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What drivers said at Richmond Raceway

Christopher Bell laments not pushing Kevin Harvick enough for the win, but explains why he's so proud of his team and pit crew for the way they rallied mid-race.

What drivers said after Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway (click here for full results, points):

Kevin Harvick -- Winner: “It’s like I said last week, the cars have been running good week in and week out, and you see that we have a lot better understanding of what’s going on with how we adjusted on the car after the first run and were able to get our car handling a lot better. I think as it got dark, the racetrack really came to our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang. I knew (Christopher Bell) was coming, but I forgot to shift down the front straightaway the last time. I was not paying attention and he got closer than he should have. I made a mistake there a couple of laps doing the same thing. I wasn’t shifting on the back and I was shifting in the front. There was a lot going on, and made a couple of mistakes, let him get too close. ... We’re just going to keep doing the things that we’re doing. I think we just have to keep an open mind about things and keep progressing and keep understanding the car, understanding what we could have done better today, understanding what we could have done better in qualifying yesterday and do the same thing over and over.”

Christopher Bell -- Finished second: “I got held up pretty bad at the beginning of the run by a couple slower cars and that was ultimately the difference when you get beat by a couple car lengths. Just really fun and really fun race when you have different strategies and you have guys coming and going. I love whenever the races stay green and you’re able to play your cards a little bit different. Really proud of everyone on this 20 crew to be able to come back from how we started. Very tough weekend for us. We didn’t practice very well and we didn’t qualify very well. And the guys did a really good job getting this Rheem Camry up front and where we needed to be at the end.”

Chris Buescher -- Finished third: “Really close. Everyone on our Fastenal Mustang did such a tremendous job overnight because we didn’t know we were in this position yesterday. I didn’t qualify real well, and everyone worked hard and had a fantastic race car today. I think it’s a little easy with this format to feel like third place doesn’t matter, but it’s nice to be close and to keep progressing and getting better as we’ve gotten through the summer. Really neat to finish here. Really proud of everybody. Just burned the rear tires up. Ultimately that’s on me. Lapped traffic didn’t do us any favors, either, but ultimately just got to keep the rears under us a little bit better so we can have a little bit better shot there to get after him for the win.”

Denny Hamlin -- Finished fourth: “We had the winning strategy. I think we played it great. The fall-off was nearly as great those last couple of runs, really for the last 100 when the track was shaded over. So I thought that going long was actually the right play, and the team did a great job with that call for sure and just had a slow stop on that last one. We ended up three-and-a-half seconds behind. It was the perfect time. I knew that when we pitted there, the gap that we had to the cars that were on fresh tires, I knew that we were going to come out on the same straightaway with them on much fresher tires. It was the race call and the winning call, just didn’t execute on stuff and just a little hiccup.”

Chase Elliott -- Finished fifth: “The track was very similar there early and late, if anything, I feel like it got a little faster. It wasn’t a huge deal, just needed to be a little more forward there to have a shot. It was really odd, I didn’t think it was driving any better, but in comparison to people around us, we were going forward. So, just normal Richmond. Just more confusing I feel like. I have been here and had cars like that where you are not driving good, but you are moving forward. Then you will have days where you feel like your car is driving good and you are not going anywhere or vice versa. This place is really strange and the track had gained a lot of grip there at the end too. There were obviously a lot of different strategies going on, and it was nice to get a top five out of a tough day yesterday. Yeah, obviously we want to be better and Michigan was a big time struggle for us. This weekend was too all the way up until the last few runs. We will go to work and try to finish these last two weeks strong and get ready for Darlington.”

