What drivers said after Kansas Cup race

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Kevin Harvick – Winner: “Well, I think this weekend shows really how good the race team is. Everything didn’t go exactly smooth, and everybody just kept a good demeanor about things and kept calm and kept working through things. The same thing tonight. Everybody just kept working through trying to make the car better, and we were able to wind up in Victory Lane. Those are the days that you just grind it out.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 2nd: “I thought we were going to be all right there. Like three or four to go, my car just got real tight, and I chattered the right front off of turn four, and I was like, ‘Oh boy, that’s not good.’ We had been so tight all night and I didn’t know where to go once he was getting there. If I go to the top, he’s just going to catch me on the bottom. I might as well run where I feel I can run the fastest, and I did and it just wasn’t enough. Good strategy call by Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and overall, just a hell of an effort by everybody on our team. We had to fight hard. We were awful at the start of the race. We’re missing something right now, just can’t get the thing turned, so we felt tight all night long. Got better for sure the last three or four runs of the race but still have to find some turns. We’ll get to work on that.”

Joey Logano – Finished 3rd: “I really just had two bad restarts in a row, which is frustrating to me. As the leader, I feel like I probably took the wrong lane, which cost me the lead in the first place and then the last time I was trying to time him on the bottom, and he just read it really well and kind of stopped me, and then I spun the tires after that. The car behind me wasn’t the best of pushers. He wanted to win the race, too, and I don’t blame him. He’s not my teammate. He’s there to win, too. I just hate being that close. It’s a great run for AAA and Team Penske, but when you’re that close to winning it’s pretty frustrating as a driver and probably as a team we’re all probably a little frustrated right now.”

Kyle Larson -Finished 4th: “Yeah, we just had a really good car tonight. Our Clover Chevy was fast. I always run pretty good here at Kansas, so it was nice to lead some laps. I thought we were going to have a really good shot to win there, and Kevin (Harvick) was able to get to my outside. And then, I was tight in traffic there. Yeah, then (Ryan) Blaney was side-drafting really hard and I was as high as I could get and we made contact, whatever, and we had a bunch of damage, so I hate that we didn’t turn today into a win, but it’s satisfying to see how much speed our car had tonight. And, it’s definitely good to show that Chevy has a lot of speed, at least in the No. 42 team; so, we’ll just keep working hard and try to get as fast as the No. 4. I thought, myself, the No. 4 and the No. 12 were all pretty equal tonight. It was kind of just whoever got out in clean air and could get to the top quick enough would be the fastest throughout the run. So, it was a fun race but a little bit disappointing there in the last 20 laps.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 5th: “I thought it was average. It felt balanced on the short run, and I lost the balance there toward the middle and end of the race. We optimized our finish. I certainly don’t think we had a fifth-place car, but we just did a good job with the track position there. Got a good finish out of it.”

Paul Menard – Finished 6th: “We had a good car all weekend. We made some good adjustments coming into tonight and kept working on it all night long. The track changed a lot as the sun went down. We kind of saved our best for last, I guess. We had a couple cars crash in front of us. We avoided it and the further up you can restart the better off you can stay up there and the more likely you are to stay up there, so clean air was everything tonight.”

Erik Jones – Finished 7th: “We had a really good car. Our Reser’s Camry was about a seventh-place car, and that’s where we ended up. We have to keep working. We’re getting close. There are some other teams that have some more speed right now and we’re trying to close the gap on them. We have to keep working on that and hopefully find our way to get there sooner rather than later.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 10th: “We were just a little off all weekend. But even though we were, we were able to run up near the front with our M&M’S Caramel Camry. We just ended up getting back in traffic there on the last couple of restarts and dropped too far down. We’ll go back and hopefully figure out where we are off, learn from it and move onto the next one.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 11th: “Overall, we were pretty much an 18th-place car all day. Our Ford wasn’t affected by any of the adjustments we were making, but with pit strategy and late-race cautions we were able to salvage an 11th-place finish. Not a bad points day. We’ll go back to the shop and keep working on our cars.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 12th: “Yeah, just scratching and clawing to run mediocre. We have a lot of work to do.”

