What drivers said after the NASCAR Cup race at Richmond

Heard and overheard on Saturday and into Sunday morning at Richmond Raceway, scene of Martin Truex Jr.’s victory in the Federated Auto Parts Cup Series 400:

“I did see video of last week (and) it doesn’t matter what my opinion is. I get beat up on it anyway. I’ve had multiple texts from people who are race car drivers and non-race car drivers, who have said what I said is not wrong. But there’s other general masses that say different.” – Toyota driver Kyle Busch, speaking of the weeklong controversy surrounding his Las Vegas crash with backmarker Garrett Smithley. In a strong but low-key run, he finished second on Saturday night.

“I want to make sure I end up in a good situation that can ultimately turn into a long-term deal to be successful and desirable. You want to eliminate any possibility of something like this happening again (and) the best way to do that is to put yourself in a position where people can know you can win races. I’ve been down and out many times and my back has been put against the wall.” – Chevrolet driver Daniel Hemric, who won’t return to Richard Childress Racing next year. He finished 25th on Saturday night.

“Sometimes I think there is momentum in racing and sometimes I don’t think there is. The Playoffs are set up naturally to kind of kill anybody’s momentum because anytime you get a little bit ahead, they reset the points and you’re never really ahead. With that in mind, there are times where I think momentum can be real.” – former Cup Series champion and 400 pole-winner Brad Keselowski, a Ford driver who finished fourth to assure himself a spot in Round 2 of the Playoffs.

“We’ll have a shot at it if the car drives good and we don’t mess up and I don’t mess up and we have good pit stops.” – Chevrolet diver Chase Elliott, when asked before the race what it might take to win the 400. He finished a quiet 13th.

“All I was hoping for after that point was that he’d come back and win.” – Ford driver Ricky Stenhouse, who inadvertently hit and spun eventual race-winner Truex with 85 laps remaining. Later, Truex said held no grudge whatsoever.

“Last year, I thought we were going to be all right and finish okay, but then we all decided to follow everybody else off a cliff. It was pretty ugly.” – Toyota driver Kyle Busch, speaking of his 32nd-place finish at the Roval last year after many of the front-running drivers crashed together in the final laps. Busch finished second at Richmond to assure himself a spot in Round 2 of the Playoffs.

“(It was) just a solid performance, and unfortunately I missed our pit box on the second-to-last stop. We had to dig out of that hole. I think we could have been fifth or sixth if I hadn’t missed the pit box. We worked our way back to 11th and it was a solid qualifying effort and all three stages, which led to a respectable finish.” – Chevrolet driver Jimmie Johnson after finishing 10th, his first top-10 since third in the July race in Daytona Beach.

“It’s do-or-die time (next weekend at the Roval at Charlotte). It’s the Playoffs. You watch these football teams go through these playoffs and how exciting it is, and it’s our turn to have that nerve-racking moments and do-or-die moments for your race team and your season. I’m looking forward to it.” – Ford driver Clint Bowyer, who finished eighth but is still below the cutoff line to advance to Round 2 of the Playoffs.

“It’s not much fun when you’re on sticker tires and the guys running 75-lap-old tires are forward driving you. We didn’t have a good day. We didn’t have anything go our way, either.” – Chevrolet driver Alex Bowman, who finished 23rd and is in serious jeopardy of missing Round 2 of the Playoffs.

“I don’t know that I’m looking forward to the Roval (next weekend at Charlotte). I don’t really know anybody that actually is, except for maybe Truex.” – Ford driver Ryan Newman, after his fifth-place finish vastly improved his chances of advancing to Round 2 of the Playoffs.

“I have no idea. I really didn’t know that was even a possibility.” – Chevrolet driver William Byron, who finished 24th, four laps down, but remains two points above the cutoff to advance into Round 2 of the Playoffs.

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