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What drivers said after Martinsville

Joe Gibbs Racing's Martin Truex Jr. came alive late at the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, passing Denny Hamlin with 16 laps to go to earn his second Cup win of 2021.

A list of driver quotes following Sunday’s completion of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway:

Martin Truex Jr. - Winner: “You know what, it was never clicking. I mean, even at times where we could have decent runs, it was like fifth, sixth, seventh. I felt that was the best I could ever run here up until, like, 2015 or so. For whatever reason, I just could never get the car to do the things I wanted it to do. It came a point where people told me ‘They can’t do those things you want it to do.’ You’re like, ‘Okay, maybe it can’t do those things and I just need to figure out how to drive it the way it is.’ After not having success at a track, it comes to a point where you really don’t know what you need to do, if it’s even possible to do the things that you want to do. It’s a real challenge. I’ve just been lucky to be with really good people, have really good cars, have that communication, that belief in one another that you can make the thing do the things you want it to do. They know you’re driving it right, you know they know how to set it up. You work together. That’s where we’ve been the past, really, six, seven years here. It’s a place where it doesn’t change all that much other than depending on the tires that Goodyear brings. You can really just continue to work on similar things and refine those. That’s what we’ve been able to do here. It’s been awesome. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

Chase Elliott - Finished 2nd: “I really felt like we were not perfect, for sure, all day. But we did make it better I think as the day went on. The run was kind of that right distance for me there at the end to maximize it. I felt like if it was any longer than that, I was probably going to fade again kind of like I had been all day. I really appreciate the effort. We worked really hard today to get back to second. I felt like every strategy call and circumstance just kind of went the other direction for us. We had a couple of good restarts there at the end; had a good pit stop and made a good last adjustment just for a short run. But definitely need to be better. Our NAPA team has been working hard. We’ve had a very eventful year I feel like, so it’s nice to just have a solid day. We got some stage points and got a good finish. We’ll try to go get them next week.”

Denny Hamlin - Finished 3rd: “We just continue to run top-three every single week. Every stage, every finish - we’re right there. We just need to get a little better. We’re barely missing it. We led a lot of laps and that’s because our competitors that we were racing against, had some issues. We had a good short run car that could keep us up front on the restarts. Overall, a lot to learn.”

William Byron - Finished 4th: “It was a hard-fought day for us. We had handling issues early on and then once we got back further in the pack - it was just crazy. We had fresh tires and the speed but had to manage traffic. Once we got track position back we were making up ground but got held up a couple times which hurt us. Overall though we had a fast Liberty University Chevy. It was a good day and we learned a lot. On to Richmond next weekend.”

Kyle Larson - Finished 5th: “Yeah, definitely the restarts were crazy. I didn’t have the best balance on the restarts and that made it even a little crazier for me because I was kind of on defense, I felt like, most of the time. Even when I was on offense, I was kind of on-edge. But after we would get 15 to 20 laps in, I actually felt really good. I felt like we were probably a fourth-place car on the long runs, so I was happy about that. To get a top-five here at probably, by far, my worst race track feels like a win.”

Joey Logano - Finished 6th: “We weren’t very good. It was kind of a confusing race for us. I thought we were decent yesterday the first run and then fired off on this first run and was like, ‘Uh oh.’ I had no rear grip and started fighting loose in and off. We almost went down a lap, but a good strategy play got us up toward the front and a couple good changes got us closer to where I needed to be as well, and then it was just kind of a slugfest, a grinding race from there. There were points I thought we were decent and then the next run we were no good, then we were pretty good, and then no good. We just kept jumping the fence back and forth, and trying to understand where to be was pretty tough. We almost got a top five out of something that was a pretty challenging day. We got something out of it. I was expecting a lot more out of today, but we still got a sixth-place finish with our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang which is just OK.”

Christopher Bell - Finished 7th: “I’m happy with the top-10 in our Camry. It was a very hard-fought race for us. We went from the back to the front to the back to the front - it felt like 20 times. We had moments where our car was a top-10 car and we had moments where our car was a 20th-place car. We hit there at the end and we were able to keep going.”

Tyler Reddick - Finished 8th: “Today was a good day for our No. 8 Childress Vineyards Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, but we definitely had to fight for it. I learned a lot about racing at Martinsville Speedway over the course of the weekend. We fired off strong Saturday night and were able to work our way up a handful of spots after having to start from the rear of the field due to an unapproved adjustment. Then the rain came through and postponed the race, but that also gave our team a good chance to talk about what we had and what we needed to work on. Once we got back going today, I had really good long run speed and was able to use that to capitalize on some good runs to get into the top 10 and grab stage points at the end of Stage 2. I needed more center turn and to be a little looser during that span of short runs that came in the middle of Stage 3 when we had all those back-to-back yellows while being shuffled back a little bit due to our pit cycle, but luckily the final run of the race was a longer one that allowed us to bring home a top-10 finish. Overall, this was a good weekend for our team and I’m looking forward to carrying this momentum into next weekend’s race at Richmond.”

Kevin Harvick - Finished 9th: “We just maintained today. I got one good restart and then went too loose at the end.”

Kyle Busch - Finished 10th: “It was such an up and down day. Our SNICKERS Peanut Brownie Camry was good, we just kept getting behind on track position and just kept working to try and make it back up. At one point in the race I thought something had broke. The handling fell off the car so quickly, but the car was better once we put the next set of tires on. The guys did a good job fixing the damage, we dug in and salvaged a top-10 out of it.”

