NASCAR At Chicagoland: Chase Drivers React To Opening Playoff Race

The first of 10 NASCAR Chase races are in the books. Here's what some of the top 12 drivers had to say after Monday's Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland:

TONY STEWART (finished 1st): "We've had a miserable year. But the last three weeks have really started coming into it. ... I don't think either one of us (crew chief Darian Grubb and Stewart) thought we had as good a car as we thought we needed to win today. But it didn't take long in the race to figure out we were pretty solid."

KEVIN HARVICK (finished 2nd): "I'm just happy that we finished second, to be honest with you. There's still a lot of question marks for us coming into the Chase on the mile‑and‑a‑half stuff. But the call was solid all weekend. ... During the year it was all about trying to win races. Now it's about accumulating points."

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (finished 3rd): "I just knew we were going to get a good finish if we didn't run out of fuel. I was happy where we were. I thought we had really improved throughout the day. And, yeah, it felt a lot similar to how we ran earlier in the year where we would use strategy to improve our finishing position."

CARL EDWARDS (finished 4th): "It was a really good day at the beginning and we showed a lot of speed and then we struggled a little bit, but came back with great fuel mileage at the end and that was huge for us. It allowed us to jump up to fourth and really get good position. That was a nice finish for us in this first race and something we can definitely build on as we head to Loudon."

BRAD KESELOWSKI (finished 5th): "We hung in there and battled and battled all day. We tried some different strategy, got moved to the back, but kept plugging away and got fifth out of it. Our fuel mileage was awesome. It was a good first step for us in the Chase."

KURT BUSCH (finished 6th): "It was a good points day for our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge. We had speed in the car early, but just didn't keep up with the track. We were a top-10 car all day. We led a bunch of laps early. We just struggled with making adjustments as the race went on."

RYAN NEWMAN (finished 8th): "Our fuel mileage wasn't what it needed to be, but in the end, we got a top-10 out of it. Ran out (of fuel) coming off of Turn 2. It was kind of a crazy deal, but we were still able to capitalize."

JIMMIE JOHNSON (finished 10th): "From my driving style, I've never been all that good with fuel mileage. You've certainly seen me run out at other times. Not what we wanted. We certainly had a great race car and it's just too bad. We ran out coming to the white flag."

MATT KENSETH (finished 21st): "It is really frustrating to be a race car driver and they drop the green on the last run of the day when you are supposed to put on a show for the fans and you have to run half-throttle and can't floor it or you will run out of gas."

KYLE BUSCH (finished 22nd): "We had a good car today and kept fighting back all day long. But once we hit that debris, it made the car really loose and I was doing the best I can. I still hoped we could finish in the top 10. I saved as much fuel as I could, but I guess it just wasn'’t enough and we ran out with two to go. Just a really disappointing day."

JEFF GORDON (finished 24th): "It was just one of those days. You know, we had a right-front (tire) tear apart. We actually got the car halfway decent there at the end. Then it came down to saving fuel and we obviously didn't save enough fuel."

DENNY HAMLIN (finished 31st): Hamlin did not speak with reporters after the race.

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