David Ragan – Finished 13th: “We made good adjustments Saturday night to start the race and I felt like our car was OK the first run, and then we made a good improvement that first pit stop, so that really helped us stay on the lead lap a little bit longer, and then we just caught a couple of lucky breaks at the end, but we were just good enough that we could take advantage of those lucky breaks. I feel like we’ve made some more progress with our 1.5-mile cars. It was a fun race. We still have some more improvement we can do, but it was fun to race there with some good cars.”

Clint Bowyer – Finished 15th: “It was a solid run. All weekend long it was just not our weekend. We had tech issues and didn’t get to qualify. We started in the back and got up through there pretty good, but then kind of stalled out. We got wrecked there. I was trying to get us up in the top five and got wrecked there. That’s just part of it I guess.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 16th: “It was a hard-fought night for sure. We didn’t have a good Friday, so made kind of wholesale changes on it. Fortunately, Chris (Buescher) was really good all weekend, so we kind used a little bit of his, and that helped. Just kind of all day, I could be loose or tight, just felt like I was at a certain speed, and that was about as good as I was going to go there. The track definitely changed a lot. I thought we fought hard. I did everything I could on the restart there to get all the spots and a little fortunate from a couple of cars falling out. We salvaged a decent night from a tough weekend and hopefully just learn from this and keep going the right direction and try to make it better.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 17th: “We had a challenging night at Kansas Speedway as we battled a lack of grip and handling issues, but I am proud of this Richard Childress Racing team because they never give up. We hit a snag in the race during a green flag pit stop. Our car was gurgling in the middle of three and four and I panicked. I came down pit road too abruptly and earned us a commitment line violation. We could have made it another lap and we ended up multiple laps down. We kept digging and we were able to earn back one of our laps when the caution came out with 30 laps remaining but didn’t have enough laps left in the race to get back on the lead lap.”

Michael McDowell – Finished 20th: “It’s good to get some points and get some momentum back of just finishing races. We just started out really loose and got behind a little bit and made good changes at the end, but by then we were two laps down, and it’s just hard to make up. Everybody fought hard, and it’s still good to get a top 20. I’m really happy for my teammate, David Ragan, top 15. That’s a great run for them, and they’ve been having a good streak. That’s not what we hoped for, but all in all an OK day.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 30th: “We were just an innocent bystander really. They crashed kind of underneath me, in front of me and just got all wadded up. I mean I had no place to go. It’s just unfortunate, kind of a ho-hum race I guess you could say for so long and then to get 14 laps from the end and tear up a bunch of cars like that just kind of sucks.”

William Byron – Finished 33rd: “Yeah, that one hurt really bad. But I’m fine. We took two tires there and couldn’t get it turned on the bottom and then got sucked around at the last minute. It just should have been lower than that. Just couldn’t rotate. Couldn’t cut. I think overall, we were trying to kind of push some things there and it just didn’t work out. But, we’re going to wherever is next and that was definitely the hardest hit I’ve been in. But, I’m thankful to be walking, so that’s good.”

Chris Buescher: – Finished 34th: “It was pushing and shoving (on a) late-race restart, and everybody gets impatient so just wadded up a bunch of cars. I thought we had cleared it, and we were in the grass and just had somebody come from the top and wipe us out. Not what we wanted with our Breyers 2 N 1 Camaro. We had good speed in the sun, and the sun went down, and we lost a little something. We were working hard to get it back and trying to be fighting for the lucky dog there, and we were for a long time. We just got swiped and something that who knows, I haven’t seen a replay. I don’t know. I’m sure just uncalled for.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished 36th: “I expected us to be a little more competitive than that, so it was a really tough weekend all around. We obviously have some work to do. The good news is it’s got to get better.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 37th: “I don’t know. It was hard racing. I definitely take the blame on that one. I was just trying to side draft hard and the car was kind of light down the frontstretch there and it was just hard racing at the end. I got about spun out in one and two on the restart, getting sucked around. We were making some spots back up and just trying to get back up to the front and tried too hard. That stinks. We had a really fast race car and I hate it for REV. The two races they’ve been on our car this year and we’ve led a bunch of laps in both of them and ended up wrecked. I wish we could get over that hump, but I thought we made a good gain tonight and where our cars need to be. Hopefully, we can carry that forward into the next upcoming weeks, but it was definitely my fault just trying too hard. I made contact and it cut my right-front down. I hate I got the 42, but it was just hard racing.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 38th: “This weekend was a rough one for our Twisted Tea team. From the moment we hit the track for practice and throughout the entire race, we struggled with our Camaro ZL1. Then we got caught up in the wreck at the end. I tried to avoid it, but drove in the grass and knocked the radiator out of it. Tough ending for our Germain Racing team, but we will go back to the shop and continue to push to make our cars better.”

