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What drivers said after Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 21: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s 75th Anniversary Toyota, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee. The race was delayed due to inclement weather on Saturday, August 20. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

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In a race that concluded nearly 24 hours after it was scheduled to begin, Kevin Harvick emerged Sunday night as the winner at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Here’s some of what drivers said after the 23rd Sprint Cup race of the 2016 season:

Harvick -- Finished first: “We should have won a lot of races this year but we just had things not go our way. We made mistakes, or whatever the case may be. But to get back into victory lane here at Bristol feels really good. We’ve had some good cars here over the last few years. And to have Busch Beer on the car; we’ve had crummy luck with these guys on the car and so I’m just really happy for Busch and Jimmy John’s and really proud of these guys on the No. 4 team. ... We knew we had the performance that we needed to have in the cars pretty much every week. And it’s been one of those deals where things have just not gone exactly right. But to have the win now and just try to get that momentum before we get into the Chase and get things rolling is really what we needed.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -- Finished second: “It wasn’t from a lack of hard work and being lucky a few times. We really wanted to get this Bryan Clauson tribute car in victory lane. It just wasn’t meant to be today. We made our car a lot faster throughout the race and came from two laps down to get back on the lead lap. We missed some wrecks and gave it all we had. I thought we were matching (Harvick) lap for lap, but he got away from us and we had to restart sixth there on that last restart, but it was an honor to drive this car. All of the fans that came out this weekend. This place was pretty packed last night. Thanks to all the fans that were able to stay around. I thought the track was really good. You could run the bottom. You could run the top. We just wanted one more spot ... That’s all we can think about is getting ourselves a win. We’ve been OK at Michigan. We had a flat tire. We’ve been OK at Darlington and Richmond even, so we’ve got to keep our confidence in our ability to make sure we’re making all the good changes and not making mistakes, and staying with it throughout the race like we did right there. We really wanted to get that win this time at Bristol. We knew this was probably our best shot. We just struggled all weekend. It was a tough weekend from an emotional side and out here driving this race car and getting it fast, but thanks to all the hard work from my guys we were able to salvage a really good finish.”

Denny Hamlin -- Finished third: “We had a great car. We definitely got it a lot better there at the end and proud that we’re able to come back from two laps down and get a good finish out of it, but still a good overall day for our FedEx Express Camry. Just came up a little short ... I feel good. We didn’t have a race-winning car today, to be honest with you – our balance was off a little bit – so I think we maximized our day to be honest. I would have loved to race on straight up tires there, but we had to do some strategy there to get our track position back, so it was a very par day for us.”

Austin Dillon -- Finished fourth: “Well, it was challenging for our Dow Chevy. We really didn’t have a car capable of winning the race, I don’t think. We just struggled. My arms are worn out; I know that. But I’m proud of the adjustments the guys made. One heck of a pit stop. My guys really helped us out with that and gained us some spots there to have that outside restart. And, it was fun there, you could tell I was a little tighter than (Kevin) Harvick there on the bottom, so I got to him there. Early in the run he jumped to the top and pulled me. It was fun here at Bristol, today. I’m glad that Bristol tried to get that bottom (lane) working. I think we can do a little bit more for it because that top is going to be dominant as it runs. It was a fun race. We had to adjust the car to get it free from the top and then back to tight on the bottom. So, a lot of chasing grip. It was fun racing, man. It reminded me of the dirt days just trying to chase that grip, what we call brown, now it’s black. It was a lot of fun. I’ve got to thank the good Lord for keeping us out of all those wrecks. We dodged some big ones today. It was a solid points day. I’m just really happy.”

Chris Buescher -- Finished fifth: “That was a lot of fun. It’s been a long time since we’ve come to the race track and enjoy it like that. We had awesome speed out of our Love’s Ford Fusion. I’m really proud of the team. This thing was good from the start of the weekend. We kept working our way up towards the end and got to the top five, and almost got one there at the end, but I love Bristol. I absolutely love this racetrack. What they did with the surface worked out really well and made for some really good racing. I don’t know exactly where we’re at quite yet, but I know we had to get there. That’s Chase eligibility in one race out of the four we had to do it. Now, we have to hold onto it. I’m really proud of this team. Our Love’s Ford Fusion had great speed this weekend. We’re looking forward to the next handful of races. We’ve got some really good tracks for us coming up. We knew Bristol would be a good one for us. It took us a day later to do it, but we got ourselves a top-five and had a blast out here. That was an awesome run.”

