What Drivers Said: Martinsville Speedway – Sports Illustrated
William Bryon – No. 24 raptortough.com Chevrolet – WINNER:
How good does it feel to win at Martinsville? “It feels awesome. When that last caution came out, I thought everyone behind us would pit and luckily we stayed out. We were aggressive. We felt like we could re-fire on the tires and be okay;…….
William Bryon – No. 24 raptortough.com Chevrolet – WINNER:
How good does it feel to win at Martinsville? “It feels awesome. When that last caution came out, I thought everyone behind us would pit and luckily we stayed out. We were aggressive. We felt like we could re-fire on the tires and be okay; and you’ve got one of the most aggressive guys behind you in (Joey) Logano. I knew I chattered the tires in (turns) 3 and 4 and kind of left the bottom open, but was able to block my exits and get a good drive off.
“This one is for my mom. This same weekend last year she had kind of a mini-stroke and was diagnosed with brain cancer. It means a lot to have her here and it’s been a crazy year. But she’s doing great. And thanks, everybody, for the support. I kind of felt like she was riding in there with me. It’s cool to have her here and I’m definitely going to enjoy this one.”
She was definitely riding with you on the pit box all night long. A lot of smiles. What do you think that moment is going to be like when you see her in a minute?
“It’s going to be awesome. I love my parents. They’ve been so supportive, but also kind of let me grow up as I get older. Yeah, I’ve got a great support system. Thanks to all the fans for coming out. Great crowd. I’ve always wanted to win at Martinsville (Speedway). Got two clocks this weekend, so I’ll enjoy that.”
Joey Logano – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford – Finished Second:
Could you have done anything differently? “I could have tried to hit him harder. That might have been what I needed to do. William did a good job of executing up front on the restart there. I was able to get to him because he made a mistake off of four taking the white flag and I thought, ‘OK, this is my chance.’ My car didn’t fire off real fast, but kind of gave me the opportunity to get to him. I got to him and kind of rooted him up a little bit and then he came back down and just brake-checked me pretty good at the two-thirds as he should. I’m not mad about that. He should do that and that just killed my momentum off of two and gapped me by two car lengths almost into the final corner. I was too far back to get to him at that point, so I just hate being that close. It was a solid run for our car today. Our Mustang was solid, especially on the long haul. We just didn’t fire off as fast as we needed to and it kind of came down to that at the end.”
Was taking the outside your best chance? “Yeah. The 3 took the inside so he left the front row open and had to take that. I think the 3 made the right move by going down there for the restart. I was expecting the 3 was gonna go in there and punt the 24 and I was gonna be stuck on the outside or it was gonna work out really good for me. I wasn’t sure how that was gonna work out.”
What did you think of the racing? Did the weather play a factor in not being able to pass? “A little bit of both. This car, if you’re directly behind them it’s no secret this car is worse in dirty air. If you’re not directly behind them, you’re able to recover better but it seems like the way cars were into the corner and the way the track wasn’t taking rubber it just made the bottom be the dominant lane. You couldn’t move up the racetrack and stern across or do anything to try to pass them. You really just got stuck.”
In the preseason people thought short tracks would be a challenge for this car: “I don’t think the racing was bad, but it was definitely harder to pass. I don’t think anyone could really pass without putting a bumper to somebody. It was a lot more challenging and it’s harder to get there. I was faster than the 3 the whole run and I couldn’t get there. I was almost there and would get tight and burn my front tires off, cool them back down and make another run at it, but I just couldn’t get to him to try to make the move. It was harder than I thought it would be to pass. I thought it would be harder, but not that much harder.”
Austin Dillon – No. 3 Get BioEthanol Chevrolet – Finished Third:
It’s your cest career finish at Martinsville. Are you excited where you finished or bummed because you were so close?
“I’m a little bummed. I like to pride myself in when we get in those situations being clutch, and that was anything but that on that last restart. I spun the tires pretty good through the gears. Once I got back in line there, I had some grip, and I feel like we had good forward drive all night long and I just felt like if we got to the gears we were going to have a shot at him.
“But our Get Bioethanol Chevy was really fast. We’ve been working our tails off. I’m not going to say we haven’t because we’ve been in a simulator, we’ve been working really hard to make this car as good as possible. We want to get RCR a win, and that’s what we’re here racing for. I want to shout out to my wife and Ace back at home and thank the good Lord for bringing us a good run. That was a lot of fun.”
Ryan Blaney – No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford – Finished Fourth: “It was overall a decent night. We had a pretty fast car, but never got out front and never got to where we could race for the lead. You have to be a half-second faster than somebody to pass somebody. You’d run someone down by four seconds and then get stuck behind them, so that was pretty disappointing. Overall, it was a really good night. I thought our car was fast, just never got the lead or even got a chance at the lead. Overall, not a bad night.”
Was weather a factor for passing being so hard? “No. If it was 90 degrees, you still would have been plowing tight behind somebody. The exits would have been worse. The entry and exit would have been more slick, but that would have been for everybody. When you’re in dirty air, you’re in dirty air. You can’t even get in the corner and roll to a guy to put the bumper to him. You just can’t get there, so I don’t know if the hotter temperatures would have helped. You still would have been tight behind someone who is slowing your center down too much to where you couldn’t get a run on them, so it probably wouldn’t have hurt it being a little hotter, but I wouldn’t blame cold temps on that.”
Was it similar to Richmond? “Yeah, similar to Richmond. I didn’t think they were very good following a car, either. They kind of struggled, so it’s pretty unfortunate that was happening here.”
