Ryan Blaney Drives By Spinning Johnson And Truex For Inaugural Roval Win

Victory Lane celebrations

Ryan Blaney Drives By Spinning Johnson And Truex For Inaugural Roval Win
(CONCORD, NC – SEPT 30, 2018 – RIS) A last lap, last chicane spin by Jimmie Johnson clipped leader Martin Truex on his way to the checkered flag and handed a surprised Ryan Blaney the win at the inaugural Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The first caution flew for Stanton Barrett who crashed in the first turn, but was soon checked and released from the track care center.

Joey Logano 'won' the first stage, taking the lead from pole starter Kurt Busch after six laps and holding the lead for the rest of the stage.

The second stage saw William Byron lose a tire and slow entering the first turn, with Aric Almirola slapping the outside wall. Byron earned a commitment line violation for entering the pits via the Legends car quarter mile. Later in the stage, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex both spun in the final chicane and NASCAR announced that had they not both stopped as required under the rules for the weekend, they would have been assessed a penalty for missing the chicane.

Kyle Larson stayed on the track instead of pitting at the end of Stage One and held the lead until passed by Ryan Blaney, then retook the lead at the end of the second stage.

The final stage started with Larson in the first position flanked by Daniel Hemric but Hemric's used tires slowed him and he dropped back from the restart, fading back. The third stage featured most of the incidents predicted by some, but with the track configuration, the Austin Dillon cleanup only took a single lap under yellow when he spun in the final chicane. Cautions for debris on lap 60 and for an incident between Aric Almirola and Chris Buescher only took two laps each, but the carnage many had predicted occurred one lap the restart from a one-lap caution for Stenhouse, when Brad Keselowski over drove the first turn, slid into the outside tire barrier and started a chain reaction crash involving fifteen cars and bringing out a red flag for the cleanup.

The final incident of the day took out the two leaders at the time, Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex. Truex led Johnson through the final chicane, approaching the checkered flag, when Johnson spun across the track and backed into Truex' rear corner, spinning both cars and leaving the door open for Ryan Blaney to drive through and into the inaugural win on the new Charlotte ROVAL configuration. Johnson's eighth place finish dropped him just out of the Playoffs, ending this year's shot at an eighth NASCAR championship.

All in all, the experiment was a big success for the Speedway, NASCAR and the fans who came out to experience the inaugural race. There was more side-by-side racing with some competitive passing at several more spots around the ROVAL than most had foreseen. Next year's version will profit from some alterations already being discussed. The bridge over the track to allow fans access to the infield area is one of the best things the track has done in preparing for the event. Camping along the infield portions of the track allow some impressive and very close-up views and the ability to see nearly all of the track from the grandstand make this one of the most guest-friendly road courses around.

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW – “We restarted sixth the last one there and got to third with a couple to go. I was really just riding third. We were good to go on points and was going to advance to the next round on points no problems. They were so far ahead I wasn’t even really trying and then I saw them kind of close to each other through the oval track in three and four and I was like, ‘Oh, something might happen here.’ And we went down I there and they touched just trying to win the race and I was lucky to sneak through there. That’s not how you really want to win them. I’d rather go out and dominate the race and win by a lap, but you’ve got to take them how you can get them nowadays. We put ourselves in a spot to be there, though. We did a great job all day of winning a stage and putting us in a good spot for points. Things just kind of kept building and building where all of a sudden it’s like, ‘OK, we’re lining up.’ We had to pit early to stay with the 88 and we were kind of 15th or something and it was like, ‘OK, we lined up 15th. OK, we’re sixth. And now we’re third and we’ve got a shot to win this race.’ It just worked out for us.” 

TALK ABOUT YOUR STRATEGY THROUGHOUT THE DAY.“We talked about it early in the day that you can’t give up stage points, especially how close we are and you had a couple cars that were fast all day, all weekend really that were either right in front of us or right behind us in the cutoff, so that was our main goal. We got one stage point in the first stage and that was an amazing strategy call to stay out and stretch on fuel for the second stage and win that one and that was huge and really set us up for the rest of the day. Even though we had to pit and start way in the back we knew the cars that we were racing and just wanted to stick with them all day and do whatever they did just to make sure we were with them. That was a really smart call by Jeremy Bullins and something we talked about before the race and it played out that way to where we could utilize that strategy.” 

THE EMOTION OF WINNING MUST BE COOL FOR A RACE THAT WAS AS HYPED AS THIS ONE.“It is really cool. It’s a different way than I’ve ever won one before in my life. I’ve never been running third and two guys wreck and won. I’ve never had that happen to me before, but it is neat. It’s cool to win the first one. Your name will be on it for a while, so that is special. It’s just a really cool day, a kind of unexpected ending to the day and it left us happy, so I’m sure there will be times when the tables are turned on me and I’m leading and me and second wreck each other and third wins because it all comes full circle in this deal, but it happened to work out for us today.”

Q. How big is this victory for you not just as your first win as a member of Team Penske, but the timing of being able to pull this off today with the playoffs and knowing that you were in a precarious position coming into it?

RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, it was kind of one of the thoughts in the back of our head. Kind of the strategy for the race was really don't give up stage points and try to maximize on that side of it, and we did a really good job of the strategy of being able to win that second stage and stretch it on fuel and win that stage. That was really big for us. That kind of set up our whole day, even though we had to go to the back and pit again.

"We were able to kind of put ourselves in a spot to where towards the end of the day we were just racing the 88 and 14, and we were just right in front of or behind the 88 just because we didn't want to let him out of our sight, so when he pitted towards the end of the race, we pitted, just to stay on the same strategy. Same with the 14. We put ourselves in a spot to capitalize on something happening, and we did.

But really big to be able to win for Roger. Obviously that's not the way I'd want to do it. Obviously I want to go out and dominate the race. Whenever you win something like this, it's a weird feeling. I don't really want to call it an undeserved feeling, but it's just kind of an odd feeling. But we put ourselves in a good spot, and it worked out for us. When I was running third, I was just thinking about points. We were good on points, and I was cool with just riding around in third. But then that situation happened, and we happened to be there.

Q. You're a history buff; this race had shades of the last lap of the 1976 Daytona 500. Thoughts there from the driver's seat, and what are you thinking as all of a sudden you see Truex and Jimmie start going every which way?

RYAN BLANEY: You know, when I got out of the Bus Stop, I could still see them through the oval 3 and 4, and they were really close to each other. Jimmie was almost pushing him. I was like, hmm, it might get physical here. I don't know what happened. By the time I got to them or by the time I was able to see something, Jimmie was sideways, and I'm sure they just tried to out‑brake each other, which you can't blame them. They're going for the win, of course.

When I was thinking they were kind of sitting there, I almost wrecked trying to get through the chicane as fast as I could just because you're trying to make up time and try to seize the moment. But it was kind of just disbelief. I didn't know what ‑‑you're kind of shocked that something like that happens and that you're lucky to be in that spot. Luck has not been on our side very often. Sometimes you find a nut.

But it was good to have happen. It's ‑‑not good that that happened, just luckily it worked out for us.

Q. We've heard a lot about this race the past few months, weeks leading up to it. Now that it's over, regardless of the finish, how would you describe it overall and would you consider it a success?

RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, it was a tough race. I'm pretty worn out. The racetrack is really, really difficult. A lot of hard racing. I think the only thing ‑‑there's a few things I'd like to see changed as far as the speed bumps and stuff and the curbs. I'd like to see that be a little bit different as far as the way they shape them and mound them. It was really hard to pass. I thought there was very few passing zones, so that was pretty difficult. But I think you can tweak on it. Nothing is ever perfect, especially the first time you try something new.

I don't want to ‑‑I'm definitely not going to bash it. That's not even ‑‑if I wouldn't have won the race, I wouldn't bash it because I thought it had potential. I know a lot of people bashed it leading up to it, but it was definitely hectic at times, but a really tough racetrack. But you can tweak on it, made some changes, and I think keep progressing it, and it could get better and better.

Q. Were you curious how they were going to score you after the accident in Turn 1, and how pleased were you by where they put you?

RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, I was pretty confident they were going to put me back behind the 88 because that's where we were. It was kind of right at the last scoring loop there when the caution came out, and I was pretty confident they were going to put me back to where we should be, and I thought they made the right call there.

I was more worried about the damage we got. I kind of clipped somebody with my right front tire, and it spun the wheel really fast out of my hands, and I was like, I broke something, and the toe was kind of out, so that worried me, and there was damage all the way down the right side of the door. I was worried about it rubbing. But you couldn't pit. You pit and you go back to 25th and you're out of the points.

But yeah, I figured they would put us back up there where we belonged because I was going back to the scoring loop, and that's where we were at.

Q. You said you don't blame Jimmie for going for it, but it cost him a playoff spot. Does it surprise you that somebody would go for a win when if he finishes second he's still running for a championship?

RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, I didn't know where his spot was. I didn't know his position in the race. He didn't, either. Yeah, I didn't know where he was sitting. But yeah, I can't speak on it just because I'm not him. You make decisions every single second behind the race car, and sometimes really hard decisions, and sometimes the will to win kind of is too high to just sit there and run second.

I couldn't really give you a good thought on that just because I'm not Jimmie Johnson.

Q. Ryan, coming to that restart where they crashed in Turn 1, did you have a feeling that that was going to happen at some point in time, and were you a little surprised that from your position you were able to get through there with little to no damage?

RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, so the restart is so tough because you don't run the chicane on the front stretch, and you just run the normal restart zone, so by the time you're going, you're going so much faster than when you come out of that chicane when you do a restart. But from what I saw, everybody got in there as deep as the leaders did, the cars just followed them in there. Because when you're restarting, you're kind of just judging off of the cars in front of you of where to get on the brakes because when they're all jumbled up, you can't see markers, you don't see where you are on the track, you're just going by the guy in front of you.

