Kyle Busch (fourth) and Elliott Sadler (fifth) crossed the finish line behind race-winner Regan Smith, Brad Keselowski (second) and Trevor Bayne (third).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing - (Finishing Position: 4th):
Why weren’t you able to push Brad Keselowski past Regan Smith on the final lap? “I think the 3 (Ty Dillon) fell off my rear bumper. The outside line just started to deteriorate a little bit there and so we lost our closeness in order to bump. It was an interesting race -- certainly there the last 10 laps and especially the last restart on. Good race for the Monster Energy Camry. These guys brought a good car to the race track.
Can’t say enough about everyone from Toyota, Monster Energy and Nationwide Insurance and the fans for sticking with us here today throughout the race.”
Was this race more of a mind game to avoid being penalized for pushing? “You’re playing with fire and nitrous oxide at the same time. Just trying to mix the two right and kind of make a big explosion where NASCAR penalizes you. It was tough just to play that and to know how hard to play that and what to do. I thought the outside was really, really aggressive there at the end of the race, but that’s not my call.
The 7 (Regan Smith) was so aggressive just pinching the 22 (Brad Keselowski) down and that’s what you’ve got to do. I was touching his door while touching the apron at the same time there. Just no room and nowhere to go and kind of stuck in a box. I was just doing my part trying to push as hard as I could or bump as hard as I could and get our lane moving to open up a spot for me to go, but it never happened.”
What was it like on the race track? “It was good early, I led a lot but wasn’t able to make the best of it there at the end unfortunately. I had a really fast race car. The Monster Energy Camry was good, just kind of got boxed in there late. The 7 (Regan Smith) had a good run on the outside with the 6 (Trevor Bayne) pushing him. Me and Brad (Keselowski) were trying to get going there on the bottom and the 7 was holding us so tight I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time through the corner. Man, he was really on us pretty tight.
Just interesting the way all that played out and how much bumping was going on and what you could do. How far was too far? You’re essentially playing with fire and nitrous oxide at the same time. Not knowing if you’re going to get penalized or not and have to come down and do a penalty. I thought it was interesting. I thought that the end of the race was really good because there was a lot more of the bumping going on. Through much of the race there wasn’t that so there was a lot of single file stuff going on. You’ve got to save your equipment, gotta save your cars and be able to make it to the end.”
ELLIOTT SADLER, No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing (Position: 5th):
How was your race today? “Oh, man, my car was fast -- my OneMain Financial Toyota. The guys did a great job. They brought me a really fast race car. Have no idea how they lined us up sixth on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car (Ty Dillon) all day and they put him in front of us -- and that split me and the 54 (Kyle Busch) up. Really cost us our chance to win the race. I’m proud of my guys -- great pit stops. The car’s in one piece for Talladega. We’ll take it.”
Is it a relief leaving here with your race car in one piece? “You come here to win. That’s what this place is all about. But if you can’t you take the best finish you can and we got a fifth. These new rules are tough man. You got to try to time them and bump them and move and bump and stop -- it’s a lot different racing from what we’re used to. That last restart lineup really killed our chances to win the race today. Just proud of my guys. Brought me a really fast car and we’re ready to go to Phoenix.”
How tough is this new style of racing? “Well you don’t want to sit on him because you get in trouble, so you can’t really get on him. You kind of have to get off, get on, get off, get on -- and you’ve got to time it right to get as much speed as you can. It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to. You also worried about what you’re doing and also worried about what everybody else is doing too -- to make sure they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Cause physically pushing the guys is way better than just riding. You just got to time it right and push it to the edge.”
JAMES BUESCHER, No. 99 Rheem Toyota Camry, RAB Racing (Finishing Position: 16th):
What happened in your view that resulted in the penalty from NASCAR? “It felt like bumping. I don’t know -- when they made the rule at the test NASCAR said no locking of bumpers front or rear. I talked to Wayne Auton (NNS series director) and Robin Pemberton (vice president of competition for NASCAR) in their office just for clarification of what exactly we could do. They said if you bounce off the car in front of you there’s no call. As far as I’m concerned there was only bouncing, never locked the bumper. I haven’t seen a replay so I don’t know what exactly they’re saying was the time that I got called on.
We had been bouncing off of everybody’s bumpers all day and everybody had. It’s really unfortunate for my 99 team -- everybody at RAB Racing and this Rheem Toyota Camry. We were running solid top-10 all day. I don’t think we fell out of the top-10 until we got penalized. It’s just really unfortunate because the guys we were working with there finished I think second and sixth.
Another thing I’m confused about is I was told prior to the race that both cars that were involved in the tandem locking bumpers penalties -- two cars would be penalized and I was the only one that hit pit road. I don’t know what exact lap they’re talking about and I’d like to go talk to NASCAR and get some clarification.”
What do you want to see when you meet with NASCAR? “I saw a camera on the back bumper of the 22 (Brad Keselowski) car that would have showed me bouncing off of his bumper. That’s what I want to go figure out exactly what the call was about because there was a lot of bumping going on out there and there is no telling which time they’re saying I’m black-flagged for.
I’m curious to go see it, but it’s really unfortunate because we had a solid car and I thought we were going to rally for a top-10 and the bottom line got a little stacked up at the end there. Still a decent recovery -- didn’t lose a lap and was able to get our Toyota Camry back up front and had a solid day for Rheem. It was looking like it was going to be a lot better. Have to thank everybody on this Toyota Camry. We’ll go get them in Phoenix.”
Was bump drafting necessary to maintain position? “It was kind of getting to where I was getting sucked into doing that. When the guy behind me would get up really tight, it’s really hard to prevent bumping the guy in front of you. It was just situational the way the side draft was working and our cars were actually making some headway and making the outside work and I thought it was putting on a pretty good show. I guess we’ll go see why we got our wrist slapped and move on from there.”
Was it difficult to make the outside line move? “It was hard to make passes today. I think everybody saw that. There was one distinct line and everybody doing all they could to get the second line working. I feel like our car was one of the cars that was doing the best at getting the second line to work whether we were the first car in line or second. Like I said, it’s unfortunate because I thought it was putting on a pretty good show and making a race out of it. We got penalized and had to make a recovery.”
How will you approach the Talladega race with the bump drafting? “I don’t know yet. I have to go figure out what we got in trouble for. Obviously, they’re going to make calls and they had to make an example out of somebody. I saw people that actually had their bumpers locked on and didn’t get penalties so I’m still a little bit baffled by it.”