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What Cup drivers said after Kansas playoff race

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Denny Hamlin, winner: “I just had to hold the bottom and get a good push. It was all about the push that I got from the 9 (Chase Elliott) and really the 18 (Kyle Busch) those last couple of restarts. That was the most important thing for us – to get a good restart. Once we got out front, we could hold it wide open. Our car was built for downforce, so it worked out that it was just fast enough to win.”

Chase Elliott, finished second: “I was trying to make a run at Denny.  We never got our momentum up enough for me to do anything about it.  The restarts were helping his cause on tires. The good news was the bottom lane rolled good enough on the last restart to at least get back to second.  So, I appreciate the effort.  We were really struggling there at one point in the race.  You have to stay fighting in these things, especially with these late‑race restarts. Just proud of the effort today. Just excited we get to fight another race.”

Kyle Busch, finished third: (Do you feel like you made strides in today’s race?) “No, it’s about how we’re supposed to run. I guess if you’re not in control on the last restart then you don’t have a chance to win.”

(Did you work together with your teammates to ensure a Joe Gibbs Racing Camry won the race today?) “I think we proved that point when there were three Gibbs cars on the bottom row and all we did was basically push each other and stay in line with one another all the way down into the corner.”

Kurt Busch, finished fourth: “We got fresh tires at the end and the outside lane really worked well for us. I was able to give it a lot of throttle on time and knife my way up to fourth place. It was nice to have Advent Health on our car today. We had a breast cancer survivor Nicole riding with us and she got us a top five. We struggled a little bit, didn’t get any stage points but you can’t be disappointed with a top five.”

William Byron, finished fifth: “Yeah, it’s just a bummer (not advancing in the playoffs). But we had a great run today and we can take pride in that, for sure. We had a great car, one of the best cars we’ve had on a 1.5-mile track. It was fun, but we just needed to win and we couldn’t do that. But it is what it is. It was a great day for us overall, we’ll move onto the next couple of weeks and keep fighting. If we can go out and win, that’s all that really matters now.”

Martin Truex Jr., finished sixth: “It was a good race and we had a good Bass Pro Toyota all day long. We just got off there those last couple runs of the race. When it got cloudy, we got tight and we couldn’t quite get it dialed in where we needed to. Overall, a solid day and we did what we needed to do.”

Erik Jones, finished seventh: “It was a good day. Kind of up and down. We lost some track position there in that middle stage and it was just a struggle to get it back all day. I thought the Reser’s Camry was really good on the long run and we were kind of running those guys down before we had the caution come out late for the first of those final restarts. We just didn’t have a great short run car and it didn’t play out the way we needed it and not a clean enough race to contend. It’s frustrating when you have that fast of a car, but a good day.”

Clint Bowyer, finished eighth: “Obviously we wanted to be in victory lane. I like the situations that we could put the car in and it would withstand. We got a little bit of damage there on that last stage. I don’t really think that affected it that much. It was a decent day. It wasn’t a stellar day by any means. I am proud of our effort. I am proud of trying something there and it working out.”

Kevin Harvick, finished ninth: “That was not a very good weekend from top to bottom. I just didn’t have a very good car today and didn’t have a very good day on pit road. Nothing went right all weekend. It was definitely one of the worst weekends we have had in a while. We had to start in the back and had a tough day getting through traffic.”

Alex Bowman, finished 11th: “We got up to fifth or sixth there pretty quickly and obviously had a really good car to start. I got loose, I saved it and it was all good; that’s just racing. I guess just the 6 (Ryan Newman) being right there tore the left rear off of it. You wouldn’t think it, but that’s probably the most sensitive corner on these cars for rear downforce and rear side force. We really fought with it the rest of the day and all but crashed it for the remaining 260 laps or however long it was.”

“We didn’t get in (to the Round of 8), so that sucks. We had a good start and a really good car there for five laps or however long it lasted. It just sucks driving a wrecked race car for the rest of the day.”
Kyle Larson, finished 14th: “Today was our roughest day that we’ve had in a long time. I stalled it on that green flag stop and we just had some really slow stops. My pit box was really slick, so I couldn’t get in aggressive enough and I couldn’t leave fast enough. It made the pit stops seem worse than they were. It’s tough to have a day like that, but we had a fast car. We tried to gamble on tires there. It worked out for Denny (Hamlin), but it didn’t work out for us and we got ate up on those restarts. We finished 14th with a top-three car.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr, finished 16th: “We were really tight all day. No matter what we did to our Fastenal Ford it just remained tight. It’s definitely not what we wanted after running so well here in the spring but overall it was a decent finish. Our main goal is just to finish the season strong and we have done that the past few weeks.”

