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 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway:
“This is an unbelievable way to experience victory lane at Daytona, and this is a great way to start the new season. It was really about the teammate of the day – Jamie McMurray. I can’t thank him enough [for the push]. All the credit goes to him. At the end, I wanted to give those guys (Newman and Hamlin) a hard push, as I figured Hamlin would split with Newman.” – Kurt Busch, race winner
Props to Kurt Busch for giving credit where credit was truly due. Had it not been for McMurray pushing him to the front, we likely would have seen a different winner (well, that and Hamlin going below the double-yellow line helped too). The duo are good friends off the track, and despite the difference in manufacturer (Dodge for Busch, Chevy for McMurray) that relationship paid off as both displayed a high level of trust in each other to draft to the front. Busch might not have had the best car all day, but a friend’s loyalty left him in position when it counted and ultimately earned himself a breakthrough Daytona victory in the process.
“I knew I was a sitting duck being the leader. My best shot was to block Denny [Hamlin] and that didn’t work, and I opened up the door to let Busch through. I was in a position to win, but I couldn’t chop off Denny more. If I had, it would have caused an accident.” – Ryan Newman, finished third
Poor Ryan Newman. The guy leads most of the late portion of the race and loses in the final turn on the final lap when Hamlin passed him on the inside and Busch got him on the outside, leaving Newman a sitting duck at the finish. Perhaps with this new pavement, the days of being the leader on the last lap being a good thing could be over.
Back in the ’80s, being up front at unrestricted Daytona often left you a sitting duck with the slingshot pass coming to the checkers and you wonder, in light of recent events (including Kevin Harvick‘s pass of McMurray at Talladega last April) whether fans will get their wish to see that type of ending reappear on a permanent basis.
“That yellow line is there to protect us and the fans. I just chose to take the safer route. A win in the Shootout is not worth sending Newman into the stands. I probably should have gone high just to avoid the whole thing.” – Denny Hamlin, finished 12th
Undoubtedly, this is the most controversial quote of the week, not so much over Hamlin’s tone while speaking as the circumstances behind it. Bit by the same double yellow-line rule that cost Regan Smith the 2008 AMP Energy Drink 500, the driver’s point was clear: a near-certain wreck if he held his line should have justified the No. 11 going out of bounds.
But, to Hamlin’s credit, though he was obviously dejected he managed to take the high road and not gripe and complain like some other drivers very well would have done. It was unquestionably a disappointing way to lose the race, but at least NASCAR was consistent this time in their ruling; like Smith, there was no denying Hamlin’s transgression with several video replays showing the violation.
“We were three- or four-wide back there; I was going between the No. 88 and the No. 78, and I don’t think the No. 78 knew I was in there. He kept coming down and I just had enough of my car in there. I laid up against the No. 88 and then the No. 78 got me in the right-front, but that’s just everybody going to try and get the best position they can so we can go out there and race.
“That’s what this race is for is to learn, but I hate that we tore up all those good cars. We’ll have to loan them some EZ seed to take care of some of that damage on the backstraight.” – Carl Edwards, finished 21st
Say what you will about Edwards, but one has to admire the fact that even when his car is totaled through no fault of his own, he still comes up with a clever one-liner to put a humorous spin on a washout of an evening.
Best of the Rest
“We [Kurt Busch and I] live just a block or so away from each other. And once Juan [Pablo Montoya] got wrecked, you know I came on the radio and I told Lauren my spotter, I said, ‘Listen, Matt Kenseth or Kurt Busch will be the next two most loyal guys out here to me.’ So it just worked out that I got behind Kurt; I don’t think he had a very fast car, but we put ourselves in the right position right there at the end to win it so I’m really happy for him.” – Jamie McMurray, finished second
“I couldn’t reach it, but I would have, I will promise you that. I would have pulled them out. They gave me the green light, but I just couldn’t reach it.”- Kevin Harvick, finished seventh, on tampering with the wires limiting the RPMs on his No. 29 Chevrolet
“It’s not really that great having a whole bunch of groups of two and when you can’t do anything without that it isn’t really that much fun. If you’re the pusher, you can’t see a thing and with going 207 mph and pushing someone when you can’t see, it’s not a lot of fun. At the end ther,e I was the odd man out because I couldn’t get with a group of two. Everybody was grouped up in twos and if you can’t get with one other car in a group, you’re pretty much done and you’re just gonna fall back. It may be a little different next Sunday with more cars, but I don’t know.” – Matt Kenseth, finished 13th
“I don’t know. Just unfortunate circumstances, I guess. We’ve been doing the same thing all week – all since testing. Mark [Martin] said it, I said it – just a product of mismatch, I guess. He didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t know that I did anything that I haven’t done all night. Just got screwed up. There’s an opportunity there and I think Michael [Waltrip] just had the same thing happen to him.
“It’s unfortunate for us and our M&M’s team. We wanted to come out of Daytona with a good start to the weekend for next week in the [Daytona] 500. Just wasn’t meant to be for us tonight, of course.
“It would be a lot harder to swallow in the 500. I’m sure we’re still going to have some of those in the 500, but being the Budweiser Shootout, it is a ‘go-for-broke’ kind of race. The best footage of the night is probably me getting back to the garage area because I got lost everywhere. I was like, `Man, this gate’s going to be open – nope, that gate’s not open. I’ll get in right here – no.’ There’s TV cords out there, so I probably split TV cords somewhere with the splitter and how low these things are to the ground. Hopefully nobody is too mad at me.” – Kyle Busch, finished 16th
“It’s going to be what we got. It’s not going to change here in the next week or two unless we go back to the rules where you can’t push each other through the corners and NASCAR’s going to police it. It’s just what we’ve got going on and guys have to try to be careful and we’ve been trying to be careful. Eventually there’s going to be a mismatch somewhere, somehow and it’s not going to work out for the best of somebody.” – Kyle Busch on the racing
“This just stinks for us. We had a really fast Home Depot Toyota. Felt like we had a good shot at winning the thing. I was pretty pumped up about that. We had a long ways to go in the race. I don’t even know what started it. I saw the No. 99 (Edwards) turn sideways and then hook the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and he hit the wall right in front of me. I got tore up in that and I think I got hit about five times.
“It’s unfortunate. I thought we had a shot at winning this one. I was having fun out there and thought we were going to be good. It’s frustrating, but at least it wasn’t for points. I just want to win here.” – Joey Logano, finished 18th
“This is ridiculous as *%^&.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the radio towards the end of segment one
“The racing might look kind of crazy but it was pretty fun. It’s a new style of racing for sure and I was enjoying it.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. shortly after crashing out of the race (finished 19th)
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