Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: 2011 Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol

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 the Jeff Byrd 500 (presented by Food City) at Bristol Motor Speedway:

Best Quote

“As soon as I can beat Darrell (Waltrip) for most wins here they can name it after me. This is his right now. This is pretty cool. It’s an awesome opportunity to come to Bristol and win in front of these fans – I love it. It’s a lot of fun and especially five in a row. This is cool. It was a grueling day today. I didn’t feel my best, but we put it all together there when it mattered most. This M&M’s Camry team did an awesome job.

“Mark (Cronquist, engine builder) got a lot of pressure put on him a couple weeks ago and everybody was wondering what was going on, but I believe in those guys and what we’re doing here. It’s fun and I love coming to Bristol. There’s nothing not fun about this place. I’m sure all these fans know that too.” – Kyle Busch, first, on whether or not Victory Lane at Bristol is his new home

Like him or loathe him, the fact remains that Kyle Busch has now won five consecutive NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway. The fact that Busch has pulled a feat such as this off is absolutely astounding, regardless of one’s personal opinion of him. Many people have to wonder why there is so much mutual respect between Kyle and Darrell as witnessed in this quote along with Darrell continuously singing the praises of Kyle Busch.

See also
Kyle Busch Sweeps Bristol Yet Again, Wins 2011 Jeff Byrd 500

The answer is surprisingly simple; Darrell Waltrip sees many similarities in himself at a younger age in Kyle. Both were incredibly polarizing individuals. Both bucked the establishment, both can/could win in almost anything that had a motor and wheels, and both had a bad reputation of childish behavior when things did not go their way.

Hard-Luck Quote

“This race was totally different than the Nationwide race. Everybody always talks about how tough the (races) are here in Bristol. And I’m like, yeah, yeah, yeah… But this is totally different. You’re beside somebody the entire time. It never singles out. You never just ride. With that said, also, it’s 200 more laps. You get to 300 when you’d normally be done, you know, that’s when you finally get a little fatigued around 300. But then you have 200 left. You’re counting down every lap. It’s a tough race. Mentally, physically – everything.” – Trevor Bayne, finished 34th, on his race day

One cannot help but feel sympathy for Bayne. The local boy from Knoxville, Tenn. came to Bristol hoping for a good finish, but he gets collected in the aftermath of Kevin Harvick’s spin and winds up having to basically drive an open-wheel modified car the rest of the race as a result. Not the happy homecoming Bayne had in mind by any stretch of the imagination.

In fact, it was an absolutely hellacious homecoming for Bayne and now, the team heads to California hoping to get Bayne some decent runs after he has crashed out of two out of three of his starts since his Cinderella Daytona 500 victory.

Crew Chief Quote of the Week

“I’m real proud of the entire M&M’s team. This is a team win for sure. We came off the truck Friday really good. Kyle [Busch] was extremely happy with the car. We knew the track was going to tighten up, it always does. We still got behind. Saturday we weren’t very good at all. We were really tight. We put the new tire on and it was worse yet. We made some stabs at it in practice. We got it better, but we were still a good tenth and a half, two tenths off.

That’s pretty far off at this racetrack. So we studied the notes, talked to Jason Ratcliff (No. 18 NNS crew chief), talked to Kyle after the Nationwide race yesterday, studied the tire data – whatever Goodyear would give us. We came in this morning and made a number of changes, pretty significant changes. The road crew seemed to put together a sound racecar, then Kyle did his job on the racetrack as we expected it to. Comes down to a final pit stop. Our guys shined. Total team effort. Real happy with everybody.” – Dave Rogers, race-winning crew chief, on his team’s performance today.

As much praise as Kyle Busch gets for his abilities and raw talent, the unsung hero behind the scenes who shuns much of the publicity is Dave Rogers. He and the No. 18 M&M’s crew put together one hell of an effort to be one of the two most dominant cars on the track at Bristol Sunday afternoon. When the chips were down on the final pit stop, Rogers and his crew put the hammer down on pit road and got it done when it mattered the most by getting Kyle out first. From there, Busch had nothing but clean air and was never really seriously threatened en route to his victory.

Most Controversial

“Well, the guy was three laps down. I understand. He’s trying to keep from going a lap down and hey, you’ve got to give him credit. They fought back and got back on the lead lap and got a decent finish out of it. I’ll just tell Brad [Keselowski] that the next time I’m three laps down and he’s on the lead lap, just expect the same out of me, you know?

“I don’t expect him to just let off. He had a fast racecar. But when you’re three laps down and then you door-slam the guy trying to pass; that’s what ticked me off is when he got loose underneath me and got up into me, I got pretty mad then.” – Jeff Gordon, 14th, on what happened with Brad Keselowski during the race

As respected as Gordon has become, there are still occasions where he becomes a bit of a whiner on the scale of Danica Patrick. This was one of those occasions. Make no mistake, Gordon is a future hall-of-fame caliber driver, but his tendency to whine when people don’t race him the way he wants to be raced can be rather irritating at times.

Granted, Keselowski is not exactly a saint behind the wheel either, as he’s been known to knock people out of the way on more than a few occasions and force an issue when he doesn’t need to (Talladega 2009, anyone?), but Gordon needs to realize that he can’t complain when things don’t go his way on the track.

Best of the Rest

“It was exciting. I thought I could get to him at the end and rough him up a little bit and maybe get by him, but his car took off. I just told them I should have hit him harder when I got to his bumper the first time, but we were racing really hard. His car was better there at the end. I didn’t know how fast Jimmie [Johnson] was, so I thought, ‘Man, if we starting roughing each other up, it might end up worse for us in general.’

“But it was a good race at Bristol. Kyle did a good job. Our team did a good job. We’ve got to thank all the fans and we appreciate them coming out and supporting us.” – Carl Edwards, finished second, on how the racing was at the end of the race

“Yeah, had a fast racecar all weekend. What’s cool is we’ve been to four different racetracks and we’ve had strong runs at all four. A testament to Slugger (Richard Labbe, crew chief) and everyone at RCR. There is a lot of talent up there. Slugger built a hell of a race team and just having a lot of fun right now.” – Paul Menard, finished fifth, on how his team continues to impress

“We have a championship team. We proved that we could race for it last year. Everybody is just so confident in each other and everybody is just mellow on the radio and when something happens we just fix it and come back. That’s not a feeling I’ve ever had until last year and these first four weeks I’ve had that feeling over and over again and we keep fighting back.” – Kevin Harvick, finished sixth, on if he feels like he has a championship-caliber team

“Well it is hard to really point on and put a finger on it right now. He just does a good job of keeping me calm and keeping me focused on trying to do good. You know… I have such a temper man, in that car. It is hard to maintain it. That car is like a big ol’ balancer when you’re in there. You feel like you could take on anybody cause you have on, you know, over your shoulder and you get mad, you get real angry. But, he keeps me calm and we’ve worked close on what the job is. We keep getting good finishes, we’ll be all right.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 11th, on whether Steve Letarte actually helps him calm down behind the wheel

“I was passing somebody and I ran up on the [No.] 56 (Martin Truex Jr.) and he had a tire go down they said. So he just stopped — he wasn’t worried about me. I just hit the brakes so hard that I popped the rear tires loose. I got underneath him and then just held it wide open and did a 360 and lost the spot and kept going. It was a miracle that we didn’t get torn up any.” – Bobby Labonte, 13th, on what happened when he spun out of the race

About the author

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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.

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