2014 (48) … Chase Elliott’s four Cup wins account for Hendrick Motorsports’ last four wins overall … Kyle Busch (10th) has finished in the top 10 in every race this season. It’s the first time a driver has top 10s in the first 10 races of the season since Morgan Shepherd in 1990

WHAT’S NEXT: Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on May 5 on Fox Sports 1

Nine cars going to the rear for today’s Cup race at Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – NASCAR announced Sunday that nine cars are going to the rear for today’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway, including eight for unapproved adjustments.

Cars were impounded after qualifying.

Those going to the rear for unapproved adjustments are the cars of:

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (qualified 6th)

Martin Truex Jr. (qualified 20th)

Kyle Busch (qualified 22nd)

Denny Hamlin (qualified 23rd)

Ryan Newman (qualified 24th)

Erik Jones (qualified 27th)

Reed Sorenson (qualified 37th)

Cody Ware (qualified 40th)

The other car going to the rear is that of Brendan Gaughan for a driver change. Tyler Reddick qualified the car 29th so Gaughan could return to his Las Vegas home on Saturday to attend his son’s communion. Gaughan will be back in the car today.

 

Austin Dillon wins Cup pole for GEICO 500

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Austin Dillon has won the Cup pole for Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Dillon claimed the top spot with a speed of 192.544 mph a day after his decklid was confiscated by NASCAR.

It’s Dillon’s fifth career Cup pole and his second this year (Auto Club Speedway).

The top five is completed by Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Daniel Hemric, Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing teammate.

“It feels great,” Dillon told Fox Sports 1. “It’s RCR’s 50th anniversary, it’s Talladega’s 50th anniversary, my grandfather takes a lot of pride in these speedway races. To come here and get a pole we felt like we had a car capable of doing that. We knew that didn’t hurt us  so we just wanted to go out there and what we did.”

The top 10 is filled out by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson.

No Toyota drivers qualified in the top 12.

Martin Truex Jr. was the highest qualifying Toyota driver in 20th.

Ty Dillon, who will make his 100th Cup start Sunday, qualified 13th.

Kurt Busch failed pre-qualifying inspection twice. He will lose 15 minutes of practice next weekend at Dover. His car chief, Ryan Bergenty, was ejected from the rest of the weekend. Busch qualified 14th.

Tyler Reddick, who qualified in the place of Brendan Gaughan, was 29th fastest. Gaughan will take part in Sunday’s race after attending his son’s communion in Las Vegas.

Click here for qualifying results.

Tyler Reddick wins Talladega Xfinity race

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Tyler Reddick won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in a battered No. 2 Chevrolet, beating Gray Gaulding and Christopher Bell in a two-lap shootout.

The win is the first of the season for the defending series champion and his first with Richard Childress Racing. Reddick also claimed the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Reddick won despite significant damage to his right side from contact with the wall in the middle of the race and a speeding penalty on Lap 27 and a penalty for removing equipment (jack stand) from his pit on Lap 52.

Reddick was saved from going a lap down on Lap 67 thanks to a debris caution.

“I was just a wild day,” Reddick said. “The day kept getting crazier as we were working (on the car). It took us longer than we planned. We came out way behind the leaders and we were two laps from getting lapped and somehow got lucky and the caution came out and saved us and threw us right back in the mix.”

It’s the fourth Xfinity win of Reddick’s career. He led three times for 34 laps, including the final 11.

The top five was completed by Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric.

Pole-sitter Michael Annett, who won the season opener at Daytona, was involved in a seven-car wreck with 19 laps to go that also involved teammate Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer and Ryan Sieg.

The final shootout was set up by a multi-car wreck with five laps to go that involved Jeffrey Earnhardt, Allgaier, Alex Labbe, Timmy Hill and Jeremy Clements. It resulted in a 14 minute and 8 second red flag period.

Reddick, Gaulding, Bell and Briscoe will compete for the final Dash 4 Cash bonus next weekend at Dover.

Gaulding’s result is his best finish in 17 career Xfinity starts.

“This is freaking awesome,” Gaulding said. “This is what every driver wants to have is that last-lap chance to win a race and we did. Just came up a little short.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Tyler Reddick

STAGE 2 WINNER: Noah Gragson

Click here for race results.

Click here for the point standings.

NOTABLE: Reddick picked up his seventh top five of the year. He had seven top fives in his entire championship campaign last season … Reddick’s win is the first for Richard Childress Racing at Talladega in the Xfinity Series … The win is also the first by a RCR series regular since Brendan Gaughan at Kentucky in 2014.

WHAT’S NEXT: Allied Steel Buildings 200 at Dover International Speedway at 1:30 p.m. ET on May 4 on Fox Sports 1