Post-Race Driver Quotes After Martinsville's First Data 500
RYAN BLANEY – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion – “I felt the first half of our day was pretty good. We lost a lot of handle the second half after the second stage and really were struggling. On short runs I thought we were OK for 20 laps or so, but the last handful of restarts were just pandemonium. It was pretty ridiculous with everyone wrecking each other and running into each other. I thought we were gonna make it through the last one, but we just kind of got caught up off of four in all that stuff. At least we salvaged a decent day. Honestly, a lot of cars got torn up, but we’ll go on to Texas and see what we have.” WHAT DID YOU SEE ON THE LAST RESTART? “I have no idea. I just knew I was in a wreck too. We just kind of got caught up in three and four. That’s the thing, we would have finished third or fourth and got sandwiched there, but it was chaos. I haven’t seen that in a long time.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – “I haven’t seen the video. I just knew I got in the corner and he was inside me and we had contact. I haven’t seen anymore of that to really have any clarity to it. The track is just real slick on the restarts for everybody. You saw that. It takes about five laps for anyone to get going or more, especially the leader, but there was a lot of hard fighting here because it’s a short track. That’s what short tracks are kind of about is rooting and gauging. You try not to take anybody out, but you’ve got to sometimes rub a little bit. But we had a really great Alliance Truck Parts Ford. We were able to lead laps and win the two stages and bring home a solid finish and that’s something to be proud of.”
JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – “I was passing the 24. I had a good run on him and the 18 sent it three-wide. I tried to give him room and he slid up. I don’t know. I have to watch the replay, but he slid up and got up in the left rear and cut it down.”
KEVIN HARVICK – No. 4 Busch NA Ford Fusion – “It’s just Martinsville. That’s what it’s all about. It’s championship time. It’s time to get physical. I’ve just got to thank everybody on my Busch Non-Alcoholic Ford, Jimmy John’s, Mobil 1, Outback, Hunt Brothers, Morton Buildings, Textron Off Road, everybody who helps this car go around the race track. I really want to help all of my guys at Stewart-Haas Racing. They built this car in two weeks and we were way more competitive than we were in the spring. Bent fenders, hurt feelings. I love it.” YOU WERE TALKING TO RYAN BLANEY AT THE END. WHAT DID YOU SAY? “I just told him I said, ‘Look, if you’re gonna park it at Martinsville, you’re gonna get hit.’ He didn’t like getting hit and I didn’t like the cheap shots, the brake checks and the hitting down the straightaway. It’s like I told him, I said, ‘If you want to race hard and you want to run into me after I pass you, that’s fine, but slamming me down the straightaway and brake-checking me is another thing.’ That’s the easy way to race.” WHAT A CRAZY FINISH. "Four races to go at Martinsville, playoff time and everybody is trying to get everything they can. It was a crazy finish. But for us our goal was to score stage points. I think we scored three stage points and get a top-five. My goal was a top 10. The goal was to not lose it today. I'm really proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing. They built this car in two weeks after our test.We were way more competitive here. And as you look at the results, they show it. We have bent up fenders but it looks like the whole field does."
CLINT BOWYER – No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion – POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE – “We had a fast Ford Fusion all weekend long. Our Haas Automation Ford was good. We qualified good and had a catastrophe in the pits. It seems we’ve been struggling here lately trying to get some consistency in there to say the least, but fell back and got back up through them. Then we had some more trouble and we’d gain some and lose some, gain some and lose some and we finally got there at the end. I don’t know. I wish they would have got into each other one more time and I just went ahead and finished the last one off if it was down to one, but it’s just a product of that situation. Those guys are racing for a lot, there’s a lot on the line and you know on a green-white-checker at a place like this all hell is gonna break loose. The only thing I can say is why we don’t race at night is beyond me here. You should definitely utilize those lights for something other than a green-white-checkered because it’s pretty damn cool under the lights.”
CLINT BOWYER CONTINUED -- WHAT DID YOU SEE ON THE LAST RESTART? “I was hoping they’d wreck each other. I got loose getting in and kind of got my whole rhythm screwed up for the last lap, but Martinsville is short-track racing. This is what put this sport on the map is racing like that. It’s been a while since we’ve seen that and it’s a breath of fresh air to get back to a short track where it can breed some of that and put on a show for the fans.”
SHOULD THE 22 HAVE PITTED WITH THE TIRE RUB? “That’s hindsight that reaches up and slaps you in the face afterwards, but you’re in that situation and you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You’ve got to try. You’ve got to give hope a chance. Maybe a caution comes out. You know what I mean? Yeah, you’re in trouble and you know it and it’s a bad situation, but most of the time it only gets worse and it did for him, but at the end of the day he’s not really racing for a championship. A win was the only thing.”
