MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
BASS PRO SHOPS NRA NIGHT RACE
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 18, 2017
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media and discussed how comfortable he is with his current points position, the pressure of racing at one of the best teams in the business and not yet having a win, working with teammates and many other topics. Full Transcript:
ON HOSTING THE GRAND OLE OPRY:
“Nashville is a cool town and a great place for us to go and promote this race. I appreciate Bristol having me and like I say, a trip to Nashville is always a good time. I enjoyed that. The Grand Ole Opry was really cool. I had never been there before and to hear some of the background on that was pretty neat. It was a little nerve racing being up on that stage. I don’t sing and I didn’t feel like I belonged on that stage, but it was fun and hopefully we had a good response and will have a good turn out tomorrow night.”
TALK ABOUT NIGHT RACING AND HOW THAT IS DIFFERENT FROM RACING HERE DURING THE DAY:
“I think it’s just a prime example of wanting what we can’t have and I think we do this race one time a year, it’s a huge event, it is more than just another week. The Bristol night race is one of the coolest races on the schedule. I think what makes it what it is, is the fact that we only do it one time a year. I think we should keep that in mind for other decisions moving forward.”
HOW COMFORTABLE DO YOU FEEL WITH YOUR POINTS SITUATION?
“Well, you are never comfortable. We are certainly in a tight spot. We are there towards the back. I don’t exactly know 100% where we are, but I know we are one of the last few spots of non-winners that are still in. That is not a comfortable position to be in because there is always an opportunity for a guy on the outside to win a race and bump you back another position. So, it’s tight for sure where we are at. We feel like we need a victory to feel good about it. I mean, heck, we are not many from having a full playoff list of winners. So, yeah, no, we aren’t real comfortable with it just because in that position you are not really guaranteed anything.”
PLANS FOR THE OFF WEEKEND?
“Well, for some guys people have opportunities to go race, other guys don’t. I don’t have people just blowing my phone up to ask me to come drive their car all the time. That is a great problem to have if you have that. I love racing and love short track racing. I would love to do it if I had the chance, but I don’t. So, in that situation I’m going to enjoy my off weekend. I’m going to go on a trip with some friends and kind of enjoy it that way.”
HOW DO YOU ASSESS THIS SEASON? IT SEEMED LIKE LAST YEAR YOU WERE A LOT CLOSER OR HAD MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO WIN.
“Yeah, no, you are exactly right, we did. We had some really strong runs to this point in the season last year. We have had some strong runs this year, but I don’t feel like quite as many as we did last season. It’s not for a lack of effort or a lack of trying harder or trying to run well. Things just haven’t worked out as many times as they did last year for us to have some great opportunities to go win races. We are working hard to try to get back in those positions more often and hate we didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had last year because looking back it’s like, man I would love to have as god of a chance as we had some weekends last season. I didn’t realize how good of opportunities we did have when we had them looking back. That is frustrating. There were some days last year too, where I felt like we did make the most of our opportunity and it still didn’t work out. Hopefully, we have some more chances moving forward and we can maybe even try to turn a decent day into a really good day and those are the ones you really need to be proud of.”
KASEY KAHNE SEEMED TO BE UNDER IMMENSE PRESSURE EVEN BEFORE HE WAS LET GO. WHEN YOU ARE AT THE TOP ORGANIZATION IN THE SPORT HOW DIFFERENT IS THAT, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE A YOUNG GUY COMPARED TO RUNNING IN THE XFINITY SERIES OR TAKING THE BEST CAR TO SOME LITTLE SHORT TRACK IN GEORGIA? HOW DOES THAT MOUNT OVER TIME AND IS IT WORSE WHEN YOU HAVEN’T WON A RACE?
“You know I can’t speak for Kasey (Kahne) and his situation. I have always looked up to Kasey for a long time. I by no mean think Kasey has forgot how to win races. I just don’t think that is the case for him…”
DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE PRESSURE NOW THAT YOU ARE AT HENDRICK WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A CUP DRIVER AT HENDRICK AND HAVE A TEAMMATE LIKE JIMMIE (JOHNSON)?
“Yeah, well I will say it is definitely something to strive for, for sure. When the guy next door is winning a lot of races, coming off of a championship season, I don’t necessarily know that it’s pressure, but I think it definitely drives you to want to do that and know that you have that opportunity and the same chance he does next door. In reality, you know for me, I don’t know how Kasey (Kahne) looks at it, but I know for me, if we are somewhere and we are struggling and he is not, then I don’t think there is any excuse for that. That is kind of how I view it. If that is the case then I want to make sure I do my job to the full potential that I feel like I can do it at. In my eyes, I think that we should be able to… if they are having a good day I think we can have a good day too.”
OF ALL YOUR TEAMMATES IS THERE SOMEBODY WHOSE SET-UP YOU LIKE THAT PERHAPS YOUR SET-UP IS CLOSE TO THEM THAT YOU CAN BUILD ON? WITH ALEX BOWMAN DOING ALL THE TESTING DO YOU FEEL LIKE HE WILL BE SOMEBODY CLOSER TO YOUR AGE THAT YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO LEAN ON AS WELL?
