As the checkered flag waved at Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400, four Toyota Cup Series Playoff drivers advanced to the Round of 8. Joe Gibbs Racing’s (JGR) Martin Truex, Jr., Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell, along with 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick, are still in the championship fight with four races remaining. Reddick’s 23XI teammate, Bubba Wallace, was eliminated from the Playoffs at the conclusion of today’s race.
Once the Round of 8 begins next week in Las Vegas, Truex and Hamlin are 15 and 11 points, respectively, above the cutline, while Bell and Reddick begin the round below the cutline.
JGR’s fourth driver, Ty Gibbs, earned his career best finish of fourth today after battling up front during the ladder half of the action-packed race. Gibbs finished in the top-10 in four of the six road course races this season.
Toyota Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course
Race 32 of 36 – 252.88 miles, 109 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, AJ Allmendinger*
2nd, William Bryon*
3rd, Kyle Busch*
4th, TY GIBBS
5th, Joey Logano*
6th, TYLER REDDICK
15th, CHRISTOPHER BELL
16th, BUBBA WALLACE
20th, MARTIN TRUEX, JR.
37th, DENNY HAMLIN
TY GIBBS, No. 54 Interstate Batteries All Battery Center Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
Can you describe your day, where you tied your career best finish?
“Yeah, it was a really good day for the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing team. I need to be a little bit better and do a better job there towards the end. We made a couple adjustments on the car throughout the race, but overall, I just need to do a better job and capitalize on the restarts and finish it off at the end.”
TYLER REDDICK, No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota Camry TRD, 23XI Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
Talk about your day and the execution behind it to advance to the next round.
“Yeah, we executed for sure all day long. Selfishly, I wanted to go forward and win the race on top of it all. We were good, but I feel like we were just one of the other cars there at the very end unfortunately. It’s hard to take any unnecessary risks when you’re in a good spot to advance to the round of 8. It just doesn’t make sense to put it all on the line to try to win a race.”
Did you feel you had the car to stay up front all day?
“When you look at the players that got to the front at the end, the 54 (Ty Gibbs), 8 (Kyle Busch) and 16 (AJ Allmendinger) qualified well. They probably get to the front, but it’s a lot like what we saw in Indy where the guy that gets control early has it. I was worried we weren’t going to be super strong in the first stage as the car didn’t seem great, but the rest of the race, the car was awesome.”
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 DEWALT Plumbing Solutions Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 15th
How was your race and do you feel there will be any ill feelings towards you after the incident with the 99?
“I mean, I’m sure he’s (Daniel Suarez) upset with me. That was not my intention to spin him out. Today was – I don’t know – it was what we needed it to be. We knew going into it that there was going to be a huge game between taking stage points and skipping stages to get track position. So, fortunately, it worked out and the first stage we were able to get both. We were able to pit and then still get the stage points, and then the second stage didn’t quite work out that way. Did what we needed to do. Our DEWALT Camry was plenty competitive this weekend. I’m excited about the challenge ahead.”
How does it feel to be moving on to the Round of 8?
“It’s definitely good to be advancing. We executed today and did what we needed to do. It’s disappointing to have to have a different strategy than when you need to win the race, but we did what we had to do to move on and it’s reset no matter how we finished today so that’s good.”
Do you feel like the 20 team has momentum going into the final four races?
“Yeah, I think if we execute, we can race with any of them.”
BUBBA WALLACE, No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota Camry TRD, 23XI Racing
Finishing Position: 16th
What was missing today to not advance to the next round of the Playoffs?
“Texas. That’s what I thought about after we got spun there. This weekend was incredible. Just from the effort from the team and from myself. Just all clicking, right? And it felt really good to be competitive and run upfront, pass cars on road courses and not be passed. There’s a lot to look at. What I analyze is what could I have done and not be in that situation? Could I have been faster and passed another car? How to be better to not put yourself — when you’re racing around there with squirrels. It is what it is. Just didn’t have enough and it wasn’t in the cards. I guess that’s what 30 is. I’m not mad. I’m happy for the team. I’m pumped for our season. It’s not over yet. I’m really excited for next week and Homestead and Martinsville. Phoenix, eh, I might just go on vacation (laughter). But we’ve still got four races to go out and do it. I’m proud of the team so I appreciate them.”
