Here’s what drivers said afterward Sunday’s playoff race at Homestead-Maami Speedway:
Christopher Bell – Winner: “It’s no secret that this song is not my favorite. At the first stage I thought we were on our way. I started 14th and got all the way up to ninth, I thought if we could just improve that much we’d have a great day. And then the exact opposite happened as soon as we got to stage two. I have no idea what adjustments (Adam Stevens) made. We threw the kitchen sink at it as we went from being one of the worst cars on the track to one of the best in the end.”
Ryan Blaney — Finished 2nd: “We just needed laps. The long term car was really good. I just couldn’t get about 10 laps going. I think the cooling of the track helped these guys. I think we were better in the hotter, slicker conditions where the rate of fire didn’t matter as much and it dropped faster. That worked to our advantage.”
Blaney on the right side of the line after Homestead
Ryan Blaney says the No. 12 was good on long runs all day after finishing second at Homestead-Miami and had nothing to share when asked about the incident with Kyle Larson on pit road.
Tyler Reddick — Finished 3rd: “Yes, it was a disappointing day. I was really hoping we’d get a little more out of it. The finish was what we needed, but we didn’t run as well as we wanted all day, which was the disappointing part. I don’t know, I’ve been having issues since we went to the bowl side composite body. Everyone goes over the fence and there is no penalty when you make a mistake and hit the wall.”
William Byron — Finished 4th: “We just didn’t have a line in our car to start running, so we just struggled to shoot. I was doing my best to block the air; move your line and try to take the air (to Christopher Bell) but it just wasn’t enough. I couldn’t get through the middle well enough to keep up the pace. But our #24 Liberty University Chevrolet was really solid all day. We just needed more at the end, but we had a good execution, good pit stops and put ourselves in a position to win.”
AJ Allmendinger — finished 5th: “We started the race from 25th position and got into the top 10 there. The track was tough – you stood on one side of the racetrack and we fought hard through the middle of the race. Our crew chief made some really good adjustments there and we got a little more fresh air and I was able to make some moves. I thought we were maybe one of the fastest cars at the end, but overall, just a really solid day. It’s always great when you can finish in the top five.”
Bubba Wallace – Finished 6th: “Oooh, disappointing day, disappointing sixth place. But, proud of our efforts today, this is what is needed. Never give up. We just have to be better. We have to look at what we did from Saturday night to today and not do it again and start better to put ourselves in the race. I thought our pit crew brought us back into the game today. Just not what we had for our No. 23 McDonald’s Grimace Toyota team, but overall, a good result for sure.”
Aric Almirola — Finished 9th: “We finished with a solid top 10 today even after my pit road mistake. We were finally able to do something about that caution, which got us back in the game. We found speed in our Smithfield Ford Mustang today. We needed a top 10 as a team after last year and to do it at Homestead is great. We never gave up today after coming back from 30th to that penalty and then coming back again.”
Austin Dillon – Finished 10th: “We had a solid qualifying effort on Saturday that put us in position to be contenders on Sunday. Our Chevy was fast all day. We finished in the top 10 in both stages and were preparing for the end to have a chance to win. We played the strategy game and the warnings seemed to fall on us. At the last pit stop of the race we were fifth and there was an issue on the pit road which forced us to restart 18th. We would have loved to play up front at the end, but it wasn’t in the cards we were dealt. Still, good recovery for our team to finish in the top 10.”
Ryan Preece — Finished 13th: “A worthy day for our 41 group. We spent most of the first stage trying to tighten up our car a bit so we could go over the top, but our entry and exit was good all day. Our car was fast and we were able to make positive gains all day with the pit strategy. I wish we could have gained a few more places there at the end, but overall it was a good day for us and we will finish 13th.”
Eric Jones — Finished 14th: “Just a good up-and-down day for the No. 43 Allegiant Chevy. We had good streaks and bad streaks, but overall we finished with a decent day. We needed that. We had some bad finishes; some are not necessarily our fault; we were just in a bad situation. It’s nice to go home with a good day and hopefully go to Martinsville and get a little better.”
Chase Briscoe — Finished 17th: “We were never able to get track position. I felt like our car was good enough to run at the front. We managed to pass the 23XI guys who finished in front and managed about halfway to finally get to 11th or 12th, then we got a penalty which just killed our day. Disappointing, but overall we still had a fast car, which is a positive for our mile and a half program. But it’s definitely disappointing.”
Kyle Busch — Finished 18th: “We were too tight throughout the race. Crew chief Randall Burnett and the RCR crew guys made adjustments at every pit stop, but we just couldn’t get anything going to improve the balance. One bright spot for us was our pit crew. These guys did a solid job on the road today. Not the finish we wanted, but we’ll regroup and bounce back next week at Martinsville Speedway.”
Chris Buescher — Finished 21st: “Yes, it was a brutal day. We worked hard on this Fastenal Mustang and made it better. We started the race very tight and dropped a lap and had no chance to get that back. The cautions didn’t come at the right time for us and around the time the green flag cycles would start something would happen. We couldn’t catch the break we needed. We found good speed and I feel like with even tires we would have been able to move up quite a bit in the end. It just wasn’t like that.”
Justin Haley — Finished 23rd: “All day I felt like I had a steering problem. We shot so tight with no downforce and couldn’t ride in traffic. We made solid adjustments throughout the day, but there was definitely a bigger problem. Hopefully we can regroup and head to Martinsville.
Denny Hamlin – Finished 30th: “We tried and it just didn’t work out. Too bad for this Toyota Sport Clips team. We really fought well today – just a tough break.”
Joe Gibbs Racing loses Hamlin and Truex Jr.
The Joe Gibbs Racing drivers faced catastrophic problems at the same time at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with Denny Hamlin suffering a steering problem and Martin Truex Jr. suffering from an expired engine.
Ross Chastain — Finishes 31st: “We were out of the top 10 and had to work our way back into the top 5 there. We had to catch a lucky warning to get back into the mix. I just ran out of space — I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault, it’s just four-wide coming out of turn two.”
Kyle Larson — finished 34th: “I was just trying to push him as hard as I could. He (Ryan Blaney) had a great car and I felt like if he came out of the pits leading he would have won the race or beaten me. I was just trying to maximize my participation and honestly I felt like I was doing a really good job. I just didn’t expect him to slow down as much as he did. But on replay it looks like I just missed it a lot.