They said it: Quote board from last night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards

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In addition to new champion Kevin Harvick, the other 15 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders were also recognized during last night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas.

Each member of the Championship 4, as well as each of the four drivers knocked out in the Eliminator Round, got their own time on the podium. As for the foursomes eliminated in both the Challenger and the Contender Rounds of the Chase, they shared their thoughts on the season together.

In case you didn’t get to watch last night’s festivities, here’s a little bit of what each driver had to say during the evening. We’ll start with the guest of honor:

Kevin Harvick – Champion

“The first time I was able to get in my No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, we were fast. And it didn’t matter if it was at an open test at Charlotte last December, a practice session, a qualifying session, or a race – we wanted to be on top of the board. After 13 seasons at Richard Childress Racing, I made the move to Stewart-Haas Racing and I have to admit, I was scared to death. I tried to play it cool, but it was a pivotal moment in my career. I was venturing outside my comfort zone, and I had to make it work.”

Ryan Newman – 2nd Place

“I’d like to congratulate Kevin, [crew chief] Rodney [Childers], everybody at SHR, Tony Stewart – my buddy’s here, just got out of the hospital [after] surgery. I think if he hasn’t got the nurse’s phone number by now, he’s probably not going to get it. *Crowd laughs* Richard and Judy Childress, thank you for the opportunity to drive your race cars. It’s been an amazing year. I really appreciate the opportunity. We had a lot of fun. We didn’t win anything, but we did have a lot of fun along the way and that’s really hard to do, so thank you very much.”

Denny Hamlin – 3rd Place

“It was an up and down year with our No. 11 team. We won, we wrecked, we fought, we were fined, but with all that, we still had a shot with one race to go. And with this great new Chase format, that’s all you can ask for. I have to thank [crew chief] Darian [Grubb] for three great years together. You’re a great leader, a motivator, and I’m proud of the success we had together…However, I’m not so proud of the things we did bring attention to such as Macklemore’s haircut at the beginning of the year, Taylor Swift, and Brad [Keselowski].”

Joey Logano – 4th Place

“Thanks to the entire 22 team – what an amazing season we had. Five wins, 16 Top-5s, 22 Top-10s – you guys are the best example of teamwork I’ve ever seen. And what a great season for all of Team Penske with the Nationwide owner’s championship and the IndyCar championship…Brad, you’ve still got a friend in me, man. We’re alright. *crowd laughs* It’s great to have a teammate that really knows the definition of teamwork and for a two-car team to win 11 races, it takes real teamwork and I appreciate that.”

Brad Keselowski – Eliminator Round

“Tremendous season. I can’t really tell you how much fun I had. It might not have looked like a lot of fun at times this year, but I had a blast…It couldn’t have been possible without a lot of great people and when I think about a great team and a great year, I think about great people. That really starts with the Captain down there, Roger Penske, everyone in the leadership team. The guys stick behind me, seems like, every time I do something dumb [laughs], so I’m really lucky and very fortunate. Thank you for that.”

Jeff Gordon – Eliminator Round

“Even though we didn’t make it to Homestead to battle for the championship, I truly believe that NASCAR got it right this year with the new knockout format for the [Chase for the] Sprint Cup. I cannot begin to describe the pressure and intensity we faced week after week, race after race. And this year, we crowned a deserving champion…I think most would agree this was a successful season for the 24 team. It felt incredible to go into each race with a car and a team that was capable of winning, and that was certainly highlighted by some big wins – especially that fifth Brickyard 400, an amazing weekend for us.”

Matt Kenseth – Eliminator Round

“This is the most dreaded three minutes – or in the case of my speeches, one minute – of the season. *crowd laughs* But I got to think about it last night, and it’s so easy to lose sight of how fortunate we all are to do this. The group that gets to compete at stock car racing’s highest level is so small, and the ones that get to drive for top-notch race teams and enjoy the successes are even smaller. I’m so incredibly thankful to be part of that group, and it really starts with NASCAR. Thanks for creating the most competitive form of motorsports and allowing us to compete in it.”

Carl Edwards – Eliminator Round

“Jack Roush – you are a man among men. You have taught me a lot, you have given me opportunities that I’ve never dreamed of, and particularly this year, when I came and told you my plans for next year, you stuck your hand out and said, ‘Let’s go win this championship.’ And you said some other things that I can’t say up here. *crowd laughs* But that part, seriously, you lived up to it. You never quit. You never gave up on me. Thank you very much, sir.”

Kasey Kahne – Contender Round

“I don’t know why it’s happened that way, but we’ve been able to perform late before the Chase a few times over the years. To get that win at Atlanta this year was big, and to get all four Hendrick cars into the Chase was big for our team at the time. It was great to do that, and from there, we just tried to do the best we could for the rest of the season.”

Jimmie Johnson – Contender Round

“I definitely want to be back at the head table, and a big congratulations to everybody on the 4 team. A Hendrick chassis and engine won the championship, which we’re very proud of. But I definitely want to be back and I’d love to have the opportunity to tie the greats, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. We’ll go to work hard, and get our Lowe’s Chevrolet tuned up, and hopefully, we’ll be back next year.”

Kyle Busch – Contender Round

“It was obviously an exciting season for us making it into the Chase and then having a great Chase going our way. To be here as an honorary member of the Hendrick Driver’s Club tonight in our elimination round is a bit awkward. But we’ll make it through and hopefully, we’ll get more success next year.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Contender Round

“Every [Chase] round was exciting with the elimination factor. I think the fans were pumped up throughout the whole thing. We had an awesome year. Thanks to [crew chief] Steve [Letarte] and the whole team. Getting back to Victory Lane felt great. We really enjoyed it, and we’ll try to do it more next year.”

Aric Almirola – Challenger Round

“[The highlight of the year] had to be the big win at Daytona. That was huge for me personally, but when I signed at Richard Petty Motorsports, I said I wanted to be the guy that brought the 43 car back to Victory Lane and we were able to do that this year – 15 years after the 43 had won its last race…Our Chase didn’t go exactly to plan, but we have a lot to be proud of from this year and I’m looking forward to 2015.”

Greg Biffle – Challenger Round

“We certainly had a tough season altogether with Roush Fenway and the 16 team, but we certainly made a charge there at the end [of the regular season] and got ourselves into the Chase. Like Aric, we didn’t make what we wanted of it, but we’re excited for next year.”

A.J. Allmendinger – Challenger Round

“A special year for us. I think it’s really cool that my team owners, Tad – and the real boss, Jodi Geschickter – are sitting here with us. To be able to share such a year – they’ve made me feel like family, so to be able to go out there and get our first Sprint Cup victory together was something very special. And to come here for my first time and be a part of Champion’s Week and see what it’s all about and be somewhat in the same breath of all the great drivers that we have – it’s an awesome year. Hopefully, next year will be even better.”

Kurt Busch – Challenger Round

“It means a lot to me personally to have Gene Haas select me to try and give all of Stewart-Haas a shot at a championship. Congratulations to Kevin Harvick and his team, everybody, Rodney Childers – they did a fantastic job. Thanks to Tony Stewart, Gene Haas, everybody at the whole program. You have to be competitive and you gotta do it week in and week out, and Daniel Knost did a great job as a first-year crew chief to lead us into this position. And now, with Tony Gibson taking the reins – we finished the season strong and we’re looking to build on that.”

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.