Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. William Byron: Byron finished eight at Daytona, posting his 13th top 10 of the year.
“I’m starting the playoffs in first place,” Byron said. “That’s partly due to my four wins and 36 bonus points, and mostly due to the fact that you’re not penalized points for failing inspections.”
2. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex won Stage 1 at Daytona and finished 24th.
“My No. 19 Toyota was sponsored by Ducks Unlimited,” Truex said. “Luckily, we avoided all the accidents and the car ran really well. Had we not avoided those crashes, then you could have easily seen the ‘quacks’ in my armor.”
3. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin came home 26th at Daytona and finished second in the regular season standings to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex, Jr.
“Like many,” Hamlin said, “I was caught up in the ‘Big One.’ Historically, I’ve been pretty good, actually, I’ve been perfect, at avoiding the ‘Big One.'”
4. Chris Buescher: Buescher took the lead on the final restart and held on to win the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.
“The intensity was palpable,” Buescher said. “You could cut it with a knife, and if you’re a true NASCAR fan, you’d put a slice on a plate and eat it.”
5. Christopher Bell: Bell finished 16th at Daytona.
“I was driving the No. 20 Toyota that said ‘Yahoo’ on its sides,” Bell said. “Ideally, when the Playoffs conclude at Phoenix, I just hope I’m driving the ‘Woo hoo‘ car.”
6. Joey Logano: Logano finished fifth in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.
“Any race sponsored by Coke is a big deal to me,” Logano said. “I’m in the Coke racing family of drivers. That’s slightly different than the driver’s family racing to do coke.”
7. Kyle Larson: Larson finished 27th, two laps down at Daytona.
“We’re gonna have a playoff without Chase Elliott,” Larson said. “That leaves the patrons of the Dawsonville Pool Hall with nothing to cheer for, except a future liver transplant.”
8. Kevin Harvick: Harvick led the field to green on the final restart at Daytona, but couldn’t hold on for the win and settled for ninth.
“Kyle Busch just retired from racing,” Harvick said. “Of all the NASCAR drivers who’ve claimed that their girlfriends were trained assassins, Kurt was easily the best.”
9. Ross Chastain: Chastain finished 17th at Daytona.
“Daytona is always a stressful race,” Chastain said. “Add that stress to the stress of having to win to make the Playoffs, and the amount of stress increases tenfold. Other drivers say I’m an expert on stress because I’m constantly getting on peoples’ nerves.”
10. Ryan Blaney: Blaney was taken out in the “Big One,” which happened on Lap 95 when Christopher Bell bumped Ty Gibbs into Blaney, turning Blaney’s No. 12 Ford hard into the wall. Blaney finished 36th.
“Talk about a ‘hard right,'” Blaney said. “And speaking of ‘hard rights,’ I’d like to give one to whomever is responsible for starting that accident.”