Who is hot and not entering the Bristol night race

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The Cup Series heads to Bristol, Tennessee, for its annual night race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30p.m. ET on Saturday on NBCSN).

There are only three races left in the regular season and anything can happen on the half-mile track.

Here’s who is hot and not entering the race courtesy of Racing Insights.

Who is Hot

Kevin Harvick
• Won at Michigan (1st in Stage 1, 1st in Stage 2, 108 laps led)
• Won 7 of last 22 races
• Won 12 stages in 2018 (had 6 in all of 2017)
• Finished in Top 5 in 8 of last 10 races
• In 23 races in 2018, 19 top 10s (including 7 wins) & 4 finishes of 19th or worse
• Finished 8th or better in 6 straight Bristol races, including win in Aug. 2016 (7th in April)
• Started 29th, 11th in Stage 1, 3rd in Stage 2, finished 8th in this race one year ago
• Finished 7th or better, including 3 Top 5s, in the last 4 short track races
• Finished 8th or better in 7 of last 8 short track races

Chase Elliott
• Finished 9th at Michigan (34th in Stage 1, 13th in Stage 2); pit on Lap 37 due to vibration while running 20th
• Top 10 in the last four races
• Finished in Top 10 in 7 of last 10 races
• Finished 15th or worse in 3 of last 4 Bristol races (29th in April)
• Two top 10s in 5 career Bristol starts
• In last year’s race started 4th, 4th in Stage 1, 11th in Stage 2, 2 laps led, finished 18th; spun on
backstretch while running 6th on lap 396
• Top 10 in two of three short track starts in 2018

Kyle Busch
• Finished 3rd at Michigan (2nd in Stage 1, 2nd in Stage 2, 22 laps led)
• Won 6 of last 17 races
• Finished in top 5 in 10 of last 11 races
• Michigan was his 17th top-five finish in 2018, tying his most top 5s in a single season
• Finished in the Top 5 in 17 of 23 races this season
• Won last 2 Bristol races
• Finished 29th or worse in 5 of last 8 Bristol starts (4 DNFs)
• Leads active drivers with 7 wins and 2,233 laps led at Bristol
• Started 18th, 1st in Stage 1, 8th in Stage 2, 156 laps led, won this race one year ago
• Won 4 of last 6 short track races
• Top-two finishes in five of the last six short track races
• Average finish of 1.3 on short tracks in 2018

Kurt Busch
• Finished 6th at Michigan (4th in Stage 1, 4th in Stage 2)
• Top-10 in the last five races of 2018
• Finished 22nd or worse in 3 of last 4 Bristol races (22nd in April)
• Started 25th, 14th in Stage 1, 12th in Stage 2, finished 5th in this race one year ago; hit the wall on lap 276
while running 11th
• Finished 11th or worse in the last four short track races

 

Who is Not Hot

Jamie McMurray
• Finished 21st at Michigan (18th in Stage 1, 20th in Stage 2, 1 lap led)
• Finished outside the top 10 in 8 of the last 10 races of 2018
• Finished 15th or worse in 18 of 23 races this season
• Finished 12th or worse in 3 straight Bristol races and 11th or worse in 6 of last 7 Bristol races (19th in April)
• Started 11th, 17th in Stage 1, 15th in Stage 2, finished 12th in this race one year ago
• Has not had a top 10 in the last six short track races

Clint Bowyer
• Finished 12th at Michigan (13th in Stage 1, 7th in Stage 2)
• Finished outside the top-10 in the last six races of 2018
• Finished top 10 in 4 of last 6 Bristol races (8th in April)
• In last year’s race started 9th, 15th in Stage 1, 10th in Stage 2, finished 19th
• Top 10 in the last four short track races including a win at Martinsville in April