Ross Chastain – No. 1 GoPro Chevrolet – Finished Fifth: “It took 300-something laps just to where I could see the leaders. I don’t even know if we made any adjustments tonight. I don’t think we did, which was incredible because yesterday we needed a lot. For once I wish one of these Cup races went the full 500. That’s odd, I never think that. Proud of the effort. Proud of the rebound from yesterday for Trackhouse.”
Kurt Busch – No. 45 McDonald’s/Money Lion Toyota – Finished Sixth:
After a top-five effort nearly all race long, a sixth-place result. How was your race overall? “I did all that I could on the loose side of things with the 45 Toyota TRD Camry. I mean, I have never been told how to drive so many laps in my life. And then when I go back to my line, I’d feel the most comfortable and the lap time would be off by a little bit. So it’s like just comfort versus what I know for as many years. It was really fun though to drive Martinsville this way with this Next Gen car, but really had to work hard and I just think we maximized today. Our loose run was stage two, we were 12th and then just couldn’t quite attack you know, steering wheel and throttle at the same time. And I needed the pace to drop off and longer green runs seem to help us. All in all, really happy. We know that sixth is good to right the ship for what we need to do at 23XI Racing. But overall, we need to pick it up.”
Aric Almirola – No. 10 Smithfield Spirals Ford – Finished Eighth: “We had a great Smithfield Spiral Ham Ford Mustang tonight. It was a challenge at times. The track position game was so tough. I mean, everybody would just start running the same speed after about 30 laps, but our car would take off OK and then it would just build looser and looser in. I rolled the middle good enough and I launched off the corner good, but I couldn’t quite keep the pace as those guys that were ahead of us. All in all, it was a solid night for us, bouncing back after a couple finishes that weren’t great, so Drew and all the boys have been doing a good job. Hopefully, we can get back on a string of running up front because if we run up front, we’ll have a shot to win.”
Chase Briscoe – No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford – Finished Ninth: “I wish I could get my qualifying lap back after seeing how crucial track position was. That was definitely unfortunate. I wish it would have turned out better. We continued to make the car better and was able to make some passes and was really good on the long run, so we’ll see if we can apply anything when we come back later in the year. Overall, it was great to get another top 10.”
Austin Cindric – No. 2 Menards/Moen Ford – Finished 11th: “It was a super solid race for our Menards/Moen Ford Mustang. The guys had great pit stops all night. We had really good speed. I felt like we were decent enough on the short run and could hold on better than most on the long run to get some more spots and ran in the top 10 almost the entire night. We got pretty unlucky with some traffic under green flag stops and put us behind with not enough laps to recover. Overall, a representative effort plus or minus a few positions for this group, so I’m proud to be able to do my part.”
Erik Jones, No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 — finished 13th: “The FOCUSfactor team fought hard for every position tonight. Our Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 fired off tight from the beginning and as the run built, the car would have so much drive off but no turn. During the second stage, the car was loose in and plowing tight up off. With the race being mostly caution free, there weren’t a ton of opportunities to make adjustments or gain track position, but Dave (Elenz, crew chief) kept working on it every chance he had. He made a great strategy call during the green flag pit cycle that kept us out longer than others which really paid off. When the yellow came, we were able to return to the lead lap and move forward from there. I’m happy to be leaving Martinsville with a 13th-place finish.”
Chris Buscher – No. 17 Fastenal Ford – Finished 15th:
Tyler Reddick – No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet – Finished 18th: “It was a long weekend for our No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet team, but all of these guys at RCR never give up. Our Chevrolet was really fast during practice on Friday, but we missed a little during qualifying and had to start the race 22nd. Even with a mid-pack starting spot, we were feeling good heading into the race because we learned so much on Friday. The race was a little bit more challenging than we anticipated. We struggled with a tight-handling condition throughout the whole race, and really needed help making our car turn through the center of the corners. We gave it everything we had, but just couldn’t seem to make our in-race adjustments stick. We rallied into the top 10 in Stage 3 before the last caution of the race. I just couldn’t fight the traffic when we went into overtime and ended up falling back. We’ll regroup and get ready for Bristol Dirt next weekend.”
Christopher Bell – No. 20 Yahoo! Toyota – Finished 20th:
Ty Dillon, No. 42 ChevyLiners.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – Finished 23rd: “Our ChevyLiners.com team battled all night. We started deep in the field and unfortunately didn’t have the best track position for the opening segment. The No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was loose on entry, tight in the center and needed drive on exit for the first 80 laps. It felt like the right side tires were lacking grip, but Jerame (Donley, crew chief) made air pressure and chassis adjustments that helped the overall handling. During the green flag stop, we played strategy as much as possible and came up about one lap short of getting our laps back. Proud of the effort that everyone on this Petty GMS team showed and we will keep building.”
A.J. Allmendinger – No. 16 Action Industries Chevrolet – Finished 24th: “We didn’t start the night off great with a pass-through penalty that cost us a lap, but we fought hard. Our No. 16 Action Industries Camaro struggled on the long runs, so I think that hurt us the most. I think we learned quite a bit and got the most out of our day. It’s something small to build on, and we will keep pushing forward.”
Justin Haley – No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet – Finished 31st: “It wasn’t the day we were looking for at Martinsville. We had some good short-run speed, but we just struggled on the long runs. Trying to get the dynamic of the car to work throughout the whole run is key for our short-track program. I’m looking forward to Bristol, which I think will be good for us.”