MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY ROUNDTABLE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 17, 2019
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 MOUNTAIN DEW CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed the upcoming GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Full Transcript:
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A SUPERSPEEDWAY RACE VERSUS A SHORT TRACK RACE?
“I personally don’t. Our preparation week-to-week is basically the same. Obviously you’re going to a different track and the cars are set-up differently, but I recognize what’s ahead and deal with it, I guess, as they come. I don’t change my week whether I’m going to Talladega or going to Bristol.”
DO YOU PREFER ONE TYPE OF RACING OVER ANOTHER?
“I prefer short track racing just in general. That’s where I came from and I enjoy the races that it puts on.”
TALLADEGA PARTNERED WITH THE BRAVES TO DO A DOUBLE TICKET PACKAGE. IS THAT EXCITING TO SEE YOUR SPORT WITH ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE TEAMS?
“Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s great. Obviously the Braves are lucky because they cover a large majority of the southeast and a lot of MLB teams don’t have that luxury. So, I’m happy that they cover the state of Alabama as well as Georgia and many others, as well. So, that works out good for them.”
IT’S EARLY, BUT HOW HAS THE SEASON BEEN AS A WHOLE FOR YOU SO FAR?
“It’s definitely early. I think it’s been I would say, decent. Thus far, I feel like we’ve had some really good runs. Runs that I feel like we were capable of winning an event in; and then we’ve had runs where we weren’t even close. How you summarize that up, I really don’t know. But we’ve had some shots at them and we’ve had some days when we didn’t have a chance. That’s kind of where we’ve been.”
AS A FOLLOW-UP TO THE PREVIOUS QUESTION, DO YOU JUST HOPE YOU HIT THE RIGHT DAY AT THE RIGHT TIME?
“I think this year thus far there have just been certain types of tracks where we’ve had better success at than others. I don’t necessarily think it’s a dice roll. I just think there have been areas where we’ve done a better job and areas where we haven’t. The areas where we do a better job we’ve had some chances and then in the opposition, we haven’t. That’s the bottom line. It’s not a guess. It’s just that we’ve had areas that we’ve excelled in and other areas that we haven’t.
CAN YOU REFLECT ON LAST YEAR’S RACE AT TALLADEGA AND WHAT WAS YOUR TAKEAWAY FROM THAT, IF ANYTHING, THAT CAN HELP YOU THIS TIME THROUGH?
‘I’m probably the wrong person to ask on this, but the way the manufacturers and everybody have really changed the game of plate racing. I’m not really sure what the right answer is on it. I don’t really like what it’s done to the racing, personally; but it is what it is and everybody is being true to what matters, I guess, in their camps and that’s kind of the position that we’re all put in, unfortunately. I don’t think that’s the way everybody wants to be. It’s certainly not the way I want to be. But, that’s the position we’re put in now.”
FORD DOES THIS, I GUESS, BUT DO THE CHEVY GUYS SAY YOU’RE GOING TO TRY TO WORK TOGETHER OR IS IT EVERY DRIVER FOR HIMSELF?
“We’ve made some efforts in doing do at our camp at Chevrolet and I think that’s obviously what your opponents are doing elsewhere and I expect that we’ll continue to try to help one another. You can orchestrate that and you can plan it and talk about it for weeks, months, and years ahead of time and when it comes down to it, all that stuff can change at the end of those races and you’re going to have people that you work well with and people that you don’t work well with. And sometimes those people are going to be on the same manufacturer, sometimes it’s going to be the same team and sometimes it’s not going to be the same manufacturer and sometimes it’s not going to be on the same team. And that’s just part of it, and sometimes it’s the cards that you’re dealt in those situations. I do think that you can make a great effort to pit with one another and do certain things that you can ultimately have success at doing when numbers matter. And when it comes time to go do your job, I think it’s time to do that. You just never know how they’re going to play out. So, we’ll do the best we can but it’s just not as simple as doing that.”
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR YOU TO HAVE A BREAKTHROUGH AT TALLADEGA?
“Not crash (laughter).”
