Editor’s Note: Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR and our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race to capture 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 the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what some select few were thinking after the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
“I’d been in place on the white flag lap a few times at the restrictor-plate races, [but] I just never put myself in the right position on the last. My car was really loose on the bottom, so I chose to let Kyle [Busch] have the inside. Carl [Edwards] had a really good run the last lap and could’ve made it three-wide, [but] fortunately he was an incredible teammate tonight. I didn’t know that I won. I actually hit the wall after crossing the start/finish line. There was screaming on the radio. I didn’t know if we were screaming because we were happy or we were screaming because we didn’t know if we won. So, I was trying to just hold it all in until I was positive that we’d won.” – Jamie McMurray
“It was unreal. I’m just so happy for Jamie and all those guys on the Crown Royal No. 26, Irwin Tools, Diageo, all those fellows work really hard, and Jamie, that guy works harder than anybody else. I felt like I won. Just to know how hard Jamie works, to know how close that team’s been. I hope the fans enjoyed that one. That was a lot of fun. I’m so proud of my Office Depot team. I was pushing Kyle and we went under the white flag and I’m like, ‘Man, I’m pushing the wrong guy here,’ and I saw that gap open up and Jamie and [Greg] Biffle on the outside, and I thought I’d just fill that gap and push Jamie for all I was worth there, and hoped he’d get the win. I’m just so happy for him. That guy works as hard or harder than anybody down here; he deserves it.” – Carl Edwards
“Donnie Wingo is probably my best friend in the garage and he’s been around this sport – I think he was a crew chief when he was, like 9 years old – and he has a lot of experience, and I (worked with Donnie) for six years and learned a lot from him. When Donnie and Jamie worked together, they ran well every week, so there was never a question in my mind that Jamie McMurray could drive a racecar. He’s a fantastic racecar driver.” – Larry Carter, when asked what he sees in McMurray
“I knew I had to go into turn 3 and give up a little bit and let him [McMurray] get ahead of me going into turn 4 so that I could get the suck down the front straightaway, but I didn’t let him get far enough ahead. It was just a mistake on my part. I apologize to these guys (crew), but I’ve got to thank them for giving me a great CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Chevrolet today and being able to contend for the win. For the regular car, we wanted to get a win and put that in the record books, but it wasn’t meant to be.” – Kyle Busch
“It was nuts, man. We weren’t very good. We really struggled, and I got to give a lot of credit to this race team because they never gave up. A top five is a great, great finish for us tonight because we had about a 12th or 15th-place car. That’s a great effort.” – Jeff Gordon
“The No. 11 [Denny Hamlin] just stopped for no reason, right in the middle of turn 4. I’m sure he was getting tight, because for three laps in a row we were catching him through the center and the exit of the corner. All of a sudden, he just stops on the exit of [turn] 4 in front of 42 cars, and I guess [he] expects all of us to drive around him. I don’t know. It’s tore up two really good racecars. He tried to crash us on Friday in practice and didn’t get it done, so he finished it off today. I mean, he’s a young guy and he wants to be successful, but I don’t know if he knows the definition of ‘team’ right now.” – Tony Stewart following an early-race crash with Hamlin
“I’m not sure. I didn’t get to see it, but I definitely felt a tap from behind. The cars were starting to lose their handle there and I don’t know, just trying to hang on. It’s just one of those things. It’s superspeedway racing. It’s tough to say. I definitely had my foot on the throttle. My car had a little bit of a wiggle there, but I think Tony was a little bit closer to me than what he expected, or he was closer than he was the lap before, and I think maybe if he was trying to get underneath me it just got hung right there in my bumper and [he] got into us. I was still OK, had it saved, but I think somebody was right there on him probably and he got into us again so it’s oh, well.” – Denny Hamlin
“We started 14th, finished 14th and fell to 14th in the standings. The only good result was we’re only 61 points out of 12th now and we entered the race 127 out of 12th. It’s going to be tough, but we really want to qualify for the Chase. We had a good car tonight, but we didn’t get a good finish with it. We’ll try to bounce back and get ’em next week in Chicago.” – Ryan Newman
“I’m real proud of this team and real proud of this year. It feels good to come to a plate track and do well. We definitely came back strong to Daytona, looking for a good finish after the Daytona 500 didn’t turn out like we wanted. For me to finish third, it feels great to do that. It would have been great to win it, but we’re real happy with that. To be able to be in position at the end and to be able to try to push Kyle to victory lane [was great]. I had my foot through the floorboard and I had Gordon behind me. The No. 26 [McMurray] has shown strength at these tracks. He just hasn’t shown patience. Tonight it turned out in his favor with a short run at the end.” – Kurt Busch
“At lap 50, I was ready for this race to be over, man. My car was loose as a goose. It was a handful out there, and I don’t know if we just got a couple bad sets of tires or something, but there the last two runs we were on the tight side. And the last run, we freed it up a little more. It was still a little snug. I couldn’t run the bottom like I wanted to, but I don’t think nobody could. Everybody on the bottom just seemed to get bottlenecked up. I feel good. I was a little hungry at the end of the race. I know some of these guys talk about they eat a candy bar or something. I don’t know. I need to find out what they eat. Other than being a little hungry I was good to go.” – David Ragan
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