Welcome to Running Their Mouth! Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all of 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 they all were thinking following NASCAR’s Super Bowl, the Daytona 500.
“This is insane. To be in this situation and with the No. 21 car, the car is right where it belongs in victory lane. My car was a rocket ship. I keep thinking I am dreaming. It is unbelievable. Our first 500, are you kidding me? To win our first one and our second-ever Cup race? To win on this platform is incredible.” – Trevor Bayne, Daytona 500 winner
Make no mistake about it: If you sent a Hollywood director a script of how the Daytona 500 would play out with a driver making only his second career Cup start, crashing in the final lap of the Gatorade Duels on Thursday (Feb. 17) and winning the biggest stock car race of them all with a rebuilt primary car, the script would have been dismissed as too “unbelievable.”
But the beautiful thing about NASCAR, like so many other sports, is that Cinderella stories happen every day. Time will tell if Bayne becomes the mega-star so many have pegged him as, but winning the Daytona 500 for the famous Wood Brothers in just your second career race is a heck of a way to kick off your career and now makes Bayne the biggest thing to come out of Knoxville since Peyton Manning left town after his college football days with the Volunteers.
“It’s just aggravating because you’ve got to either be shoving somebody or get shoved and it’s just kind of an aggravating way to race. You’ve got to watch your mirror and keep riding the brakes and try to get to somebody, or you’ve got to be in front of somebody and hope they slam the brakes so you can just slam them. It’s just a difficult way to race.” – Matt Kenseth on how mentally challenging the racing was on the track.
Undeniably, some people were able to take full advantage of the two-car “Daytona Do-Si-Do” while drivers like Kenseth seemed to absolutely hate it. To be fair, Kenseth was not the only driver to feel that way, but following his accident being an unfortunate by-product of the two-car draft, his remarks seemingly came across as sour grapes.
Granted, while it wasn’t the type of racing NASCAR fans have become so accustomed to over the years at Daytona and Talladega, the racing, as a whole, was better. Kenseth’s aggravation over what seems to be a style of driving that is here to stay, while understandable, is just something he is going to have to become accustomed to.
“I think TV will sum it up – pretty crazy day, overall. Everything was just all over the place and pretty nuts. Glad we were able to come out of this with a pretty good finish for our M&M’s Toyota. It felt good that we had a really fast racecar. We just needed to get some help there and we got a lot of help with teammates and then trying to find some other guys that would help us – and there wasn’t many of them.
“We kind of did it on the end on the [No.] 78 (Regan Smith) car, just pushing him. To come home with an eighth-place finish – that’s not bad. That’s something that we can take and just get the heck out of here with.”- Kyle Busch, eighth, on how wild the afternoon’s racing was.
Say what you will about Kyle Busch, whether you like him or absolutely loathe him, one has to give him credit for actually not throwing petulant fits like a 4-year old sent to his room without his dinner. In fact, considering that his car was more jittery than a caffeine-addict on caffeine withdrawal, to come home eighth is a remarkable job and proves that Busch perhaps is showing some signs of maturity.
Kyle had to be relieved that his day was not a colossal disaster after his early-race spin. Unlike years past, when Kyle would go into “Hulk-Smash” mode on his crew by berating and belittling them, he actually showed composure and made lemonade out of what could have been a real lemon of a situation.
“It doesn’t really matter at this point, our chances to win the Daytona 500 are over. That is the disappointing part. The Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was really fast. I had just got with Trevor Bayne again, I had some help from Kasey Kahne in the beginning. We were having a lot of fun. You know, I totally get the two-car drafting and I think we are going to see a lot more of it. What I don’t understand is why guys are doing it three-wide, three-deep running for 28th.
“We need to let it thin out a little. As soon as it thins out, then go to it and they can do it pretty safe and pretty harm free. Like right there, I was sitting there just kind of riding along just waiting for it to thin out. I probably should have waited even farther in the back, but you see them and they are pushing and shoving up the middle down the back straightaway. I’m like ‘what are they doing’, you know. You can understand those guys in the front two or three rows, go ahead… they are going to go out there and do it.
