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What drivers said after NASCAR Cup race at Sonoma Raceway

Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s race on the road course at Sonoma:

Kyle Larson — Winner: “I didn’t know what we were doing as far as strategy. I was just out there banging laps away. I don’t know, we study all the strategy, but it’s like doing homework. I don’t really know what I’m looking at. Yeah, I was like, well, man, these guys are going to have to pit another time maybe. Then we said we had to go race and pass these guys. I got a bit nervous. I knew I’d be quick from the get go, but I thought once the tires would come up to temp it would even off too much. Thankful that we had enough grip. Thankful, too, that those guys got racing and Martin never got clear really to where I could get stuck in third and that really saved the race. I thought, too, once he got the lead, I’m like, man, I hope he doesn’t have somebody to judge off of here into 4 and he misses the apex, and sure enough, he did, and I had a big run.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 2nd: “The first stage went well for us, just kind of executing our plan and our strategy, but, unfortunately, when we got towards the back on that restart and they piled up in the esses we just got drove into and into the barriers. That really hurt our track position because then we had to come back down pit road and fix the damage and that kind of killed our chances of restarting up front when it did cycle out, but, fortunately, we had a really fast Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang. We were able to get about half of them back before the end of Stage 2, and then the last stage we just had to fight really hard to get track position. I feel like we had the speed today, which it hurts. It hurts to finish second. We desperately need a win to make the playoffs, but I’m proud of the effort and proud of the speed we had, but just a little bit short.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 3rd: “It was a really good day. We knew it was going to be a tough one where we started, and just didn’t get to where we needed to yesterday. Ultimately my team did a great job on strategy, and I got the car a lot better. We were in a good place, just needed a little bit more long run pace, maybe a little bit more spill together. I feel like I have a lot of things I would love to change now, knowing where we were at and then the laps we got on track. We didn’t get to that point in practice, so that’s a good thing to sit here and not be stunned and confused on where the speed is at. I think we have a lot of good ideas. Proud of the day. If you would have told us at the beginning we could run third at one stage, we would have taken that, so we should be happy, and we are. It’s a strong -- just wanted a little bit more still.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 4th: “It was a normal road course race. I felt like we were on the right strategy, I just lost too much time there early in the race. I fell back a few rows and felt like our group that we were racing against were who we were probably going to be racing for the win. Fell behind there early; lost a couple of rows and just never could get it back. I’m not sure I had the pace Kyle (Larson, race winner) had, but thought we were a solid top-three to five car and that’s where we finished. We’ll try again next week.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 5th: “Confusing. I’m not sure how the No. 5 (Kyle Larson) won, or how I got back to fifth. I don’t really know. I don’t now how the lap times worked out. I didn’t feel very good in the second or third set of tires for awhile, but it worked out somehow to get back up here. I’m super proud of the effort by this No. 1 Kubota Chevy team. It’s so good to be in a fast race car. I’m in them most weeks, but to be able to put it together and finish fifth is really, really rewarding.”

AJ Allmendinger — Finished 6th: “We had a really fast Cirkul Chevy. (Crew chief) Travis (Mack) did a great job with strategy with everything that happened adversity wise. I thought overall we maximized our day. If everything fell right, we could have (had) a top-five finish, but we’re happy with the result.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 7th: “Up and down day for our 12 team, for sure. I think the number of early cautions forced our hand with the strategy and we did a good job adjusting to that to keep us in contention in the final two stages. It’s tough coming back up through the field here but proud of the guys for staying on it all day to come away with a top 10.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 8th: “Visually on the body, it doesn’t look like it much. The wheel was off a little bit – just stupid. I was on cold tires, and it was going to be really hard to hold him off anyway. I kind of just fell for it. I don’t know. I guess we will know once we go back to the shop – just weren’t as good. I didn’t have a great restart – that also played a big factor. Even when we kind of got some clean air after, we got the second set of tires on it – it didn’t seem as good. We will go back and look at it, and try to understand what got away from us, but at least we got a playoff point out of it with the Monster Energy Toyota Camry. The 5 (Kyle Larson) was on a similar strategy to us – and he won the race, and we finished eighth. We were doing the right things; we just didn’t have the restart we needed.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 12th: “Randall Burnett and all the guys on the zone Chevrolet team came up with a great strategy today that put us in position to score a top-five finish. Early in the race I thought I broke something on the right front, but we had a damaged wheel. We lost track position but our strategy kept us in the game. A couple of guys there at the end of the race had better tires than we did but we were going to have a good day. Unfortunately, one of those guys got into us on the last lap and ruined our day. It’s frustrating to not get the finish that we deserved.”