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
• Finished 18th at Michigan (15th in Stage 1, 19th in Stage 2)
• Finished outside the top 10 in 10 straight races
• Finished 14th or worse in 19 of 23 races in 2018
• Top 10 in three of the last four Bristol races
• Six Top 10s in 11 career Bristol starts
• In last year’s race, started 14th, 12th in Stage 1, 21st in Stage 2, finished 14th; scraped wall on
lap 201 with flat right-front tire while running 9th; penalized for speeding exiting pits on Lap 418
• Finished 14th or worse in 4 of last 6 short track races

Paul Menard
• Finished 16th at Michigan (19th in Stage 1, 11th in Stage 2)
• Finished outside the top-10 in 8 straight races and 9 of last 10
• Finished outside the top-10 in 7 straight Bristol races (13th in April)
• In last year’s race started 27th, 26th in Stage 1, 9th in Stage 2, finished 16th
• No top 10s in 14 straight short track races

Bubba Wallace
• Finished 23rd at Michigan (25th in Stage 1, 23rd in Stage 2)
• Finished 14th or worse in 16 straight races
• Finished 20th or worse in 16 of 23 races in 2018
• Started 20th, 21st in Stage 1, 10th in Stage 2, 6 laps led, finished 16th at Bristol in April, his only start
at the track
• Finished 16th or worse in 3 career short track starts

Ryan: Disband the Drivers Council? Here’s why the timing seems right

Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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BROOKLYN, Mich. – The new boss from the old guard, a central figure in one of the season’s biggest stories, was there.

The proposed 2019 rules, a persistent flashpoint for stoking controversy and debate this year, were on the agenda.

The forum was set for an open dialogue about the myriad challenges facing NASCAR and how to address them.

But when the 10 members of the Drivers Council met at Michigan International Speedway last Friday, there was an extremely notable absence.

After winning Sunday at the 2-mile oval, Kevin Harvick copped to watching football and playing video games with his son, Keelan, two nights earlier while critical discussions on instrumental issues were taking place a few hundred yards away.

“I had no interest,” said Harvick, who attributed it to there being “so many politics and things happening” in NASCAR now.

Here’s a weighty topic that maybe would pique his interest.

Should the Drivers Council be disbanded?

If one of the most strongly opinionated and outspoken veterans of the Cup Series sees so little usefulness and utility in meeting with NASCAR brass and his peers to hammer out the hard choices shaping the industry’s direction, how can the group be taken seriously?

If attendance isn’t compulsory for perhaps the most important meeting of the season, particularly with new interim CEO Jim France in attendance, how can anyone say with a straight face that these meetings aren’t a waste of everyone’s time?

After being created three years ago amid the hoopla of new rules packages and a collective approach to “fixing” the racing, the Drivers Council feels to be an idea whose time has run its course, particularly with last week’s change in the sanctioning body’s leadership.

Though he has a much more low-key style than his older brother and father did when they ran NASCAR from 1948-2003, Jim France will bring more of their method of governance. When he stepped into a similar role nearly 20 years ago (for a few months while Bill France Jr. battled cancer), his consigliere was Mike Helton, who also was at France’s side this past weekend at Michigan.

Helton wields enormous respect within NASCAR because he is the most tangible and visible link to the iron-fisted rule of Bill France Jr., who likely would have scoffed at the attempts of embracing consensus-building over the past three years with drivers, tracks and teams.

That era of widespread “collaboration,” a well-intentioned concept with earnest objectives but flawed execution, needs to mercifully end.

Dumping the Drivers Council would be an effectively symbolic way of conveying that message while also ending the charade of its efficacy.

This also goes for similar gatherings between racetrack leadership and NASCAR. At least one high-profile track president skips those meetings on the regular, too, for the same reason as Harvick – a lack of discernible productivity.

A fair point can be made that Harvick’s truancy Friday has much to do with his style. When the 2014 champion goes into title-contending mode, he mostly shuts off the outside world a la LeBron James’ abstention from social media during the NBA playoffs.

But being put off by “politics” – which Harvick clarified at Ford’s Mustang unveiling last Thursday was related to the debate over the 2019 rules – reinforces that star drivers hardly possess the dispositions for navigating the inherent messiness of plotting long-range courses for rules and strategy. Those “politics” will be pervasive in any meeting about such big-picture topics in NASCAR.