Carl Edwards -- Finished sixth: “My guys did a great job. We didn’t quit and dodged some wrecks, but, man, just a really fun race. The first half – just racing up there for the lead with Kyle (Busch) and Kevin (Harvick) – that was the most fun I’ve had in a race car in a long time. That was really cool.”

Jimmie Johnson -- Finished seventh: “We were up to third before the red (flag) came. Our car just wasn’t good on a green racetrack. It didn’t matter if it was the start of the weekend, the start of the race after the red flag for the rain and when the jet dryers came out and blew all the rubber off we just couldn’t go. Our car was super-fast about 30, 40 laps into a run. Unfortunately, we lost some track position on that final restart and just kind of sailed home for seventh there at the end. Certainly, overcame a lot this weekend so that does feel good just wished we would have finished a little better.”

AJ Allmendinger -- Finished ninth: “It was a hard-fought day. We were just trying to get on either end of being a little bit too tight, a little bit too loose. I thought we had kind of got in the happy medium. We made the car as good as it could be with what we had right there. Just tricky racetrack today. At one point you would get the bottom rolling and think that is pretty good and then it goes away and try to find out how to run the top. We weren’t as good on the top and then I kind of figured something out late, but just a tricky race track, hard fought. A little bit fortunate to miss a couple of those crashes. I wish we would have had about 15 more laps at the end because I thought I had figured something out, but it is what it is, a top 10. We’ve had some days where we feel like we should have gotten more and gotten stolen from us. We will take a day like this.”

Joey Logano -- Finished 10th: “It was eventful Bristol. It seems like at this race track there’s always something that happens. Whether it’s on the team side or the driver’s side it seems like that happens a lot at this race track. There was a point during the race at about Lap 400 where we got to the lead with the Shell/Pennzoil Ford and we were fast. The race track was where we thought it would be and everything was kind of working as planned, and the next thing you know the 41 spun and we got some damage from that. We pitted for that and had a lugnut off the left-rear, so we came in to fix that, and then it rained and the track just changed. After it rained everything changed and the car wasn’t as fast. We got back up to 10th and I thought we were gonna drive to fifth on that last run because we were really fast the run before when the track was rubbered up, but once it cleaned up we just lost a little bit of speed ... We overcame a lot. I guess that’s the positive and the bright side of it. I just kind of look at all the fireworks going off in victory lane and think about that a little bit more.”

Jeff Gordon -- Finished 11th after rebounding from an early slip: “I went up top too early on that restart. I felt the pressure from Kyle (Busch) and those guys behind me they were a little bit better than me on that short run there. I was trying to make something happen and I moved up and just didn’t work. I got too high and got loose and lost a bunch of positions. We fought back a little bit, but I don’t know after that I don’t know if it was track position or just the way the track went we just never quite had a handle on it. (on the track changes) It was interesting. It made it pretty challenging on the restarts. It helped a little bit with lapped traffic. You could at least go down there and hook the bottom for one lap, but if they truly want to have a bottom groove, call me. I will tell them how to do it.”

Tony Stewart -- Finished 30th: “I would have liked to have done it last night, but I’m glad we got this in. I’m appreciative to the fans that stayed last night. I know it’s taxing on a lot of them, but we appreciate the fact that they stayed to watch. (On doing a celebratory burnout with Harvick) That is cool. The funny part is he got out of his car, got the flag and then he goes ‘get in my car and go to Victory Lane with me.’ I went what? He goes ‘yeah, just leave yours here.’ I’m like I just can’t just leave my car there, but that was cool. I’m happy for these guys. This is a hard place to win at. There are so many things that can go wrong. All it takes is one thing. I mean we had a wheel that was loose and that messed our whole day up. That was cool sharing that moment with him though. (On his last race at Bristol) Well, I will see it in the spring. I will be back here. I just won’t wear a helmet when I come back here. It is cool. This place is so much fun. I told myself the last 10 laps we weren’t racing anybody, there wasn’t anybody around us, I said, just enjoy these last 10 and just savor the moment and think about it. So, that is what I did, I really thought about what I was doing those last 10 laps and kind of soaked it all in.”