THE 2 MIGHT HAVE WON. “Coulda, woulda, shoulda. I haven’t watched the race. When I go home and watch the race maybe I’ll agree with you, but I was competing in the race so my philosophy was I was hoping all them Toyotas would wreck and a Ford would win. That was my philosophy if you want to be a philosopher.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS – Finished 11th
IN ALL THAT CHAOS YOU CAME AWAY WITH AN 11TH PLACE FINISH:
“Yeah, we ran pretty good there toward the end of the race. I liked the car. We were sitting there on that long run saving the rear tires. If it would have went green we were going to get a bunch of cars. But, just had that caution when the No. 66 blew the tire, so we had to run hard for the rest of the race. But, man I can’t believe how everybody crossed the finish line. I ain’t seen nothing like that, I ain’t seen it… I don’t know if I ever have seen it. Trying to think back. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like that. There was a wreck one time at Richmond before they ever reconfigured it in the Xfinity race on the front straightaway in like 1982… that is the only thing I ever seen like it. But, crazy finish. Decent run. I think that is, let’s see, 12th place is our worst finish in the last six weeks, pretty decent for us this year.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – Finished 12th
ON HIS NIGHT AND THE CRASH AT THE END:
“We were just terrible all day. Oh, what a bummer. We had high hopes for this weekend. Man, it just didn’t turn out so well. So, we scored some points here and there. We will go to the next one and try to get more.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA CHEVROLET SS – Finished 27th
OBVIOUSLY, YOU’RE UNHAPPY. DENNY HAMLIN SAID HE GOT INTO THE BACK OF YOU. HOW DID YOU SEE THINGS?
“Yeah, well, he came over and talked to me on the back straightaway and he said somebody was pushing him, but it wasn’t two car lengths between him and the next guy. So, my Momma always said if you don’t have anything nice not to say anything at all. So, it’s not even worth my time. We’ll just go on to Texas.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL THAT THIS RACE CROWD IS CHEERING AS THEY SEE YOU ON THE SCREEN?
“Well, it’s just not necessary. We had a great restart and there was nobody pushing him into Turn 3. So, I wanted to see the replay. That’s what I thought happened and that’s what happened. And it’s definitely 100 percent unnecessary and uncalled for.”
YOU’VE COME SO CLOSE TO WINNING SO MANY TIMES. HOW DO YOU GET YOUR HEAD AROUND LOSING ONE THIS WAY?
“We had a great car today and we had an opportunity. We had a good restart there at the end and felt like I was doing what I needed to do. And I can’t control his decisions and whatever the hell that was. We’re on to Texas.”
“Yeah, just like I said on TV, I got punted from behind and wrecked in Turn 3 leading the race. I don’t know what his problem was. It was unnecessary I hadn’t raced him dirty all-day long. There was no reason for that and he comes over and talks to me a second ago and tells me he had somebody pushing him into Turn 3. I thought that was funny because there was nobody within two car lengths of him into Turn 3 behind myself. I don’t know what the deal was, but it is so disappointing. We had the best car I’ve ever had here at Martinsville. And had an opportunity to go straight to Homestead and because of him we don’t.”
WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HIM?
“Well, he just told me he had somebody pushing him into Turn 3 and I asked him if he knew he wrecked me and he said, yes, but I had somebody pushing me And I said, well okay, and then why was there two car lengths between you and the guy behind you? So, that is just … the guy has been doing this long enough where that shouldn’t happen and it was unnecessary.”
I KNOW YOU ARE DISAPPOINTED, BUT YOU HELD YOUR OWN UP UNTIL THAT POINT:
“Yeah, had a great car today. Best run I’ve ever had here at Martinsville. I had a shot to go straight to Homestead and we don’t know. We will try again at Texas and Phoenix.”
TY DILLON, NO. 13 GEICO CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 30TH
"Our No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS was just a bit tight in the center of the corners tonight, but the crew made some good adjustments for that. We were able to run competitive speeds during the long green flag runs. Unfortunately, it was an uphill battle for us after we had the early problems. We knocked a hole in the left front and sustained some left rear damage when we were part of the first caution, then we ended up getting a flat left rear tire. We were never able to get all those laps back."
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 FIRST DATA CHEVROLET SS – Involved in an on-track accident on lap 302
“I just got tight up off (Turn) 2 and got into a lapper’s left-rear and I just spun really quick and hit the inside wall. Another Martinsville for us. I’ve got to figure out how to get around this place. I suck here.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
Talk about the win here tonight.
It’s just a great win for this whole M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry. Awesome to get to victory lane here at Martinsville. You know I wanted to win Charlotte, Martinsville and Homestead and that’ll make us this year’s champions, so we’ve got one more. Just wanted to say our guys did an awesome job preparing this car. We weren’t the best all day, but we put ourselves in the right spots there at the end and there was kind of chaos ensuing and none of it was our fault, we just came out on the right end of the stick. Can’t say enough about NOS Energy Drinks, Cessna, DVX Sunglasses. My son Brexton’s at home, he’s not here with us this weekend, so want to say hey to him, we’ll see you later tonight buddy. Looking forward to going to Homestead.”
Bit of a rollercoaster for you today, what was your car doing throughout the race? It seemed like it was really good at times and when it was bad it was just running fourth.
“Yeah, it just – it wouldn’t go forward off the corners. We just lacked the ability to put the gas down off the corner and I don’t know why. I don’t what we changed overnight to hinder that. I felt like we were actually pretty good with that yesterday. When we were out front leading it for that stretch, you know we were pretty good, but that’s why Brad (Keselowski) ended up getting by us is I just couldn’t touch the gas off the corners at the end of that run. We definitely got to work on a little bit more and see what we can find to be better there.”