Joey Logano, finished 17th: (Surprised you were able to survive and advance?) “Yeah, it felt like that this whole round. Starting in Dover when we watched the race start in the garage. Then the crash in Talladega but scoring enough stage points and an okay enough finish to get some points. Then today, whew, we got that stage win which was great and that is a point that will continue on, so that is a big deal. We needed every point we could and it looked like we were in a good spot. Next thing you know they are wrecking on the outside and I get hit and I am going through the grass. I felt comfortable before that but the next thing you know – I am watching it here on the replay for the first time – I didn’t hit anything so I got lucky for sure. I have been lucky a few times. We were able to finish Talladega and I parked the thing and there was a hole in the radiator. It was hard-fought and blue-collar round for sure. We

Brad Keselowski, finished 19th: “We didn’t make it (to the Round of 8). I pushed as hard as I knew how and didn’t quite do good enough on the last restart and that was it. We clawed as hard as we could and there were times it looked like we were going to be fine and times it didn’t. In the end it didn’t work out.”

Ryan Blaney, finished 21st: “It was an up and down day. We didn’t start off great but we got better throughout the race. We were able to get up to second there but (Hamlin) was pretty phenomenal and I could only make time at the wall and had to pound the fence to do anything. Lap cars were running the fence and they wouldn’t give you the fence so I would lose time trying to run down. We couldn’t really run different lanes of the race track. That kind of stunk. Eventually I got too close to the fence trying to run it and run those guys back down and hit it. We blew a tire before we could get to pit road. We knew we had to take that chance today trying to run hard. It sucks that I blew a tire and caused that caution.”

Austin Dillon, finished 23rd: “Man, what a day. I was excited about our top-10 starting position, but we were just way too loose to start the race and lost a lot of positions. We ended up falling one lap down to the leader and struggled all day to earn our lap back. Crew chief Danny Stockman called for a lot of adjustments but no matter how many my crew made, we just never got a solid feel for the handling of the Roland Chevrolet.”

Daniel Hemric, finished 31st: “We had a fast Chevrolet this weekend, and it was really special to earn our first pole award as a group at Kansas. I was hoping once the green flag dropped we’d be able to set sail, lead laps and be in contention for the win. Unfortunately, our Caterpillar Chevrolet was just a little tricky to balance today. I needed more rear grip throughout most of the day, but never got it to where I could run both the top and bottom grooves like I wanted to. On the first attempt at a late-race restart, it all just happened so fast on the frontstretch and before I knew it, (Daniel Suarez) was turned down in front of me and we made contact.”

Daniel Suarez, finished 32nd: “We had a really good ARRIS Mustang to start the race. We held our position up front, and then I got shuffled back on one of the restarts. We were working on adjusting the car and trying to make up our track position, and towards the end we had made a lot of ground. Unfortunately, we got in an accident getting ready to take the white flag.”

Denny Hamlin wins Kansas playoff race in overtime

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Denny Hamlin won Sunday’s Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, beating Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch in the second attempt at an overtime finish.

Hamlin’s win in the second playoff elimination race is his fifth of the season and the second of his Cup career at Kansas Speedway.

The top five was completed by Kurt Busch and William Byron.

Hamlin led 153 of 277 laps, including the final 51 laps, on his way to the win. Hamlin last won five races in a season in 2012.

“This is a great feeling,” Hamlin told NBC at the start-finish line. “That car was awesome, to dominate that whole second half is great. I’ve got to thank everyone who pushed me there on the restarts. It was Kyle and (Elliott) there at the end. … I cannot wait to get to Martinsville.”

The second overtime attempt was caused by a wreck on the frontstretch right before the field took the white flag. The caution lights came on when Hamlin was within a half-car length of the start-finish line.

The wreck included playoff driver Joey Logano, Daniel Hemric and Daniel Suarez.

The overtime period was created by a wreck with three laps left in the scheduled distance involving Bubba Wallace and Matt Tifft.

With his second-place finish Chase Elliott advanced to the Round of 8. He finished the Round of 12 three points above the cutline after entering the race 22 points below the cutline. It’s the fifth time a driver has raced their way into the Round of 8 in the elimination race.

The drivers eliminated from playoff contention are:  Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Clint Bowyer and Alex Bowman.