What did you learn about yourself and the team that you were able to show people during the Playoffs?
“We’re putting all of the cards in the right places. Usually, you couldn’t count on the 23 at a road course race, right? I don’t think you can say that anymore and I don’t think I can say I suck at road courses. Back-to-back really good runs at road courses. Finishes were okay, obviously not today. Just got to keep working on your craft. No matter how hard it can get you’ve got to keep working and trying to learn and be better.”
How are you feeling right now?
“Just proud of where we’re at and how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. The 45 (Tyler Reddick) is in, correct? So, that’s good. I knew we had our work cut out for us. We gave up a lot of points last weekend. The way I look at it is the last restart at Texas. I look at how I put ourselves in the situation to get wrecked today. So, need to work on that, need to be better. Need to look at what the 45 did. He passed cars and he was up there in two laps, right? Just a bummer, but a lot to be proud of. I can actually focus on the positives out of here. Qualifying fourth, top of the board in practice, stage points. It’s a really good day. Hard to hang your head over that.”
What do you take away from this experience?
“We weren’t supposed to be here according to a lot of people, but we proved them wrong and then proved a lot of people in the garage wrong that you can’t really count on the 23 at a road course race. That’s cool to say. Got to continue to work. I don’t think we’re a winning car yet, but we’re light years from where we were a few races ago.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 20th
Will it be a relief to get to the next round of race tracks starting next weekend?
“Yeah, 100%. I’m definitely excited we’re not coming back here again. This track has just been a thorn in our side. Feel good about moving on and feel good about what we can do the next three races. Some good tracks for us and hopefully we can get something going. It’s been a pretty tough playoffs so far.”
How were you able to get through to the next round of the Playoffs?
“Stage points and bonus points. I didn’t create the system. We used it to our advantage. That won’t get us through the next one. The next one, you’ve got to be running up front. Two winners of the next three races are probably going to be Playoff guys that are still going. Need to turn it up and we need to figure it out quickly.”
Does it feel good that you can basically get a reset for the next three races?
“That’s the beauty and that’s the thing that sucks about this deal, you know what I mean? I’m sure there’s guys that are upset. They outran us enough to get in, but they didn’t have the bonus points. It is what it is. I hate that we didn’t run better today or finish better at least. I thought the first two stages maybe our car was pretty decent, but, man, I don’t know what happened. Need to go back and look at that. It wasn’t much fun, but we made it so here we go. We’ll try three more.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Mavis Tires & Brakes Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 37th
When you were trying to collect the car were you thinking about your teammate, Martin Truex Jr., there?
“Not necessarily. No. Just once we got back there it’s just so hard to pass. Overdrove a corner that was about it, really. Thanks to the whole Mavis team for giving me a solid car we qualified with. Obviously, with the scenarios going on it’s like if you stay out for a stage, you just go back to the back and you’re never to be seen again. Unless, maybe, unless you’re Tyler Reddick. He’s going to the front.”
What happened on the track to end your day early?
“Just spun out and then got hit and knocked a toe link in. That’s about it.”
How would you describe the aggression out there today?
“It’s not much, because you really can’t get that close. Other than a restart. You can watch a couple laps of a restart, but after that we get single-filed out and that’s kind of all she wrote. Difficult to pass as we knew it would be and unfortunately, that caution in stage two where it let us get stage points, but I don’t think we were necessarily going for them, and we went to last and that’s about where we ended up.”
Can you reset as a driver going into this next round of tracks in the Playoffs?
“Yeah, we’re going to some tracks now where you can control your own destiny and feel like these are all really strong tracks for us. Really optimistic for the next three weeks.”
Are you disappointed ending the race early today?
“I wanted to keep flipping stages, but we can’t be the Miami Hurricanes. You can’t run the ball when you’re supposed to kneel it, you know? I think that we did the best we could and lock ourselves in early. But then it just puts you in the back and that’s about it. Once you get to the back that’s about it. We tried our best but obviously just made a mistake there and got hit.”
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