What drivers said after Daytona

·12 min read

A look at what drivers said following Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway…

Ryan Blaney – Winner: “It’s huge. Momentum is what everything is all about. Confidence is key and we came into this weekend very confident after last week with our heads held high. They’ll be a little bit higher this week, so I look forward to getting to Darlington. It’s a great way to end the regular season, but we’ve still got work to do. We’ve got 10 weeks of work to do and I’ll look forward to them.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 2nd: “It hurts, honestly. I guess at the end of the day on one side I’m glad to see another Ford in victory lane, but it hurts that it wasn’t us. It hurts to get this close and not quite make it and to be sitting here right at the moment. We got a good fire on the restart, but our lane didn’t materialize near as well.”

Bubba Wallace – Finished 3rd: “Stay in it, that’s all you can do. I needed to win. I was comfortable taking a hit if we were caught up in it. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and I came out third. I was happy with that, but we needed to win to get in. Up and down regular season for us. Thankful for opportunity. It’s a brand new team. Everybody is still figuring each other out. I’ve always said our superspeedway stuff is good. It’s good to give us a finish we deserved. I don’t think we were a winning car, so I can’t hang my head too much, but knowing that we needed a win and we came up just short stings a little bit. Thanks to Columbia for coming aboard our Toyota Camry this weekend. It looked awesome. It looked great. It’s the cleanest I’ve ever kept a superspeedway car, so maybe I will get to take this one home. Long night with a lot of perseverance.”

Tyler Reddick – Finished 6th: “There was definitely so much happening there during the race and I didn’t get nervous till Stage 3 there on a restart that I thought was coming, but he did a really good job of matching the move with Chase Elliott going three-wide on the bottom and we lost all the track position that we gained there in Stage 2. From that point on we had the cycles and the cautions that came when we got collected in that accident with 15 to go. Yeah, that is when the nerves kind of shot up because the car is crashed, we were out of the draft, and not really sure what was going to happen. We caught a caution and fortunately got through that last crash. Even more fortunate than that was that Ryan Blaney was able to win and if you look at the guys from third to myself, if any of those guys win but Blaney, we are having a different conversation.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 8th: “We crashed three times and ran eighth; pretty typical superspeedway race. At least we made it to the end there. We had a pretty solid car until we got that left-front damage. It was just kind of slow after that, but the guys did a good job trying to fix it up on pit road. We had a good Ally Camaro. Wish we would have been a couple spots better, but just ready to go Playoff racing and have this one done and over with.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 9th: “We had a really, really fast UniFirst Chevrolet. I thought we were probably better than we’ve ever been down here. Just a lot of ability in our car to do the things that we’ve been asking of it for a few years. So, we’re really excited about that. I hate to crash there. It’s so tough when you get in those situations where you have the lead and trying to hold it. You have big runs coming and it’s just like, where do you draw the line? I feel like you’ve got to be pretty aggressive or you’re going to get taken advantage of. That’s just the style of racing.”

Erik Jones – Finished 12th: “Thought we had a good Columbia Chevy, we rode for most of the race and went hard towards the end. Got towards the front and were in position just didn’t get through the last wreck at the end. Proud that we brought a good car, and hope that we get to have Columbia back on the car.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 13th: “For us, we wanted to protect the car and get it to the end and have a shot to win. Five points in the Playoffs is what we were after. Secondary was to push the 42 of Chastain, but in the end, the lineup……they couldn’t seem to find out which lane all of us were supposed to restart in. Really doesn’t matter for the lineup if they just let us choose which lane. Some weeks we get to choose, some weeks we don’t. There are too many different inconsistencies and then all hell breaks loose at the end of plate racing and everybody is ripping and gouging for themselves. The Monster Energy Chevrolet is all beat up, and I got it close, but I don’t even know if we got a top 10 out of it. We will see where things shake out. It’s what it is and now we are in Playoff mode. I can feel it and we have a good 10 weeks ahead of us.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 14th: “It was kind of a mix from the old package with tandem to kind of the package we’ve had over the last two years. It was big runs, but you could stay connected. The speeds being slower you could just hammer the person in front of you really, really hard and the tires did not lose grip because you were under the tire with the speeds we were running. Very intense as far as I am concerned. Just kind of a log jam there at the end. We gave ourselves a chance. We were running third when the two leaders wrecked and got collected in it. Just some bad luck.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 15th: “Yeah, it was just one of those days. It was an up-and-down day. We definitely fought really really hard to get track position and I finally got it there at the end. I made a move to pull out on the restart. I thought the 41 (Cole Custer) might go with me and I misjudged and kind of got hung out there on the bottom.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 16th: “I didn’t see anything. I got hit in the left rear quarter panel and then we wrecked a lot, but everybody on our Unibet Ford Mustang did a good job. We had a shot there at the end and that’s all you can ask and just wound up in a wreck.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 18th: “It was a little bit of a roller coaster ride. We fought our butts off in the stages. We made some good moves to get points and found ourselves in fourth-place for a green-white-checkered here at Daytona. That’s where we were when we won the Daytona 500, so I was feeling pretty good about it. I don’t know – looking back, I wish I would have been a little more patient and probably stay in the top line. But I had a run and they all kind of boggled getting into (turn) three, so I went with the 17 (Chris Buescher) just to see if we could get all the way to the front. The 42 (Ross Chastain) kind of left us at the line and our night was over there. We were kind of in the middle, had a big run and then the crash happened. We fought hard. The Bass Pro Shop Chevy was very fast. Two weeks in a row we’ve had great cars out of the 3 Team. Just haven’t gotten the finishes we’d like to have, but very thankful that the good Lord took care of us tonight and we get to race at Darlington next week. Unfortunate that we’re not in the Playoffs, but we gave it all we could and fought until the very end.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 21st to clinch regular season championship: “We had a stretch there where we won like every Stage and every race for a few weeks in a row. I think we took huge chunks out then. I think I read somewhere where we overcame I think a 166-point gap to Denny (Hamlin). I didn’t think it was possible, but our team has worked so hard all of the regular season. I couldn’t do it without Mr. Hendrick and Linda and all of their support. Everybody back at the shop, too. This is a long season and we still have 10 races to go. It’s a long point to get here and it’s just a big hats off to everybody at the shop. HendrickCars.com, Valvoline, Tarlton and Son, everybody who’s been on board to help us out this year.”