Racing demands that drivers are wired selfishly – and justifiably so.

There is no incentive for worrying about the greater good when trying to beat a few dozen other highly competitive opponents every Sunday. And drivers’ views understandably will forever be compromised in evaluating rules that could help or hinder their performances depending on wide-ranging circumstances.

According to those who attended Friday’s Drivers Council meeting, there was a predictably discordant tone about next season (revolving around proposals of whether to use the “drafting package” from the All-Star Race in anywhere from a handful of 2019 races to more than a dozen). Every piece of drivers’ feedback will be tainted to some degree by the vested interests in their own results.

This isn’t to suggest they should be dissuaded from having opinions or expressing them.

Harvick has his own forums – notably, his weekly SiriusXM Satellite Radio show in which he regularly leverages a national platform to champion his ideas for change whether it’s overhauling stages on road courses or building a better schedule. He has been deliberate weighing in on major topics there every Tuesday.

He undoubtedly believes his public voice carries as much or more weight than behind the closed doors of the Drivers Council.

There’s nothing much more that needs to be said there.


Michigan’s results again underscored the importance of having an in-house Optical Scanning Station to mimic NASCAR’s inspection process at the track, and how some teams greatly benefited from preseason decisions to make six-figure investments in the elaborate systems of high-definition cameras and computer scans (it’s been estimated the cost of an OSS is at least $300,000).

Among the first teams to have an OSS were Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing, which accordingly have accounted for 19 of 23 wins this season.

“I don’t see how you can race without it, to be honest with you,” crew chief Rodney Childers said about the OSS after his team’s series-leading seventh victory.

NASCAR allows teams to access an OSS at its R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina, but the logistics and time required of schlepping cars there precludes it as an efficient option. An OSS is needed to help optimize cars at multiple junctures during the building process, making it a necessity for more than just powerhouse teams. During a NASCAR on NBC Podcast episode in April, Front Row Motorsports general manager Jerry Freeze said his team was considering an OSS for next season.

Hendrick Motorsports took delivery on its OSS in May, and its results notably have improved over the past month – enough to catch the eye of Kyle Larson, whose Chip Ganassi Racing team still lacks its own OSS.

“(Hendrick has) finally been able to learn where they can push the limits on things,” Larson said. “So, it sounds like maybe we have (an OSS) coming, so I’m really excited about that. Hopefully we can get it up and running before the playoffs start.”

With no top fives or laps led in the last six races for Larson (who started and finished 17th at Michigan), it can’t come soon enough.


Larson’s fade since finishing second at Chicagoland Speedway has cast serious doubt on which Chevrolet team (if any) has the best chance of emerging as a playoff threat.

After winning at Watkins Glen International with Chase Elliott and posting career-best finishes by Alex Bowman and William Byron at Pocono Raceway, Hendrick seemed to experience a backslide at Michigan, where only Elliott (ninth) finished in the top 15.

Meanwhile, Richard Childress Racing had two of the top three finishing Chevys in Austin Dillon (who finished fourth after running second to Harvick for much of the final 50 laps) and Ryan Newman (13th despite a spin after starting sixth).

It would be reductive to proclaim RCR as the lead Chevy team off one race. But Elliott said Friday he viewed Michigan “as kind of a gauge where we stack up” for the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the other 1.5-mile tracks (Kansas Speedway in the second round and Texas Motor Speedway in the third) that are coming up.


Larson’s admission he was keeping his mouth shut about moonlighting in the Knoxville Nationals was a reminder that his family’s love of dirt racing rubs some the wrong way. In January, he said the Chili Bowl was bigger than the Daytona 500, and his father, Mike, made a similar comparison about Knoxville last week.

