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The year in quotes

January 01, 2014, Brad Norman,

The 2013 season, as told by drivers and crew chiefs

It was a year bookended by history.

Danica Patrick opened the 2013 NASCAR season by winning the Coors Light Pole for the Daytona 500. Jimmie Johnson ended it by winning his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

In between, there were stories made more intriguing when described by the colorful cast of NASCAR characters.

Here's the story of the year, in their own words.

"I was brought up to be the fastest driver not the fastest girl, and that was instilled in me very young from the beginning." -- Danica Patrick after becoming the first woman to win the Coors Light Pole for the Daytona 500.

"It is just awesome, there’s no other way to describe it. To be the first to win in a Gen-6 car … I’m just very proud of the moment." -- Jimmie Johnson after winning the Daytona 500 in his 400th career start.

This tweet by Denny Hamlin ignited his feud with Joey Logano.

"I’m no health freak by no means. Last year I was like, 'Man, the (firesuits) are shrinking, something is wrong with the washer.'" -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. on losing 20 pounds in the offseason

"You know, I was pretty comfortable where I was at. We had cars that could win races (at Roush). I know (Joe Gibbs Racing is) expecting me to perform and do my job. Before this year, I can't remember the last time I've ever been nervous at all inside of a race car." -- Matt Kenseth after winning at Las Vegas, his first victory with Joe Gibbs Racing.

"He said he was coming for me. I usually don't see him, so it's usually not a factor." -- Denny Hamlin, taking a shot at Joey Logano not running near the front following an argument at Bristol.

"He probably shouldn’t have done what he did last week, so that’s what he gets." -- Joey Logano following a last-lap wreck with Denny Hamlin at Fontana. At the time, Logano did not know Hamlin had been taken to the hospital.

"He’s a tough guy on pit road as soon as one of his crew guys is in the middle of it. Until then he’s a scared little kid and wants to throw a water bottle at me. He's going to learn a lesson. And he can run his mouth on Twitter all he wants tonight, I’ve got plenty of people that are going to watch for that. It’s time he learns a lesson." -- Tony Stewart, who shoved Logano on pit road at Fontana.

"I can tell you there's no team in this garage with the integrity of the 2 team and the way we’ve been treated over the last seven days is absolutely shameful." -- Brad Keselowski after his car failed pre-race inspection at Texas and he was forced to change his rear-end housing.

"Who cares how you get caught? If you're cheating, if you're doing wrong, it doesn't matter what you're doing -- it's wrong." -- Clint Bowyer, on whether Michael Waltrip Racing would turn in another team for bending the rules.

"I think the penalties are grossly unfair. I think it's borderline shameful." -- Matt Kenseth after NASCAR handed Joe Gibbs Racing a massive penalty when his engine failed post-race inspection following a win at Kansas. The penalties were later largely overturned.

"When you can leave a race track and there's people in tears because they won and (people) in tears because they got crashed, you know, that's what brings us to the race track." -- Clint Bowyer, who finished runner-up to Kevin Harvick in a frenzied spring race at Richmond.

"It's a true David vs. Goliath story. I couldn't be more proud to play my own role." -- David Ragan after winning at Talladega.

David Ragan's win at Talladega Superspeedway was the first for Front Row Motorsports as an organization.

• "We have alligator blood. I don't know what to say. It's just we're a different breed that are willing to throw caution to the wind just to get back to what we love doing." -- Denny Hamlin on his eagerness to return after a back injury sidelined him for four races.

"He screwed up again. It was his third time this year he’s screwed up." -- Kasey Kahne on Kyle Busch after the two bumped at Darlington, sending Kahne into the wall.

"Dropping valves, blowing up. Goodbye. Goodnight Gracie." -- Kyle Busch over his scanner in the Coca-Cola 600.

"I guess my question is why don’t we have two batteries? My late model has two batteries in it." -- Kurt Busch on the radio after having to change his battery following a red-flag period at Charlotte.

"Did I get a nice dinner out of it? Let's see. No, went home and went right to bed. I think I ate something on my bus. I think I had half of a banana, a little chocolate protein shake and two beers. That's what I had." -- Danica Patrick, speaking about the aftermath of her crash with boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Charlotte.

"As much as I hate to say it, it’s good to be back in the media center.”  -- Tony Stewart, opening his press conference after recording his first victory of the season at Dover.

Winning at Dover brought Tony Stewart to one of his favorite places -- the media center.

"He ain't our teammate." -- Carl Edwards on Roush Fenway Racing partner Greg Biffle, who was leading the June race at Michigan and declined to slow his pace to help Edwards remove debris from his grille. Biffle won the race, while Edwards finished in eighth place.

"I'm bringing in another one of my friends to the organization, but also knowing that I'm losing a friend at the end of the year to the organization. The number one thing when Ryan and I spoke is that our friendship will not change. This was a business decision." -- Tony Stewart, in announcing that Kevin Harvick would be with Stewart-Haas Racing next season, and Ryan Newman would not.

"Train wreck; extremely fast train, but usually ends up derailed somehow.”
-- Clint Bowyer sums up his thoughts on former Formula One and Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve's NASCAR exploits.

"The No. 20 (Matt Kenseth) broke the pace car speed, which you aren't supposed to, but, they aren't calling guys on that so I need to start trying that in the future." -- Jimmie Johnson after his Kentucky misfire. Restarts troubled the Hendrick Motorsports driver this year.

"You will not win this championship, mark my word." -- An irate Elliott Sadler, jabbing his finger into then-NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Regan Smith's face following an on-track incident at New Hampshire. Smith did not win the championship as he finished third in the final standings.

• "He's the biggest, stupid idiot out here and he's a big ogre and can do whatever he wants 'cause he can probably kick anybody's butts. No sense in getting in a fight with him." -- Kyle Busch, who was less than pleased with Ryan Newman at Loudon.

"I think it was a success. It was such a great show… This is real racing right here, and that's all I've got to say." -- Austin Dillon, who was thrilled with NASCAR's return to dirt racing at Eldora and won the Camping World Truck Series event at the venue.

"I never lifted." -- Norm Benning, who held his line and emerged from the last-chance race to make the main event at Eldora.

"I got fired a couple weeks ago, come back here, win the pole and win the race." -- Ryan Newman, who won at Indianapolis weeks after losing his spot at Stewart-Haas Racing.

"Ogres don't have emotions, you know that." -- Ryan Newman, who hadn't forgotten Kyle Busch's words during his interview at Indy.

"You mortals have got to learn. You guys (in the media) need to watch more sprint car videos and stuff. It’s starting to get annoying this week about that. That was just an average sprint car wreck. ... If it's bad, we'll let you guys know." -- Tony Stewart defended racing sprint cars following an on-track accident when pressed at Pocono.

"We expect a full recovery by Daytona or close to it. You know, it may be able to be done earlier, it's just not worth it. It's a bad break to the leg, and he needs time to go through the process of healing, rehabilitation, all those things." -- SHR Competition Director Greg Zipadelli on Tony Stewart, who broke his right leg in three places in a sprint car accident days after the Pocono race.

"The thing is, you've got to live life. You can't spend your whole life trying to guard against something. If you do that, you've wasted your time. We're all here a short amount of time in the big picture. I'm going to take full advantage of whatever time I've got on this earth." -- Tony Stewart during an insightful press conference in his first meeting with the press after breaking his leg.

"I told him that he ain’t going to finish Iowa if he runs it. Whichever race he's in, he ain’t going to finish it." -- Ty Dillon issued a warning to Chase Elliott after Elliott dumped Dillon while racing for the win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in a Truck Series event. 

"It's an opportunity of a lifetime to be teamed up with (Kevin) Harvick, with Tony (Stewart), Danica (Patrick). Us four in the same meetings, it could be hell or could be great. I'm just kidding about the hell part." -- Kurt Busch giddily explaining why he accepted an offer to join Stewart-Haas Racing.

"Kicked me in the nuts again, metaphorically." -- Brian Scott, who led the first 239 laps at Richmond but finished second in the 250-lap race. Scott was kicked below the belt by Nelson Piquet Jr. in the spring race at the 0.75-mile track.