Joey Logano – Finished 24th: “We had a fast car. Our Mustang was fast and won a stage, which was great. We got a playoff point. We had a shot to win there and the 11 (Denny Hamlin) just threw a late block and fenced me and then I had a right rear down. Luckily, I didn’t take out the whole field that time, but that got taken care of the next lap, so it probably wouldn’t have mattered.”

Cole Custer – Finished 25th: “Bad luck – if we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t have any luck at all after something like that. We had a good Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford and were in a good position at the end, but we just couldn’t take advantage of it. It’s disappointing, but we can only look ahead and see we have 10 more chances to get to victory lane.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 30th: “Just got a run up the middle coming in through (turns) one and two. I got to the 18 (Kyle Busch) and was pushing him and it all checked up. Just an accordion. I got hit and spun. One of those superspeedway deals. You’re trying to push the guy in front of me and when they check up you’ve got to slow down a little bit and sometimes you get hit. In that case, I got squeezed out of the middle and was sandwiched. It’s Daytona. We had a great Bass Pro Camry. It was good. We got shuffled a bunch of times, but we kept getting back to the front so I was happy and we were in good shape until the pit strategy kind of went south on us and we lost track position. The wreck was just an accordion deal and I got the bad end of it.”

Christopher Bell – Finished 33rd: “You could tell that everyone was feeling out the new package early on in the race. It was pretty stable. I didn’t really have any balance complaints all race long. Our Rheem Camry was plenty capable of racing for the lead and unfortunately we got caught up.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 34th: “I checked up a little bit. The 37 (Ryan Preece) was flying in front of me and I had to check up for that and got hit from behind. It’s unfortunate. Another foot and we’d have been in a great position here to have a run to win the race. Instead, we got caught up here. I was doing great all the way until the 37 starts spinning. I checked up and just barely got the quarter panel, so it’s a bummer. We’d been putting ourselves in position and trying to be smart and just missed it by a little bit.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 35th: “Just a bunch of blocking going on and guys got crossed up. I don’t know if anybody even touched me. I just lost it. It’s a disappointing effort on my part I guess. I got a little help there from the 47 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.). I thought I had it straight and then I didn’t. And I don’t know who came out of nowhere but they T-boned me so that was fun. Just frustrating to come to these places and always wonder if you’re going to walk out of here. Thanks to Interstate Batteries, Toyota, M&M’s. We’ll see what we can do next week.”

Landon Cassill – Finished 37th: “We had a pretty decent race going and it was kind of shaping up at the end. I think we proved what we had there that last stint going into that last pit stop running in the top five with the other Toyotas. That was really the first time all day that I got the car in the outside lane and it ran really well up there. I was really proud of that and really proud of the race that we ran. It’s Daytona and it’s really hard to miss these wrecks. You can always do something different. I’ll certainly replay that one in my mind many times, but it’s over now.”

William Byron – Finished 38th: “It looks like I was just one row short of getting through it. I was basically with the No. 9 (Chase Elliott) and the No. 19 (Martin Truex) came up the track all of a sudden…yeah, just got off-center and got loose; the No. 19 did. We were the meat in the sandwich there. That’s just how it goes sometimes. I thought we were having an OK night. We were third in Stage 2 and got some Stage points. And then, just trying to get back to the front and just nowhere to go. We’ll go onto Darlington and get ready for the Playoffs.”

Michael McDowell – Finished 40th: “It’s so unfortunate. It’s heartbreaking. Our car was really good. We had to go to the tail and we were able to drive back in the top 20. I felt like it was really racy. I was being pretty conservative and then under the caution I just lost oil pressure. It’s really unfortunate.”

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What drivers said after Daytona originally appeared on NBCSports.com