Larson and his family shouldn’t have to apologize for embracing their roots, particularly at a time when NASCAR is emphasizing the importance of short-track racing at regional tracks. As the self-proclaimed “last true racer,” Larson admirably has tried to build a bridge between NASCAR and dirt racing. It’s unlikely to bring many crossover fans to NASCAR, but good relationships certainly help more than poisonous sniping between series.

There’s some hope that resistance could diminish under new management. Jim France has a known fondness for sports cars (helping guide IMSA’s current structure) and motorcycle racing. He presumably understands that racing’s biggest challenge is relevance across the board, and it helps if everyone is pulling the rope in the same direction.


If sports cars and the 24 Hours of Le Mans really are in the long-term future for Kurt Busch, then either his current home of Stewart-Haas Racing or Chip Ganassi Racing would make sensible options as the 2004 champion mulls his future.

Busch has emphasized (particularly in this NASCAR on NBC Podcast episode) that his Ford ties are critical in pursuing sports cars. Stewart-Haas Racing has been Ford’s lead team this season in NASCAR. Ganassi fields Chevrolets in the Cup Series but races Fords in IMSA’s GT class (two years ago, the team delivered Ford’s first win in 50 years in the 24 Hours of Le Mans).

If the aim is the best NASCAR fit for Busch, though, it’s Richard Childress Racing that would seem the most logical. RCR has made a run at the 2004 series champion before, and Busch often has said he has worked best with old-school crew chiefs – whose philosophies are embodied by RCR (starting at the top).

If Gene Haas is to be believed that 2019 likely will be Busch’s last season in Cup, it would be a good fit for the team, too. RCR could use a driver with Busch’s talent to benchmark its cars, and if the plan is for Ty Dillon eventually to join his older brother at RCR, Busch would be a first-class stopgap.


While Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated drivers Ryan Preece and Christopher Bell deservedly are popping up in conversations about future Cup rides, there’s another Toyota driver who should be on radar screens – the 2015 Cup Series rookie of the year Brett Moffitt.

Moffitt just turned 26, and his four victories in the Camping World Truck Series with underfunded Hattori Racing have proved he deserves another shot at NASCAR’s premier series. The Grimes, Iowa, native made 45 Cup starts between 2014-17 and had a best finish of eighth with Michael Waltrip Racing in March 2015 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bump & Run: Favorite Bristol memories

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What is your favorite Bristol memory?

Kyle Petty: Watching Harry Gant show those high school boys in Grand National/Busch series how to get it done at Bristol. We would sit on the hill on the backstretch and cheer him on!

Parker Kligerman: My first race there was in 2010. We wrecked in qualifying at the spring race because of a mechanical issue and missed the race. I was doing a part-time schedule in NXS & had good runs but failed to get a top 10. So when we came back in August I really wanted/needed a good run and we had an awesome race and finished in the top 10 for my first time. This was the start of many good races for myself there including second place in trucks in 2012. … Some of my favorite memories growing up were the onboard cameras looking backward at the cars following where at Bristol you could see how much undulation the car was going through and how close they would get to each other’s bumpers. It was awesome and really made me want to race there one day. I miss the old track and think I would have been really good on it. 

Nate Ryan: The first night race I ever covered there, when Jimmie Johnson flipped off Robby Gordon, an angry Elliott Sadler punched the side of an ambulance, and Ward Burton threw his heel pads at Dale Earnhardt Jr. and then said he wished he would have had “something else to have shot” through his window. Oh, and Jeff Gordon bumped Rusty Wallace aside with two laps remaining to end a 31-race winless streak. All that happened on Aug. 24, 2002.

Dustin Long: The 1999 night race when Dale Earnhardt “rattled the cage” of Terry Labonte and spun him out of the lead. What was so memorable wasn’t the incident but the reaction. Several minutes after the race ended, they played the radio call of the final lap on the track’s pa system and the fans — it seemed more than half were still in the stands at the time — booed the moment Earnhardt’s hit wrecked Labonte. Incredible atmosphere.

