Photo credit: Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com
Before and after photographs embrace many articles for various reasons, but the primary purpose is to accent change. Before and after comments from participants in any event also point to details that predict and occurrences that had an impact.
Selecting pertinent quotes from the top four NASCAR Sprint Cup finishers before the green flag drops and then comparing statements collected after the checker flag waves should interest fans.
Darlington Raceway Showtime Southern 500 top four finishers: Race 11 of 36
No. 11 Toyota
“It is hot,” Hamlin said. “Last year I think it was the only race that I managed to pass out in the shower after the race. It is long, long grueling race. Not only is it really long but we always hit the wall, always knock in the crush panels and always have to breath that nasty air for the entire event. This is the most physically demanding race, like one of the hottest races that we go to all year.
“There’s a lot of big races. We have a lot of history, but definitely it’s a top-five race. The fans here are just super loyal. I’m always a big fan of coming back here.’
“We had just a really good car,” Hamlin said. “I knew right from the first run of the day we had a very strong racecar. At that point it's just all about conserving your equipment for the end of the race.
“Probably two to three years of my career, probably 10 of them I should not have lost had I had the mindset that I have right now, what it takes to win. I think the only difference before when we weren't winning as much to what we're doing right now is just my mindset and knowing what I need to do to win the race at the end. This is the kind of winning pace that I felt like we should have been on right from the get-go of my career, now we're just hitting that stride. It's just taken me a while to understand how these races play out, what it takes to win.”
No. 1 Chevy
“It's one of those things where you know you are going to hit for a long time,” McMurray said. “You are just trying to whoa the car down as much as you can so you do the least amount of damage. It is different than anywhere else because you know as soon as you as you enter the corner, that you are going to hit because of how fast the car is sliding so you are just trying to get it slowed up as much as you can.”
"Track position was just key,” McMurray said. “The car wasn't that good at the beginning. It was shocking to me that we could be out front because the car was way too tight. I got into the wall early on and the guys did a really good job fixing it. We had good pit stops. So the guys in the shop are just building incredible cars and it is certainly an honor to get to drive them."
No. 2 Dodge
“This track is very demanding, mentally and physically”, Busch said. “Everybody respects this track the same way and you have to give and take, no matter if you’re rookie of a veteran You’re fighting the wheel and this time of year, it’s going to be a hot and there will be drivers that fatigue; I call it ‘fall out of the seat a little bit’. Guys that have good handling cars don’t get to fall out of the seat because they’re having an easier day.”
“We really fought hard,” Busch said. “I haven’t had a solid run like tonight since Ricky Craven and I battled it out for that win I was on the edge, but it doesn’t matter because you just have to cross that finish line. This track is so much fun to race when you finish good.
“It was a great battle. The guys were solid. Our adjustments started coming too. We were the best at the end. Our car really came on strong with three runs to go. That’s when you have to be in position. When things go your way, things just seem to click and hopefully you end up with a top five out of it. We did. I’m very proud of this run.”
No. 24 Chevy
“It makes it pretty hairy when you are trying to make qualifying runs in the heat of the day or you're making these race runs,” Gordon said. “That edge is just so close and it's such a fine line that it's a lot easier to go over and we're carrying a lot more speed as well.”
“It was a good weekend for us,” Gordon said. “They dropped the green and we were just a rocket. You have to worry sometimes here as long of a race as it is when it cools down how you are going to maintain that kind of speed and stay on top of the adjustments. Track position was just key tonight. I made a mistake there and lost the track position. They gave me an awesome car and drove up there to fourth, pretty happy with that. It has been a while since this No. 24 car has run like this. I can't wait to get to Dover."