With this win, how do you approach the rest of the Playoffs heading to Texas and Phoenix?
“We can go out there and race for wins and try to get more of course and just let everybody else have to worry you know, and then not give them a chance to breathe and get their, their heads on their shoulders going into that week at Homestead.”
What did you see happen on that final restart?
“No, I wanted to get a better restart, pinch Denny (Hamlin) down a little bit, but it actually kind of worked out better for me that he got ahead a little bit, gave me a gap, I got down and he got into turn three and just pushed up the race track and I knew I had to plug that hole right away cause I was just gonna get beat on from behind, so I got up in there and rooted him out of the way a little bit and we dragged raced down the front straightaway and deep into one, I just wheel-hopped, chattered the rear tires and it was sideways getting in there trying to calm it down with the brakes and everything else. Was able to get through there luckily somehow. I don’t know how and beat (Martin) Truex (Jr.) off of turn four back to the start finish line.”
Take us through those last couple of laps and what you were able to do to take the lead.
“Kind of. I don’t know. We just didn’t get very good of a restart. I wanted to be on Denny (Hamlin)’s outside and try to pinch him a little bit, but I didn’t get a very good restart. Came up turn two, had clean race track, got down behind him and went off into turn three and he pushed up, washed up the race track and I was able to come underneath him and get to the bottom there and then, and root him out of the way a little bit. You know it’s time to go and I was getting kind of beat on from behind or it was gonna come. I knew it was gonna come anyways and put a drag race down the front straightaway into turn one and I chattered the rear tires on the brakes getting in there and I slid up into him. I had (Martin) Truex (Jr.) on me there down the backstretch through (turns) three and four. Just knew that I had to get that momentum off of four and came back to the start finish line. Great day for this whole M&M’s team and everybody don’t forget Halloween’son Tuesday, so your M&M’s candy are going to be a hot commodity, that’s for sure. This Toyota was fast. We hung up front all day long. Thanks to NOS Energy Drinks, Cessna, DVX Sunglasses, my son Brexton’s at home, so really looking forward to getting home and seeing him tonight.”
Another chance at a championship. How big is that?
“It’s huge. It’s our opportunity to succeed and you know God’s given us every opportunity to go do that. Joe and J.D. Gibbs, Coy Gibbs, everybody on this Joe Gibbs Racing team, they’re phenomenal. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys had a great race car for me prepared for this weekend. We tested up here, we came here and we were really good yesterday and we just came out on top today.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Furniture Row / Denver Mattress Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
Describe the last few laps under the lights at Martinsville Speedway.
“It’s just Martinsville you know? Short-track racing. At the end everybody’s trying to get to Homestead - punch your ticket, but you know really good day for our team. This has been a struggle for us, this place. It just - you know to run second here is awesome. I think we had a fifth or sixth-place car all day long. We couldn’t quite get better than that, but I’m really proud of that effort for everybody - for all our guys. So we fought hard all day, we didn’t give up and we had a shot at it there at the last lap. Got inside of Kyle (Busch), just couldn’t get the power down off of (turn) four. I didn’t want to be the one to knock him out of the way for the win. Maybe I should have, but I don’t know. Those guys kept knocking each other out of the way up there in the front, I’m not sure that’s the way to do it. You know good day for us and we’ll go to Texas next week and see if we can’t continue our mile-and-half runs.
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx / Walgreens Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 7th
What did you see rolling into that corner? Do you feel like he didn’t make the corner and you had too much run?
“Well he didn’t make the corner, because I had his back end jacked up that’s for sure. I was extremely loose, I got in there too hot and got into the back of him.”
What happened with Chase Elliott at the end?
“I got into the back of him (Chase Elliott) and he spun out. Trying to get a race win, everyone wrecked everybody there at the end. It was complete bullsh-- chaos. I got in the back of him and he spun out. Somebody got into the back of me and I wrecked too. It was just a mess at the end. I mean, you know everybody is doing the exact same thing. I hate it for his team, I understand they had a win for a long time coming, but this is a ticket to Homestead. Not sure you know – I’m not sitting here saying I wrecked him on purpose and I tried to move him out of the way and spun out.”
Talk about what happened after the race and what Chase Elliott was saying:
“Well he said I wrecked him and obviously, you know Ray Charles saw that. Obviously it wasn’t intentional, I wanted to move him out of the way and there was just not enough grip on the race track for him to save it. There’s no difference, he washed the 2 (Brad Keselowski) up the race track as well. I mean, we can play favorites with who we want. Unfortunately this is a ticket to Homestead at stake.”
From the driver’s seat describe the final laps and the contact out there on the race track.
“I tried to move the 24 (Chase Elliott) up the race track getting into turn three there. You know it just—he spun out. He moved the 2 (Brad Keselowski) up the race track there at the end as well and you know everybody’s fine with that. Hey, we’re trying to get - make a ticket to Homestead. I tried to get to his back bumper and slide him up the race track and I just went too deep.”
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.