“But, anyway, it is disappointing. It is going to be a heck of a race to watch. I think the finish is going to be unbelievable. We are going to see a lot more of what we just saw. It is hot and a little slicker today. The cars aren’t sticking quite as good as they were the other day. Unfortunately for us, the damages are going to take awhile for us to fix. We will get back out there and get as good of laps as we can.” – Jeff Gordon, on being caught up in the 17-car pileup on lap 29
Once again, another driver gets bit by the unfortunate by-product of the two-car draft. Gordon’s criticism of the drivers racing two-by-two may come across as a bit harsh, but he brought up, arguably, a very valid point. While the “Daytona Do-Si-Do” worked for the frontrunners, for the cars in the back of the pack, like Gordon, it proved to be more of an irritating issue than it was a solution to working one’s way up through the field.
While the opinions are mixed on the tag-team racing, quotes like these are going to make more than their fair share of drivers a bit uneasy about willingly engaging in the practice. Not only did it appear to take a physical toll, obviously took a mental toll on a good number of drivers that were in the field.
“I know what the rules are. I felt like the leader had the start of the race. I felt like we fired and I started to move down right before the start/finish line, but I don’t think I crossed that invisible line that separates the top and the bottom. I also haven’t seen the replay, but to win these Cup races you can’t make any mistakes and the mistake I made hurt us, but our UPS team did a great job.
“I’m proud of all our UPS guys. A lot of UPS fans should be proud. It’ll take us a long time to forget this one, but we’ll move on to Phoenix and the sooner we can win one, the sooner we can forget it.” – David Ragan, 14th, on jumping the initial restart with two to go that ended his Daytona 500 chances
Poor David Ragan. To lead the Daytona 500 with two laps to go and to lose due to jumping the restart has to be the racing equivalent of having a winning lottery ticket and dropping it in a sewer. The Unadilla, Ga., arguably, needed this type of bad luck about as much as a drowning man needs another bucket of water. What was perhaps most painful of all is that Bayne, Jack Roush’s latest protege, won the 500 due to that mistake and now the pressure to perform is more on Ragan than ever before. It’s obvious that he needs a strong season to save his job and this was not the best way to start 2011 or Ragan.
Best of the Rest
“This finish is right up there with my first Nationwide Series win. Without that first win, I wouldn’t be here to finish third. I am really excited as this wops everything else I have done. I think our Front Row Motorsports team is the most improved team from last year.” – David Gilliland, finished third
“The guys on the team and back at the shop worked really hard to get us to this point and we had a fast car and tried to do the best we could today but it came down to all the carnage out there. Too much carnage out there.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 24th, on being caught up in the last wreck of the afternoon
“This is the first race. You don’t come very much do you? (laughs)” – Kevin Harvick, finished 42nd, on his early points situation
“Honestly, we came down on a shoestring budget at best. We really hoped for the best, but realistically, didn’t think we had much of a shot at it (making the race). When Brad [Keselowski] got behind me in the 150, it was just all over from there. We were going so far forward, I didn’t think it was ever going to stop. It was a great weekend. It really was. We’ll put it back together and go racing again.”- Brian Keselowski, finished 41st, on his vision for the week
“It means a lot. People are going to criticize me for not laughing or smiling enough or whatever, but I was still disappointed we didn’t win this Daytona 500. That’s going to bother me probably for a little bit, but I think by tomorrow morning. These guys did a great job today. We battled back from a near spin over there and we got a top five out of it. Today was such a wild day. It was just a little bit too wild at times so to survive – I think, was a big thing.” – Bobby Labonte, finished fourth, on how much his finish meant to him
“It was part my fault, as [Ken] Schrader would say because I was out there. When you go out there and race then you just assume part responsibility.” – Michael Waltrip, finished 40th, on how both Kyle Busch and David Reutimann refused to blame him for seperate accidents
“Yeah, I did. When you can see the lead with five to go and then you’re in the lead. It’s a disappointing day. It’s life and we go on to Phoenix and focus on the rest of the season. It’s just gonna happen. That was nobody’s fault back there. I don’t blame anybody. I was trying to get back to my partner and it just didn’t work out.” – Regan Smith, finished seventh, on having a great chance to win the Daytona 500
About the author
The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.