What drivers said after Bristol playoff race

Here is what drivers were saying after Saturday’s playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway:

Denny Hamlin — Winner: “It’s our year. I just feel like we’ve got it all put together. We’ve got the speed every single type of racetrack. Nothing to stop us at this point.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 2nd: “I feel like we had the second-best car and we finished second with it. We just didn’t have the pace that Denny had. He was really, really fast and got through traffic really well. I thought maybe his balance was fading when we got to traffic, but as soon as he got clear of them, he took back off. Just didn’t quite have the balance that I needed to really charge through the corners and be aggressive on the throttle and exit.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 3rd: “It definitely is a run to be proud of, but I’ll be honest, this was probably our best race we’ve had in a while and probably the most disappointed I’ve been in a while. Just got a little bit away from us there in the last half of the race. That is how it goes sometimes, but I’m really proud of the effort on this Reser’s Camry. It was a lot of fun leading laps, and this track is just the best.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 4th: “We’re not disappointed in the car at all. Obviously, we want to win and coming off the win last time being close and seeing it was good, but we had a really good race car. We needed a touch more to go fight for that win, but I’m really proud of this group. We’re on to the next round of playoffs.”

Ty Gibbs — Finished 5th: “We had a good Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD. The pit crew did a great job all night. I feel like we had a chance for the win, but it is a top five. I just need a bit more experience and to keep learning. But a solid night.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 6th: “Those first two races just killed us, put us so far behind. This is a learning experience. It’s a young group. We didn’t do what we wanted to do here in these playoffs. I think we showed speed, showed that we could do it. We’ll learn from this, get ready for next year. Still have a lot to fight for this year, too. Not the run we needed to have tonight, but still a good performance. Really proud of everybody.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 8th: “It’s a good feeling for sure. Chris (Buescher) has done a great job. The 17 car looks good. The 6 car looks good. We’ve got a real good shot of making it through the next round, but we’ve got to be careful to keep our head down and stay focused.”

William Byron — Finished 9th: “We’re really happy with 500 good laps here. A top-10 finish is good, but definitely wanted more. After practice, I felt like we could have a little bit more today, but I’m happy with it. I think our No. 24 Relay Payments Chevy was good tonight.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 10th: “We executed in the race really well, but just didn’t execute on Saturday good enough to put us starting up front and get some stage points early. That’s kind of where we’ve been lacking, I would say most of the year – just with qualifying and being able to set ourselves up for the beginning stages of the race. I’m proud of the effort and another top-10 finish.”

Carson Hocevar — Finished 11th: “It was a lot of fun. We were running fifth at one point and I think that’s where we finished in Stage Two. Our car was so fast. (Luke Lambert) and this whole Legacy Motor Club team has worked so hard. They were so excited to come here. This is Luke’s favorite race and it was huge to get a strong finish. We had a lot of speed; we were just too free there at the end. We wanted to get a top 10, but we were really close.”

Ryan Preece — Finished 12th: “We just need speed. Our long run isn’t terrible, but we struggled to fire off to where we could be aggressive and then once you get your track position, you can hold it. Gotta find the grip and the speed, and that’ll change our days.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished 14th: “I love where I’m at with this team. Wish my mom, dad, sister were here to celebrate with me. I mean, a career year. Just got to keep it going. Appreciate all the partners involved. Columbia has done great when they’re on the car. Hated it for them last week. I’m mentally exhausted. I’m wore out. Gave it our all there. Battled hard and executed. That’s what you got to do.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 15th: “It was a tough night. I thought we had an okay car, it just struggled in traffic and that is pretty much what we were in all night long. We could bust off a fast lap every now and then, but it didn’t seem like the repeatability was quite there.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 17th: “We struggled with a tight-handling condition for much of the race, but a lot of that was due to traffic. Track position is just so important. Our Chevy got pretty decent as the race went on. We just ended up too loose at the end of the race. Proud of the effort of this RCR team. On to Texas Motor Speedway.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 19th: “We started the race off, I felt okay about it. We got too tight, but track position – we were pretty okay there. Once we lost it, just forget about it – it was plowing tight, blowing the right front off. There wasn’t a whole lot that I could do. We kept adjusting on it. We got a lap down. The last run we finally made a little bit of progress on the car, and we were just so far back.”

Truex Jr. avoids playoff elimination at Bristol

Martin Truex Jr. reviews his effort following a “fighting night” at Bristol after a 19th-place finish, good enough to advance to the Round of 12 in the Cup Series playoffs on points.

Kyle Busch — Finished 20th: “We didn’t have any front grip in the beginning of the run, or any rear grip in the later run. It was a struggle to go anywhere, and to make passes. I just felt mired in traffic and dirty air. Even when we had clean air, we weren’t passing anybody because lap times were just so stagnant.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 22nd: “It was not a pretty night by any means, but we ran all the laps and did what we needed to do. You’d like to have a little bit more speed and just be competitive and we weren’t tonight, but we get to go on to the next round and reset and start off at Texas to see what we’ve got.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 23rd: “We were just too tight for our No. 1 Worldwide Express Chevy. Aside from the very first run, we were just too tight all night. We were catching up to it running the bottom, and then when we moved to the top, we were just too tight again. Just not quite enough speed for our Chevy.”

Erik Jones — Finished 24th: “Just not a very good day for the No. 43 U.S. Air Force Chevy team. We just kind of struggled on balance all weekend. We had a loose wheel that just put us a couple of laps down and we caught a yellow during that. It just didn’t cycle out very good and got kind of trapped.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 29th: “I didn’t really have many expectations with as up and down as the year has been. It is what it is. It’s probably about what we deserve.”

Joey Logano — Finished 34th: “I haven’t really felt like we’ve made any big gains that we need to and unfortunately it seems like it’s at every track. Typically, you may say, ‘Oh, we’re off on a mile-and-a-half, but our short tracks are OK or your road courses are OK.’ It just seems like we’re off everywhere right now, so we’ll see what happens here the rest of the race and if we get knocked out it gives us a few races to swing big and try to figure it out for next year.”

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