"I know it's a lot of fun for you guys to write a lot of wacky things. Go ahead, if you want to. Get creative. But don't look too much into it." -- Clint Bowyer, after his suspicious-looking spin in the regular-season finale at Richmond.

"It was the craziest thing I ever saw. He just spun right out.” -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had a great view of Bowyer's spin.

"It is our determination that the (Michael Waltrip Racing) organization attempted to manipulate the outcome of the race. As the sport's sanctioning body, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a fair and level playing field for all of our competitors and this action today reflects out commitment to that." -- NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton in announcing that Ryan Newman would replace Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase.

"I don’t really have any emotions right now. We weren’t good enough to make it and we didn't. That is the reality." -- Defending series champion Brad Keselowski, who didn't qualify for the 2013 Chase.

"We believe in looking at all of it that there were too many things that altered the event and gave an unfair disadvantage to Jeff and his team, who would have qualified, and I have the authority to do that. We are going to do that." -- Brian France in announcing Jeff Gordon would be added to the Chase as an unprecedented 13th driver.

"For me to win at New Hampshire, first of all, is more than a stretch and more than a dream. This is probably one of my worst places." -- Matt Kenseth after opening the Chase with back-to-back victories.

"To be honest with you, I walked into media day (in February at Daytona), and there were two people standing in line to conduct interviews, so from day one of this year, everybody’s kind of written us off." -- Kevin Harvick, who won at Kansas in the fall to keep his title hopes in good standing despite this being his last year with Richard Childress Racing.

"I got wrecked by a dirty driver. There's no other way of putting it. He's cool with that. I have raced him really cool over the last year to be respectful to him and try to repair our relationship. ... It is not going to last, I can tell you that. Now we’ve got war.” -- Brad Keselowski, who didn't take kindly to getting dumped by Kyle Busch in the Nationwide Series race at Kansas.

"That just goes to show you the kind of person Brad Keselowski is and the class he doesn't have. Brad Keselowski knows what dirty drivers are because he's done it plenty of times." -- Kyle Busch, in response.

"If you care about your well-being, your health and your quality of life, it's a smart move to embrace." -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., who missed two races in 2012 with post-concussion symptoms, on NASCAR instituting mandatory baseline concussion testing in 2014.

"Well, when the checkered flag dropped, I heard a big boom from heaven, and my daddy said, 'Hell, yeah!' " -- Franklin Scott, son of pioneer Wendell Scott, following Darrell Wallace Jr.'s historic win at Martinsville in the Truck Series.

"That's exactly the reason I'm leaving RCR because you've got those punk-ass kids coming up. They've got no respect for what they do in this sport and they've had everything fed to them with a spoon." -- Kevin Harvick after an on-track incident with Ty Dillon in a Camping World Trucks Series race. Harvick apologized the next day.

"I'm pretty disappointed in the things that just went down. I used to look up to that guy." -- Ty Dillon's take on the incident.

"That’s a divorce. You ever seen a divorce? That’s like her taking not only the furniture and the silverware -- she took the dog, too. (Harvick) didn’t get the animal, I would say." -- Clint Bowyer, chiming in on the Harvick-Dillon spat.

"Maybe I overreacted a small amount. But I wanted him to realize that I was not happy with what took place. I would do it again today." -- Greg Biffle, who whipped Jimmie Johnson around by the collar on pit road at Martinsville.

"I think we were in great shape last year. I think we're in as good or maybe just a pinch better shape this year, though I do feel the opponent is a little more formidable than what we had last year." -- Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson's crew chief, on the team's title chances.

"If I was going to give Matt (Kenseth) a piece of advice, I'd say use the s--- out of him. Every time you get, run him hard, because that's his weakness." -- Brad Keselowski, perhaps in response to Knaus' comments.

"I really will walk away from this year feeling like we all gave it everything there was to give. But from a competitive standpoint it's been by far the best season of my career." -- Matt Kenseth, who won seven races this year but couldn't slow Jimmie Johnson's march to six titles.

"I have six. We'll see if I can get seven. Time will tell. I think we need to save the argument until I hang up the helmet. I just want to enjoy the moment, soak it all in." -- Jimmie Johnson on his place in history.