I figured that was going to happen at some point, and that was kind of the ‑‑getting down to crunch time and drivers trying really hard to win the race. I was actually at the top of 3 when this happened, and I could not believe I did not get more damage. I collected ‑‑we barely, barely squeezed by ‑‑we didn't even squeeze by; we hit something. I know people were talking about that corner leading up to it. It's just tight and it's slippery getting into that corner, and just drivers racing hard, and stuff happens like that.

Q. Roger mentioned when he was in earlier that he had had a conversation with you in Victory Lane, and he seemed especially excited about your prospects for the second round of the playoffs. Can you assess how you think they've gone so far up until this win today, and what gets you excited about the next stage?

RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, leading into the playoffs, honestly, we were most nervous about round 1. There were some tracks in there that weren't very good for us. Richmond we've struggled at, and here you just didn't know what was going to happen, and we didn't have the best day at Las Vegas, which is usually a good track for us. But yeah, this is the round I was worried about. We did a great job today before the last couple cautions of putting ourselves in a spot to move on to the second round, and the reason why he and I were talking about the second round if I think there's some good tracks there for us. Dover we always run pretty decent at; Talladega, our speedway cars are pretty good; and then Kansas has been one of our best racetracks for sure, especially in the Cup Series. I'm looking forward to the second round.

In the third round there's been some tracks that are good for us, too. Yeah, the first round we were worried about it just because some places we struggle and some of the unknowns. But second round, hopefully it goes well. Just good tracks for us. That's really all we were talking about is places we have run decent at. Even though it's a wild card like Talladega, I think our speedway stuff is okay, so hopefully we can just stay out of trouble there.

Q. Although there were unknowns going into this race, did anything surprise you about how it went or what you went through today?

RYAN BLANEY: Surprise me? Really the only thing that surprised me was the ending. I didn't expect that to happen. But as far as the racing today or what the track kind of went to, not really. Nothing really shocked me as far as the racetrack went or how things raced. I thought it was pretty much of what we thought. Actually I thought it was calmer than what it was going to be. I thought there was going to be ‑‑the first three quarters of this race was pretty calm. There wasn't really any pile‑ups or big wrecks or anything like that. There was a couple cars going off here and there, and even towards the end there wasn't massive wrecks or nothing like that. You really just had that one.

I think maybe that was something different. And I kind of got that feeling yesterday in the Xfinity race, there wasn't really any of that. There wasn't any big pile‑ups. I think everybody respected out there for sure, but at the same time had really hard racing. But nothing really surprised me too much as far as the racing went.

Q. Can you further just kind of explain when you talk about that you referenced you undeserving feeling ‑‑I know every racer just wants to dominate the field, but I mean, I'm sure there's still a lot of joy, or is it tempered, or can you give me a little better ‑‑what you're feeling in that sense?

RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, I'm actually happy you asked another question because I didn't think I described it very good the first time. You know, you're happy that it's worked out for you. You're happy you won the race. You're happy for the team to do that. But me personally inside, there's some of me, I'm happy, I'm like, all right, this is great, we put ourselves in a spot to do this. But you don't want people to look at it and I don't look at ‑‑I don't want people to look at it as, oh, you just won because the two guys wrecked. And that's what it was, and you don't want to be kind of overjoyed about it, I guess, you know, but you have to have some pride in it, I guess. It's a weird feeling.

Like I said, I hate using that "undeserved" word because they deserved it because we put ourselves in that spot. I don't know if‑‑I don't have the vocabulary to describe the feeling. But it's just a different ‑‑I've never won a race like that before. Any race I've ever been in, quarter midgets, late models, legends cars, I've never been running third and the two cars wreck each other and I win the race, so that's kind of a weird feeling.

But you try to enjoy it. You try to be as humble as you can about it because you know you weren't the best car today, so I think being humble is a very big part of it, but at the same time, celebrate because you've got to take them how you can get them.

We did our job in the points to move on to the next round even if we didn't win the race, so that's something you have to be very proud of, and I think just a bonus is winning the race and things work out for you that way. Hopefully I described it good. It's kind of hard to describe.

Q. Being from High Point, talk about the significance of you winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, High Point, about an hour up the road. We did that ‑‑me and Rutledge did the Racing Roots thing from High Point, so that was really cool to go back home, see some great friends and family. A family I had on the show that kind of was my second family, their son, my best friend was here today, so that was pretty cool to have him out.

But yeah, it means a lot. I consider this a home racetrack for sure, like a lot of guys, but I came here all the time to watch my dad race. This is the first race my dad has been to in about six, seven weeks. He finally got a weekend off of racing the All‑Stars, and I told him he needs to come more often; he might be a good‑luck charm. But it was cool to have the whole family here. My mother was here, my six‑month pregnant sister was here, so that was good, and we were just missing one of them. But it was cool to have the family here, but yeah, High Point and being so close to this place, it brings back a lot of memories whenever I go back home.


JEREMY BULLINS: Yeah, for us the race keyed a lot off the stage points. Being what our situation was coming in, we needed to get every point we could today, so we made a play to win Stage 2, and I knew we had our work cut out for us to get back to the front because of that, but it just worked out. The play that we made panned out in the last stage. We had fresh tires at the end, and the cautions were working out for us to gain some track position, and we were in position when those guys got together on the last lap.

