MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 29, 2018
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed the season thus far, what the biggest challenges have been this season, why he runs so well at Chicago and many other topics. Full Transcript:
NEXT WEEK WE ARE HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON WE STILL HAVE A PRETTY LONG LIST OF NOTEWORTHY DRIVERS WE HAVEN’T WON. IS THERE THAT BIG OF A SEPARATION BETWEEN THE WINNERS AND YOU GUYS WHO HAVE BEEN CLOSE?
“Some weeks, yes. I mean some weeks you know it’s been a pretty big difference. Other weeks I feel like we have been a lot closer. Unfortunately, I haven’t really found a… at some places I would think that we were a good ways off, might be another track… I will give you an example. Pocono, I thought we had a really good race at Pocono. We didn’t finish very well, but we were pretty competitive with the competition. Typically, when you run well at Pocono you go to Michigan and run well too and we ran really well at Pocono, went to Michigan and didn’t run well. I was kind of surprised by that and you know felt like I kind of had an idea of what we needed and the direction we were going was better for all those places and obviously that wasn’t the case. I can think back through a few races throughout the year where I thought we were in the ballpark, but for the most part there has been a bigger gap on those 1.5-mile to 2-mile tracks.”
THIS IS ONE OF THOSE WEEKEND’S WHERE YOU HAVE ONE DAY OF PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING AND THEN RACE THE NEXT. WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO MAKE GAINS DOES IT MATTER WHETHER YOU HAVE ONE DAY BEFORE THE RACE OR TWO DAYS BEFORE THE RACE?
“Yeah, I don’t think so. I think that we could not practice at all and start the race on Sunday and the results would be within maybe a couple of spots for the whole field. I really think that your winner for the event would be the winner whether we practiced for a week or didn’t practice at all. Now-a-days especially when you get here you are just so committed with what you have and not only that, but when you show up and you unload you have the most confidence in what your brought to the race track when you get here. So, any changes from that is a little bit of a guess from what you had the most confidence in leaving the shop. No, to answer your question, I don’t really think it would matter if you had two minutes of practice or two hours. I think that the people that are going to run good are going to run good before they got here.”
DO YOU ADVOCATE NO PRACTICE?
“I mean I’m completely fine with it. I think that we have come to these race tracks a lot. I don’t think it’s necessary to practice for two or three hours in a race weekend. Personally, I think that like I said, you have a pretty good idea of what you’ve got before you get here and I have been a part of a couple of events over the past couple of years… on the Xfinity side I remember in particular we didn’t practice at all and ran the race at Dover and I mean the same people that were going to run well if we had practiced, ran good in the race and it was basically no different. So, yeah, I would be fine with it.”
WEDNESDAY IS THE FOURTH OF JULY DO YOU HAVE ANY BIG PLANS?
“Yeah, no, no plans. Typically, the Fourth of July weekend of Daytona is always one of my favorite weeks of the year. Obviously, a very fun race and a fun race weekend, but just a fun week to kind of be down around the beach. So, I like to go down a couple of days early and hang out. I have some friends that live in that area, so I might go down there a couple of days early and spend some time with them. But, aside from that no big plans.”
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR DAYTONA NEXT WEEK:
“Yeah, I mean I felt like we had the strength at the (Daytona) 500 that we had at Talladega. I actually to be honest with you, I thought we had more strength at the (Daytona) 500 than what we had at Talladega. We were not… I didn’t think we had the speed that we needed at that Talladega race to go and battle up front and lead and pull the field. I feel like if we had gotten to the lead you would have been pretty vulnerable in that situation, but at Daytona, I thought that we were just a little stronger and I could make some more moves and kind of pull lanes and make people a little more interested in going with you or giving you a push because of that. And people recognize that as soon as the race starts and you get going people kind of see who is good and who they want to push because if they are pushing you, eventually they are going to help themselves and that is why they do it. I thought we were better off at that at Daytona than we were at Talladega. So, looking forward to getting back. I know that at Hendrick Motorsports in general we put a lot of emphasis on our speedway races and we treat them just as thoughtful as we do the rest of them. I think that is a good thing. I’m looking forward to hopefully improving from our last one because I think there was a little bit of room for it.”
HOW HAS THIS SEASON CHALLENGED YOU IN WAYS PAST SEASONS HAVEN’T?
“That is a good question, you know, I think for us I kind of look back at the past couple of years and I feel like there has been… well one thing I’ve realized this season is when you have things that are on your side you need to make the most of them while you have them. I feel like in my career thus far, I’ve had some portions of seasons that were really good car wise and we were really strong, had some great things going for us, things that if I knew then what I know now I would love another shot at them. That is the biggest thing is you just have to kind of pick your battles and you know for us, there have been races to this point throughout the year that we haven’t been the fastest car at the end of practice or at the end of qualifying and you have to really just kind of sit back and make the most of what you have.
“Often times if you try to overreach, I’ve caught myself overreaching before and when you are in a sport this competitive and you do overreach you can sometimes get yourself in more trouble than just taking what you have and trying to make the most of that. Although there have been days when we haven’t been strong enough to go and compete for a win whatever that portion of the field you are in, you just need to maximize it. Maximize your effort in what you have going on. So, I think that has been the biggest challenge is just getting into a race and pushing all you can push and it not be for the lead is certainly not the easiest thing to accept. So, we are all working hard and I hope that this weekend is a different story, but just trying to make the most of what we have or what we have had at different points throughout the season has been challenging, but it’s been a fun challenge. I enjoy challenges and I know our team does too. We have been working really hard throughout the year to try to improve our cars and improve myself and get better and hopefully be able to put ourselves in some good positions moving forward.”
