CHEVY NCS AT DAYTONA: Post-Race Notes and Quotes
TEAM CHEVY POST-RACE NOTES AND QUOTES:
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 CHEDDAR’S SCRATCH KITCHEN CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 6th
WERE YOU NERVOUS AT ANY POINT IN THE RACE GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?
“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.”
WITH THE SMOKE COMING OUT OF YOUR CAR, WAS THERE ANY POINT WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE DONE?
“Well, once the vitals on the dash showed everything was fine, me personally, I wasn’t worried. It was a matter of getting the oil that was trapped or stuck…..just a matter of time for it to just work its way out of the car and to stop looking like we were having all kinds of leaks. That is when NASCAR thought we still had a leak. Technically our engine was good, and we didn’t have any leaks. We just had some fluid lying around from the accident.”
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO THE MOST PRESSURED SITUATIONS YOU HAVE BEEN IN BEFORE?
“Almost more than the Xfinity Series Championship honestly because you have so many drivers that were in the top 15 that could win and change everything for our year. So yeah, a lot of nerves running right there and getting through that crash somehow like we did, and getting the finish and crossing the line and whatnot. Still got sixth and we got lucky.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1L1 – Finished 8th
END OF THE REGULAR SEASON AND INTO THE PLAYOFFS. ALEX, AS YOU GET READY TO GO PLAYOFF RACING, WHERE’S YOUR TEAM AT AND HOW DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU STACK UP AS WE GO TO DARLINGTON NEXT WEEK?
“Yeah, we definitely struggled the three weeks after the two off weeks. But solid top-10 here today for the No. 48 Ally Camaro. Last year, we were miserable all summer and then showed up in the Playoffs and were really strong each and every week. I’m not worried about it. I know we’re going to be good every week. Our Ally Camaro is going to be fast. Greg (Ives, crew chief) and the guys have been doing a really good job. Confident going into a lot of good racetracks for us and excited to get going.”
ARE THERE TRACKS THAT YOU’RE SPECIFICALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO AND IS THERE A TRACK OR TWO THAT YOU’RE HOPING TO GET A GOOD RUN AT IN THESE PLAYOFF RACES?
“Yeah, obviously we won Richmond; excited to go there. That was always the one that I circled that I was worried about. Since we’ve gotten a little better there over the last couple of years, it’s cool to have a win there and be excited to go there rather than somewhat dreading it. But then, the typical good racetracks for us – Las Vegas, Darlington, Kansas – a lot of good places for us. Just excited to get going.”
WHAT’S YOUR TAKEAWAY FOR YOUR RUN AT DAYTONA?
“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.”
WHAT IS YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL GOING INTO THE FIRST RACE OF THE PLAYOFFS?
“It’s been a rough stretch since the two off weeks, but I feel like we were really successful last year in the Playoffs and we have the ability to repeat that and go further. I’m excited; a lot of great racetracks for us.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 UNIFIRST CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 9th
CHASE, NINTH-PLACE FINISH TONIGHT. INITIAL TAKEWAYS FROM YOUR RUN.
“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.”
YOU KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP. WHAT’S IT GOING TO TAKE TO GO BACK-TO-BACK?
“I feel like the same thing that it was last year. Just execute a really solid 10 weeks and try to be at our very best during the most important part of the year. We’ll see how it stacks up. It’s hard to time those things up, but we’ll try our best to do that.”
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 COLUMBIA PFG CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 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, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 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.”
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER OFF ROAD CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 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, NO. 5 VALVOLINE INSTANT OIL CHANGE CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 21st; Clinched 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.”
WHEN YOU FIRST SIGNED ON AND MR. HENDRICK CALLED YOU AND SAID, ‘HEY WE’RE GOING TO MAKE THIS A-GO’, DID YOU HONESTLY THINK THIS WAS POSSIBLE WITH THE NO. 5 TEAM?
“Yeah, I did for sure. I honestly thought we’d get off to a slower start than we did. But I felt like we could string together some good runs. We’ve had speed all season, so we actually started off the year better than I thought. I didn’t expect to go through that stretch where we were winning every week. But with all of the success that they had last year for Chase (Elliott) and the other three drivers, I knew that it was possible. We just have great people that work so hard and I’m just the lucky guy that gets to drive it. It’s really credit to everybody back at the shop.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Sidelined by damage sustained in an accident on lap 145; Finished 38th
TOUGH NIGHT TONIGHT. TOUGH END TO THE REGULAR SEASON, BUT STILL IN THE PLAYOFFS. WHAT’S THE OUTLOOK GOING INTO DARLINGTON?