Daniel McFadin: Covering my first race there last August. The track sneaks up on you, as there’s not much in the town to suggest one of NASCAR’s most famous tracks is located there. It suddenly appears around a bend as you approach it. Then walking up out of the tunnel in the infield was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Bristol is a wonder.

Dan Beaver: The 1996 Night Race. Until this year, that race always fell on or near my father’s birthday. That year the race landed on his birthday and I got a chance to take him for our first trip to a track that had always been one of our favorites. 

We know who the Big 3 are. Who would be your pick to make it the Big 4 right now?

Kyle Petty: There is no Big 4 … and it’s too late for someone to join the Party. Harvick, Busch and Truex are in a league of their own. Someone would have to win 40% of the remaining races (5) for me to consider them a part of this group.

Parker Kligerman: Brad Keselowski. I’ve been saying it for months, that the 2 car is the best at executing and using strategy to steal track position from faster cars. As of this time, barring disaster, they are the fourth best team. 

Nate Ryan: If forced to pick a fourth who will race for the championship, it would be Kurt Busch based on his recent results and veteran experience. But after Michigan, the separation between Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. and the rest of the field seems as wide as ever. There is little confidence in picking a fourth driver to join them.

Dustin Long: Although he hasn’t won this year, I’d make Kurt Busch as the fourth based on recent performance. His sixth-place finish at Michigan was his fifth consecutive top-10 result.

Daniel McFadin: I’m going to go with Chase Elliott. His win at Watkins Glen is one of four consecutive top 10s. My midseason pick, Kyle Larson, has basically disappeared since his runner-up finish at Chicagoland with just two top 10s in the last six races.

Dan Beaver: I don’t think anyone belongs in their league or is likely to get there. The way the playoffs work, someone will join them with a theoretical chance for the championship at Homestead, but no one is going to seriously challenge. 

What is a racing event that you’ve never attended but is on your bucket list and why?

Kyle Petty: Isle Of Man TT races! If you know what it is, you know why … nuff said.

Parker Kligerman: 24 Hours of Le Mans. Apparently it’s an incredible festival and there is just something sacred about that race. Though I don’t want to just attend but definitely race in it … one day … one day. 

Nate Ryan: The 24 Hours of Le Mans because of its history, tradition and fan appeal. Having written about the race so many times from afar (through advance stories about American teams preparing for the spectacle), I’d love to see it in person.

Dustin Long: Growing up in the Midwest and attending numerous sprint car races with my dad, I’ve always wanted to attend the Knoxville Nationals and experience what makes that event special.

Daniel McFadin: I could say the Daytona 500, but I’ll go all out and say Speedweeks. Give me a RV and a prime spot in the Daytona infield for two weeks. Seems like heaven.

Dan Beaver: The Hell Tour: DIRTcar’s Summer Nationals that feature almost 30 races in a span of 30 days during the summer. It may well be racing’s last true endurance event.

Retro Rundown 2018: Southern 500 paint schemes

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The 69th Southern 500 is just around the corner. You only have to wait 20 days for the Sept. 2 race at Darlington Raceway, which will air on NBCSN.

That night will be a blast from the past with paint schemes representing NASCAR’s history as the track celebrates NASCAR’s 70th anniversary.

Here’s a roundup of the paint schemes that have been announced so far.

No. 00 – Landon Cassill: The StarCom Racing driver will pilot a car with Bobby Allison’s 1988 Miller High Life paint scheme. Derrike Cope, StarCom’s team manager, drove for Allison from 1994-96. Matt DiBenedetto drove the scheme in last year’s Southern 500.

No. 2 – Brad KeselowskiWill drive Rusty Wallace’s paint scheme from the 1990 Cup season.

Team Penske

No. 4 – Kevin Harvick: Will drive a scheme based on Busch Beer’s can design from 1996.

Stewart-Haas Racing

No. 9 – Chase Elliott: The Hendrick Motorsports driver will have a scheme based on one driven by his late cousin, Casey Elliott. He passed away from cancer in 1996.