Joey Logano -- Finished sixth: “I think just as the sun went down and the track cooled off and lost some turn on our car. Kevin (Harvick) and some others got a lot better the last couple of runs in the race. When it was hot and slick that was probably our strength with the Shell Pennzoil Mustang. We had good turn and then once it cooled off we lost the turn but still weren’t real good on the exits. Then you start playing defenst and running too hard. It was a downhill slope from there. I was hoping for a late race caution, that was our only prayer at the end there. Overall we got a stage win and playoff points and that is something to be proud of. It stinks when you say we led 222 laps but not the right one. ... When you have days like today when you have a fast enough car, you want to capitalize. We did as far as playoff points and a stage win but not enough at the end of the race. We need these ones to be race wins instead of just stage wins but I feel like we are starting to come into our own here and getting a little more solid and situated more in the top five than we have been. I am proud of that. We just have to keep that going.”

Aric Almirola -- Finished eighth: “When the clouds came and the track cooled we kind of lost it. The first couple runs of the race we were so fast. We drove from 32nd up to the top-five. Our Smithfield Ford Mustang was really good on the long run. We took care of the tires really well and it did everything I needed it to do. As the pace picked up and the track cooled off I just couldn’t get the car to rotate like I needed it to and just couldn’t quite carry the speed those other cars could. It was a good day. We have had a rough month, so to come here and rebound and have a good run -- we need a win, but to have a good run is a confidence booster.”

Kyle Busch -- Finished ninth: “We were looking okay, and in a good spot just coming up through there working our way methodically through the field with our M&M’s Toyota Camry, and we got ‘Chastained’ this week. We were his victim this week. And then that didn’t hurt us too bad. We restarted back in a decent spot. But then the next spin I think, was Christopher (Bell). That allowed the guys that were around us that we were kind of racing some of our team guys to come get tires and then they had 10 fresher laps on tires the whole rest of the day. So that kind of hurt us if we would have been on that strategy we would have run out of tires, but we also probably would have been in the top five. So just wrong side of the strategy there. At the end, nothing, nothing to do really to flip that but good fight all day long. You know, the top 10 is about what we had anyway, I figured the best we were it was about a seventh you know, but barring a strategy call, we could have probably been top-five. So that’s all we had anyway.”

Austin Dillon -- Finished 16th: “I had fun at Richmond Raceway today and everyone on the No. 3 Huk Performance Fishing Chevrolet team did a great job. We started off the race loose. We came to pit road during the stage break and my crew chief, Justin Alexander, made a good call to get my car tightened up during the second stage. On lap 243 we caught a lucky break by catching a caution, saving us a lap. We struggled most of the day with the handling of our Chevrolet, but towards the end of the race we hit on a setup that really worked well with the track. We were posting solid lap times in Stage 3, even on old tires. I wish we could’ve had that at the beginning of the race. We would’ve been jamming. All-in-all, we’ll take this 16th-place finish and head to Watkins Glen International.”

Ty Dillon -- Finished 22nd: “Certainly happy with our speed today in our Allegiant Camaro. That was a major step in the right direction and overall competitiveness. We had some messy things that we need to clean up, but it’s good to be disappointed with 17th after the penalty and having a messy day. I think our momentum is heading in the right direction and we are hitting our stride here. We have 11 races to go to really perform well.”

Noah Gragson -- Finished 24th: “We battled all day with our Chevy Accessories Camaro. We could never just get it fine-tuned. The guys worked really hard, and we had great pit stops. We just kind of missed it overall, but I’m still proud of the effort. We will keep working hard and try to be better next time.”

Tyler Reddick -- Finished 31st: “We had a tough day in the No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet at Richmond Raceway, but we’ll put it behind us. After we lost track position early, crew chief Randall Burnett and the guys on the 3CHI team made adjustments and it improved the balance on the car. Unfortunately, I got into the wall and then we pitted a couple of times under green because of a vibration. Next week at Watkins Glen International, we need to run well and get every playoff point we can, and I’m sure we can do just that.”

Erik Jones -- Finished 35th: “We were just in the wrong spot and got caught in someone else’s mess. We made contact and killed the right front. We struggled all day with our FOCUSfactor Chevy, just couldn’t find the balance we needed to run up front. Not our day. We’ll load up and get ready for Watkins Glen next weekend.”