IS THERE AN EXAMPLE OF A PLACE WHERE YOU FELT LIKE YOU OVERREACHED?
“Yeah, I mean hard to pinpoint, but yes, there have been times throughout a year that I feel like I’ve done that and even in year’s past too. You just have to kind of sit back and recognize what is there and what is not and go on down the road.”
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER FROM BEING HERE IN SEPTEMBER AND THEN HAVING THE POST-RACE INSPECTION PROBLEM? WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THAT AND WHAT DO YOU TAKE MOVING FORWARD?
“Well, the past two races here at Chicago have been really good for us. I think that a lot of it is kind of circumstantial. We had some great things going on. I remember those two races were right at the beginning of the Playoffs and we had from a car stand point, we had some good things going, some nice upgrades that were going on aside from our penalty we had some good things going. I think people ask that all the time ‘oh you ran good at Michigan, you’ve run second however many times and you have had a good run’… I have had the same question once already coming into this weekend about it and I think it is just so circumstantial as to how your cars are, how things are going, what kind of performance upgrades you have at given times and for whatever reason, we have just happened to have had some good things going when we showed up at this race the past couple of years.
“I don’t think that it means I’m special at this track more than anywhere else, I just think that was the case. So, I feel as if we have certainly a good baseline from a general set-up perspective, so I think that is encouraging and we have some upgrades coming for this race this weekend. We had a week off from our intermediate program to improve and make our cars better, so hopefully that shows up. If it does, great, and if it doesn’t then we will go back to work.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR NEW INVOLVEMENT WITH UNTUCKIT AN INVESTOR AND A BRAND AMBASSADOR WITH THE COMPANY?
“Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun to get this partnership started and obviously to kick it off this weekend is really cool. It kind of fits me. I’m a kind of a non-tucked in shirt guy anyway. It is a good fit and they are going to be on the car this weekend here at Chicago and next week at Daytona. Looking forward to working with some of the folks within their company and their brand and obviously it’s all kind of kicking off this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s kind of one of those things where it’s a natural fit, I think, for me and when you believe in something and actually wear their clothes and things it’s easy to get behind it and support it and that is kind of where I’m at with them. It’s going to be fun, looking forward to it, like I said and hopefully the feeling is mutual and we can go on down the road and have a great partnership.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE TRACK IS GOING TO CHANGE NOW BEING A SUMMER RACE?
“I ran a Xfinity race the summer race was here it was in the heat of the summer. I remember when we raced up here with it. It might change it some, but at the end of the day I think it will be similar. I think that the track will probably just have a little less grip overall. But it will have less grip for everyone. So, the track surface is what it is and there is always a lot of talk about cooler weather, warmer weather, this or that, but it is the same for everybody just like the tire is. One of those things where you’ve got to accept it, make the most of it and know that the speeds will probably be off from what they were last fall maybe from a qualifying or race pace fall off, but you are still going to be pushing the car to the edge. Whatever that edge is it is going to produce X lap time. For me, that might not really feel much different inside the car, but you might just be going slower than you were last fall. So, we will see though. It’s been a while since I have, so I don’t know.”
I THINK YOU SAID LAST WEEK THAT THEY HAD FOUND SOMETHING IN YOUR CAR THAT THEY SET IT UP MORE FOR YOU. IS THAT HAPPENING AT OTHER TRACKS OR WAS THAT SPECIFIC TO SONOMA?
“That was really kind of centered at the road courses, well really just Sonoma and Martinsville. Jeff (Gordon) had had so much success at Sonoma and Martinsville that we kind of started things in 2016 very similar to how he finished the year in 2015, obviously won the fall race there at Martinsville. I tried and tried and tried to figure it out and really struggled, so as time went we just kind of… well let me back up, the intermediate tracks it was very natural and I think Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys really figured out how I liked to drive the car and we immediately started setting cars up for that. But, Martinsville and Sonoma were kind of the two exceptions to that and we kind of stuck with what they had always had. And as time has gone, I feel like we have kind of adapted more in the direction of what we did intermediates and tried to apply as much of that as you can to a short track which is certainly different, but there are small things and subtle changes that you can make that might coincide with everywhere.
“Those are really the only two tracks and I think probably that kind of stemmed from Martinsville for whatever reason we have run a little better there in the past couple of attempts than my first couple. Sonoma has been getting better and I think we have just kind of brought some of the ideas that we had at Martinsville for me to Sonoma and did them going the right turn direction instead of left turn and it turned out okay. I had a lot of fun last week. That is such a tough track and it’s been a terrible track for me. That is such a miserable trip when you go and you know that it’s going to be rough, so it was nice to just be solid. Needed some pace to be with the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the No. 78 (Martin Truex, Jr.) and the No. 14 (Clint Bowyer), but I thought we finished where we deserved and that is always encouraging. Our pit stops were great, guys were incredible on pit road last week. Like I said a few weeks ago, there are some things going on amongst our group that is really good and that you have to have to go and compete for race wins and I think we are doing some of that. Not everything, but we are doing some of the things along the way that it takes. So, put all the pieces together and hopefully it will be there.”
I SEE THE BLISTER ON YOUR HAND IS THAT FROM LAST WEEK?
“Yeah, there are certain things I guess you can do to make it better or what not, but yeah, you drive with one hand, with your left hand an enjoy the day and you spend a lot of time shifting with your right hand. It’s obviously hot and you are sweating and blisters happen. That is part of it.”
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