Photo: Dustin Long

No. 12 – Ryan Blaney: Will drive a scheme based on the car his father, Dave Blaney, raced in the 2003 Cup season.

No. 14 – Clint BowyerBowyer will driver a paint scheme based on the car NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett drove to a win in the 1965 Southern 500.

 

No. 17 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr: The Roush Fenway Racing driver will have the John Deere paint scheme driven by Chad Little from 1997-2000.

Top: Roush Fenway Racing/Bottom: Getty Images

No. 18 – Kyle Busch: The Joe Gibbs Racing driver will pilot the original Skittles paint scheme first driven by Ernie Irvan in 1997.

No. 20 – Erik Jones: The Joe Gibbs Racing driver will pay tribute to the Camping World Truck Series career of his spotter, Rick Carelli.

No. 21 – Paul Menard: Wood Brothers Racing will pay tribute to Cale Yarborough’s win in the 1968 Southern 500, which was the first for the team and Yarborough.

No. 22 – Joey Logano: The Team Penske driver will pay tribute to Steve Park with the Pennzoil scheme Park drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in the early 2000s and won two races with.

Logano picture: NBCSN/Steve Park picture: Getty Images

 

No. 24 – William Byron: Will drive Jeff Gordon‘s iconic DuPont “Rainbow Warriors” scheme he raced full-time from 1993 -2000.

Hendrick Motorsports

No. 31 – Ryan Newman: The Richard Childress Racing driver will honor the late Neil Bonnett with his scheme. The car will be painted like the Mom & Pop’s sponsored car Bonnett drove in two Cup races in 1993. He was the first RCR driver to drive the No. 31.

RCR

No. 32 – Matt DiBenedetto: Will drive Jeff Burton‘s paint scheme from the 2000 Cup season.

 

No. 37 – Chris Buescher: The JTG Daugherty Racing driver’s car will have a scheme dedicated to the 110th anniversary of Busch’s Best beans.

No. 41 – Kurt BuschWill drive his own paint scheme from the 2003 season when he was part of one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history at Darlington Raceway, losing to Ricky Craven by 0.002 seconds. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the race.

 

No. 43 – Bubba Wallace: The rookie driver will boast the first STP paint scheme Richard Petty drove in 1972 at Riverside International Speedway.

Richard Petty Motorsports

No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson: The three-time Darlington winner will drive the scheme he used in 2012 when he won the Southern 500 and gave Hendrick Motorsports its 200th victory.

Richard Childress Racing

No. 95 – Kasey Kahne: The Leavine Family Racing driver will boast the paint scheme from his 2006 Cup season, when he won a career-best six races and claimed six poles.

No. 99 – Derrike Cope: Cope will be sponsored by Bojangles and will have the paint scheme Cope drove in the Cup Series in 1993 when sponsored by the company.

StarCom Racing

 

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What drivers said after Michigan

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Kevin Harvick— Winner: “Keelan is saving me some work. Usually when I get home the next day we have to mock up a victory lane celebration. For him to be here and able to do that and be a part of NASCAR and bring your son to work and do all the things that we get to do with our kids, I have had him with me by myself the last three weeks and we have had a ball. I couldn’t be happier to be a dad and be a part of NASCAR where they let your family come to the race track and be a part of it.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 2nd: “We kind of clawed all day and had some good restarts with the Discount Tire Ford and got all we could get out of it but just ended up one spot short and that is so frustrating.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 3rd: “You better be right on to win these races these days with the guys that are winning and being able to execute at the end of the day. Our Interstate Batteries Camry was pretty close, but certainly wish we had just a tick more. Overall, good day for us – it’s Michigan and we don’t count on much when we come to Michigan. We were able to take that, but the restarts were the name of the game here and we were kind of on the bottom there the last couple of them and got shuffled back and wasn’t able to pass once everybody got strung out. Air was the reason why everybody got strung out and one everybody did that you couldn’t make up any time on anybody at that point. Best chance we had to pass guys was just on strategy there at the end and on pit road. The car was good and we got the most out of our day.”