“Just reset. Tonight was going OK. I thought we were kind of biding our time to the end and tried to put ourselves in a good position. We had pretty good momentum on the top to make something happen and just got cleaned out. That’s part of it; part of racing. We’ll go onto Darlington and reset for the Playoffs.”
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN ALL THAT?
“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.”
THE RACING WAS DIFFERENT TONIGHT. WHAT WAS THE FEELING BEHIND THE WHEEL AND IN THE PACK?
“The lanes were really tight so there wasn’t a lot of room to make a gap. You just kind of basically got pushed into the next guy in front of you. So, it was kind of like bumper cars out there. And just bumper car your way to the front and hope you can kind of control the lane. We were able to control the lane early, and then we never really got the right position to do so again. So, it was just kind of like bumper cars out there.”
MORE SO THAN USUAL?
“Yeah, I think so. More so than usual just because, I don’t know exactly why. I don’t know if it was the less horsepower or the wicker off the back. But it seemed like you could never kind of get separation and get pushed out, so you were just kind of always being pushed back to the guy behind you. I think there was a half a lap I pushed the No. 3 car (Austin Dillon) and so, it was just all strategy to try to put yourself in the right spot.”
WITH THIS IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR, ARE YOU READY FOR THE PLAYOFFS?
“Absolutely. We’re excited. We finished fourth at Darlington in the Spring, and I feel like we’ll have a good car there. So, I’m excited for the first round.”
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 29, 2021) – The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season has been an unprecedented year for Kyle Larson. The battle for the NCS Regular Season Championship all came down to the 400-mile, 160-lap race at the famed Daytona International Speedway, where the 29-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver captured his first-career NCS Regular Season Championship title. In addition to the title, the Chevrolet driver will enter the 10-race playoff run with 15 additional playoff points to kickoff the fight for the coveted title of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champion.
“Our team has worked so hard all of the regular season,” said Larson. “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.”
Larson’s debut season with Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 5 Camaro ZL1 1LE team took the NASCAR Cup Series competition by storm. Through 26 races thus far, Larson leads the series in wins with five, a career-best; top-five finishes (14); top-10’s (18); stage wins (12); 37 playoff points; and a career-best 1,566 laps led. The Hendrick Motorsports driver took over the point lead from Denny Hamlin following his win at Watkins Glen and came into the regular-season finale at the World Center of Racing with a 28-point advantage.
“Congratulations to Kyle Larson, Cliff Daniels and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team on clinching the NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. Vice President of Performance and Motorsports. “It was quite a battle right to the end, but the combination of the most wins, top-five’s, top-10 finishes, stage wins and laps led made the difference to secure this Regular Season Championship. The team has momentum going into the Playoffs.”
The 16-driver playoff field is set for the NASCAR Cup Series, with six Chevrolet drivers securing their chance to battle for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship: Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Kurt Busch, and Tyler Reddick. Heading into the 10-race stretch, momentum is with the Bowtie Brand after capturing 13 wins in 26 NCS races.
Chevrolet is entering the championship hunt in search of a back-to-back NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championship after Hendrick Motorsports driver, Chase Elliott, captured his first-career Championship in 2020, giving Chevrolet its 32nd Championship title in NASCAR’s premier series. The Bowtie Brand also sits atop the NCS Manufacturer Standings in pursuit of its 40th title. “It’s great to have six Chevrolet drivers locked into the 2021 Playoffs,” said Campbell.
There are three rounds of Playoffs (3 races per round) in the 2021 format, plus one final championship-crowning season finale. Four drivers will be eliminated following each round of three. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs commences at Darlington Raceway with the annual Cook Out Southern 500 at 6 p.m. ET on September 5. Live coverage of the 367-mile, 501.3-mile race can be found on NBCSN, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 VALVOLINE INSTANT OIL CHANGE CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Press Conference Transcript:
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Kyle Larson. Congratulations on winning the NASCAR regular season championship. Give us a quick recap of the race from your vantage point, but also the opportunity to take home that regular season championship trophy.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, the race went well until the last lap. We didn't get any stage points the first time, first stage, and the 11 did. I felt like after thinking about it a little bit more if I could just kind of follow him and stay close to him in the second stage, he wouldn't gain much on me.
It actually ended up where I beat him in the second stage. That gave me a little bit more comfort going into the final one. We were able to dodge a couple wrecks. He actually got collected in one of them. Then it was kind of go for the win at that point.
Just things didn't work out for me in the green-white-checkered. Ended up getting shuffled back, then getting right in the middle of that wreck. Yeah, bummer that we didn't get to finish well, but we accomplished the goal going into tonight, which was coming away with the regular season title.
