Brandon Jones (third) and Harrison Burton (fourth) led Toyota with top-five finishes at the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway on Monday evening.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS)
Bristol Motor Speedway
Race 7 of 33 – 159.9 miles, 300 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Noah Gragson*
2nd, Chase Briscoe*
3rd, BRANDON JONES
4th, HARRISON BURTON
5th, Myatt Snider*
14th, TIMMY HILL
24th, CHAD FINCHUM
27th, RILEY HERBST
30th, MASON MASSEY
34th, STEPHEN LEICHT
BRANDON JONES, No. 19 Menards/Pelonis Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How was your race overall tonight?
“This was fun and very different from any other Bristol race I’ve been a part of. One thing that was really interesting was obviously the racing on the bottom never really got moved up to the top. I tried multiple times to get that groove going, but not one would really follow you so it was hard to get that section to rubber up. The biggest thing is that everyone at JGR brings really, really fast Supras to the race track every week. I knew we were going to be quick to get going. It was interesting, we would be really fast to start off the run. Middle of the run we would fall back really quick – everything that I would build up, I would lose and then it would come to me again at the end of the run. Then we would be just as fast if not better than the leaders. I thought at the very end, I could split the 98 (Chase Briscoe) and the 9 (Noah Gragson). The 98 took that away from me a little bit so that was kind of difficult. All in all, it was pretty good. We’re qualified for ‘Dash For Cash’ and we can go on to the next race and compete for that so that will be fun.”
How do you race your teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing?
“Maybe you’re thinking about the initial start of the race and stuff. We try to do our best. We are a team at the end of the day, but we always say when it comes down to the last five races, it’s free for all. We’re all trying to win races, that’s our main goal. I’m not going to fence a teammate. I’m not going to do anything crazy to jeopardize his day, but at the same time I’m going to race him pretty hard. There’s not many people out on the race track that I would. That’s just racing etiquette in my opinion. You race hard, you race clean, but when you start pushing people and wrecking people, that’s just a whole other level.”
Did Noah Gragson push it too hard with his teammate to win tonight?
“Tough to say really. There’s ways to win races without doing it and there’s ways to win races doing it too. If that’s the approach you want to take, I’m sure there will be a lot of burnt bridges there. That’s not our team and that’s not really my area to talk. I haven’t had that done to me yet, knock on wood. I think we all race really hard together and really clean at JGR so I’m pretty proud of that.”
Did the two tire pit stop after stage one and two set you up for the third stage to run well?
“We were kind of thinking it was actually going to help our balance compared to what we were fighting. We were pretty tight. We were thinking if we put the lefts on, it would loosen the car up some and it did for a few laps. I got pretty sideways a couple times and almost lost it a few. Definitely got loose, but at the same time, kind of came back around to me and I was running pretty good lap times. I think it did help us some at the end of the day kind of having a little more laying there in the pits. I think that was a pretty decent call.”
How difficult was it to stay patient using the low groove and not bump people out of the way?
“It was difficult. Patience plays such an important role at this race track. You start getting impatient, you overdrive the entry and then the whole entire corner is messed up or you get loose and you end your day. It was definitely tough and these races go by so fast, especially at a track as small as Bristol is. It was definitely tough. There was a few times I got used up and I never really had the opportunity to do it back to anybody. I’ll remember for sure, I know this is a short track and you have to do the things you have to do, but there was a few times there that I just had a better car and would out-do the bottom better than them and be able to pass them clean.”
Why are you so strong at Bristol?
“The biggest thing is that we have to get our short run speed where it’s at. I’ve cleaned up a little bit just today, I felt a lot better about my restarts than I have these past couple races. We did a couple things there to help and I did a bunch of studying and figuring out what I need to do a lot better so that helped a bunch. I think we still have to see what we have to do to bring a race car that’s going to fire off just as good if not a little better than those guys so I don’t fall so far back behind and we end up playing pit strategy games or having to do certain things there to get the track position. I think we need to really try to hone in on what we need to do to the car to make sure it will hold onto track position.”
Do you feel like Bristol owes you a win?
“I think it does. I had one race here my first year at Gibbs with (Chris) Gabehart, I led maybe 190 laps or so. Had a late caution and once again did some pit strategy stuff that we look back and we wouldn’t have done it now, but in the heat of the moment, I get it. It just didn’t work out for us. Same thing here last year. We look back and got the lead based on the tires not falling off very much. It worked for a long time and then we ended up blowing a tire. We just have to make sure we’re not putting ourselves in those pit positions and make sure we’re doing it with the car.”
What has it been like to continue being competitive since your first win last fall and through the break?
“It’s been tough, I will admit it. I’ve had to get used to again, especially at mile-and-a-halves, not so much a short track, but just that feeling of kind of being on the edge the entire time. That’s kind of what I think hurt me a little to get going at Darlington. I just was not used to again that car feeling out on the edge and it took me awhile to get that going again. We finally reeled back in on it the other week. I think that was the only thing that really got me from sitting was just getting used to that feeling again of being on the edge, being loose. Today, Bristol is not really an aero-dependent race track as much as some of the mile-and-a-halves are so that feeling kind of goes away.”
Are the upcoming ‘Dash For Cash’ races good for you?
“They’re good places. Atlanta, we finished I think fourth last year and that was with limited tools. Now we have a version of SMT, I think I’ve really been a lot better at starting these races by studying my film. You combine all of that, we’re going to be really strong when we come back to Atlanta.”
HARRISON BURTON, No. 20 DEX Imaging/Fields Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
Solid night, another top-five finish and over 80 laps led. Talk about your run.
“Yeah, it was super fun to come to Bristol. I had a fast car, early, and that was because of all the hard work back at the shop, those guys put in. That was kind of something that we struggled earlier the last few races – firing off with the speed we needed to. This weekend, we were pretty good. I was pumped up about that. We had some ups-and-downs. We had some damage early. We got ourselves in a tough situation on older tires, and struggling a little bit, but we made some really good changes late and got ourselves in contention to win and that’s all you can ask for.”
You qualified for the ‘Dash For Cash’ in your first attempt. How excited are you to go to Atlanta and run for $100,000?
“That’s a big opportunity. There is a lot of things you could do with that money. There is a lot of people in need right now, and a lot of situations that I feel like that could be used for which is a really cool opportunity for me. Obviously, you have to treat your guys with some of that as well if you get it. It’s going to be a cool opportunity. There is a lot of good that you can do with that money. Hopefully, we get to do that. The main thing is going and winning. That’s the main goal, and then the other things will follow. That’s our mindset. No different than any other race, other than it’s a bigger payday in the end, which is obviously amazing, and we are pumped that Xfinity is doing that. The biggest thing for us is to just treat it like any other race and be aggressive and go and try to win.”
Toyota Racing PR