What drivers said after regular-season finale at Daytona

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Here’s what drivers were saying after Chris Buescher won the regular-season finale at Daytona.

Chris Buescher — Winner: “What a heck of a push from Brad in those closing laps for that entire restart. We lined up and worked to get connected. We hardly came disconnected those last couple of laps and it was a little squirrely at times, but that’s what we work so hard to execute superspeedway racing for two years now. We’ve been so close. We’ve been within the last five laps of so many of these things to finally get it done here tonight is special.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 2nd: “Just a really great day for RFK. A few weeks we were sitting down, kind of going over the goal and visions, what we value. One of the things we brought up was 1-2 finishes. It’s been a long time since this company has had 1-2 finishes. I can’t stay say a specific date. Of course, I wanted to be the one on the front of that. Proud nonetheless of Chris and his efforts and both teams, where they’ve grown and come together. Doing all the right things to grow us and to just take us to that next level.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 3rd: “I’m just dejected. It was such an amazing race car. Drew and all these guys brought an incredible Smithfield Ford Mustang and we should have won the race. I’m just disappointed. Congrats to RFK. Congrats to Chris Buescher and Brad. I mean, they executed the end of that race flawlessly and they did a great job, but I thought we certainly had a car capable of getting up there and trying to win.

Chase Elliott — Finished 4th: “I feel like we had an OK chance there, but Brad (Keselowski) and the No. 17 (Chris Buescher) just worked so well together there and they were able to stay locked-on. They were so locked-on there.. they just had a strangle-hold on the top lane. Unfortunately I just couldn’t get to Kevin (Harvick) and stay there like that, and just make the bottom lane work. I kind of bottled it up there and just couldn’t get enough momentum going forward.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 7th: “It was just too short of a run to get up towards the front where we wanted to. But overall, proud of the effort. We know we just have to cross our T’s, dot our I’s and be a little bit more perfect, and not let some things happen during the races that have taken us out. A lot of it hasn’t been our fault, hasn’t been our doing, but just circumstantial. Better luck, I guess. I used it all up about eight weeks ago.”

William Byron — Finished 8th: “We had a solid night. In the pack, we were just struggling to advance forward, just kind of one move behind all of the time. But it’s good to get a top-10 and going into Darlington with some momentum. That’s a really good racetrack for us, I feel like. We have a couple little things to work on at Darlington, just to get a little bit better, but I feel like the first round sets up well.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 9th: “We knew we were in a bad spot with the two teammates. The Fords could just push so much better than the Chevys. Chase gave me a couple of good shots, but they can’t really stay attached and push because of the shape of their nose, so they just got in front of me. We fought all the way to the end and then they hung me in the middle and we finished ninth, but it was fun.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished 12th: “Thankful that we are in it. That is the most calm I’ve ever been. It’s ass-backwards. You come to Daytona, and you focus so much on controlling the things that you can control. My stubborn ass never wants to listen to people telling me that. I finally did that, and we are locked in. What an incredible feat for our 23 team. I had a heart-to-heart with my team after Atlanta after qualifying — I said if we got our s— together, we can do great things in the Playoffs. I’m so proud of the team from top down, very thankful.”

Chandler Smith — Finished 15th: “I think we had a good solid weekend. We were up front in both races, maybe didn’t get the result we probably deserved based on our speed in the Xfinity race. But we moved on to the Cup race, ran up front, showed decent speed, and hopefully got a lot of TV time. I’d call that a success.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 16th: “Yeah, the first round is number one about being consistent, and just not beating yourself. If you get through there with a couple of solid races, you should be in pretty good shape. With that being said, they are great race tracks for us and great opportunities for us to score more playoff points.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 17th: “That feels really good to hear — in the playoffs again. I have to go back to 2021 and missing it in my first real attempt in a quality Chevrolet. Missed it with CGR in the No. 42 car and that hurt. But now I get to have the day off tomorrow and be ready Monday morning to walk into that Tech Center and continue to prepare for Darlington.”

Erik Jones — Finished 18th: “It was just an OK day for the No. 43 Allegiant Chevy team. Just never really got in a good position to capitalize. We got a little flipped around on our last pit stop there and lost way too much ground to the second pack that pit. We were just too far back, too far late in the race and couldn’t really go anywhere with it. It’s a bummer. Obviously the end of our playoff hopes, but we’re going to 10 good tracks for us here coming up and hopefully we finish out strong.”

Josh Berry — Finished 22nd: “It was a decent finish for the No. 42 Sunseeker Resorts Chevy team. We picked the wrong lane on the last restart and gave up some spots. But overall, we learned a lot and brought the car home in one piece. At Daytona, that’s always not a bad thing.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 24th: “It was a little frustrating to not be able to really race tonight after Denny (Hamlin) kind of got in that situation and we got the stage win – that was kind of a bummer, but big picture was the right thing to do. We’ve got to put together 10 great races like we did in 2017 again.”

Truex Jr. wraps up Cup regular season championship

Martin Truex Jr. says the regular season title trophy is “really cool,” but he’s focused on a championship again this year, and the 15 playoff bonus points are even better.

Denny Hamlin — Finished 26th: “I’m really proud of the whole 23XI team to get two cars in the Playoffs in just our third year. It’s a testament to all of the hard work they’ve been putting in. You can’t do it without your manufacturer in Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing for the alliance and the team itself for putting fast cars on the race track, and on top of that, the drivers working to get better. We’ve seen a really big shift for Bubba (Wallace) getting better. He’s stepping up and I look forward to seeing what he does.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 33rd: “We just had a suspension fail on the left-front from a little contact. It’s so frustrating. You try and go have a little fun out there and get some stage points, but really it pays nothing for that. I’ve won races not racing for those. We made some decent moves, and then some not so great moves. I have to go back and look to figure out why we didn’t keep ourselves toward the front, just in front of that.”

Ty Gibbs — Finished 35th: “I felt like I was getting a great push. I feel like all of our teammates were working really well together tonight. I may have got a push in a bad spot, but we were going for the stage win. I want to thank Christopher (Bell) for all of the pushes he gave me, I really do.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 36th: “I’m alright. I don’t know. I guess it kind of seems like the 54 got turned into me. The 20 shoved him and it was kind of just a weird spot I guess and I got right-reared, so not in a fun spot. It’s a shame. We had a fast car and came from the back to the front multiple times and thought we made a good move to try to win the stage and just can’t catch a break. Luckily, everyone is alright. We’ll go to next week.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 37th: “Obviously, a big wreck off of (Turn 4). I was kind of at the tail end of the pack, so I’m a little disappointed I couldn’t get checked up and avoid it and still have a shot to win the race tonight, so just disappointed to be in a situation to have to win tonight, but thankful for everybody at Team Penske and the 2 car all year for working their tails off trying to get us a win tonight.”

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