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What drivers said after Atlanta Cup race

Despite Kyle Larson sweeping both stage wins and leading a race-high 269 laps, Ryan Blaney passes him inside of 10 laps remaining to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Here is what drivers said after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

Ryan Blaney - Winner: “The 5 (Kyle Larson) was crazy fast there the whole race and then we started closing in. Our car got a lot better there. I think towards the end of stage two, it was starting to get there and then before that last green flag stop, it really came to life and he was starting to struggle getting really free. I don’t know if the track changed or what, but we were just tightening it up all day. I’m happy there were a couple long runs at the end. That’s where our strong suit was and we capitalized on it. I can’t thank BodyArmor, Menards, DEX, Advance Auto Parts enough for what they do and Ford. It’s cool to get a win at Atlanta. I love this place. It’s nice to have a good run here and win.”

Kyle Larson - Finished 2nd: “I was pushing the whole time (on the final run), every lap really from when I left pit road. I was trying to get out to a big gap. But I never really did. I think I extended it a little bit, but not nearly enough. Before the other green flag stops, I could exit pit road, I feel like I’d gain a few seconds over the course of like 20 laps. I was hoping it was going to be like that. I thought me having to race (Ryan Blaney) and pass him was what used my tires up the little run before, but after the green flag stop, he was just really good. I couldn’t get out to that gap that I could earlier in the race. Ultimately just had to run my tires too hard to try to get that gap, and I didn’t have anything there at the end.”

Alex Bowman - Finished 3rd: “We’ve struggled in some areas this year that have been pretty frustrating. I feel like we really struggled in dirty air, maneuverability in traffic, restarts and stuff. Worked really hard at bringing something to the racetrack that I could be aggressive with, could drive hard. Felt good to have that, to be able to pass cars. My pit crew did a great job keeping us up front, as well. Yeah, I mean, it definitely feels good to be closer to the front. We want to be a couple spots better. After the last couple weeks, this definitely feels pretty good.”

Denny Hamlin - Finished 4th: “Just not fast enough. It’s kind of the story so far. We’re getting our balance decently close, but just not enough speed, not enough balance, handling – not enough grip. Just need more speed. We’ll go to work on it. Just trying to gather a notebook. I just hate that we’re having these clean races and everything, but there’s always just one or two cars that are a little bit faster.”

Kyle Busch - Finished 5th: “I thought we were good all day. The M&M’s Messages Camry was fast. Every time I would ... claw my way up to the front, we would have a problem. I had a restart issue that sent us back seven spots. Got back up to third and then we sped on pit road. Got back up to fifth. That’s all it is, all day long is just a claw and that’s all you can do. There’s not enough separation in speed between cars and fall-off and all that sort of stuff. Great job by the guys. We definitely improved our car. It was good in the early stages and even better in the late stages, but everybody else was better too. That’s all we had.”

Austin Dillon - Finished 6th: “Today was a good little step in the right direction from where we’ve been the last few weeks. Everyone on the Bass Pro Shops / TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet team did a great job with adjustments throughout the race. During portions of the race, I couldn’t turn the wheel on entry, so I would just go in there straight. I made up time running some very weird lines. Justin Alexander and the team kept working on it and got it pretty good in Stage 3. I found some grip in the middle of track late in the race. If I would have found that earlier, we might have been better. We’ll keep working on it.”

Chris Buescher - Finished 7th: “It was a good day. I’m pretty happy with that from start to finish. We were able to fire off and make some progress and head forward and stay with it all day. We didn’t really have to work on much. This car has a lot of similar characteristics to our Homestead car and definitely feel pretty good about these low grip racetracks. We’ll keep working on it and try to tweak on that a little bit and get it to a top five and ultimately winning a race.”

William Byron - Finished 8th: “Decent day for the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet team. We were up around the top-five for most of the day and just had a bad final run; a bad restart got us back there and we just never could really recover. We managed an eighth-place, which is decent, but definitely want a lot more than that. We’ll go to work and figure out where we can improve so we can get better for the next one.”

Martin Truex Jr. - Finished 9th: “For us, we struggled a bit all day honestly with the Bass Pro Camry. Never could get it to do what I wanted and needed it to do. Really fought not having good front grip and then really losing the front tires on the long runs. We couldn’t really loosen the car up because I was sliding the backend all over the place at the same time. Just not a good setup, not a good day. Battled all day and came home with a top-10, which is okay, but nothing like we would normally run here. Have to go back and figure out where we messed up and what we changed that made it so much worse than what we’ve had here the last two trips.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - Finished 12th: “It was a really solid day for our No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet team at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Our biggest thing this season is to be consistent, and bringing home a fourth top-15 finish accomplishes that goal and it’s great to see us achieving that so early in the season. I had the speeding penalty early in the race, but our car had enough speed that we were able to keep working on it throughout the long runs and get back inside the top 10 and top 15. Something we’ve been working on is to keep hammering each week and not get stagnant in what we’re doing, and having this momentum heading into the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race is a huge advantage and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Ross Chastain - Finished 14th: “Fourteenth – it’s progress. This No. 42 Tubi TV Camaro was good. We got it freed up, finally, part-way through the race. We got our lap back and just ran fast lap times there at the end. We passed some really good cars and made some really good progress. We’ve made progress in the last two stops with Phoenix (Raceway). As crazy as it sounds, for me, it’s translated in the direction we’re going. It seems to be better for me. I can’t thank all the boys and girls at Chip Ganassi Racing enough. They’re believing in me, even when I didn’t necessarily believe in myself. We were the last car on the lead lap. Fourteenth – good, long 500-miles at Atlanta. Proud of the effort; a lot of pit stops. Onto Bristol.”