The Round of 8 will consist of Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Joey Logano won in a two-lap shootout after electing not to pit under a caution and holding off cars with fresh tires.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

More: Race results and point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Kurt Busch’s fourth-place finish is his best result since he won at Kentucky Speedway in July … Jimmie Johnson placed 10th for his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races … William Byron earned his first top-five finish on a 1.5-mile track.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After he started second, David Ragan finished 26th after he had to pit on Lap 15 for a flat rear tire … Ryan Newman finished last after he made contact with teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and hit the Turn 4 wall on Lap 75 … Brad Keselowski failed to advance out of the Round of 12 for the third time in the last four years. He did not finish in the top 10 in the three Round of 12 races.

NOTABLE:  Denny Hamlin is the first driver to win a race at Kansas after winning a stage.

WHAT’S NEXT: First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on Oct. 27 on NBCSN

Saturday schedule at Kansas Speedway

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The playoff race weekend continues at Kansas Speedway today.

Cup teams will qualify for Sunday’s race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC) today while the Xfinity Series begins its Round of 8.

wunderground.com forecasts partly sunny skies, a temperature of 64 degrees and a 20% chance of rain at the start time of the Xfinity Series race.

Here’s the day’s schedule with TV and radio info.

All times are Eastern.

Saturday, Oct. 19

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. – Cup garage open

10 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

12:05 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; single car/one lap (NBC Sports App)

1:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

1:35 p.m. – Cup qualifying; single car/one lap (NBCSN, Motor Racing Netowrk, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

3 p.m. – Kansas Lottery 300; 200 laps/300 miles (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Clint Bowyer, William Byron look to extend streak of first-time winners in playoffs

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In the 15-year-history of the NASCAR playoff era, only 16 times has a Cup Series playoff driver earned their first win of the season in the playoffs itself.

Two of those occurrences have happened in the last two weeks.

Kyle Larson got the streak going with his dominating win in the Round of 12 opener at Dover International Speedway. That snapped a 75-race winless streak for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

It continued Monday when Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney barely beat Ryan Newman to win at Talladega Superspeedway. It snapped a 37-race winless streak for Blaney.

Can the first-time winner steak continue?

If it does, it will take place Sunday at Kansas Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC). But of the 16 instances a playoff driver earned their first win in the playoffs, it’s only happened once on the 1.5-mile track.

Jack Roush and Mark Martin celebrate winning the Banquet 400 on Oct. 9, 2005 at the Kansas Speedway. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images)

Mark Martin was the winner on Oct. 9, 2005, a day that saw Roush Fenway Racing put four of its five cars in the top five.

It was Martin’s first win in 52 races. It was just the second time a playoff driver’s first win in a season came in the playoffs. The first was three races earlier at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Ryan Newman).

Ahead of Sunday’s race there are only two Cup Series playoff drivers left who could potentially extend the streak: William Byron and Clint Bowyer.

Aside from securing them spots in the Round of 8, wins by either would be notable in their own right.

A victory by Bowyer would be his first on his home track in 23 attempts in the Cup Series. Like Martin, a victory would end a 52-race winless streak.

Bowyer’s best finish at Kansas was a runner-up finish in his second start in 2007. Since then he has just two top fives at Kansas, including a fifth-place finish in this year’s spring race.

Bowyer enters this race 11th in the standings, 24 points back from the cutoff line.

“We know what we have to do this weekend,” Bowyer said in press release. said. “We need to get stage points, a great finish and maybe even a win. We finished fifth here in May, we just have to do a few spots better this weekend.”

A win by Byron would be significant because he’s yet to win a Cup Series race in 67 starts.

In his previous three Kansas starts Byron’s only managed to finish once. The Hendrick Motorsports driver placed 20th in the spring after starting third. He won in his lone Truck Series start there in 2016 and had a top five in his only Xfinity Series start at the track in 2017.

After he was eliminated in a wreck at Talladega, Byron enters Sunday last on the playoff grid, 27 points behind the cutoff and essentially in a must-win scenario.

“I think it will be interesting to see how things play out with how our mile-and-half packages have evolved just throughout the year,” Byron said in a press release. “Whether it continues that trend this weekend or whether it reverts back to how it was in the spring at Kansas. I’m just interested to see how that is since the cars have come a long way since that race. I’m also interested to see with it being an elimination race, I think it will open things up for different strategies. It’s a bit of an unknown at this point.”

NASCAR’s Friday schedule at Kansas Speedway

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The NASCAR playoff race weekend at Kansas Speedway begins today.

Cup and Xfinity Series teams will each hold two practice sessions.

The wunderground.com forecast predicts a high of 74 degrees, partly sunny skies and a 10% chance of rain.

Here’s the day’s schedule.

(All times are Eastern)

Noon – 11 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

1 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

3:05 – 3:55 p.m.  – Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

4:05 – 4:55 – Cup practice (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network)

5:05 – 5:55 – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

7:05-7:55 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN, MRN)