Matt DiBenedetto

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Monster Energy Open: Larson, Wallace, Byron, Bowman advance to All-Star Race

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MONSTER ENERGY OPEN UPDATE — CONCLUSION OF RACE:

Kyle Larson dominated the final stage of the Monster Energy Open to advance to tonight’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I had to be patient,” Larson told Fox Sports 1. “I knew I had a really good car so I didn’t want to put myself in a bad spot and get damage like other guys did in the segments.

“Hopefully, we can give ourselves a good shot and clean up our act in the next hour or so (when the All-Star Race begins).

Click here for full race results.

Larson joins Stage 2 winner Bubba Wallace and Stage 1 winner William Byron in transferring into the All-Star Race. A fourth driver, Alex Bowman, also advances to the All-Star Race by virtue of winning the Fan Vote.

Larson briefly had a challenge by Ty Dillon in the 10-lap final stage, but then pulled away and won uncontested.

Dillon finished second, followed by Bowman, Matt DiBenedetto, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Preece, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Corey LaJoie and Michael McDowell.

The All-Star Race is slated to begin shortly after 8 p.m. ET.

MONSTER ENERGY OPEN UPDATE — END OF STAGE TWO:

Bubba Wallace held off a late charge by Daniel Suarez — sending the latter spinning after colliding — and Kyle Larsen in Stage 2 of the Monster Energy Open to advance to the NASCAR All-Star Race later tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Wallace joins Stage 1 winner William Byron in advancing to the All-Star Race. One final stage remains in the Open.

“This has been tough and I’ve been feeling like a failure for a really long time, I didn’t give a damn out there,” Wallace told Fox Sports 1. “I love Suarez to death but he knows what’s on the line. … We needed this. I needed this.”

Like Stage 1, the scheduled 20-lap Stage 2 went into overtime. Ryan Preece and pole-sitter Daniel Hemric collided with two laps remaining, bringing out the caution.

Stage 2 ultimately went 25 total laps, including five laps of overtime. Kyle Larson finished second, followed by Suarez, Ty Dillon and David Ragan.

Sixth through 10th were Matt DiBenedetto, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Preece, Corey LaJoie and Alex Bowman

One final stage — a 10-lap shootout — remains in the Open. The winner of the final stage will also advance to the All-Star Race. A fourth driver will also advance by winning the Fan Vote.

MONSTER ENERGY OPEN — END OF STAGE 1

William Byron bumped his way into tonight’s NASCAR All-Star Race, bumping and then passing Bubba Wallace in the final turn to take Stage 1 of the Monster Energy Open at Charlotte Motor Speedway and will advance into the NASCAR All-Star Race later tonight.

Due to a caution late in Stage 1 when B.J. McLeod‘s car started smoking heavily, the scheduled 20 laps of Stage 1 went 27 laps. Byron was fourth when the white flag fell on the 24-driver Open field and was able to get by Wallace at the start-finish line to take the checkered flag.

“It was just crazy, the seas just parted for us,” Byron told Fox Sports 1. “It feels awesome to be in the All-Star Race. It’s a huge accomplishment for myself and Chad (crew chief Chad Knaus) has been here a number of times. It feels good.”

Two more stages remain: the 20-lap Stage 2 and the final 10-lap Stage 3 (the race winner). The winners of Stage 2 and the overall race winner will then join Byron in advancing to the All-Star Race.

A fourth driver will transfer to the All-Star Race by virtue of winning the fan vote.

Wallace finished second in Stage 1, followed by Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman.

Sixth through 10th were pole-sitter Daniel Hemric, Matt DiBenedetto, Paul Menard, David Ragan and Ryan Preece.

We’ll have the results of Stage 2 and the overall full results of the Open after their completion.

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Brad Keselowski wins Kansas Cup race in overtime

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Brad Keselowski won Saturday night’s Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in an overtime finish, claiming his third win of the season.

Keselowski triumphed in the two-lap shootout over Alex Bowman, Erik Jones, Chase Elliott and Clint Bowyer.

The overtime finish was caused by Matt DiBenedetto‘s engine expiring with four laps left in the scheduled distance.

Keselowski took the lead three laps before that with a pass of Alex Bowman on the outside in Turn 3.

Bowman led 63 laps and has finished second in the last three races.

“That restart, we just got a great launch,” Keselowski told Fox Sports 1. “Alex Bowman, I tell you he’s going to win a race. He did a great job today. We just a had a little bit fresher tires than he did.”

Keselowski dedicated his win to Mike Mittler, a long-time Truck Series owner who passed away Friday.

“He helped a lot of guys in their career and I was one of them,” Keselowski said. “He was local to here and he passed away yesterday. Just such a huge loss for the NASCAR community. He’s one of those unsung heroes that works in the garage, gave his whole to this sport. … Hurts to see those guys go away.”