Got those 15 bonus points. Now we can look forward to the next 10 weeks and hopefully get some more wins.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Kyle.
Q. How special is it to lead the way with an historical team and number?
KYLE LARSON: It's cool. I think just racing the car in general for Mr. H, what that paint scheme and number means to him, it means a lot to me for him to kind of have that trust in me to carry it on. Had a lot of success with it this year, have ourselves positioned in a good spot to chase the championship.
Would have loved to put that car and that paint scheme with HendrickCars.com on it in Victory Lane more often throughout the rest of the year, especially in Phoenix.
Q. You'll have a huge points lead going into the round of 16. With that margin, what tracks do you have circled in the Playoffs that you feel more confident about?
KYLE LARSON: I mean, I think there's a lot of good tracks for us. I don't know which ones specifically. I feel like we have a shot to win anywhere right now. That's encouraging.
I really just look forward to getting it started next week, kind of getting into the flow of that, racing in the Playoffs against multiple other drivers chasing points and wins.
Yeah, I feel good about it.
Q. What is the possibility seeing all Hendrick cars make the Final 4?
KYLE LARSON: It would be hard to get all of us in the Final 4 at Phoenix, but it's not impossible either. We've all four been really strong I feel like all season long. It's been nice to have us all win this year and challenge for many other wins. Yeah, it's not impossible, but it's definitely going to be tough. That would be awesome.
Q. You're a guy that's used to going out and your philosophy is win, win, win. How are you going to temper that balance to win a championship? You've never really been in a position to be the favorite going into the Playoffs, at least at the Cup level?
KYLE LARSON: I don't know, I feel like we've kind of had that mindset the last month or so already. It's not been all about just winning. Once points kind of came into the picture of us being able to beat the 11, kind of points racing against him. I think getting into that mindset, that kind of style it takes to not be so go for broke, which I feel like is a lot of what you need. You obviously have to have that go for broke somewhere in your arsenal.
Yeah, I think a lot of it, you can't make any big mistakes and take yourself out of it. That's what we've been doing this last month and a half or so. I feel like that's been good to prep us leading into the Playoffs.
Q. Is there anything you're looking at as far as changing what you have been doing? Will you continue to race as much outside of NASCAR?
KYLE LARSON: I don't know. I mean, I've answered that question a lot. Naturally the schedule, there's not a lot of midweek racing. There's no speedweeks and stuff this time of year. I can't go race as much as I have been.
I'm still going to race. I think it's been a big part of what's made me, what's gotten us to this point, this strong on Sundays, is being fresh throughout the week. Competing is a big part of me.
Yeah, I'm going to race when I can. Hopefully we do a good job in the Playoffs.
Q. From your point of view, what differences did you see with the package compared to Daytona and Talladega earlier this season?
KYLE LARSON: I didn't really get to race Talladega. Race ended before the race started almost.
The 500, from what I remember of that, I feel like the runs were maybe just a touch smaller. Maybe it was a little easier to block runs and stuff because of that.
But really I didn't think it was way different. The other drivers who kind of were up front would maybe have a different opinion. From where I was, I didn't think it was way different.
Q. Looking forward to the Playoffs, are there any tracks in particular that you're looking forward to the most?
KYLE LARSON: I mean, I think I'm happy to start off at Darlington. It's a fun racetrack. There's a lot of good racetracks for us and our race team. I'm really looking forward to Bristol. It's my favorite race of the year, favorite racetrack. We only get to go there really once this year I feel like. Hopefully take advantage of that and have a good time and get my first win at Bristol.
Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of good tracks. Really we look forward to all of them.
Q. Talladega is not that far away. Did you learn anything you can take to Talladega from tonight?
KYLE LARSON: I'm not sure. Obviously there's always something that you take away from each race. I think after going back and looking at some video, really studying this race, I think you'll be able to learn a little bit more going to Talladega.
Yeah, I don't know. I haven't really thought about it yet.
Q. Looking ahead to the Playoffs, is there a certain driver or team you feel is your biggest competition?
KYLE LARSON: I mean, I think everybody has had their moments of being really strong this year. I think the three others, my teammates, are going to be really tough. I think I look at obviously Denny, Martin, Kyle Busch as probably being the three others besides our team that stand out.
I feel like there's always one or two guys that you don't really notice that much during the regular season, maybe don't even notice that much in the first round, but really start hitting their stride after that. There's probably definitely a few wild cards out there. You won't really know who they are until we get a few races in.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thank you for joining us. Congratulations once again. Best of luck in the Playoffs this season.
KYLE LARSON: Thank you.
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RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.