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What drivers said at Atlanta

Kurt Busch explains the significance of edging out his brother Kyle at Atlanta Motor Speedway to earn his first victory of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series.

Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
KURT BUSCH — WINNER: “What a battle. What a genuine, awesome, old-school racetrack, and I just asked the track today, last time here on your old asphalt, can I have an old guy win, and she answered. Thank you, Atlanta Motor Speedway! This has been one of those years where I knew we were going to have our back up against the wall with trying to get above the cutoff line and race hard and race smart, and to have GEARWRENCH in Victory Lane, this is their last race of the year, they’re with us all year, and with Monster Energy, I couldn’t have two great primary sponsors. What a Chevrolet today, hell yeah!

KYLE BUSCH — Finished 2nd: “It’s just the same as always. We just don’t have enough front end with laps on tires. I had everything I had early in the run and then just smoked it behind the 42 (Ross Chastain), obviously. It shows you what kind of driver he is. Just tried to fight hard after that when I got passed and had one valiant effort off of (Turn) 2, but didn’t have enough momentum to drag him down and make him go high in (Turns) 3 and 4, and after that the tires were smoked. Great effort. Guys gave me a great piece. We were fast. The No. 1 (Kurt Busch) was definitely better than us today. I just thought I had him. And we did. But racing just didn’t play out that way for us.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR. — Finished 3rd: “It’s funny you look at results and oh, you started fifth and finished third, that’s a pretty good day. We went through a lot today on our Auto Owners Toyota Camry. … We definitely had the speed to battle for the win at the end, just had to come from too far back. I’m proud of everyone at (Joe Gibbs Racing), Toyota, TRD. Everyone at the shop is working really hard getting our stuff better. It just had the feel I was looking for today. We were good on the short runs and good on the long runs. I’m glad to be back running up front.”

ALEX BOWMAN — Finished 4th: “We were OK. We had a really good racecar, just not good enough to contend for the win. I feel like we were really fast on the short runs, and I could run with those guys. I felt like I was just hanging out and trying not to burn my tires off. It never really paid off for me in the long run. I struggled at the end of runs and was really lane-limited at the end of the race. I needed the bottom to make the car turn. It was a good solid day for our Ally Camaro but not quite good enough.”

RYAN BLANEY — Finished 5th: “We got our best at the end. We didn’t start off very good. It was a long day of working on our race car and finally at the end we got going a little bit better. I was super tight all day and couldn’t really do anything. I was worried about cording right-front tires and we just kept taking pretty big swings at it. We still didn’t really get it to where we needed at the end, but, overall, not a bad day for our group. We’ve still got to find a little bit of speed, though. … I definitely think we’ve got to find some speed. None of us have won a race in a while and, honestly, we haven’t really been leading laps and running up front. We’ve been lacking, so we’re getting better, that’s for sure. It’s just little, tiny baby steps. I want to be winning races next week. I want us to make huge gains, but that’s not what this game is anymore. It’s tiny, little things that you find over weeks and weeks and apply them. I think we’re heading in the right direction, but we still got a little bit to go.”

TYLER REDDICK — Finished 6th: “I was able to get up into the top five early and stayed there for most of the race. Our car was a bit tight almost all day long, but the team was able to help counter that with air pressure adjustments throughout our pit stops. It felt like handling faded a little bit towards the end of the day, but I was able to switch up my lines and keep our speed for the most part, which was good. Racing in the Cup Series is just so tough. Everyone in this series is so smart and immediately picks up on anything someone does differently, so you’re constantly having to find new grooves and lanes during the race to stay up front. While I wish we could have finished top five, races like today are a testament to all the hard work the men and women of RCR and ECR put in at the shop every day, and this result is just another step in the right direction for our team. I know we can make the playoffs, we just have to continue to push.”

CHASE ELLIOTT — Finished 7th: “We changed a bunch of stuff throughout the day and just kind of kept grinding. I feel like we got to a decent spot there at the end. We weren’t anything special. But it was a heck of a lot better than where we started today. So, I’m happy with that. We just need to find a little pace and need to find a little bit myself and I think we can get back to where we need to be. We just need a tick more.”

MATT DiBENEDETTO — Finished 9th: “This is another good example of where we’re really clicking as a team and executing, and I think we made about the most of our car. We just kept chipping away at it. (Crew chief Jonathan) Hassler made good adjustments and just kept getting better and better. That’s all you can ask for. I think everybody just did a good job. You like those days when you don’t have anything too crazy to talk about other than our team just doing a good job. Our pit stops were good. We were solid all day there. Hassler made great adjustments and we did fall back there. At a point we got pretty tight. The track changed a little and we got tight, but we took a little stab at it and got right back to where we were running in the top 10 and made the most of it. I’m pretty happy with it.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI — Finished 10th: “That was a blue collar day for our MoneyLion team. Our guys had a great day on pit road and we had a great day on restarts. We just needed a little more speed.”

AUSTIN DILLON — Finished 12th: “We started the race way too tight and struggled with the handling for most of the race. Despite the challenges, we earned stage points in stage 2 before losing most of our track position pitting for lengthy adjustments to help the tight handling condition on our No. 3 Chevy. That adjustment really helped, but we had to climb our way forward from 20th. We kept digging and ultimately finished 12th. I know we learned a lot today, and I am proud of this team for never giving up.”

CHASE BRISCOE — Finished 15th: “I felt like our One Cure Ford Mustang was a little better than where we finished, but we worked on it all day, and it definitely was better toward the end. It wasn’t one of our best tracks, but we improved and came out better than we were, and I’m proud of the team for sticking with it. We may have some work to do at New Hampshire, but I’ll be ready for the road courses when we come back from the break in a few weeks.”

JOEY LOGANO — Finished 19th: “We weren’t bad today overall from a handing perspective, I’d say we just lacked some overall speed and put ourselves a touch behind when we had to pit early in the second stage. We had a better run going than where we finished but the last five laps I started to have a right side tire come apart.”

ROSS CHASTAIN — Finished 21st: “Kurt asked for the bottom so I gave him that lane. I was racing to stay on the lead lap. I’m very aware of what’s going on on the track around me. Kurt asked me for the bottom and I gave it to him. To see a Chip Ganassi car in Victory Lane with all that’s happened the last couple of weeks and all this year, there is nothing I want more. One team, one goal and that’s to win. I hate that Chip wasn’t here to enjoy this. But for our Clover Chevrolet to be so far off as we were and have a teammate go win, that’s a best-case scenario for us. We’ll learn from what they did and look through their notebook.”

ARIC ALMIROLA — Finished 23rd: “It was just a rough day at Atlanta. The balance was off on our Smithfield Ford Mustang for most of the race. We were hoping the rain would work out in our favor there in the second stage, but ultimately, we had to come to pit road in the end. We’ll move on to New Hampshire.”