Ryan Preece — Finished 18th: “If we didn’t spin out there, we probably would’ve ended up with a top 10. The car was pretty good, but just lost track position at that point. One costly mistake.”

Joey Logano — Finished 21st: “Unfortunate end to our weekend in Sonoma especially with the speed we showed the last two days. Anything can happen on these restarts and it was just wrong place, wrong time for us after trying to flip the strategy on everyone up front. Still proud of the effort from the 22 crew to keep after it all day long despite the early setback there.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 22nd: “Definitely wasn’t the day we were expecting and we had to fight through a lot of adversity early on. Track position is so important at these places - especially with how these restarts can unfold - but this No. 2 America’s Tire team didn’t give in. We’ll take what we can from today and start looking ahead to Iowa.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 27th: “It was a tough day. Got spun out early and had to work hard to get some track position back. James (Small, crew chief) did a good job on our strategy. Our car was pretty good out front. Thought we were going to have a shot to win there and just couldn’t quite get by (Chris Buescher) quick enough. I finally cleared him; I made a mistake and (Kyle Larson) was right there to pounce and then obviously ran out of gas so it didn’t matter. I’m not sure why we didn’t try to save a little at the end. I was clearly not going to catch the 5 or pass him. It’s a shame that we went around the last corner and went from second to wherever we finished. It sucks, but it was a tough day, and we had a good car. We battled and did a good job. We were going to have a good day, but just one corner short.”

Daniel Hemric — Finished 28th: “We had a good day going for us, until my tires went away there at the end and I spun with about 10 to go. It’s unfortunate to finish the day like this after such a solid run, but I’m proud of the No. 31 team for finding a good bit of speed from where we started the weekend in practice.”

Josh Berry — Finished 32nd: “Our race was going OK, but after the incident there in (turn) 11, the car just kind of drove funny and, ultimately, we couldn’t make it to the end.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 34th: “It was definitely kind of wild from the get-go, just guys kind of driving through each other and everything else. It was a wild day. For us, it was anything that could go wrong kind of went wrong between getting spun out and just not having our balance really that great, and then we had a water pressure issue and then there at the end the rear end just blew up, so it was not a great day for us, especially when we kind of need a good one. It’s unfortunate and now we’ll go on to Iowa, which is probably my favorite racetrack, so we’ll try to regain some of these lost points.”

Cam Waters — Finished 35th: “I had so much fun. This weekend and the whole experience coming to a road course in a Cup car was sensational. I had so much fun and I can’t thank everyone enough for making that happen. The start of the race, I took it easy the first couple of laps and then I pressed on and tried to pass some cars. The car was super fast. It could absolutely make some ground passing cars, which was really good. The cautions fell our way a bit and I guess effectively we were right up there somewhere. It was all looking really good.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 36th: “Our RCR team brought a fast Get Bioethanol Chevrolet to Sonoma Raceway today. We had a solid strategy playing out in Stage 2 and we may have been able to outlast the leaders on fuel. We planned to run to the end, come to pit road, take tires and fuel, and restart the final stage inside the top 10. We didn’t get a chance to show what we were capable of. We were racing in the ninth position when we were caught up in the mess. The No. 60 car got me into the No. 23 car going into turn 10, causing us to be three-wide going into Turn 11. The No. 4 and No. 43 cars collided going into Turn 11, and that caused a chain reaction with a few cars. Our team did a great job on pit road trying to repair it, but the damage was too severe, and we had to take it to the garage. We will move on and head to Iowa Speedway next weekend.”

Ty Gibbs — Finished 37th: “Yeah, I hit the (Turn 11) inside wall with our He Gets Us Camry. I was finding grip down there and was making up time, and then got too close and clipped the wall and hurt the right front.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 38th: “It’s just the gearing is a little weird for the track. It’s a lot of high-end RPM stuff, but the same as everyone else and I’m just not really sure. They’ll look at it and figure it out, but certainly not ideal.”