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What drivers said at Martinsville Speedway

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Kyle Larson earns his second win in three races, claiming victory in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

What drivers said at Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway:

Kyle Larson -- Winner: “Just huge congratulations to this whole 5 team and Hendrick Motorsports. I feel like Cliff (Daniels) and everybody did a great job all day on pit road making the right calls, having great pit stops, and then it all kind of worked out for me there at the end. We had a great car. That was the best my car had been, I think, being able to get out front and manage. I never ever would have thought that I would win here at Martinsville. This place has been so tough on me. Just does not suit my driving style at all. I like to charge the center. I like to roll momentum, and that’s just not what this place is like. But thanks to Cliff Daniels and everybody for making me feel like I know what I’m doing sometimes around here. So I just can’t believe it. It means a lot to me, but I think more importantly, it means a lot to the whole Hendrick family and Hendrick Motorsports family. Everybody knows what happened here so long ago, and I think everybody -- you know, that’s on everybody’s minds every time they come to Martinsville, so wish Rick was here (and) Linda, but we’ve got Jeff Gordon here. I think when you can accomplish something that you don’t see possible, when you do accomplish it, it moves up the ladder pretty high. So this is an extremely special win for me. I’ve worked very hard to get better here. I feel like every time there’s a test available, I get put on that list to test here because I struggle. We want to get better. I’ve got tons of laps around here, and not many top 10s. Honestly, probably more races where I have finished a lap down than on the lead lap. So it’s been difficult. And then, like I said, when you can win at a place like this, it is definitely up there. I was teared up the whole last lap. I heard Cliff was teared up, too. So that feels really, really special because he is so strong and, like, emotionally strong. To hear that means a lot. This win here today means a lot for everybody and, too, Hendrick Motorsports as well with everything that they’ve -- everything that this kind of racetrack and trip means to them.”

MORE: Martinsville Cup results, driver points

Joey Logano -- Finished 2nd: “Solid recovery for what the start of the race looked like. We went down a lap twice, two times. At one point in the race I would have been just happy to finish on a lead lap. And Paul (Wolfe) did a good job of getting some good changes to the Verizon Mustang to where it got competitive. We just needed track position. Was able to stay out and get a lucky caution there during a green flag cycle. Stayed out again when everyone pitted and put us on the front row and a shot to win the race. I tried holding off Larson as long as I could, but overall there’s days when you are mad about second. Today is not one of those. Today is when you are pretty stoked that you finished a little better than I thought we were going to. We just couldn’t get the car to rotate through the center of the corner. I was just so slow right in the center, and I couldn’t make any passes for that reason, so I was trapped back there. There was one change that woke it up a little bit, and I was, like, all right, I’m decent now, but I’m trapped. It was really hard to pass. Paul was able to give me what I needed to get towards the front. And then fight hard with Larson. I didn’t have a fighting chance there. He drove away from me so quick, but he was pretty patient. I knew I was going to get bumped. That was the only way he was going to go by me was he was going to have to get physical. Nothing wrong with that. It was fun. Like I said, overall, it feels like a win considering how the day went so far.”

Martin Truex Jr. -- Finished 3rd: “We had kind of a crazy day with the Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD, but really just got a little bit lucky there getting back on the lead lap mid-race and kept working on our car. We were just so loose all day long, and then finally at the end we got it a whole lot better. So, it was fun at the end passing a lot of cars and getting up there, but still needed to be a little bit better, but overall, you know, proud of everybody for sticking with it and just grinding one out today.”
Denny Hamlin -- Finished 4th: “The package was terrible – it’s either the package or the tires. You can’t pass. Cars that I was lapping 10 laps before, we caught a caution, and I couldn’t pass them for second. It’s very difficult. Next Gen racing is all about strategy, execution on pit road – that’s who wins. Rarely does the car that dominates or the best car win, simply because you can’t control the race when you need to – at least we couldn’t. We made a great strategy call at the end to get positions back. I just needed to stay in the lead. It’s the biggest thing – just like Richmond. When you get the lead, you have to stay there. Just had unfortunate timing of that caution in the green flag pit stop cycle. We pitted, which put us towards the end of the lead lap cars. Cars that I was just lapping 10 laps prior – I couldn’t pass them. It is Next Gen racing with these tires and this aero package – there is no passing. You saw the 41 (Ryan Preece) dominate the race, and then he got caught and went to the back and that was it. That’s just what we’ve got.”