Joey Logano - Finished 15th: “Not the day we were looking for with our Shell-Pennzoil Mustang. We fought the handling most of the race and kept adjusting on it. We’ll keep working on the 550 (horsepower) tracks and we’ll get stronger. Congrats to Blaney and the 12 team, that’s a great win.”

Daniel Suarez - Finished 17th: “Yeah, it was good. I’m very proud of everyone in this group. They work very, very hard. They build a very fast car. It was a car capable of finishing in the Top 10, that’s for sure. I made a mistake on my part (pit road speeding penalty, Lap 267) that kind of got us out of contention. But it’s something very good to build on.”

Cole Custer- Finished 18th: “Well, that was definitely not the result we wanted, but I would call it a solid day in a lot of respects. We made improvements on our Mustang all day but just couldn’t get going on the restarts for the life of me. Still, proud of all the hard work by Mike (Shiplett, crew chief) and everyone on this HaasTooling team. This is a tough track to get your car right. We’ll go get ’em on the dirt at Bristol next week.”

Aric Almirola - Finished 20th: “We battled handing issues all day. Our Pit Boss Ford Mustang just didn’t have the handling on the restarts and couldn’t hold up on the long run. If we helped the restarts, we hurt the long run. We tried a few different adjustments, and nothing really helped us. It was another character building race that we’ll learn and grow from. We’re not running to our potential yet, and we have a long season ahead with a lot of hard-working people. On to Bristol on dirt.”

Austin Cindric - Finished 22nd: “I would say that having all the fenders on here and getting as much green flag running as I did today definitely taught me a lot and learned a lot. That was my goal, picking this race, getting long green and learning all I can about these cars in tough situations. I feel like our strength was definitely on the long run and we just lacked track position and went too many laps down too early. We had to fight that a lot of the day and just little things here and there and that’s where it counts in this series. I’m looking forward to the next one. Hopefully, we’ll find some track position and try and get closer to the top 10.”

Chase Briscoe - Finished 23rd: “Our balance was kind of off all day, but our Financial Services Ford Mustang was pretty good that last run. We were just too far behind to do much with it by then. Other than that, we had a nice clean race and we’ve learned a lot that we’ll be able to bring back in July. I’m pretty excited to get to Bristol and do some dirt racing next week. Maybe that’s what we need to turn things around.”

Erik Jones - Finished 24th: “Just not a great day for the Petty’s Garage Chevrolet. Struggled with the speed for the most part and never got it much better. Learn from it and we’ll focus on Bristol (Motor Speedway) for next week.”

Tyler Reddick - Finished 26th: “It has been a tough start to our season, but my No. 8 Alsco Uniforms Chevrolet team stuck with it today at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I got into the wall early in the race, but my team did a great job making all the necessary repairs to keep us going. I had a lot of speed after that and ran some great lap times all race long, but we were just trapped a couple laps down for the majority of the day. We made some gains on handling today, which will be important to take note of when we come back to Atlanta later this summer. I struggled with a lack of rear lateral grip early on, but the adjustments made throughout the race really helped on that issue. I still wanted to be tighter at the end of the race, but this at least gives us some good notes to build off of for July.”

Chase Elliott - Finished 38th: “Obviously, we broke a motor there later on. We got some damage there on that (Lap 113) restart. Kyle (Busch) kind of spun his tires and then I was pushing him and Kurt (Busch) was pushing me. We all just really jammed together hard and ended up hurting the nose some. So, I don’t know if that had something to do with breaking the engine or not.”

Kurt Busch - Finished 39th: “I think the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) was the outside-lead car (on the Lap 113 restart). The No. 9 (Chase Elliott) kind of checked-up, too. I checked up; the No. 17 (Chris Buescher) hit us from behind. It was just the accordion effect and then I jumped to the middle. I’m like ‘I’m here’; I positioned myself. It wasn’t like I re-arranged my lanes and made another block. (Denny Hamlin) didn’t do anything vicious or malicious there. It’s a 500-miler and these are the days that it hurts the worst. This absolutely hurts the worst because we had a top-five, winning, Monster Energy Chevy.”