Kyle Busch had to pit for a tire rub with 21 laps to go. He finished 30th, ending his stretch of races to start the season with a top-10 finish at 11 races.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kevin Harvick

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Elliott

Click here for results and point standings.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Erik Jones finished third to match his best finish of the year (Daytona 500) … Chase Elliott earned his third straight top five, tying him with Alex Bowman for the best active streak … Clint Bowyer earned his first Kansas top five since April 2014 …. Tyler Reddick placed ninth for his first career Cup top 10 in just his second start.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kevin Harvick had the car to beat until he had to pit unexpectedly with 88 laps to go for an issue with his right-side tires. But crew chief Rodney Childers said no problem was found. After leading 104 laps, Harvick placed 13th … Denny Hamlin spun on his own in Stage 1 and was never competitive. He finished 16th … Ryan Blaney placed 32nd after he made contact with the wall in the final stage and had to pit for repairs.

NOTABLE: Alex Bowman is the first winless driver to finish second in three straight races … Brad Keselowski earned his 30th Cup win, tying him with Kurt Busch for 26th all time … The cars of Keselowski and Quin Houff each had on unsecured lug nut after the race.

WHAT’S NEXT: Monster Energy Open/All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 6 p.m. ET on May 18 on Fox Sports 1

NASCAR America presents MotorMouths at 5 p.m. ET with Matt DiBenedetto

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America MotorMouths is hosted by Marty Snider and includes AJ Allmendinger and Cup Series driver Matt DiBenedetto.

All three will discuss this week’s news and answer fan phone calls.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

And don’t forget to watch NASCAR America Debrief on the Motorsports on NBC Youtube page immediately after the MotorMouths

Bump & Run: Will Talladega win start Chase Elliott on a roll?

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Chase Elliott won the playoff races last year at Dover and Kansas — the next two races on the schedule. After his Talladega victory last weekend, do you believe he could be starting on a roll?

Nate Ryan: Yes. Elliott’s team seems to thrive off momentum (which is always a nebulous concept in auto racing but seems real in some instances). Regardless of whether he’d won at the next two tracks, expect Elliot’s surge to continue.

Dustin Long: Teams say momentum is meaningful in a sport that can be so grinding. While that will help, there’s still the matter of trying to beat the cars of Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske on the track. Coming off a win helps make that task seem easier for the No. 9 team. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the performance improve but not sure it will lead Elliott back to victory lane immediately.

Daniel McFadin: I’m somewhat skeptical. While he has an average finish of 4.3 at Dover (his best at any track) Elliott’s two top fives this year have come at Martinsville and Talladega, which are drastic departures from what the series experiences regularly. His only other top 10 so far was a ninth at Las Vegas. I expect to see improvement at Dover but not a win for Elliott.

Jerry Bonkowski: Not necessarily. It’s much easier to compare Dover and Kansas than Talladega and the other two. That being said, Elliott’s win at Talladega will certainly boost not only his team’s morale, but also that of Hendrick Motorsports overall.

 

NASCAR has held the yellow flag (at least initially) for a head-on crash on the last lap of the past two races at Talladega (Matt DiBenedetto last October; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on Sunday). Should officials go that far to ensure a green-flag finish?

Nate Ryan: Common sense says no. Every second matters in accident response time, and it would be impossible to determine instantaneously that DiBenedetto and Stenhouse were fine after such heavy impacts. If driver safety is a top priority, that risk should outweigh the desire to deliver a green-flag finish. But there’s also been seemingly little pushback on NASCAR from drivers and teams about this policy, and if they’re OK with it, then it’s hard to fault NASCAR. There is some measure of risk assumption as a race car driver, but those risks also should be minimized as much as possible in the moments immediately after hitting a wall at 190 mph.

Dustin Long: Officials had more time to analyze Stenhouse’s wreck before making a decision to throw the caution flag because of Talladega’s size. NASCAR needs to be careful in overanalyzing such scenarios. Yes, it’s preferable to finish under green but driver safety must always be paramount.

Daniel McFadin: The caution needs to be put out for any impact with the wall that immobilizes a car. If it’s a harmless spin, no need for a caution. But the safety and well-being of a driver should be more important than a green-flag finish. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Jerry Bonkowski: They likely held the flag because of Talladega’s size. You likely wouldn’t see the same thing happen at a smaller track like the next few on the schedule, including Dover, Kansas and Charlotte. Frankly, I’d like to see a yellow come out immediately due to a wreck on the last lap, rather than try and hold it like it has done so the last two races at ‘Dega.

 

Now that Chevrolet teams are working together, what must Toyota, which has the fewest cars in the field, do to combat the strength in numbers of Chevrolet and Ford in the next speedway race in Daytona in July?

Nate Ryan: There isn’t much that can be done, but with 100 fewer miles and cooler conditions at night, the July 6 race could play out much differently than the Daytona 500 with a de-emphasis on the importance of teamwork.

Dustin Long: Just like in any sports, the strongest and best do not always win. Strategy can overcome such obstacles. Toyota might have to come up with a different strategy to counter the challenges. What that will be? Toyota and its teams have a couple of months to figure that out.

Daniel McFadin: If there’s strength in numbers, Daytona might be the right time for Toyota to field a second car through Leavine Family Racing with Christopher Bell behind the wheel. But even that won’t help if you lose multiple cars in early wrecks.

Jerry Bonkowski: Toyota — and Ford, for that matter — definitely took notes on how their Chevy counterparts performed at Talladega. And they will definitely apply those notes to Daytona in July. Because Toyota has fewer cars, they in theory have to work harder.

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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