Jeff Burton on Strategy in the NASCAR Playoffs: “Difficult decisions for the crew chiefs, you want to be on a win-win-win attitude, but ultimately the goal is to advance.”
Rick Allen on Hamlin’s Race Win: “A lot of people questioned, with a torn ACL in his right knee, can Denny Hamlin be physically strong enough and mentally strong enough to succeed, and be able to advance… I think this right here said ‘yes he can.’”
Denny Hamlin to Marty Snider After Securing his Spot in Round 2 of the Playoffs: “We’re looking forward to the next round… now we can go have some fun for the next two weeks.”
Joliet, Ill. — September 20, 2015 — NBCSN presented Sprint Cup Series racing from Chicagoland Speedway this afternoon, marking the first event of NASCAR’s 2015 Playoffs. Sixteen drivers entered today’s event outside of “The City of Big Shoulders” with an opportunity to capture the Championship on November 22 in Miami on NBC.
Today’s coverage began with the Countdown to Green pre-race show, hosted by Krista Voda alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett. Green-flag racing from Chicagoland was handled by NBC Sports’ lead race announcer Rick Allen, 21-time winning Sprint Cup driver Jeff Burton, and Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte. Reporters Rutledge Wood, Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Mike Massaro and Dave Burns contributed throughout the broadcast.
Updated Chase Playoff Standings
|10||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||88|
|11||Martin Truex Jr.||78|
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Sprint Cup race coverage on NBCSN.
After an analysis of contact between Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick that subsequently led to Harvick’s need for garage repairs, Burton offered: “You know what that it is? That’s racing. We could go back, watch it in slow motion and say, ‘This guy could have done that, and that guy could have done something else.’ But ultimately, that’s just everybody racing hard.”
With 105 laps to go, Allen salutes the current race leader: “Jeff Gordon, in his 788th consecutive start, the “Iron Man” leads the field at Chicagoland!”
Burton on Carl Edwards running out of fuel coming out of pit road earlier in the race, then racing in third with 65 laps to go: “Luck is part of it, but we talked about it earlier in the race, when you’re dealt adversity, how do you deal with it? Every team is going to have to deal with it. There is not a team out here that is going to go through this Chase and not have problems. Once you have it, how do you deal with it and find a way to make it positive.”
Burton on drivers possibly prioritizing points in the Chase over a race win: “That’s the problem, if you finish top-five or top-six, you might just want to hold and move on to the next race. Don’t do anything to try and grab for a win and end up getting yourself back at a 18th or 19th– place finish. Difficult decisions for the crew chiefs, you want to be on a win-win-win attitude, but ultimately the goal is to advance.”
Letarte on the track at Chicagoland: “You have veteran drivers [spinning out] going into pit road. They’ve done this a million times in their careers, yet they make major mistakes. This is one of the harder pit roads to get on…the transition to the apron; you don’t realize you’re in trouble until you’re way too far around.”
Burton on Harvick running in 42nd-place with 10 laps to go after spending 57 laps in the garage to repair his car: “We’ve talked about it all day, but the guy that has the biggest hole to dig out of is Kevin Harvick. Everybody else hasn’t done anything that they have to really come back and do something to overcome after only one race [in the playoffs].”
Allen on Denny Hamlin’s gamble to stay out instead of going to pit road, leading into the final lap: “What an incredible call for the 11 team to stay out! Denny Hamlin looking to punch his ticket for Round 2 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup!”
Allen on Denny Hamlin: “Hamlin had to start 29th because in practice on Friday, they were 29th. They came back on Saturday, found speed and now showed speed and strength in the first race of the playoffs. This is the first time that Denny Hamlin has been able to go to victory lane at Chicagoland speedway…a lot of people questioned, with a torn ACL in his right knee, can Denny Hamlin be physically strong enough and mentally strong enough to succeed, and be able to advance and potentially make a run for the Championship, I think this right here said ‘yes he can.’”
Race winner Denny Hamlin to Marty Snider: “This is unbelievable…coming back from a lap down, we had a fast car. We were just running under green over and over and over, and I thought we would never get back on the lead lap. This is a great way to start the Chase…now we’re looking forward to the next round… now we can go have some fun for the next two weeks.”
Third-place finisher Kurt Busch to Mike Massaro: “[The caution] was the difference maker today…the caution came out there at the end, and I thought that we had the right strategy, but we didn’t. But, this is a points day. It’s a long journey through these next 10 weeks. We weren’t given a hall pass now through Loudon and through Dover. We just have to go work hard now as a team and saddle up…we had a winning car today. It’s kind of a shame.”
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–