I think since everybody first saw the track map, we said, coming to the checker is going to be interesting, and it was, and it just worked out we were in the right place at the right time.

ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think everyone wondered what was really going to happen here with the Roval, and lots of the drivers, the teams were like, wow, it's going to be something. But I think the fact that it was the cutoff for the next playoff made it more interesting. There was so much strategy going on, a lot of racing. And I think obviously the ending with Brad and certainly the 42 there at the end, it was a terrific show. And I think that as the fans start to understand the strategy, because you can pit early, you can pit late, there's lots of things that once we get that communicated out to our fan base, I think it's made a huge difference. Obviously we were very, very happy to see young Ryan win this race.

For me and for Marcus and the whole industry, I think change is important for us, and this is something I felt was good, and certainly I think at the end of the day people would vote that it was some race and some finish.

Q. In 1976 you fielded a No. 2 for Bobby Allison, and that year's Daytona 500 had a little bit of a similar finish to what we saw. What were your thoughts there watching Ryan come through to take the checkered flag, and when that last lap started, did you believe there was a true hope it was going to happen like that?

ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think you should go out and look at the right front fender on the 12 car because when we had the mess down there in Turn 1, he got into the 21, quite honestly. We weren't sure, there was some talk that we might have a tire rub, but we just needed to finish those three laps. He was in great shape to make the next stage for the playoffs. And that's really what we were focusing on, getting those early points. I think Jeremy had a great call there, and then when we came in, we had plenty of fuel, so at the end of the day, just the clouds kind of parted.

I hate to see Jimmie not being in the playoffs. To me a champion like he is should be in, but on the other hand, I guess the 42, he's one of the great young racers we have today. Overall it's a great day, and Blaney is one of the superstars coming up. We're just glad he's on our team.

Q. You've been a track promoter, you've got the Detroit race, yet you talk about change is good. This was something unique. Is this something even with the new package coming up to help the ovals next year, is this something more tracks or the sport should look at is kind of creating this type of environment, or can there be ‑‑did this show that these cars can run on a street course like your Detroit course at some point?

ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think that ‑‑I say change is good. As we come back to some of these locations, maybe the second event or the first event is different, and you could say you could almost run on the road course at Daytona. Think about it. There's plenty of places to try to utilize their facility for more than just one major event. I think this will put a lot of the promoters' thinking caps on to determine what they can do, and I think change is good, and there's no question as you saw the race build up and as the drivers started to get better on the racetrack, the racing was very tough.

I think the fact ‑‑it was a little bit like our Cleveland race many years ago, you could see everything. A fan in the stand could see the cars, and that's really important. Most road races you don't get to see that, so I think that's a bonus that we had here in Charlotte.

I guess if we get big enough barriers, if we had a full street course, I think it might be interesting. But no, I think that we've got to look at that. I think if somebody wanted to do that and put that on, it would be very interesting.

But the difficult thing on a tight street course is the size of the pit lane running 22 or 23 cars; you start getting 40 out there and the size of the pits and what we have to do might be a little bit of a problem, but look, I think we try anything.

Q. Roger, what is the significance of getting the 12 car into Victory Lane this year in its first full season?

ROGER PENSKE: Well, listen, when you think about it, seven out of the 12 cars that are in the next stage are all Fords, and to see that Stewart‑Haas has four and we have our three guys is pretty exciting. We're sitting there on the edge with both the 22 and 12. We've had good cars, good racing, and again, this is what it's all about. But for Blaney, it will just propel him to be that much tougher as we go into the next stage.

Q. Roger, how big do you think it is for Blaney to make this next round and get a win? Everybody has been looking for the young guys to kind of win and be a little stronger.

ROGER PENSKE: Well, that's what I thought when you think about Chase and you think about Blaney. They run well, but they got wins this year. For him to get in the playoffs, this next stage, is monumental for his career, and I think his confidence ‑‑in fact, he said to me in Victory Lane, he said, look, I can really go in this stage, because he likes those tracks. But I think overall, we've got to give him the credit and certainly Jeremy, and Andrea Mueller is our engineer on that car, too, should give her a lot of credit for what she's done, bringing that car to where it is; right, Jeremy?


Q. On a separate topic, Dover is going to have a kiosk in their fan zone next week where people can bet on the race, they'll be able to bet on NFL games and anything you can bet on in the casino inside; are you in favor of that?

ROGER PENSKE: Well, I might be in favor of going to Las Vegas and betting, but I'm not sure I'm ready to bet on a NASCAR race personally. It's not something I've focused on at all. Obviously they have the capability in Delaware because they've got the track, they have betting. I think maybe for there it might work well. Some states will allow it, some states won't, so I think that's something that the industry really has to focus on and determine whether it's something we should do. At this point I don't really have a position on it, and I don't know that it's an option for us in the longer term.