Kevin Harvick rallies to pass Martin Truex Jr. late to win at Kansas

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Kevin Harvcik passed Martin Truex Jr. coming to the white flag and ran away to win his fifth Cup race of the season Saturday night at Kansas Speedway.

“How about that?’’ Harvick screamed on his radio.

“God, you’re the man,’’ crew chief Rodney Childers said.

“That was cool,’’ said Harvick, who has won 41.6 percent of the Cup races this season.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points report

Truex finished second. Joey Logano placed third, Kyle Larson, who led a race-high 101 laps, was fourth and Denny Hamlin placed fifth.

On the final restart with nine laps to go, Harvick restarted sixth. He used the outside line to get to second and reeled in Truex, who was on older tires than Harvick’s car.

Stage 1 winner: Ryan Blaney

Stage 2 winner: Kyle Larson

How Kevin Harvick won: The decision to pit for four tires late proved to be the key call and helped Harvick charge to the win in the final laps.

Who had a good race: Even though he wasn’t among the leaders most of the night, Martin Truex Jr. pulled out a second-place finish, his third consecutive top-two finish at Kansas. … Joey Logano placed third to earn his seventh top-10 finish in the last eight races. … Denny Hamlin was fifth, earning his fifth top-five finish of the season. He had only two top-five finishes at the same time last year. … Paul Menard matched his best finish of the season by placing sixth.

Who had a bad race: Ryan Blaney had his night end while battling Kyle Larson for third place with about 20 laps to go and hit the wall, ending his night. They made contact and Blaney hit the wall. He drove the car to the garage while Larson continued. Blaney finished 37th. … Matt Kenseth‘s return was not memorable. He battled an ill-handling car in his return, was lapped multiple times and eliminated in a late crash, placing 36th. … A loose wheel forced Brad Keselowski to pit under green and ended any chances for a strong finish. He placed 14th.

Notable: Kevin Harvick has won three of the four races on 1.5-mile tracks this season.

Quote: “Definitely my fault. Just trying too hard,’’ Ryan Blaney to Fox Sports 1 on his incident with Kyle Larson late in the race.

Next: The Monster Energy All-Star Race will be at 8 p.m. ET on May 19 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Bump & Run: What are expectations for Matt Kenseth in the No. 6 car?

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Matt Kenseth makes his season debut in the No. 6 car this weekend at Kansas Speedway. He’ll run a partial schedule this year, sharing the ride with Trevor Bayne. What are your expectations for Kenseth in the No. 6 car?

Parker Kligerman: I expect him to be roughly in line with the performance of the 17 car. I believe Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been driving at a very high level and extracting everything he can from those RFR cars. So Matt should be at that same level immediately.

Dustin Long: I expect better performances than the No. 6 team has had lately. I expect to see the car show the ability to finish in the top 15 and then top 10, but I believe Kenseth will need some time to help steer the team in the right direction.

Nate Ryan: He told us Tuesday that he could finish “fifth or 25th” at Kansas, and the smart money probably says somewhere in between, at least at the outset. As Parker notes, Kenseth should match Stenhouse’s results, and by the second half of the season, he could elevate the team’s performance to a new level.

Daniel McFadin: I expect Kenseth to have a noticeable impact, but it will take a few races. He’ll be consistently in the top 15 by season’s end. Bayne has an average finish of 24.7, so there’s not much Kenseth can do but improve.

Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have combined to win seven of the first 11 races. At this rate, they’ll combine to win 23 Cup races this season. How many do you think they’ll actually win?

Parker Kligerman: Oh man, I’m terrible at these types of predictions lately, but I’m going to say that they will combine for 12 wins in the season. 

Dustin Long: I think they’ll combine to win six of the remaining 25 races (24 percent), giving them 13 wins for the season.

Nate Ryan: Let’s make it 18, an even half for the 2018 season.

