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What Drivers Said after Round of 12 opener at Texas Motor Speedway

Auto Racing Digest on FanNation 9/26/2022 Michael Eubanks
© Provided by Auto Racing Digest on FanNation

The second round of the playoffs began with a driver who failed to advance after the opening round, but he still took the checkered flag Sunday

Here's what drivers had to say after Sunday's grueling race at Texas, the kickoff to the second round -- otherwise known as the Round of 12 -- of the NASCAR Cup playoffs:

Tyler Reddick - No. 8 Lenovo Chevrolet - WINNER:

All this group has been through and yet here they are still winning races and still a team. How about the Texas race fans who stayed here through this long night of racing and Tyler Reddick brings it home to Victory Lane. With all the tire issues, how worried were you on the final run because you went so long on this set of Goodyears?

“I was extremely worried; I'm not going to lie. Unfortunately, just about every time we've had fast cars, we've had some tire problems. That last run, the right sides were vibrating really, really hard there.

“I was just trying to maximize and use the gap that I built over Joey (Logano) just in case. I mean, every time we've had a strong car, we've been bit by something, man.

“Just really proud to be able to get this Lenovo Chevy to Victory Lane. They were at Auto Club earlier this year. They deserve to go to get to Victory Lane. We got them there.”

How did this team stay together through all the adversity this year?

“Well, it was tough. I mean, two points. Every spot matters in this deal. We just had two tough races. We brought a really fast car at Darlington. We were leading at Kansas when we broke and fell out early. It's tough.

“This will make that, the pain of not making it through, a little bit easier. Even though, yes, it would have locked us into the Round of 8. We're winning races. That's what we'll keep trying to do.”

How about the Texas race fans?

“It was a hot one. Thank you fans who came out. I really appreciate it. This is a tough race, 500 miles here. Not an easy feat. I know it wasn't easy on you guys, as well.

“So great to be able to win here in a Cup car. Been close a few times. Let's go!”

Joey Logano - No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford - Finished Second:

You are the points leader heading out of here, but i know you were more concerned with the tire issue here tonight weren’t you?

“Yeah, the tires, if they aren’t blowing out then they are square. They were shaking like crazy. That is what happened there the last run. The last couple of runs really, just shaking the car. We got tight a couple runs and last time I got one that was off in the rear and we got loose. I think Reddick was fighting the same thing from what I heard there. You get that close to the win and you just know that if you just had that it might have been good enough to win the race. At the same time we should be happy that we scored a bunch of points today. It is bittersweet I guess.”

But very successful from a points standpoint.

“Yeah, it was a successful day for points scored. We got stage points in both stages and we were able to get a bunch by finishing second there. Yeah, it was a sloppy race for everyone on the track. We were just able to position ourselves really good at the end. Paul did a good job calling the race and putting four tires on when we needed to and putting two tires on when we needed to cycle forward.”

Justin Haley - No. 31 LeafGaurd Gutter Protection Chevrolet - Finished Third:

“This was a long, challenging race. we finished third at Darlington earlier in the season and started pretty much last there as well, so it’s pretty cool to have another really great run for this Kaulig Racing team. Our No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Camaro ZL1 definitely wasn't what I liked, but we kept working on it and actually when it turned dark, we got some good track position and made a heck of a run out of it. I’m really proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing. At the end, I was just worried that the right rear is going to go down, so I was just trying to make it to the end. P3 is everything we could want right now.”

Ryan Blaney - No. 12 Menards Ford - Finished Fourth:

“It was a long night for sure. It didn’t start out very good at all. We got better and better through the night and throughout the day we were able to win a stage and claw our way back from pretty far back in the pack there that last run to get to fourth. I thought our Mustang was probably the best car at the end we just couldn’t pass anybody. Overall, not a bad night. A pretty wild night. Luckily we were able to put together a solid race.”

Chase Briscoe - No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford - Finished Fifth:

“The first 90 percent of the race we were struggling. We couldn’t get the balance of the car right. We would be too loose or too tight and could never find where we needed to be. After that red flag I think the nighttime coming in kind of helped us a bit. With 80 to go we were hoping to catch more cautions and make it on fuel and we were able to get our track position that way and it ended up working out. We did what we needed to do for our Rush Truck Centers Ford. We were not a fifth-place car. We weren’t even a 15th-place car. To steal some points like that is huge. Going to Talladega, we are not in a massive hole and that is the most important thing. We will go there and hopefully have a little luck go our way and see what happens.”

