Editor’s Note: Welcome to Frontstretch‘s newest column! Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR and our own stuff to find the best quotes from Sunday’s race that best captures the story of how the weekend unfolded… straight from the drivers themselves. This week, Beth Lunkenheimer gives us a sneak peek at what drivers were thinking after the Daytona 500.
“I was cheering for Greg Biffle or Mark Martin to win, obviously. Mark is my mentor and got me where I’m at. Obviously, I wanted him to win and if he couldn’t win, I wanted to Greg to win because he’s a teammate, but it didn’t work out that way. If there are cars on both sides, there’s only so much you can do. I was on the outside and Mark was on the inside, so I really couldn’t do anything.” – Matt Kenseth
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed right now, but when we look back a week or two from now to win two races this week is a pretty strong week. We had an awesome Speedweeks. We had two of the three days go absolutely perfect, so this is the only one that didn’t go right!” – Tony Stewart
“We had a good week until about 50 or 60 laps to go. We were running behind Stewart and I got him aero loose. He checked up in front of me, and I bumped into him. It looked awful, but I did all I could to stay off of him. It ruined both of our chances to win the Daytona 500. I feel bad for him. He’s been a good ally on the plate tracks.” – Kurt Busch
“As good as I feel for RCR and Kevin [Harvick], I feel that bad for Mark. I’m going to tell you that Mark Martin is a champion. I don’t care if he ever wins a championship. He’s a champion. I don’t care if he ever wins the Daytona 500, he’s a champion. But it would be nice for Mark Martin to be able to see the hardware on the trophy case – for him.
“But to the competitors, he has so much respect and not only as a competitor but as a person. He is a world-class individual and driver and mainly person. You do a whole lot more living than you do driving, and when Mark Martin steps away from the racecar, he’ll have friends and he’ll go on and live a really good life. So disappointing for him, but at the same time, I’m so ecstatic for RCR. To get another Daytona 500 means a great deal. It’s huge. But it’s exceptionally disappointing for Mark and all the things that he was close to doing.” – Jeff Burton
“There was just a lot of mud coming in to the car. It was fairly uneventful other than the mud coming in. It all happened so quick. I flipped over and then here comes the mud. I tell you, if much more mud had come in, I’m not sure I would have been able to get out.” – Clint Bowyer on his last-lap flip
“The thing that I didn’t want to do is damage the credibility of my team. I want people to believe that we plan on playing by the rule. I can earn the money back and earn the points back. I just don’t want to lose the integrity that people have put into my organization.” – Michael Waltrip
“NASCAR was doing their best to get an exciting finish for the Daytona 500. I have no idea what happened behind me. I was ahead when they were wrecking… my spotter said they were wrecking. I did notice that there was some smoke and stuff. But my focus was basically on beating the [No.] 29 to the line. And I knew that we were in good shape being on the inside line when I had Kyle behind me because he had been so strong. I didn’t even realize, until I saw a replay afterwards, that I lost Kyle [as a drafting buddy].” – runner-up Mark Martin on racing to the line on the last lap
“You know, it’s just – it’s a great win. You know, it gives me thoughts back to our win here in ’98. And it’s just – we’re cherishing the moment of winning this Daytona 500. And I know Dale is proud of everything that we’ve done, and Kevin jumping in there and doing what he done for us. It’s just been an unbelievable ride.” – Richard Childress
“Kenseth just pushed the hell out of me there. I didn’t let up off the floor, we kept hitting things and bouncing off… we were 30-something with 15 laps to go and we came up through there. I can’t believe it.” – race winner Kevin Harvick
“We gave it our best shot. We had a chance and I’m proud to be a part of this U.S. Army team. We were within inches of getting it done. All I asked for was a chance and they [Ginn Racing and the No. 01 U.S. Army team] gave me that tonight. I never asked for the trophy, I just asked for a real shot at it, and that’s exactly what I had; my best ever shot ever to win the Daytona 500.” – Mark Martin
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