Daniel McFadin: I think Harvick can get to 10 wins if some of the expected heavy hitters don’t catch up soon enough. Busch will likely peak with seven wins.

Who is a driver outside a playoff spot at this point that you’re keeping an eye on?

Parker Kligerman: Ricky Stenhouse, I believe, will be a thorn in the side of Hendrick Motorsports drivers through the summer months unless they win races because he will be constantly pushing them on that bubble spot of the playoffs. I feel Daniel Suarez will be in a similar situation but could win a race soon.

Dustin Long: I want to see what Paul Menard and the Wood Brothers do. Fords are fast. The Woods are aligned with Team Penske. That’s a combination that can get them to the playoffs. It’s just a matter of doing it.

Nate Ryan: If there are positions to be claimed on points — and it seems there will be — it’s hard to count out Ryan Newman.

Daniel McFadin: I want to say Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but unfortunately he can’t race at Bristol, Talladega and Dover every week. I’m going to go with Daniel Suarez. With two top 10s and a top five in the last three races he appears to be finally settling into a groove.

Paul Menard fastest in first Cup practice at Dover

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Paul Menard posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session for the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway with a speed of 159.830 mph.

Jimmie Johnson has drawn a lot of attention this week since Dover is the site of his most recent win. He posted a lap of 159.440 mph as the clock was running out of time and landed second on the speed chart.

Kevin Harvick (159.412 mph), Kyle Busch (159.299) and Brad Keselowski (159.208) rounded out the top five.

Coming off last week’s win at Talladega Superspeedway, Joey Logano was 12th fastest with a lap of 158.527 mph.

Chase Elliott, who has never finished worse than fifth at Dover, was 14th with a speed of 158.217 mph.

The rookie contenders Darrell Wallace Jr. (157.391) and William Byron (156.563) were 22nd and 28th on the chart respectively.

With about three minutes remaining in practice, Corey LaJoie lost and engine on the No. 72 Chevrolet to bring out the red flag. He was 34th on the speed chart at the time. NASCAR added three minutes to the end of practice and extended the session.

No one ran 10 or more consecutive laps.

Click here form complete results.

Jimmie Johnson not focused on expectations but on getting better

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Is Jimmie Johnson back or does his team still have a way to go to compete for wins?

It’s a question that will be asked often going into Sunday’s Cup race at Dover International Speedway.

Johnson enters as the track record holder with 11 wins on the 1-mile concrete speedway. If he wins Sunday, some might view it as the team still has the right setup for the track. If Johnson struggles, the questions may grow louder on what’s wrong with the No. 48 team.

MORE: Friday 5 – Chevrolet’s struggles starting to reach historic proportions

How does Johnson view it?

“I think I’m doomed, regardless, right now,’’ he said Friday at Dover. “I mean it doesn’t matter the track or the result unless it’s a win and lots of wins. I think we have created an environment of very high expectations because of the success we’ve had and I think people forget how special our run has been.

“We certainly want to get back to those ways and have it happen again. But history shows it doesn’t happen very often. And we’re very fortunate to harness lightning for a long stretch of time.

“The encouraging news is we are making our cars better each and every week. I’m more of a realist in where we’re at and what we’re doing and reflect back and think damn, we had it really good for a while and it was really special. But we’re a victim of our own success, and I hope to create the headlines that we want and the headlines being along the lines of well, they should have won, it was Dover.”

The team got off to a good start Friday. Johnson was second on the speed chart to Paul Menard in practice.

Johnson’s last Cup win (the 83rd of his career) was at this track last June. He enters this weekend with a 33-race winless streak, the longest in his career.

Johnson has shown progress. He finished third at Bristol, sixth at Richmond and 12th at Talladega in the past three weeks.

As for the team’s struggles, Johnson said:

“We just haven’t had the cars where we need them. And, I’m a part of that process. So, I’m not pointing fingers. I think as a group from everybody at Chevrolet and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and everybody on the No. 48 car and my other three teammates and their teams, we collectively need to do a better job. And we’re working hard on it and we are doing a better job.

“We’re seeing those rewards slowly coming along. I think we have been the benchmark or that high watermark for so many years, that other manufacturers and teams invested a couple of years in figuring out how to beat us. And we’re living through that right now. We’re needing to recreate ourselves and how we go about handling business.”

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