Chase Briscoe -- Finished 5th: “It would have been more of a statement if we won the race, obviously. I thought as a company we had a really good day. All four cars were in contention. I felt like a Stewart-Haas car probably should have won the race, and we just couldn’t catch the breaks we needed there at the end, but, overall, a great day. That’s something that as a company we needed to go and run up front. All four cars were really competitive. I wish one of us would have won the race, but you’ll have that. We’ll go on to next week and hopefully we can continue this speed and this momentum as a company. I thought our car was really, really good at that point. Even with the caution I thought we were gonna be OK, and then I thought we were gonna stay out, and then at the end it looked like more guys were gonna come down pit road, so we decided to come down with them. Obviously, Monday morning quarterback. It’s a lot easier to say you should have stayed out, but we didn’t. We win and lose as a team. At the time, I thought that was gonna be OK with the amount of laps we still had to go, but track position was obviously super important. It was really hard to pass. Even if you were better than a guy, they could just kind of hang on. It seemed like tires -- it took them 50-60 laps for them to fall off even if you had older tires. We probably made the wrong decision at the end, but at the time and the perspective that we had, we thought it was gonna be the best decision. Sometimes you make the wrong one, but it’s hard when you’re in the lead because everybody normally does the opposite of you. That’s part of it, and you just move on. I thought inside the car we were maybe slipping and sliding around maybe 10 percent more. It was still obviously extremely hard to pass. Yeah, I thought it was five to 10 percent better even though there’s still a really long way to go. I did think in the driver’s seat you made a little bit more of a difference. The problem is when you can downshift and things like that, these cars have so much forward drive and obviously not a lot of power coming off the corner, so everybody is kind of the same speed. It’s unfortunate. I wish we turned a page there with the package. Like I said, I thought it was a little bit better, but it needs to be a lot more better.”

Aric Almirola -- Finished 6th: “It’s crazy that Martinsville is a track position race. The cars are so close and so competitive. I thought we were arguably the best car the first part of the race and then we got a little bit behind as the track changed and the car changed a little bit. Then after that, we got the car really good. Drew made some great adjustments, and I thought we were arguably the best car. We went through that green flag pit sequence and then a caution comes out for a wheel and gives a lot of those guys just a free gift that stayed out. A lot of those guys we had lapped already in the race and it’s just so hard to pass that you give those guys track position and you start behind them on the same tires. It’s hard to pass.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -- Finished 8th: “It was kind of a crazy day. I felt like we were slowly making gains on our Chevy. We got better and better, and then we caught that caution. We had pitted and we had to take the wave-around, and we ended up at the very back. But Mike Kelley (crew chief) and all the guys did a great job. Our war room back at the shop said we should stay out there. They felt like if we stayed out, our lap times would come back around and we’d be able to hang on. Really nice that it went green there. Our No. 47 Kroger/Tree Top Camaro was just a little tight in the center all day. We made it a little bit better. It felt like we were definitely the best we’ve been here in a long time, so we’re really happy with our day.”
Bubba Wallace -- Finished 9th: “Yeah, for sure. J.R. (Houston), my engineer, and I just walked to figure out where that last section was. I’m 95 percent sure I was good. Obviously, I was speeding, but I was like there is no way. Anyway, it is good to just stay in it, mentally for myself and the team and pull that strategy there. I was calling that tire in the restart zone for three laps – I’m like, ‘Call it, this is our chance.’ We capitalized. All-in-all, it was an okay day. We are missing something. This is one of my favorite tracks and we come here and run sixth-to-ninth every time. We need to be better, but overall, proud of our McDonald’s Toyota Camry group. We will just keep on digging.”

Chase Elliott -- Finished 10th: “It was about what I expected, so that’s a good thing. It was warm. I’ve been sitting on the couch for six weeks, so I think that probably hurt me more than anything. But our NAPA Chevy, we struggled every run but the last one. We finally got it going there at the end, and I was able to make some passes and do things that I didn’t really think I’d be capable of doing, or at least of us fixing it to that degree here at the race track. So I was pleasantly surprised by that. Got us a top 10 out of our first day back, so that’s definitely something to not be too bummed about. ... Really nice to be back and appreciate the warm welcome this weekend by everybody, so I appreciate that. It definitely didn’t go unnoticed.”

Austin Dillon -- Finished 12th: “What a battle today at Martinsville Speedway. Everyone on the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevy team worked hard all day, and a 12th-place finish is pretty good considering how loose our Chevy was throughout the race and some of the strategy that played out. We were trapped a lap down for a while, but this team never gave up. Our Chevy was really loose in traffic with the nose down. It was pretty bad. I could set them up, but I couldn’t get the throttle down. It was like that all day. I thought we were going to end up with a top-10 finish, but I got too loose. I tried to get the No. 23 on the outside with about four or five laps to go. It was the only shot I had, and I did everything I could, but it wasn’t enough. A couple of other cars snuck on our inside and we lost the top 10. All-in-all, a good day for this RCR team. We’ll keep battling.”

Ryan Preece -- Finished 15th: “I sped off pit road, I guess. That ultimately cost us the track position. We had a really fast race car, so once we got in the back it was so hard to do anything, so that’s on me. I’ll take blame for that. I was trying to beat them out and ultimately got snapped speeding. I didn’t think we could (speed in his pit box), to be honest with you, but I guess it’s my job to know that. It’s unfortunate, but when we had track position I think it showed that we had a really fast HaasTooling Ford Mustang, but you can’t do those things. You can’t make mistakes. I pride myself on not making mistakes, so that was pretty brutal there, but, like I’ve said, we have a fast race car and really felt like we could have probably swept the stages and ran top three or top five. We were just as good as anybody, but it’s really tough. Dirty air against the pack. You didn’t want to smash them out of the way, but it was really hard to move around.”