AUTIN DILLON — Finished 4th: “I got to battle with (Kevin) Harvick there and that was awesome. I’m so proud of the guys for having a car capable of doing that. Yeah, (losing positions on the last lap) really stunk. We were kind of in position that if something happened to the No. 4 we could win the race. With two (laps) to go, I went into (Turn) 3 and I kind of missed the corner. When I came down the straightaway, it was just shaking like either the tire was unraveling or it was a loose wheel. But, I didn’t want to lose this great finish we had in front of us, but we brought it home with a top five at least.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 5th: “It was a good showing for us today. Really all weekend I thought we were pretty strong. There were a couple cars better than us all day and a couple that got better at the end. Second half of the race the track kind of changed and our car lost a little bit of speed but I am happy with a fifth after the last two weeks that have been a struggle for us. It is good to get back on the right track which is where we belong. Hopefully we can keep this going here for the next few weeks and then into the playoffs.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 6th: “Is this groundhog day? Is it deja vu? We are running so strong, not making mistakes and chiseling away. That is why we are fourth in points. Consistency. Anytime I get to the back bumper of the 4, 18 or 78 they inch away from us. We are sliding both ends of our car. We are so close. We will find our day. We have good rhythm, we just can’t steer to far away from this rhythm.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 7th: “It was a solid day. We ran top 10 both stages and finished top 10. Finally a normal weekend for us where we had good speed and kind of executed all day. We had some bad restarts and had a couple stops on pit road that we struggled on but overall it was a decent day and a good way to build our momentum back as we head into the playoff stretch.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 9th: “Yeah, we didn’t have a lot of pace and very frustrating, but I feel like we made the most of it.”

Joey Logano — Finished 10th: “It is frustrating. I felt like we finished 10th with a fifth place car today. I couldn’t restart very well and I lost spots on every restart. I am proud of the team though. Everyone else did good, I just wasn’t able to get anything going on the restarts and that made life really difficult today.”

Erik Jones — Finished 13th: “It just wasn’t a very good day right from the start. I spun out early and had some contact late and spun us out again. We were fighting from behind all day. Our stuff wasn’t that great as it was, but we made the most out of it – it wasn’t a top 10, that would have been an extremely stellar day. We worked on the Doosan Camry to get it better and we got a little bit better, but not where we needed to be. We have to work here and get better for next time, but fortunately it’s not a Playoff race and this track isn’t in the Playoffs either so we’ll be alright.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 14th: There’s one thing that was for certain, it was not our day. I told our friends in the 5-hour Energy suite this morning that whatever it is, we either finish top-five or 14th. Sure enough we’re 14th. I think what we can take out of today is that we got the race car a lot better and we had good speed, we were up front there saving fuel and they couldn’t do anything with us until we started saving so much that obviously I had to let them go. I passed a lot of cars today and had a good car today when we could get some track position. It’s one of those days where we had bad pit stops and nothing just went our way. Getting spun out early really hurt. That damaged the car and that hurt us, but we were able to recover from that and then the fuel situation and being a lap down because of the penalty, it just wasn’t our day. Still to come back to 14th isn’t awful.

Ryan Newman — Finished 15th: “It was a good rebound of a day for the Grainger Chevrolet. I barely caught the wall off of (Turn) 4 in some dirty air there. It basically rubbed a hole in the right rear tire. Had, I guess, probably the save of the day going 290 into Turn 1 it felt like and just lost a brake line, recouped from that and the guys did a good job of fixing it. My fault, I stuck it in the fence in the first place. A good rebound, but not near where we should have finished.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 28th: “Yeah, we led some laps and were much more competitive today, so that was encouraging. Unfortunately, a loose wheel there at the end relegated us to laps down in the result, but we definitely raced way better than that.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 38th: It was either a battery or a chunk of lead, which is really unfortunate. When you’re going that fast, you don’t realize until you hit something and it goes through your oil cooler and you have no control of your car.