Erik Jones - No. 43 FOCUSFactor Chevrolet - Finished Sixth:

“It ended up being a solid day for our FOCUSfactor Chevy team. The day started out a little rough, we were just struggling with the balance and got it better late in the race. We ended up taking tires with about 30 laps to go and were able to come back through the field for a sixth-place finish. I’m proud of that. We struggled at Texas in the All-Star race and we got a lot better from then to today. It’s good to have a good week. We needed one after the last few weeks. Hopefully we can carry so momentum to Talladega next weekend and try to close one out there.”

William Bryon - No. 24 raptortough.com Chevrolet - Finished Seventh:

What happened off turn two between you and Denny Hamlin? Is that something you feel like he could have controlled to not have happen?

“Yeah, he ran me out of room and bent the toe link. We are lucky we finished. It was really hard contact.. it wasn’t like a light contact or something like that. I obviously didn’t mean to spin him out over there, but I am obviously mad and just not going to get raced like that. We have always raced so well together and I don’t know what it was all about. The 19 took it their way and he ran out of racetrack, so he chose to run me out of racetrack completely. And again, look, it was not like it was light contact and I thought we were going to be done.”

You ran into him on purpose off turn four?

“I don’t know. I mean obviously yeah; I went to go show my displeasure and I didn’t mean to spin him out. There are a ton of guys that do this and go do something like that…see it all the time. But yeah, I am just not going to get run like that and there is really no reason. I mean we are running second and third I think and had a shot to win, and it killed our car for sure. That was a bummer.”

Will you talk to him about it?

“Yeah, I guess so. We will probably talk. We have never had issues so I didn’t really get it, but I am also not going to be like ‘oh I don’t normally have issues with this guy and I am not going to be mad about it’. So it was uncalled for and I feel like we handled it.”

Kyle Larson - No. 5 hendrickcars.com Chevrolet - Finished Ninth:

Kyle, Your crew chief apologized for how the pit crew performed tonight and not giving you what you want. As a driver, how do you handle situations like that?

“You just shake it off and go out there the best that you can and put together some good runs. So, we were able to overcome all the spots that we lost on pit road, and I feel like I drove from the back to the top- five or six almost every run.

“We had a really good car and I’m proud of the effort there at the shop and the piece that we brought here to Texas. It’s good that we are above the cutline; but if we are plus 16, I feel like we could have been plus 34 or something at least, so bummer there. We could have potentially won the race. We had the best car and the weather delay hurt for sure. We had the best car on the track when it was hot and when it got cooler, I got loose and everybody seemed to get faster. So, it was just harder to pass. Proud of the effort back at the shop.”

Denny Hamlin - No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota - Finished 10th:

William Bryon said he wanted to show his displeasure but didn't want to spin you out. You wanted to see a penalty for that contact under caution. Were you surprised it didn't come out by NASCAR?

“I think the crew chief (Chris Gabehart) was wanting something. I guess we can just wreck each other under caution. I tried to wreck him back. Yeah, I don't think we touched. I got to look. I don't think we touched. Obviously, he sent us into the infield under caution.”

You haven't had any prior incidents. What is that conversation going to be like?

“I mean, you know, I keep hearing these guys. I'll just add it to the list of guys when I get a chance. They're going to get it.”

Is that later in the Playoffs or is this something that carries over to next year?

“It all just works itself out. We'll be racing each other at some point. He'll lose a lot of spots because he's racing me. This is hard racing, obviously. I'm fine with hard racing.

“But wrecking me under caution is obviously not what we were bargaining for. So, thanks to my FedEx Toyota team for bouncing back. Obviously, it cost us all of our track position. I thought we were in a great position to win until we got sent back to 20-something there.”

Daniel Suarez - No. 99 Aguas Frescas Chevrolet - Finished 12th:

“It was a tough day. We got decent points, but the car wasn’t what we were hoping for. The entire weekend, we were kind of off. The car had good speed, but the balance of the car wasn’t good. We just have to continue to work. I think we had a decent points day. We just have to continue to work and get better.”

Ross Chastain - No. 1 Renu Chevrolet - Finished 13th:

“There were just a lot of ups and downs today. We cycled up to get stage points. The balance was neutral all day, but we got loose when we wanted it to be our last pit stop. We pitted and then we were back there in the very back for the second-to-last restart and got involved with the No. 10 (Aric Almirola) there. We just struggled with the balance the last 80 laps or so, but other than that, it was a good day for our No. 1 Renu Camaro ZL1 team.”

Ty Dillion - No. 42 Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet - Finished 16th:

“Today was a back-and-forth day with strategy. Our Black Rifle Camaro had good speed. We brought a good piece, and I thought it raced well, just the strategy was kind of back and forth. I think we made the perfect call there at the end of when to pit and it was looking like we were going to get a top 10. I just caught a little bit of the slime in turn one and had a big moment and lost spots unfortunately. I’m proud of our effort, proud of the speed in our Camaro. It’s been a lot of fun to drive these fast cars the last couple of weeks.”