Ryan Blaney - Finished 11th: “We had a really good Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang tonight. On the long runs we were really good. Denny was good on short runs. I was just kind of trying to hold off the guys behind me until we got 20 or so laps in and then I could kind of start creeping forward. But, we just got that pit road penalty at the end. It’s just a mistake and something that should be avoided. We’ve had an issue the last three times we’ve been here with a car to win, so that’s frustrating but I’m real proud of the effort. I just wish we could close one out.”

Austin Dillon - Finished 14th: “It was a marathon this weekend at Martinsville Speedway in the American Ethanol Chevrolet. We faced a lot of adversity. The entire right side of our Chevy was gone by the end of the race. There was just a lot of beating and banging out there today. We got our car handling pretty well, but were held on pit road for a lap as a penalty for pitting outside the box. We lost our track position but did a good job of trying to work our way back to the front. The handling of our Chevy just wasn’t what it needed to be once it got dark outside. The track changed too much. We’ll go get them at Richmond Raceway on Sunday.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - Finished 15th: “It wasn’t pretty, but we were able to salvage a decent day at Martinsville Speedway for our No. 47 Kroger/Crest Chevy. We really struggled to get the right balance throughout the majority of the race, but Brian (Pattie, crew chief) made some strategy calls to keep us in a position where we could maintain our track position and stay on the lead lap, and ultimately race in the top-15 for the majority of the end of the race and miss the big wreck that took out our teammate. We were really fast at Richmond Raceway last year and I’m looking forward to getting there next week and keeping our momentum going.”

Cole Custer - Finished 18th: “That was a typical Martinsville race. It’s a long race, a tough race, a long two days, it felt like. Our biggest issue was trying to find the drive off the corners that we needed. We got our Ford pretty decent in that respect by the middle of the last stage. We managed to get through that big wreck in better shape than a lot of other folks, and for some reason the car got worse during the last run, but we were able to get 18th place out of it.”

Aric Almirola - Finished 20th: “I’m not sure what it’s going to take to have our luck change, but I sure hope it’s soon. We ran so aggressively and so well, and it felt like we just had a magnet on the left-rear quarter panel. We stayed in the lead lap there in the first stage, and I felt like we had a solid car to work with. Then we got jammed up and I got pushed into another car that tore up the front end. We couldn’t catch a break all day. After all of that we still had a top-10 Smithfield Anytime Favorites Ford. We were in the Lucky Dog position there at the end and couldn’t get a caution to get us back in contention. We’re keeping our heads up and waiting for the bad luck to end.”

Chase Briscoe - Finished 27th: “I’m not really sure what went wrong there with 100 laps to go. Something just felt off after we got pushed up off the bottom and started falling back. The team did a really good job of sticking with it and coming back from two laps down. Johnny (Klausmeier, crew chief) called for some really good adjustments, and we had a great short-run car. It just started to get a little free, and we never got a chance to work on it.”

Erik Jones - Finished 30th: “It just wasn’t the day we really wanted for the No. 43 Petty’s Garage Camaro ZL1 1LE. It was just up-and-down trying to find a balance to get the car where it could roll the center and not be too free. I finally felt we kind of got the car where we wanted to be towards the end. We had those string of cautions and got caught up in one of the later wrecks. We really didn’t have too much damage, but I had either an axle or a gear issue that ended our day there. I wish we could have seen where we would have ended up. I think we probably could have drove up towards the top-15, maybe even the back of the top-10. We learned a lot though and I think we can take it to the race coming back to Martinsville Speedway in the fall.”

Daniel Suarez - Finished 32nd: “First of all, I saw a couple of cars on fire, so luckily nobody got hurt. I was a bit surprised that the safety people took a long time to get to my car. I tried to make sure everything was good to stop the fire, but for some reason, they just weren’t stopping the fire. In that wreck, there wasn’t really anything I could do. I was trying to slam on the brakes to try to slow down, but it was a parking lot in there. I couldn’t do anything about it. The No. 24 car (William Byron) put us in that position; he pushed me out of the way. I had a few laps older tires than everyone else. But overall, we have to keep working. This weekend, overall, wasn’t great. We came from the back several times. We had a fast car, but we made bad adjustments. It just wasn’t a clean weekend.”

Brad Keselowski - Finished 33rd: “It’s just unfortunate that we got caught up in it. It looked like some guys got in front of me and the track was blocked. I think I was just barely gonna get stopped in time and somebody clobbered me from behind and just tore us up. It’s a bummer. I think we were really good. We drove up into the top five and lost the power-steering. I was able to manhandle it around the racetrack, but I couldn’t get down pit road where you go to turn in your pit box. Every pit stop, it wasn’t my crew’s fault, I just couldn’t get the car stopped in the box and pointed the right way. That kind of got me in the back, and then I got dumped. We recovered from that and then we got caught up in a wreck that we just didn’t look like I could miss. Just one of those compounding, frustrating short track days, but we had decent speed. We just have to figure out why we lost the power-steering that kind of put us behind.”

Alex Bowman - Finished 34th: “It’s very frustrating. I hate it for everybody at Hendrick Motorsports; everybody at Ally and Chevrolet that gives us so much support. Everybody works so hard to give us what we need and we had such a good race car today; such a fast Ally Camaro. I had a loose right-front wheel and that’s just part of racing; things are going to happen. Our pit crew is phenomenal every week. I make mistakes, people make mistakes, it happens. It put us behind the eight ball there and then they all crashed in front of me. I stopped and the guys behind me didn’t stop. It was one of those deals. I hate it. I feel like we had a car capable of winning, which says a lot because I drive this place completely wrong. I’m so bad here. Greg (Ives, Crew Chief), everybody on this No. 48 team have their work cut out for them to make a car work for me and they did that this week. It was phenomenal; couldn’t ask anything more of it, but not much to show for it.”