Here’s what the drivers said afterward Saturday’s playoff game at Bristol Motor Speedway:
Denny Hamlin — Winner: “It’s our year. I feel like we put it all together. We have the speed of every single type of track. Nothing can stop us at this point.”
Kyle Larson — Finished 2nd: “I think we had the second best car and we finished second with it. We just didn’t have the pace that Denny had. It was really, really fast and went through traffic really well. I thought maybe his balance was slipping when we got to the traffic, but as soon as he moved away from them, he took off again. I just didn’t have quite the balance I needed to really charge into corners and be aggressive on the throttle and on exit.”
Christopher Bell – Finished 3rd: “It’s definitely a race to be proud of, but I’ll be honest, this was probably our best race we’ve had in a while and probably the most disappointed I’ve felt in a while. I drifted away from us a bit in the last half of the race. That’s the way it goes sometimes, but I’m really proud of the effort that went into this Reser Camry. It was a lot of fun to lead and this track is simply the best.”
Chris Buescher — Finished 4th: “We are not disappointed with the car at all. Obviously we want to win, and after we won last time, we were close and saw it was good, but we had a really good race car. We needed something more to fight for that victory, but I’m really proud of this group. Let’s move on to the next round of the playoffs.”
Ty Gibbs — Finished 5th: “We had a good Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD. The pit crew did a great job all night. I feel like we had a chance to win, but it’s a top five. I just need a little more experience and to keep learning. But a solid night.”
Michael McDowell — Finished 6th: “Those first two races just killed us, leaving us so far behind. This is a learning experience. It’s a young group. We didn’t do what we wanted to do here in these playoffs. I think we showed speed, showed that we could do it. We will learn from this and prepare for next year. This year too we still have a lot to fight for. Not the performance we needed tonight, but still a good performance. Really proud of everyone.”
Brad Keselowski — Finished 8th: “It’s definitely a good feeling. Chris (Buescher) did a great job. Car 17 looks great. Car 6 looks great. We have a really good chance of going through, but we have to be careful to keep our heads down and stay focused.”
William Byron — Finished 9th: “We are really happy with the 500 good laps achieved here. A top-10 finish is good, but I definitely wanted more. After practice, I felt we could have done a little more today, but I’m satisfied with it. I think our No. 24 Relay Payments Chevy was good tonight.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 10th: “We performed really well in the race, but on Saturday we didn’t do well enough to allow us to start in front and get some stage points early. That’s really where we’ve been lacking, I would say for most of the year – just with qualifying and the chance to prepare for the opening stages of the race. I’m proud of the effort and another top-10 finish.”
Carson Hocevar — Finished 11th: “It was a lot of fun. At one point we were fifth and I think that’s where we finished in the second stage. Our car was so fast. (Luke Lambert) and the whole Legacy Motor Club team worked so hard. They were so excited to come here. This is Luke’s favorite race and it was great to get a great finish. We had a lot of speed; at the end we were just too free. We wanted to get into the top 10, but we were really close.”
Ryan Preece — Finished 12th: “We just need speed. Our long run isn’t terrible, but we struggled to fire up to the point where we could be aggressive and then, once we get track position, we can maintain it. We need to find the grip and the speed, and that will change our days.”
Bubba Wallace — Finished 14th: “I love where I am with this team. I wish my mother, father and sister were here to celebrate with me. I mean, a career year. I just have to keep going. I appreciate all the partners involved. The Columbia performed great when in the car. I hated it for them last week. I’m mentally exhausted. I’m exhausted. We gave our all there. Fought hard and executed. This is what you have to do.”
Tyler Reddick — Finished 15th: “It was a tough night. I thought we had an okay car, it was just struggling in traffic and that’s pretty much where we were all night. We could do a quick lap every now and then, but that wasn’t the case.” it seems like the repeatability was already there.”
Austin Dillon — Finished 17th: “We struggled with tight handling conditions for much of the race, but a lot of that was due to traffic. Track position is really important. Our Chevy got pretty decent as the race went on. We ended up too dissolved in “End of the race. Proud of the effort of this RCR team. Heading to Texas Motor Speedway. “
Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 19th: “We started the race, I felt good. We got too tight, but the track position was quite good there. Once lost, forget it: he was plowing hard, blowing the front right off. There wasn’t much I could do. We continued to adapt. We took a ride. On the last lap we finally made some progress on the car, and we were so far behind.”
Truex Jr. avoids elimination in the playoffs at Bristol
Martin Truex Jr. looks back on his efforts after a “fighting night” in Bristol following a 19th-place finish, good enough to advance to the round of 16 of the Cup Series playoffs on points.
Kyle Busch — Finished 20th: “We had no front grip at the start of the race, no rear grip in the next race. It was difficult to go anywhere and overtake. I just felt bogged down in traffic and dirty air. Even when we had clean air, we didn’t overtake anyone because the lap times were stagnant.”
Ryan Blaney – Finished 22nd: “It wasn’t a great night at all, but we ran all the laps and did what we had to do. You’d like to have a little more speed and just be competitive and we weren’t that tonight, but we can move on to the next round, reset and start at Texas to see what we got.
Ross Chastain — 23rd place: “We were simply too limited for our world No. 1 Chevy Express. Apart from the first heat, we were too tense all night. We were recovering by running down, and then when we moved up, we were too tight again. But the speed is not enough for our Chevy.”
Erik Jones — Finished 24th: “It just wasn’t a good day for the No. 1 Chevy team. 43 of the US Air Force. We struggled to balance all weekend. We had a loose wheel which dropped us a couple of laps and during that we got a yellow. It just didn’t go very well and he got trapped.”
Kevin Harvick — Finished 29th: “I didn’t have many expectations, despite the ups and downs the year has been. It is what it is. It’s probably about what we deserve.”
Joey Logano — 34th place: “I don’t feel like we’ve made the big progress we needed and unfortunately that seems to be the case at every track. Typically, you might say, “Oh, we went a mile and a half, but our short routes are OK or your road routes are OK.” It just seems like we’re all over the place right now, so we’ll see what happens here for the rest of the race and if we get knocked out we’ll have a few races to give it our all and try to figure it out for next year. “