Noah Gragson - No. 16 Freedom by Ed Morse Chevrolet - Finished 21st:

"Solid run by our No. 16 Freedom by Ed Morse team. We had a lot of fun out there and ran up in the top 10 for a lot of the race. I'm really thankful and grateful for the opportunity with Kaulig Racing, Freedom by Ed Morse, and the entire Morse family. I had a lot of fun out there. It was a long, long race. We had some strong runs there throughout the race and got sent by the 11 late in the race when we were running like 10th or 11th. That’s part of it. You'll have that, but we'll keep working hard and try and be better in future.”

Martin Truex, Jr. - No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota - Finished 31st:

What happened?

“I blew a tire. Simple as that. I guess the same thing as everybody else has been having. Man, I’m ready for this year to be over. Strong Bass Pro Shops Camry. Really strong car. Went to the back and passed a lot of cars today. Spun out in the first stage and I was like okay, what was that all about. Good car couldn’t do too much with it. Just kept going to the back and as soon as we got track position the unthinkable happens. It’s a shame. It’s a crazy day for sure – a lot of blown tires.”

Chase Eliott - No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet - Finished 32nd:

From your perspective, is there a design issue with these tires?

“I’m not sure that Goodyear is at fault. Goodyear always takes the black eye, but they’re put in a really tough position by NASCAR to build a tire that can survive these types of racetracks with this car. I wouldn’t blame Goodyear.”

Was it a tire that went down?

“Yeah, something came apart. I could hear it flapping in the right rear fender well. I don’t know, but if it wasn’t down, it was certainly coming apart. One of the two.”

You guys have relied on points all year long. As it sits now, just plus-six points above the cutline. How do you now view Talladega and the ROVAL?

“It’s not a great position to be in for sure, but it is what it is now. I hate it for our No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet team. We were actually decent here for once, so that was nice while it lasted. We’ll go to Talladega (Superspeedway) try to get a win and go on down the road.”

Christopher Bell - No. 20 Rheem Toyota - Finished 34th:

Can you tell us what happened on the race track?

“Yeah, just the second right rear blown of the day – that was disappointing. I’m in a pretty bad spot now.”

How do you approach the next couple of races?

“I don’t know. Talladega – I guess we are going to go roll the dice. ROVAL, I think we will be alright. Road courses haven’t been our strength, but we have been good at a couple of them. I don’t know if we are going to be able to get out of this points hole, but we will give it our best.”

Do you feel like you can make magic happen at the ROVAL if you need too?

“I don’t feel great about it. I probably feel better about having something go our way at Talladega.”

Could you tell that you were going to have tire issues?

“No, I had no idea. To have two right rears go in the first half of the race is very strange. I don’t know. It’s a very disappointing day. We are probably going to be in a deep hole now.”

How do you feel about going to Talladega and the ROVAL?

“It makes our decision easy on how to play Talladega. We were hoping to come out of here good and be able to ride around and just survive Talladega. We are going to have to race and get some stage points and be up front all day.”

Do you feel like it is a must win situation now?

“No, but Talladega is going to be really tough.”

What kind of feedback was the car giving you to let you know it was a tire?

“I would get a slight vibration seconds right before the tire went. When it happened on the straightaway, I was able to get it slowed down before turn one, but the second one happened right in the middle of the turn. Very disappointing weekend. I was optimistic when they dropped the green flag. I had a pretty poor Saturday, but felt like we had a lot of speed in our Rheem Camry to make a day out of it, but unfortunately, tires didn’t work our way.”

Kyle Busch - No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota - Finished 36th:

What happened?

“I was just getting closer to the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and I knew if I tracked him, followed him in the lower groove, I would lose ground, so I went to the high groove where I was making time in the spray and the sticky stuff, but it is not so sticky apparently. I crashed. I’m trying to go, trying to race. Banana peels out there for me. Too many conditions that you’ve got to be around or go around or figure out or be smarter about. I guess I wasn’t very smart.”

From your perspective, was that resin or just pushing the car too hard?

“I didn’t know as a race car driver you could push too hard, but certainly, it was a resin issue. I guess you would think being a hundred-and-something degree track temp it would be activated and ready to go, but I tried to get in it earlier than everybody else. I was behind the 11 (Denny Hamlin), catching the 11. If I tracked the 11 in the lower groove, I was going to lose time to him, so I just decided to go high and try to keep time or make time on him and it just snapped. Once these cars snap, they are gone. They are not like the old one where you have a little bit of time to react and catch it, but yeah, just trying hard trying to go and conditions are not ready. Banana peels out there it seems. When that stuff is not activated, it is just ice.”

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