Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Kyle Larson: Larson won Stage 2 and nearly chased down Denny Hamlin for the win before settling for the runner-up spot.
“I’m still the heavy favorite to win the Cup championship,” Larson said. “So, I have a reputation to uphold, and another one to dispel.”
2. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin won Stage 1 and held off Kyle Larson over the closing laps to win the Cook Out Southern 500. It was Hamlin’s first win of the season and locked him into Round 2 of the Playoffs.
“Nothing beats the drama of the opening race of the NASCAR championship Playoffs,” Hamlin said. “That statement was true until my girlfriend Jordan Fish started tweeting.
“I’d like to thank Cook Out for sponsoring this race. After my convincing victory in the Cook Out Southern 500, the appropriate words to my opponents are ‘I drink your milkshake.'”
3. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex overcame an error-prone night at Darlington to salvage a fourth in the Cook Out Southern 500.
“In addition to that infraction,” Truex said, “I had a loose wheel earlier in the race. Unfortunately, our entire race was defined by our mistakes. It was a case of ‘mistaken identity.'”
4. Chase Elliott: Elliott suffered a left-front flat tire after making contact with Christopher Bell on Lap 327. Eliott’s No. 9 Chevy tagged the wall and his night was over. He finished 31st.
“I wasn’t happy,” Elliott said, “but I’m a professional. I can give an interview without cussing on national television. You can’t say the same for Kyle Busch. Kyle certainly made an ass of himself. Of course, you can’t spell ‘ass’ without two ‘S’ bombs.”
5. Ryan Blaney: Blaney had a brake issue on Lap 319, which sent his No. 12 Mustang for a spin. Blaney dropped well down in the order and finished 22nd.
“I did a full 360-degree spin and didn’t hit anything,” Blaney said. “So, unlike my car, I deserve credit for ‘not breaking.'”
6. Joey Logano: Logano posted a solid start to the Playoffs with an eighth-place finish at Darlington.
“I’m still harboring some ill will towards Denny Hamlin for blocking me at Daytona,” Logano said. “But I feel like Denny deserves some slack. I know Darlington isn’t a superspeedway, but in light of the week’s event, it’s an ‘(a lot on his) plate’ race for Denny.”
7. William Byron: Byron’s night at Darlington ended on a Lap 200 crash, triggered by a left-front tire valve stem issue that caused a flat and sent Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Chevy hard into the wall. He finished 34th.
“I knew I had a tire issue,” Byron said. “I could actually hear the tire deflating. It sounded like this: ‘SSSSSSSSSSS.’ That’s also the sound of the censored version Kyle Busch giving an interview.”
8. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished fifth in the Cook Out Southern 500.
“I’m thrilled with our finish,” Harvick said. “Especially in light of the troubles that befell so many other playoff contenders. For example, Kyle Busch’s race was a real ‘S’ show, figuratively and quite literally.”
9. Kyle Busch: Busch made contact with Austin Dillon on Lap 126 and slammed the wall hard, ending his night. He finished 35th.
“I took my No. 18 Toyota straight to the garage,” Busch said, “and nearly ran over several people in the process. As they say, it’s ‘(Get out of) my way or the die way.'”
“Then during a live television interview, I dropped only two ‘S’ bombs. So, everyone should be commending me for showing restraint.”
10. Alex Bowman: Bowman blew a tire on Lap 16 at Darlington and scraped the wall, seriously damaging the right side of his No. 48 Ally Chevy. He limped home with a 26th-place finish.
“I clipped my Hendrick teammate William Byron in the accident,” Bowman said. “Then, my car caught on fire when it was being repaired in the pits. Two things were extinguished on Sunday—fire, and my playoff hopes.”