What Cup drivers said after Martinsville playoff race

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Here’s what drivers were saying after Sunday’s playoff race at Martinsville Speedway.

Ryan Blaney — Winner: “It’s awesome. I grew up in High Point, not too far from here. High Point is closer to Martinsville than it is to Charlotte, so it’s really cool. I’ve been wanting to win here for a long time. We’ve been super close for many years and awesome to close it out.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 2nd: “Honestly, I’m just sad. We had a good car. We just fought track position. Qualifying kind of set us behind and then when we finally cycled to the front and got track position we had a great race car. Man, I was being so patient and taking care of my tires. I wasn’t slipping a tire. I wasn’t doing anything to hurt my tires and they just started to give up on me there towards the end, and the 12, his car would hold on a little longer.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 3rd: “The mechanical failure last week with the power steering, that sealed our fate. Really proud of this whole FedEx Toyota team for showing up today when we really needed to, having probably a mid 50-point day. They did great. They did absolutely great. The 12 car was the best car today, so congrats to them. All the final four that made it. It’s going to be great. Hate we’re not in it with our FedEx Camry.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 4th: “Overall, it was a good day. We were right inside the top five for a large majority of the day and that’s what we need to do. We need to consistently be running up front. We definitely have a good package every time we come here and we just need to get it a little better. I feel if we do that, we’ll be right there with a chance for the win. This was a definite step forward.”

Joey Logano — Finished 5th: “It was absolutely a long day, but I’m proud of the team with a top five and Blaney getting into the Championship 4. You’ve got to be proud of that as well. He had a great car and a great weekend, so good for him and we’ll go to Phoenix for one more race.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 6th: “I was glad we weren’t fighting for points, just because our car wasn’t that good so that would have been difficult to advance. But our No. 5 Chevy team did the best we could out of the day. My team made some good strategy calls there in the final stage to get some track position and come away with the best finish possible.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 7th: “I don’t know — it was disappointing from my standpoint because I felt like I was going to be really good after yesterday’s practice, and it didn’t turn out, but seventh is a good finish and I’m excited about carrying the momentum into Phoenix.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 8th: “It was a fantastic job all around. We needed a little bit more obviously to win this thing and move on. We knew that was gonna be the case, but I’m extremely proud of our year all things considered. We knew coming into this that as long as I felt like I got out of the car and couldn’t walk anymore and nobody felt like we left anything on the table, then it’s all something to be proud of and I certainly am.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 12th: “I felt like we did really good to get back to where we did. You just burn the tires off so much worse back there in the hot, dirty track, dirty air. You’re in more rubber. It’s just a dogfight. I don’t know. We gave it a hell of an effort. I felt like we had a really strong car. I don’t think we could have beat the 12. He was really, really strong. We were definitely close.”

William Byron — Finished 13th: “Obviously we were not very good. Our worst race of the year. These guys deserve it so much. They work so hard. Honestly, probably with 50 to go I felt really, really bad. I just had to drive the hell out of it. The guys stuck with me, they kept motivating me through little bits and pieces, just kind of keeping my mind straight.”

Byron moves on to Phoenix: ‘It was a slugfest’

William Byron calls his effort at Martinsville his “worst race of the year” after his helmet fan wasn’t working, but concedes the overall result of reaching the Championship 4 “means more than anything.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 14th: “Well, it was a lot less exciting finish for me than it was a year ago in the Moose Fraternity Chevrolet, that’s for sure. We fought the handling a little bit today but ended up with a 14th-place finish which wasn’t bad considering we had something mechanical going wrong there towards the end of the race. Good news is we still have one more next weekend at Phoenix.”

Ryan Preece — Finished 20th: “Everyone had a different strategy there in the final stage. We took four tires on pit road and had to restart deeper than we would have liked. Just couldn’t rally back to the top 10 after that and the traffic made it even worse. We had a good car capable of being in the top 10. Wish it shook out that way at the end but we’ll head to Phoenix looking to end the season on a high note.”

Erik Jones — Finished 21st: “It was an up-and-down day for the No. 43 Allegiant Always Rewards Chevy team. It was probably going to turn out a little bit better than we deserved, but strategy just didn’t quite play out. Martinsville has been tough for us. Hopefully we learned a little bit for next year — come back, take something we learned and just make it that much better.”

Carson Hocevar — Finished 31st: “Just a tough day. We were about one adjustment or two behind all day and couldn’t really catch up. Once we got trapped a couple of laps down it’s nearly impossible to regroup and get a reset, and we just never got that today. So it was a tough one, every now and again you’ll just miss it and today it felt like we missed it.”

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