Q. Roger, a few weeks ago on my radio show I talked about the Penske organization maybe peaking at the right time, and this was when Brad Keselowski finally got a win, Joey had gotten his, and then of course Blaney was starting to look stronger. Can you talk about some of the efforts that have gone into this season for you all to get where you are at this point for 2018?

ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think you work these entire 28 weeks with equipment that you've worked on, there's been some rule changes in between, we've done some things, but the focus in building the cars for this playoff period was something we focused on. Our R&D guys should get a big piece of credit for that because they've been working on evolutions of the cars we have for every week. In fact, we'll have new cars every week with something new on it, we hope as we go forward over the next several weeks.

It's a focus. I think all the teams continue to bring better stuff. I don't think we've been to a track lately that we didn't have something different than the previous week. I think that's the industry right now.

Q. When you say your cars were worked on, was it specifically getting your cars better and helping them propel (indiscernible)?

ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think from a road racing perspective, we've got lots of information and things. The way we set our cars up on Indy, some of it doesn't transfer, but I think there's a cross‑pollination that's really happened over the last several months, and certainly as we've focused on these cars, a lot of that's certainly paying off; don't you think, Jeremy?

JEREMY BULLINS: Yeah, absolutely. Everybody at the shop has worked really hard the last few weeks, and to Roger's point, the cars that we had here, there was a lot of effort that went into making these the best road course cars we could have being that it's the playoffs and everything we've got coming down the pipeline, speedway cars, intermediate cars, short track cars. We're working really hard to make sure we're bringing the best stuff every week.

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – A RESTART ON OLD TIRES. WHAT HAPPENED?“I don’t know. I was just asking Ricky. I don’t know. The whole field went down into turn one it looked like and we all went straight. I don’t know. Maybe we all overdrove it. Maybe the track had something on it. I don’t know. I got in the corner. I didn’t feel like I got in it, I got in hard, but not like ridiculously hard and it just locked up. I couldn’t get the tire to unlock, so I felt really, really dumb when I hit the wall and then I got back in the care center and saw the replay and saw everybody kind of did the same thing. I don’t know. It’s frustrating, but I really have to give a lot of credit to Paul Wolfe and the team on this Truck Alliance Parts Ford. This car was a rocket. I wrecked the car in practice and we unloaded this car just for the race and it was screaming fast. I thought we were gonna win today. It just didn’t come together.”

IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WERE GOING TO SHOW EVERYONE WHY YOU BELONG IN THE NEXT ROUND.“Yeah, and then I kind of did the opposite at the end, but that’s the way it goes.”

DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH THE WHEEL?“No, I just knew it was locked up and the track was real slick. Whether that’s on me or the car, I don’t know, but it is what it is.”

ANY SOLACE THAT IT DOESN’T HURT GOING FORWARD?“No, it doesn’t hurt us, but it doesn’t mean we didn’t want to win.”

ALL THE TALK ABOUT CHAOS. IT SEEMED CALM UNTIL THE END.“Yeah, it seemed like that. You knew it was gonna come down to something like that. We were in good position, I just didn’t bring it home.”

DID YOU LIKE THE COURSE?“You like the ones you win at, you hate the ones you don’t, so I guess that answers itself. As a driver I’m selfish.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 SunnyD Ford Fusion – “I just struggled here all week, really. I didn’t feel comfortable at the test and then the infield section I feel like I was really good, and really from the time I got on the big track through the chicanes I was really struggling. We got some damage there on that restart when we were leading and our car was really loose after that and hard to drive.”

TREVOR BAYNE, No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion – “I’m really frustrated with that result. I felt like I put together a really good weekend and had speed. I never made any mistakes in practice, qualifying or the race for that matter until I got caught up on that last lap. I said it was gonna happen and I told my spotter, ‘They’re gonna crash in turn one, just get me through it,’ and they did. They all crashed. I made it through the first part of the wreck and I guess it was the 18 that bounced off the front of the 8 and I couldn’t check up and hit him. I thought we were done wrecking and got the second one.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion – “Today actually went way better than I hoped it would. I think as you look at the way that we ran all day and where we ran all day, we were in the top 10 and up in the top five and back and forth, and just way better than we were yesterday. It’s tough starting behind your teammate who is trying to make it in there at the end. You’ve got to be careful with what you do and not drive in there too far and do something dumb. I lost a couple spots, but in the end it was a good day for us.”

KURT BUSCH, No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion – “I thought we did as good as job as communicating as a team and working together through all the different obstacles all weekend. The only thing that went against us is I had a bad restart on the outside lane once and I lost four or five spots and that’s when we were hanging out with the 48 and the 78 most of the day, so that means Billy Scott chose the right strategy. I just lost three or four spots on that one restart and then we gained some back on the next one, but too far. You’ve got to be like top four or top six if you want a shot at it and we were just a little bit too far behind at the end. All in all, maybe we got the most points out of today because we were second in the first stage, third in the second stage, so a lot of points today. We had to race that way, but the race almost came to us at the end.”

