Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s inaugural Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis.
Joey Logano—Winner: “It doesn’t get much better than that. Racing for the lead like that with Kyle (Busch), one of the best. It was a lot of fun. Crossing each other back and forth. I knew it was coming. I did it to him; I knew he was going to do it to me. We crossed back and forth there in the last lap there a couple of times. Good for Pennzoil Mustang for sure. Nice to get a few wins on the season here, start collecting those points, playoff points… What a great car, though. Really fast. I kind of messed up in qualifying, and (crew chief Paul Wolfe) made a great call putting two tires on. Blaney did a great job with the push down on the one, which kept me close at least and being able to make the move. Good racing there.”
Kyle Busch—Finished 2nd: “My car was better on the outside, but it took a few laps for it to get rolling up there. Cold tires, firing off on that restart – didn’t have the help behind me. I was going to put my hand out the window and signal to Kurt (Busch) to push me along and Joey (Logano) was half a car back out my window trying to see it, so the hand signal was going to be irrelevant, so I didn’t do it, which kind of made Kurt too far back. He got into Turn 1 by myself and was too far back. When you are the guy on the inside, you just flush the guy on the outside and it’s over. I got a crossover though but threw it into (Turn) 3 too far. It chattered all four tires. Just did n’t have any grip to get off the corner well enough to be on his outside of him, so I do n’t know.
Kurt Busch—Finished 3rd: “I thought there was going to be a hand signal on when it was going to be go time and I was going to push the hell out of the 18 (Kyle Busch). We did the whole brother miscommunication. We should have won that. There should have been a Toyota in victory lane, a Busch in victory lane. (Joey) Logano, he didn’t do anything smart – we just messed up on getting the launch.”
Ryan Blaney—Finished 4th: “We had a really fast car. I had a great shot to win and just made a mistake in the pits and came out 17th and by the time we got back to race with the lead I just had no tires left. I am proud of the Dent Wizard team all day. The car was super fast, just didn’t do a good job with execution there on that last pit stop.”
Aric Almirola—Finish 5th: “It was a solid day for us. We really needed that. It kind of turned the last month around. We have been running top 10 and finishing 20th or worse the last month and a half. Really proud of the effort today. It was kind of a mistake-free day and ran inside the top-five all day. (Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer) and the guys on the team did a great job. We are just so close to having what we needed to go challenge those guys for the lead.”
Erik Jones—Finish 7th: “Our day was up every day. We lost some spots there at the end with just the restarts and getting tighter. We kind of struggled with that during the day. It was a good day for us. We needed a top-10 run and we got that today with the No. 43 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevy. I’m happy with that. Obviously, we want to be a bit better. I think we have some things we can work on to get up there and be a little bit faster than some of those guys. We’ll keep going, but it was a solid day for us.”
Ross Chastain—Finished 8th: “It was just terrible driving. It’s one thing to do it once, but I just kept driving into guys. At this level, I’m supposed to be better than that.”
AJ Allmendinger—Finished 10th: “I’m really happy with today. I didn’t know what to expect with no practice or qualifying and the car having to be fixed. The team made the car better every day. Ultimately, we needed a little bit of track position, but we were really good at the end there. I’m proud of the effort from start to finish to get a top 10 to cap off a great weekend (after winning Saturday’s Xfinity race at Portland).”
Austin Cindric—Finished 11th: “Proud of the pit crew guys, really solid race for them and proud of their progress. Obviously a really strong weekend for Team Penske great to get Joey (Logano) another win, we’ve got a lot of strengths as a team. Feel like I just adjusted myself too tight by the end. We had the trap door come down and that took off a lot of rear downforce and led me down the wrong road.”
Justin Haley—Finished 14th: “We weren’t the best all day, but we had a good strategy at the end to recover for a good points day. I’m proud of everyone for the hard work to put us back into the top 15.”
Austin Dillon—Finished 15th: “Today was hard, but this No. 3 Get Bioethanol team never gave up. We started the race much further back in the field than we had hoped after qualifying didn’t go as well as expected, and that made the day challenging with how aero-dependent this track is. We just struggled in dirty air all day. We made a big adjustment to tighten the handling of our Chevy late in the race, and it really helped. In hindsight, if we would have made our car tighter earlier, we could have had a different day. It was great to be able to bring NASCAR to St. Louis, and especially to do so while celebrating 20 Million NASCAR Miles on e15.”
AUSTIN DILLON—Finished 16th: “The speed is there in our 3CHI Chevrolet and we were able to showcase it today, especially early in the race when we ran up front and were able to contend for the lead at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. It was a crazy day for this RCR team. We overcame a spin on the track, and also made a mistake on pit road that caused NASCAR to issue us a penalty. We fought back from one lap down to finish 16th, which is saying a lot since we were as far back as 30th during portions of the race. We contend with the guys that win these races every week, and it’s just a matter of putting the whole thing together over an entire race. Once we start doing that, we’ll get it done.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism