What Drivers Said After Las Vegas
A look at what the drivers said after the NASCAR Cup Series playoff race on Sunday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway…
Denny Hamlin (playoffs) – WINNER: “This is another track that we can cross off the list. There was a time when I never thought I would even sniff a win. We found a configuration and – I shouldn’t say “we”, I didn’t do anything. The team found a setup that worked with my driving style. I know me and (team leader) Chris (Gabehart) are working really hard to try to fill in any gaps that we have or have as a pilot. I’ll work on it, the team will work on what they have to give me to go fast. I try to give them the best information possible. They take that information, they put their brains together, and they come up with something that works. Really, the last couple of years they’ve really been a game-changer for me at this racetrack. Again, it means a lot to cross Las Vegas as a track we’ve won on now. “
Chase Elliott (playoffs) – Finished 2nd: “… The circumstances kind of got our way (at the end of the race). We were able to get back into the lead when this cycle stopped. We were there in the middle with these guys doing fuel. We were lucky because we got back around the lead, we didn’t have to wave or take the Lucky Dog. We just kept adjusting it, feeling we really needed a little position on the track.
Kyle Busch (playoffs) – Finished 3rd: “We got everything we could. I felt that during the day we were a little better than the 11 (Denny Hamlin). We could run with him. I felt like I couldn’t wait for the lights to come on and for us to pick up speed and to tear up the wall a little faster. When we got hit in the fence on (lap) two the first time around it definitely caused our car to lose speed. We helped him out a bit when we got to the pit lane by putting the last set of tires on it, then I walked into the fence again trying to get around a rolled up car. Not enough room there, I guess. Overall great job from Ben (Beshore, crew chief) and my guys on this M & M’s Camry. They gave me a good song. We walked all day so it was good and just appreciate TRD and Interstate Batteries, Rowdy Energy and Ethel M for being here from Las Vegas and all these guys were here today. Good show.
Martin Truex Jr. (playoffs) – Finished 4th: “We have never been able to find the right balance. We were really struggling on turn four no matter what we did. I don’t know exactly why. It’s not something we’ve had here in the past. Definitely something going on there that we couldn’t fix. We have tried a lot. We made a lot of adjustments. James (Small, team leader) and the guys did a really good job of execution and we got everything we could out of it. The Toyota Bass Pro was a little behind tonight. I wish we could have been a bit better, but overall getting a fourth place with this car is a good effort.
Ryan Blaney (playoffs) – Finished 5th: “I thought a few cars were a bit faster than us. We got a little behind the eight-ball in this second stage, we had to stop at the end and take the wave. It hurt us. We had a Ford Mustang Menards fast enough to finish fifth. It’s something to be proud of. We will go to Talladega.
Tyler Reddick – Finished 6th: “Our Cat Trials 11: Hot Wheels Chevrolet was blazingly fast tonight at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I knew having speed in the car at sunset would be the key to a good finish. The track definitely tightened up over time, and I could feel it in our No.8 Camaro. My team manager, Randall Burnett, however, kept up with the changing track conditions and we were able to consistently post the first three times. I think at worst we were a third place car, and we should have competed for the win at the end. There weren’t a ton of warnings during the race and unfortunately waiting a few laps from when (Denny Hamlin) stopped in front cost us a valuable track position. A sixth place remains a great night for our Richard Childress Racing team and we will now focus on Talladega. “
Brad Keselowski (playoff) – Finished 7th: “It wasn’t a bad night. We performed really well and made the most of what we had. It was all we had. We kind of rode from 10th to 15th place most of the day and at one point we got into seventh or eighth, but we couldn’t really hold on. In the end, we performed really well. The pit stops were great. Calls to the booth were good. No loose wheels or issues and we were able to get a good day out to get a little cushion.
Kevin Harvick (playoffs) – Finished 9th: “You know, that was pretty much where we ended up. It was pretty much what we had tonight. We scratched the front right wing a bit, but that didn’t really change the car, so we were lucky. We are fighting and gaining ground on it. This is what we wanted to do, not to give everything today. We were able to gain ground and we’ll go from there.
Kyle Larson (playoffs) – Was 10th: “We stayed outside (after stage 2) and had to go around the wave. I was not on new tires and stuck in traffic. Everyone is fighting so hard out there to race that I’m just stuck. Not to beat, but just get stuck and have to run. It’s just hard. We were able to fight for a top 10 and come away with a decent finish. “
Joey Logano (playoffs) – Was 11th: “We were better during the day, for sure. Unfortunately during the day we did not take advantage of the first stage with a loose wheel and a rear start after that in this stage. We were able to get back into the peloton and it was our best run. It seemed that when the track cooled down we lost some speed on the peloton for several reasons. This last round we had another problem with the wheel. It was a poorly executed day with a car that probably should have finished fifth in both stages and maybe a top 10 at the end. But instead, we didn’t get out. We are six points from good. We’re way ahead of where we were when we arrived, just wanted to be more comfortable than that.
Austin Dillon – Was 13th: “Have a good test tonight by all members of the Richard Childress Racing team at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The front of our BetMGM Chevy was never quite to my liking tonight. We were jumping into turn 2, but Justin Alexander and all the guys made adjustments throughout the race to improve our handling issues. We just needed a little more a little earlier. In stage 3 we were 12th when we decided to stay outside and stand for a long time. It was just a bet of trying to catch a warning and shake things up. We were leading laps and were in position, but we didn’t get the caution we needed. It was worth a try. We finally finished 13th. We are heading to the Talladega Superspeedway next week and we will do everything we can to try to secure a victory.
Chase Briscoe – Was 14th: “I thought our Ford Mustang One Cure was going to be really strong at sunset, but we just didn’t manage to handle it well. The smallest changes took it from loose to tight, and it was really hard to get it exactly where we wanted it. Fourteenth is still a huge improvement over what we’ve done earlier this year, and it shows how much I’ve learned as a driver and how far this team has come.
William Byron – Finished 18th: “I thought we were very fast. We went from the back to the front, took the lead and obviously we had that caution. I chose the wrong route there and had to run second for a while behind Kyle. And then we had the strategy of not being able to do it with fuel and we had to get over it. We had to take two tires and it hurt us. We were able to come back to the front from the back, so that was twice today. And then we had the puncture. We had a great car. The No. 24 Chevrolet Axalta was amazing. I think it was right there with # 11 (Denny Hamlin). We’ll just have to keep bringing that speed.
Aric Almirola – Finished 19th: “We found really good speed and a really good balance in our Ford Mobil 1 at the halfway point today and we were good enough to run in the top 10. Then we made a little adjustment, and something went wrong. just flipped a switch and our balance was off. We are going to move to Talladega where we have had great success. Excited to get there and compete for a win.
Alex Bowman – Finished 22nd: “We weren’t great. The second step strategy just didn’t work for us and it put us in a difficult position to start the third step. The valve stem was knocked over in a pit stop and the rest is history. Not a good day in all respects. We had a decent car, we just didn’t have the pit route and strategy we needed.
Cole Custer – Finished 29th: “Another difficult race for our team. We struggled with the balance of our Ford Mustang Cocktail No. 41 Dixie Vodka Greyhound and just couldn’t get it right. We will go to Talladega.