Brad Keselowski -- Finished 33rd after crashing with Kurt Busch: “Something happened (and Busch) got loose. By the time I saw it, I was already making contact with him. It was kind of one of those Bristol things. I hate it because we were making improvements on the car, and we had gotten up to third there and the race was kind of coming to us. We were just trying to run smart, but a bummer of an ending for the Autotrader Ford. We had a lot of short-run speed, and we were hoping the race would play out that way at the end and we would have had a shot at it, if that was the case, but instead we’re here in the garage. We’ll try to get a finish out of it, but a bummer day for us.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 35th after crash: “I don’t know what happened. I was watching the replay, and somebody got loose. We were trying to make ground on the top and before I knew it (Matt Kenseth) was sitting sideways in front of me, and I hit him pretty hard. It’s unfortunate. We had a really good car early and lost some spots on pit road being in bad spots and kind of lost our car a little bit halfway through, but got it back and thought we were just starting to make ground up and got in that wreck ... It stinks. We were fast all weekend and this was one of the best weekends that we’ve had. There were a couple of rough spots and unfortunately it ended rough, but we’ll just have to go on to next week. That’s all.”

Matt Kenseth -- Finished 37th after crash: “I didn’t really see what happened except for there was cars wrecking up there, and I slowed down as much as the guy in front of me. I couldn’t slow down any less than that or I would hit him. Chase (Elliott) bust out of nowhere, ran me over and (Ryan Blaney) came through there wide open – I still don’t know if he’s lifted yet or not – and finished us off. As the wreck happened, you’ve got to slow down. Just not much I could do.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 38th after causing a multicar crash while leading: “I think I just missed the bottom groove by a few inches, got loose and the wreck was on. The way that our car was restarting it felt comfortable, it felt good. That inside with the resin and the VHT if you don’t hit it exactly right you lose a lot of time. I tried to make up for it and got loose. I feel really bad for the Monster Energy guys. We had a win in our sights and I just drove the car at 101 percent instead of that 99 … It was neat to run the high groove. It was its normal self. The low groove helped on restarts. I just over pushed the groove by a few inches. When you miss your line on a VHT/rosin grip level you go for a ride.”

Kyle Busch -- Finished 39th after crashing because of a parts failure: “We’ve been having parts failures here, so something we’ve got to address and fix. I’m really tired of losing races here with parts falling apart, so they’ll hear about it on Tuesday (in Joe Gibbs Racing’s weekly competition meeting) ... It finally did break and it was breaking, but it finally did break and I couldn’t hold onto it there and it spun out and then spun out the wrong way and it’s frustrating. We’ve had really, really fast race cars here. The guys do a great job setting them up, but, man, we’ve got parts failures, you know? You can’t have parts failures in this business. That’s stupid. My Camrys have been fast. We’ve just got to stop making stupid mistakes that take us out of races.”

Justin Allgaier – Finished 40th after running into Kyle Busch in crash: “I was trying to let the leaders go as best I could. We were a couple laps down right there and let them go. (Joey Logano) ducked in front of me getting into (Turn) 1 and I had to jam on the brakes pretty hard. I got really loose and I was just trying to catch it. That is when the spotter was telling me that (Kyle Busch) was spinning and he kept rolling down the hill so at first I committed to go below him because I was already on the bottom and then he was still coming down the hill, so I tried to go out around the outside of him and unfortunately I just didn’t make it. (Logano) was right there and just really a shame. I hate it for these guys. This Pilot Flying J No. 46 team they did a good job all day. We weren’t up there battling for the lead, but we had a good solid day going. I just cost us a decent finish. Thanks to them for letting me drive the car today. Sorry to Kyle. That is the worst possibly scenario when the leader spins out and you hit them. Just really frustrating.”