WHAT ARE YOUR FIRST MEMORIES OF GOING TO TALLADEGA AS A KID WITH YOUR FAMILY? AND, WHAT’S YOUR IMPRESSION WHEN YOU DRIVE IN OR FLY IN OVER THERE NOW? WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU SEE TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY?
“To be honest with you, I don’t really remember going to Talladega a whole lot when I was little. That was just not a race track that, for whatever reason, stuck with me in my mind. Or, maybe it was just a place I didn’t get brought to over the years as much as others. I’m sure I went there a lot but it didn’t stick out to me like some other ones did, as a kid. But now, I view it as just a place that’s close to home. I think that’s one of my favorite parts about it. You don’t have to go far to get there, which is nice. And, I feel like I have a nice connection with a lot of people that live around the Southeast. There’s a lot of fans from Georgia there and a lot of friends that want to come over there for that race. I feel like Atlanta is certainly a home track for me, but I feel like Talladega kind of has that same feel in a lot of ways and I’ve enjoyed that part of going over there more than anything.”
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT A RACE AT TALLADEGA TO LOOK LIKE NOW WITH THE NEW SUPERSPEEDWAY PACKAGE?
“I really don’t know. I didn’t get to test there after Daytona. I wasn’t there. I didn’t drive the car. I really don’t know. I feel like a lot of guys are questioning it as well; and not only that, but after they left, rules were changed since then. So honestly, I think until we get there it’s really hard to say. I kind of hope it’s something different. Personally I don’t like how things have kind of evolved with being buddies with certain guys and whatnot. The style of racing that we had, I felt like was good, when everybody was pushing and doing what they had to do. Since everybody is not doing that as much anymore and really staying true to their partners and their groups, my feelings wouldn’t be hurt if it changed to that dynamic and looked a little different. So, hopefully that’s the case.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE BECOME A BETTER RESTRICTOR PLATE RACER? YOU ARE A YOUNG DRIVER BUT YOU’RE REALLY GOOD AT THE PLATE RACES
“I’m not sure where you’ve been watching (laughter), but I feel like I’ve crashed a lot and feel like I”ve had cars that were more than capable of winning probably 85 – 90 percent of the races we’ve been in. So no, I don’t think I’ve done a very good job at all in those events and just finishing and putting yourself in the right position. There have been days when I feel like did put myself in good positions and I felt like I made good decisions and it didn’t work out; but there were also more days than not when I feel like I didn’t. It’s hard to put all that together at the right time but hopefully we’ll get it right one day.”
SO, HOW ARE YOU IMPROVING EACH TIME THAN FOR THE TIMES THAT YOU’VE CRASHED YOU’RE GETTING BETTER AND BETTER AND THAT YOU LIKE THAT KIND OF RACING. HOW MUCH BETTER ARE YOU GETTING AND HOW MUCH IS IT LIKE BEATING YOUR HEAD AGAINST THE WALL BECAUSE LIKE YOU SAID, YOU CRASH
“I don’t know. I feel like l have actually gone backwards a little bit. There was a time about a year and a half ago or so, I felt like we were doing some really good things and I was making good decisions. I didn’t really feel that way at the Daytona 500 this year. I feel like I put myself in some bad spots and didn’t make the most of some things that I had going on. I think there’s always room for improvement but the good news is our cars, since I got here, and running the plate races, we’ve had some good fast cars at those tracks, which is really nice.”
DO YOU DREAD IT WHEN YOU GO TO TALLADEGA? IS THERE AN ELEMENT OF THINGS CAN SNAP AND BITE YOU REALLY QUICKLY WHETHER YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT, OR NOT?
“I don’t dread going to those places yet. I’m sure there are a lot of guys that do that have been doing it a lot longer than me and I can certainly understand that. After a long time, I’m sure it can wear on you and make it not as enjoyable to go to. Wrecking is not fun, especially when you hit something really hard. So, I can certainly understand that frustration. And, I’m not to that point yet. But if I hit a few things real hard a few more times, then I might have the same opinion.”
NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THE NEW PACKAGE IS REALLY GOING TO BE LIKE. YOU WILL HAVE TWO PRACTICE SESSIONS, BUT REALISTICALLY, EVERYBODY IS ONLY GOING TO RUN A LIMITED NUMBER OF LAPS BECAUSE NOBODY IS GOING TO WANT TO DAMAGE THEIR CARS. SO, YOU’VE GOT AN UNCERTAINTY AND A VERY SMALL WINDOW TO WHERE YOU CAN START TO FIGURE THINGS OUT FOR THE RACE. SO, HOW CHALLENGING MIGHT THAT BE? OR, IS THAT JUST LIKE A CHALLENGE YOU FACE ANY OTHER WEEKEND?
“I think it’s real similar to most weeks. To me, you don’t really learn. You don’t really learn what you came for until you finish the race anyway. So, I think that applies at most all the race tracks you go to. And, you’re right. Nobody even practices at those things anymore. So, maybe that’ll be different this time with the rules being what they are. I’m sure you’ll see what we’ve seen the past handful of times. Guys going out with their manufacturers and running with them. So, we’ll definitely do that, I’m sure. And we’ll get as big a group as we can to go practice with. We’ve always been wanting to go run when there is a group. There’s just never a big enough group to really learn what you see in the race.”
FOR THE MERE MORTAL, HAVING THE MANUFACTURERS DECIDE TO RUN IN A GROUP, TO MOST PEOPLE WHO JUST DRIVE REGULAR CARS, YOU WOULD THINK THAT WOULD MAKE IT HARDER AND THAT WOULD LEAD TO TRYING TO MAKE DECISIONS AND ANGST AND CRASHING. BUT NOT?
“There’s a lot of give and not much take in those situations, which to me, is not the way it should be, I don’t think. I don’t make the decisions and obviously the bad thing is that these other manufacturers that have some success in doing so, so now we’ve painted this picture that that’s the right thing to do. And, I really hate it because I don’t like to see that and I certainly don’t want to push for that. I want to go and run and I want everybody to race hard and I think you can race hard and put on a good show without crashing all the time, too. So, there’s a fine line on all that. Daytona and Talladega are two events that I absolutely really enjoy to watch on TV. And I don’t want to see it continue down the road it’s going down because I think it’s making it less fun to watch at those places, which I don’t want.”
BECAUSE IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO YOU’RE PAIRED WITH?
“It seems that way, doesn’t it?”
ARE YOU GLAD YOU CUT YOUR TEETH ON SHORT TRACKS AGAINST GROWN MEN AND DIDN’T DO ALL YOUR TRAINING ON SIMULATORS BEFORE YOU CAME INTO STOCK CAR RACING AT A HIGHER LEVEL?
“Absolutely. Yeah, I think I was lucky to grow up around some guys that were really good at what they did and they didn’t mess around. And the cool thing about it was a lot of the guys that were in the Super Late Model world that you had to beat along the way, they didn’t do it because they were trying to make it to the next level. They did it because they were trying to make a living there. And that sure does change the dynamic of how things work when you live by something and you are making a living for your family about what happens on Friday or Saturday night. And so, that was kind of the world I came around in. And I really appreciated that. I got my butt whooped a lot by those guys and learned a lot of great lessons and I certainly don’t have everything figured out now, but I was appreciative to have the guys I had to race against at that point in time.”
TALLADEGA HAS ALWAYS BEEN EARNHARDT COUNTRY. WITH YOUR ASSOCIATION WITH JRM AND HAVING SUCCEEDED JUNIOR AS MOST POPULAR DRIVER, DO YOU FEEL ANY SENSE OF ENERGY WHEN YOU GO THERE FROM THE CROWD AND FROM THAT SORT OF SUPPORT?
“Yeah, it definitely seems like a little bit of a home race for me, which I think is really cool. I’m not sure if that’s because we’re close to home or if that’s just random or happenstance or what it is, but that’s really neat. Just hearing, after the race, people saying that the crowd was fired-up or whatever when we took the lead or something happened, I think that’s pretty neat. So, that may not always be the case. I’ve enjoyed it on days when it has been that way.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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