Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Chase Elliott: Elliott lost control with two laps to go in Stage 1, hitting the wall and bouncing into the path of Chase Briscoe. The damage was severe, and his team failed to repair it in the allotted 10 minutes, forcing Elliott’s retirement, in last place.
“This is the last thing we needed to happen,” Elliott said. “You might as well call it the ‘Worst Chase Scenario.’ I hear down at the Dawsonville Pool Hall, they’re saying I put myself behind the 8-ball.'”
2. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin started strong in the Playoffs, finishing second in the Cook Out Southern 500.
“It’s important to get off to a good start,” Hamlin said. “You can’t win the championship in the first round of the Playoffs, but you sure can lose it. You can also lose the championship in the last round of the Playoffs.”
3. Joey Logano: Logano started from the pole at Darlington and finished fourth.
“I issued a warning before the race to William Byron,” Logano said. “I said, ‘You don’t want to mess with me’ in regards to our issue at the Darlington spring race. Don’t discount me, I can make a threat, even though I look like the least-threatening driver in all of motorsports.”
4. Ryan Blaney: Blaney came home 13th at Darlington.
“How about Erik Jones winning in the No. 43 car?” Blaney said. “That car number was made famous by the legendary Richard Petty. Petty is the ‘King,’ and he would like everyone to ‘ST(o)P‘ with the silly comparisons.”
5. Christopher Bell: Bell finished fifth at Darlington.
“Considering the attrition in the race,” Bell said, “I’m just glad I finished. A lot of other drivers, well, they’re just finished.”
6. Kyle Larson: Larson suffered engine issues at Darlington and fell three laps down, but diligently worked his way back to the lead lap and finished a remarkable 12th.
“I’m quite experienced at digging myself out of holes I created,” Larson said. “And that other time, I certainly didn’t get a ‘free pass.’
“I was a little discouraged when I began to have trouble early in the race. But then I thought, ‘I’ve salvaged a career; it should be easy to salvage a day.”
7. William Byron: Byron won Stage 1 at Darlington, but couldn’t capitalize the rest of the way and finished eighth.
“The ‘Track Too Tough To Tame’ really lived up to its name,” Byron said. “And if you ask Kevin Harvick, he’ll tell you the Cook Out Southern 500 did as well, especially the ‘Cook Out’ part.”
8. Kyle Busch: Busch won Stage 2 at Darlington, and was leading under caution when his engine blew with 23 laps remaining. “This racetrack really did a number on me and other playoff drivers,” Busch said. “And that number is the ‘No. 2.’
“It would be amazing if I could win a championship before I sign a new contract. That would give my value a good chance to catch up to my ego.”
9. Kevin Harvick: Harvick saw a solid effort at Darlington come to an end when his rocker panel ignited, causing a fiery end to his night on Lap 276.
“Luckily,” Harvick said, “I was able to stop the car safely and get out, despite the cockpit being full of smoke. If that would have happened in Tyler Reddick’s 3CHI-sponsored car, then that’s the ultimate ‘hot box.'”
10 (tie). Martin Truex Jr.: Truex was leading late at Darlington, but a dramatic engine failure ended his day on Lap 333.
“Just because I’m ineligible to win the championship,” Truex said, “doesn’t mean I’m going to roll over to the drivers who are. I may be out of the Playoffs, but I’m not out of the way.”
10 (tie). Ross Chastain: Chastain finished 20th at Darlington when a tire issue in Stage 2 set him back in the field.
“Of course it’s not the start to the postseason I wanted,” Chastain said. “But I’m just happy to be in the Playoffs. At the beginning of the year, most people thought I couldn’t make the Playoffs. Well, guess what? I crashed the Playoffs, and with apologies to Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr., and others, it most likely won’t be the last thing I crash.”