THOUGHTS ON THE NEXT ROUND.“I’m more confident in Dover and Talladega and Kansas. We tested Kansas this week. It’s been a long week. It’s been busy, but that’s what it’s all about when it’s Playoff time. Thanks to everybody on this team from Haas and Monster, Ford. A Ford won today. That’s excellent. A Ford won yesterday. That’s pretty special when you come to a brand new track.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEXT THREE TRACKS?“I feel good about it. I feel like we can fight through these next few weeks and get to the next round and keep forging forward. We have to stay consistent. We have to stay solid like we’ve been. It’s gonna take more and more each round to get through, but we knocked out some pretty solid cars in this round, so we have to keep racing hard. It’s gonna get harder every time, so I feel good about it. I feel like it’s gonna be tight. I don’t feel like we’re where we were a couple years ago, where we felt really solid about it, but I feel decent enough that we can transfer.”

WHAT WAS THE PLAN GOING IN AND DID YOU EXECUTE IT?“That was the plan and we executed the plan. The plan wasn’t fun, but we did the plan. My plan is to win a lot of times, not that if it was there we would have tried to take it, but in general to transfer was the ultimate goal and I’m happy we were able to do that.”

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion – “That crash, getting into turn one, really – actually the caution before that, when we were on a fuel strategy we were gonna be fine. It was all gonna work out fine and then the 17 buried it in the tire barriers or something and caused a caution and that really changed everything, jumbled up the strategy and just put us in a really vulnerable spot. I’m so proud of these guys. We’re moving on to the Round of 12 and we’ll go get ‘em in Dover.”

WHAT WAS THE LAST LAP LIKE KNOWING YOU HAVE TO GAIN SPOTS TO ADVANCE?“I was just trying to get every spot. That was the thing. Everywhere on the race track at the end there trying to get every single spot I could. Man, it worked out. It’s amazing, so I’m really proud and really blessed to be in this position. We’ve got a great opportunity here with Stewart-Haas Racing and moving on to the Round of 12. It doesn’t matter how pretty it was, we’re moving on to the Round of 12 and we’re gonna go give ‘em hell at Dover.”

CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Mobil 1/Advance Auto Parts Ford Fusion – YOU’RE IN THE NEXT ROUND.“It was just teamwork. All these guys busted their butts for a couple weeks. We kind of dug ourselves in a hole, there’s no question. The 48 blew that tire in Vegas and got into us, knocked us in the wall. I knew that was gonna be a tall order to bounce back from that. We didn’t have the Richmond tzhat I was expecting and then you come here knowing that you need an opportunity and knowing the opportunity lied within this race there’s no question about that. Qualifying decent, getting ourselves up front, stage points. Since we’ve instilled and instated these stage points they’ve always been the name of the game and it still rings true to this day.”

HOW DID YOU SEE THE END OF THIS ONE?“Pretty crazy. I think we’re in plenty good, but just wild. I didn’t expect that to happen, but I knew it was gonna be wild. I’m glad that something happened in this race. I didn’t want it to go green. You’re always worried about overselling something when you have a new event like this and I told everybody, I knew all hell was gonna break loose. I didn’t know exactly when, but nonetheless I knew all hell would break loose and it finally did.”


THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by a few additional guests here, driver of the No. 1 DC Solar Chevrolet, Jamie McMurray, who finished second today, and also Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford, who was the final driver to advance into the Round of 12 for the playoffs.

Q. Jamie and Kyle, both of you have run the Rolex 24 before, both of you have won the Rolex 24 before; what, if anything, could you take from that road course oval to this one today?

KYLE LARSON: Nothing. Nothing really. I don't think anything. These are totally different race cars. Those are totally different cars than anything I've ever driven. They have a lot better brakes, a lot better grip, traction, traction control, everything. Even if we were to take a Cup car on to the Daytona Roval, it wouldn't even compare I don't think.

I don't know, yeah, it's just a different deal.

JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, I mean, the only thing to me that this track reminded me of Daytona is especially with the splitters is that in the Rolex car you could go really quick through the back ‘Bus Stop’ if you used more curb, but every time you did, it would just destroy the splitter, and that was kind of the same way here today. You could get fairly aggressive, but everything else is just so much different. You know who you're racing with. In the Rolex race, half the guys you're around, you don't even know who's in the car, and it could be somebody different every time you catch the same car, so it's pretty ‑‑it's so much different.

Q. Kyle, I just saw the replay of how you did that. How close did you come to not being able to finish that race the way your car was driving?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I had kind of ‑‑I knew I needed the 88 to not pass people, and it looked like he was creeping his way up the pilon there the last couple laps. I knew I was in bad shape, so I kind of, I guess you could say, giving up, but I couldn't even drive my car, it was so bad destroyed.

But then they said they were all crashed and they were coming to the checkered. I was over here getting on the oval, and they said they were starting to crash, so I ran hard. We had, I guess, so much camber and tow in our car they said if I ran fast I would blow a right front. But I was like, you've got to go.

