Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members and car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
“First of all, I’ve got to thank Office Depot, Aflac, Ford, Sprint, and also these fans for coming out here. This racetrack is a blast. I hope they never repave it or mess with it. It’s really fun to drive on. I went to the Aflac Cancer Hospital and met this kid, Dalton. He gave me this necklace. It’s his courage necklace. He was a really cool kid and this is really awesome. He said this would bring me luck, so it was an awesome weekend for us. I can’t believe how great this weekend is.” – Carl Edwards
“I got in trouble for speeding on pit road, and we just tried to recover from that all day long. It was fun. It was great passing all those guys. I had to go down and thank Denny [Hamlin] for not getting into me. I got to his outside going into [turn] 3, and I think it affected his car a little bit and got him loose. Fortunately, he didn’t get me, so I had to thank him for that.
“This track has turned into like an oversized Darlington. It’s just a tough, tough place to get hold of. They (Goodyear) came in with a new tire, and the tire didn’t give us much help or relief – especially if we were sideways, [which] everybody was all day long. It was a tough day.” – Jimmie Johnson, finished second
“We had a race-winning car, but our car didn’t like those cycles on those cautions. We had the field licked and then we had that debris caution, and it just changed the whole complexion of the race. When that happens, you have to take it for what it’s worth. We tried to do the best we could. My team gave me the best car they’ve ever given me here. They gave me an opportunity to win. My pit crew did awesome. We just weren’t able to capitalize.” – Denny Hamlin, finished third
“We were good all day, it’s just that in this day and age of racing with these cars and stuff we’ve got going on, you can take a pretty good car and put it in the front and think you’ve got the best car in the world, and then you put it in second and you’ve got a pretty average top-five or top-10 car. It’s just really frustrating. We had a good car. I had good stops. Denny beat us out of the pits and once he did that, we just couldn’t get back by him.” – Matt Kenseth, finished fourth
“We just didn’t have anything today. We’re not in the points anymore, so we’re trying to get some wins and we have to run in the top five to contend for those. We finished fifth today, [but] we didn’t have a top-five run. We’ve still got some work to do. It’s a testament to the guys sticking in there all day and having good pit stops and being able to keep us up there all day on pit road and not make any mistakes. I know that it was a handful out there for myself. I’m sure it’s a handful up there on the pit box for him [Steve Addington] to watch. We made the most of it today.” – Kyle Busch, finished fifth
”We felt like the run we had at Charlotte was a good place to start. We made changes based on the track being different here at Atlanta rather than Charlotte. All in all, that was the core setup. We polished on it from there. There are a couple of things that we’re thinking about right now that we would have liked to have had. That’s better than normal. Most of the time, we’re scratching our head because we’re so far out of the box.
“It was a really good run with the Miller Lite Dodge. We led laps; we were competitive. No matter if we won or if we finished 10th, we had a good day today and brought it home in sixth.” – Kurt Busch
“It was a solid day. We certainly didn’t start out great. Jimmy and the AAA team made good calls throughout the race and made solid improvements on our car. A top 10 is good. I think if we could have been on equal tires and got the car a little bit better at the end, we might have been a little bit better, but we’re certainly happy. That’s a good finish here, and now we’ll move on to Texas.” – David Ragan, finished eighth
“We were good at times and we just kept trying to make it better. Man, we made some adjustments trying to get the grip back in it. The track really changed on us, and so we struggled there at the end and we were fortunate we got the caution to get the four tires and then that next caution ended up costing us. So, we’ll take it. A top 10 was a good points day.” – Jeff Gordon, finished ninth
“I don’t know why, but the car obviously was not right. We were awful in practice and just never got a handle on it. We tried some different things on it in the race. We tried a whole grocery list of stuff on it today, but we just couldn’t get it to go. That’s all we could do. We were way too tight at the end. I think I could have got about four more spots, but it was just unfortunate. We worked hard today and that’s all we could do. We’re just gonna race as hard as we can every week. We’ve got three more chances, and then we’re gonna start over next year.” – Greg Biffle, finished 10th
“We got banged around on pit road, man. I am just frustrated. We should have run sixth or seventh there. We work too hard to run like that, but I don’t know what we could have done differently. I was running on the bottom and once the sun is in your eyes you can’t see the corner, so you can’t aim to where you want to go and hit your marks. It is stupid, we should start the race earlier, but the networks want it later for attendance and this and that and the other but it makes the end of the race terrible.
“Jimmie and the No. 48, they are a good team man, [and] they are going to win the championship. They are the best team in this sport. They have been the best team for three years.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 11th
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