So, I ran hard through, whatever, 1 and 2 over there and through the Bus Stop, and then blew a right front center of 3 and 4 and plowed the wall, I was like, crap, I don't know if I'm going to be able to get down to make the chicane, but luckily it came down off the banking and I could turn right okay.

So, I got through the 16th corner, and then 17 I hit the wall again on the front stretch, and the 96 was stalled the whole time. I think they told me the 96 was stalled when I was like at the backstretch over there, and he wasn't able to get his car re-fired ‑‑

KYLE LARSON: He was like 100 feet from the start‑finish line. I could start to see him creep in when I was getting to 16. I was like, gosh, don't go, don't go, and we were able to make it. Hey, I was pretty lucky.

MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing

Finishing Position: 14th

What happened on the last lap with Jimmie Johnson?- "Last corner desperation behind us, that’s what you get. I gave him (Jimmie Johnson) the inside lane and he had the run through (turn) four and I was real tight down there. I let him have the inside going down inside coming out of four there to the chicane. He just over-drove it and was never going to make it and used me as brakes and turned us both around. It sucks, we could have raced side-by-side off the last corner for a win and that would have been cool. The fans would have been digging it, but instead we finished 14th and he’s locked out of the Playoffs. I guess that’s what he gets.”

What do you make of how you were raced at the end?- "He (Jimmie Johnson) wasn’t ever going to make it through that corner whether I was there or not. Just desperation on his part and pretty stupid really if you think about it because he was locked into the next round and now he’s out. I guess if there’s a silver lining, that’s it. Want to thank Auto Owners and all their associates with what they did with this race car being teal for Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and it was a big day for us. It would have been really fun to take it to victory lane, but at the end of the day it wasn’t meant to be and we’ll move on to the next one.”

How did this race play out for you and was it what you expected?- "It was crazy. We at one point got spun by the 2 (Brad Keselowski) in the same corner and had to go to the rear – thought we were done. Restarted 27th and drove out way up through there. You never knew what was going to happen today, on the one restart the 2 drove straight into the wall. Just trying to survive and we were in the right spot, we did everything right and we got spun out twice and there’s nothing you can do about guys running you over.”

ERIK JONES, No. 20 Reser’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 30th

How difficult was the race today?- "It’s unfortunate, you get put three-wide and there’s only so much you can do as a driver. It’s too bad and we’ll have to move on from here and get ready for next year. You hate to be knocked out of the Playoffs this early, but it is what it is.”

What can you take away from this season?- "It was a good year, but we just didn’t have a good first round. We didn’t finish in the top-10 in any races and that’s not going to get you to the next round. Some circumstances we couldn’t help, but we just need to get it better.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 32nd

On that last restart, what was so different about it as far as grip or anything else goes?- "We’d just been there the longest we had been on tires and I guess all of us are just stupid and don’t know where to break for the corner considering what our tires look like and so we just all drove off into a 90-degree wall for something to do because we had nothing else better to do. That kind of sucked, but guess it’s a good thing it didn’t matter for us.”

So knowing you’ve advanced to the next round, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been?- "I mean you hate tearing up race cars and what not, but I guess they’re road course cars anyway, so you don’t necessarily need them any time soon. Overall just not a good day for us. It was going to be a fine day if we could’ve made it through that corner and had those other two guys out of our way and then it was a race between the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) and us, but it doesn’t matter anyway.”

What happened in the accident?- "I guess just comes down to us all being on old tires and not really knowing what to expect or how much grip these tires would actually have. Just not having anything better to do than drive it off into a 90-degree corner and into a wall. That’s about all that happened – we all over-drove the corner and that’s all there is to it.”

Was the line of sight a problem into turn one?- "No, I wouldn’t say the line of sight was a problem, we’re just all restarting in a restart zone trying to build as much speed as we can to go off into a corner that’s a 90-degree corner that’s really slick already and try to race through there two-wide on 20-lap old tires.”

Unofficial Race Results for the Inaugural Bank Of America ROVAL 400 - Sunday, September 30, 2018
Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course - Concord, NC

Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 9, Ryan Blaney (P), No. 12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford, 109, 10, 1, 2, 16, 6, 51, Running
2) 8, Jamie McMurray, No. 1 DC Solar Chevrolet, 109, , , 1, 1, , 35, Running
3) 7, Clint Bowyer (P), No. 14 Mobil 1/Advance Auto Parts Ford, 109, 3, 5, , , , 48, Running
4) 3, Alex Bowman (P), No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet, 109, 9, 8, , , , 38, Running
5) 1, Kurt Busch (P), No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, 109, 2, 3, 2, 7, , 49, Running
6) 4, Chase Elliott (P), No. 9 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet, 109, 5, 6, , , , 42, Running
7) 2, AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet, 109, 8, , , , , 33, Running
8) 6, Jimmie Johnson (P), No. 48 Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet, 109, 6, 2, , , , 43, Running
9) 19, Kevin Harvick (P), No. 4 Jimmy John's New 9-Grain Wheat Sub Ford, 109, , , , , , 28, Running
10) 15, Joey Logano (P), No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 109, , 4, , , , 34, Running
11) 29, Ryan Newman, No. 31 Grainger/American Red Cross Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 26, Running
12) 27, Denny Hamlin (P), No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota, 109, , , , , , 25, Running
13) 28, Matt DiBenedetto, No. 32 Superior Logistics Services Inc. Ford, 109, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 13, Martin Truex Jr. (P), No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, 109, 4, , 1, 5, , 30, Running
15) 32, Regan Smith, No. 95 Procore Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 30, David Ragan, No. 38 MDS Transport Ford, 109, , , , , , 21, Running
17) 10, Chris Buescher, No. 37 Maple Cheerios Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 20, Running
18) 18, Michael McDowell, No. 34 K-LOVE Radio Ford, 109, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 20, Aric Almirola (P), No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 109, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 33, Cole Whitt, No. 72 Rinnai Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 17, Running
21) 17, Daniel Suarez, No. 19 Lenox Toyota, 109, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 26, Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 15, Running
23) 11, * Daniel Hemric(i), No. 8 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet, 109, , 10, , , , 0, Running
24) 35, * Ross Chastain(i), No. 7 SOKAL Media Group Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 0, Running
25) 5, Kyle Larson (P), No. 42 Clover/First Data Chevrolet, 109, 1, 9, 2, 47, 1, 24, Running
26) 37, * Jeffrey Earnhardt, No. 96 iK9/Xtreme Concepts Toyota, 109, , , , , , 11, Running
27) 31, Justin Marks(i), No. 15 GoPro Motorplex/Pickers Vodka Chevrolet, 108, , , , , , 0, Running
28) 36, JJ Yeley(i), No. 23 Adirondack Tree Surgeons Toyota, 108, , , , , , 0, Running
29) 38, Landon Cassill(i), No. 00 Dairi O Chevrolet, 108, , , , , , 0, Running
30) 12, Erik Jones (P), No. 20 Reser's Toyota, 108, , , , , , 7, Running
31) 25, Brad Keselowski (P), No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, 103, , , 1, 29, , 6, Accident
32) 14, Kyle Busch (P), No. 18 M&M's Toyota, 103, 7, , , , , 9, Accident
33) 22, Paul Menard, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 103, , , 1, 2, , 4, Accident
34) 21, William Byron #, No. 24 Unifirst Chevrolet, 103, , , , , , 3, Accident
35) 16, Trevor Bayne, No. 6 AdvoCare Rehydrate Ford, 103, , , , , , 2, Accident
36) 34, Bubba Wallace #, No. 43 World Wide Technology Chevrolet, 103, , , , , , 1, Accident
37) 23, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 SunnyD Ford, 100, , , 1, 2, , 1, Accident
38) 40, * Timmy Hill(i), No. 66 Ternio Toyota, 70, , , , , , 0, Axle
39) 24, Austin Dillon (P), No. 3 Dow Chevrolet, 64, , 7, , , , 5, Accident
40) 39, Stanton Barrett, No. 51 Jacob Companies Ford, 11, , , , , , 1, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie, (*) non-charter team, (P) Playoff qualified

Total Race Length - 109 Laps - 2.28 Mile Paved Road Course - 248.52 Miles
Time of Race: 03 Hrs, 01 Mins, 34 Secs.
Average Speed: 82.125 MPH

Margin of Victory: 0.792 Seconds
Race Comments:Ryan Blaney won the inaugural Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, his second victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Prior to the start of the race, the following cars dropped to the rear of the field under penalty for the reasons indicated: Nos. 11, 2, 20, 43 (Back-up car), No. 95 (engine change). 
Caution Flags: 8 for 16 laps: Laps: 15-16 (No. 51 Incident Turn 1 [66])
27-29 (Stage 1 Conclusion [66])
52-54 (Stage 2 Conclusion [66])
60-61 (Debris [72])
67-67 (No. 3 Incident Turn 15 [72])
70-71 (No. 10, 37 Incident Turn 5 [72])
103-103 (No. 17 Incident Turn 1. [96])
105-106 (No. 2, 42, 21, 6, 18, 8, 2, 13, 10, 43, 34, 12, 31, 10, 7 Incident Turn 1 [Red Flag 14:27] [72]).

Lead Changes:10 among 8 drivers:
Kurt Busch (P) 1-6
K. Larson (P) 7-36
R. Blaney (P) 37-51
Kurt Busch (P) 52
K. Larson (P) 53-69
J. McMurray 70
R. Stenhouse Jr. 71-72
P. Menard 73-74
B. Keselowski (P) 75-103
M. Truex Jr. (P) 104-108
R. Blaney (P) 109

American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award:  Kyle Larson, No. 42 
Busch Pole Award:  Kurt Busch, No. 41 106.868 mph
Fastest Lap:  Kyle Larson, No. 42 
Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race:  Roush-Yates Engines, No. 41 
Moog Go the Extra Mile:  Kevin Harvick, No. 4 0.123 seconds
Sunoco Rookie of the Race:  William Byron, No. 24 

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2018, Issue 9, Posted 10:24 PM, 09.30.2018