“Yeah, Alex has done a lot of testing. I’m not as familiar with his trends of set-ups for the few races he ran last year, I don’t really recall kind of where he fell in our balance sheet. Typically, for us we are kind of in the middle of our teammates. I would say in the middle to sway towards the No. 48 side slightly, more so than the No. 88 and the No. 5. But, we are all different and our crew chiefs and our teams go about things differently too. Some of us might be hunting the same balance and it might show up a little differently on our balance sheet. As far as the sheet goes and what it shows we are down the middle if not swayed slightly to the No. 48 sometimes. I would say that would be about it.”
WAS MICHIGAN MORE DEMORALIZING THAN SOME OF THE OTHERS CONSIDERING YOUR PAST RUNS THERE?
“Well, I knew the second-place streak was going to end at some point. I was just hoping it was going to end for the better and not for the worse. You know, I can’t say it was… I wouldn’t use demoralizing as the word, that’s a big word, I don’t even know if I have ever use that word ever in general. But, no, I don’t think Michigan was demoralizing for us. I don’t think we had a second-place car the last time we ran there. I don’t think our team would say that we had a second-place car in the spring race, but the way the restarts worked out and we kept getting the top on some restarts and got going and got to the front. That last run in the spring race was short enough nobody could pass us back in that short amount of time. It kind of worked out. I felt like for us, we had an opportunity, we were kind of right there in fourth and didn’t have a very good restart. We weren’t able to push Martin (Truex, Jr.) like I wanted to and then got fifth on the last one and it was just kind of hard to get going. So, not demoralizing, but we will definitely take a top 10 and a solid day for our situation versus a bad day.”
WITH HOW CLOSE YOU CAME LAST YEAR AND HOW STRONG YOU WERE, THE LONGER IT SEEMS FOR YOU TO GET TO VICTORY LANE, DID YOU EXPECT THAT OR DOES IT WEIGH ON YOU AT ALL THAT IT’S MAYBE TAKING A BIT LONGER THAN MANY WOULD HAVE ASSUMED BASED ON HOW YOU RAN LAST YEAR?
“We definitely want to win. I want to win, for sure. I want to be in positions more often to win and to me, that’s the key to it all. When you’re in position more often to win, you don’t feel like that one opportunity that you have one day we hit on it, you know, today; and we don’t feel like you really just have to push through the wall to get there that one day. That’s what makes it tough is when it’s just an opportunity here or there to get there. It’s when you have opportunities time and time again over a course of 15 or 20 weekends that you’ve just been running really good. You’ve really been on your game for that period of time. When you have more opportunities, the more wins come. And I think that’s the guys who have won multiple races this year, those guys hadn’t just run well the weekends that they’ve won races. They’ve run well all-season long. And when that’s the case, you’re going to see them win races. You’re going to see them lose races. But they’ve had the chance to do it consistently. To me, that’s the key to it. So, we want to have those chances consistently. I think if so, we can get the job done if that is the case.”
AT THIS POINT LAST YEAR, YOU HAD RUN SIX XFINITY SERIES RACES, BUT YOU HAVEN’T RUN ANY THIS YEAR. IS THAT BY CHOICE OR DESIRE? IF YOU WERE OFFERED AN OPPORTUNITY, WOULD YOU?
“I don’t know, Ask Dale. I guess I got fired (laughs). I don’t know. But no, JRM has been really good to me over my career and obviously we had some great success there in 2014. I definitely would love to run a race or two if I could, or had the opportunity to. But, I haven’t been asked to or really had a chance to do any of it. So, nobody’s asked me. It’s hard to say yes when nobody is asking.”
“I can’t say it would or wouldn’t. That’s tough. Maybe some places where you feel like you really struggle at, to get some extra laps. But, the cars are different and there are some weeks when it is kind of nice just to be driving a Cup car and to just have that schedule to worry about and to just have that car to worry about. Some weeks it might help some, other weeks I would say no. So, it’s kind of a mixed bag.”
LAST YEAR YOU LED MORE LAPS, BUT AT 7TH IN POINTS, YOU’RE NOT HAVING A BAD YEAR AT ALL. WE DON’T SEE A WHOLE LOT OF EMOTION FROM YOU, GOOD OR BAD. IS THIS SEASON EATING YOU UP INSIDE AT ALL? OR, DOES THIS STUFF MOSTLY ROLL OFF YOUR SHOULDERS?
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN A GOOD PLACE, MENTALLY?
“I think I’m in a good place mentally. I just think for a lot of things that you go through, the good and the bad, you do have to let some of it just go because there’s going to be days where you’re giving it all you have and it doesn’t work out for you. Some days that’s your fault. And if that is my fault, those are the emotional days and those are the ones I’m going to be really frustrated with, as we’ve all seen. I want to hold myself accountable. And there are some days where we might have just all missed it as a team. And we’re going to run good together and run bad together, regardless. So, you really have to let all the days go whether they were good or bad. But no, I don’t think it’s eating at us per se. I feel like we’re all in a good place mentally. I am. I think Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) is. I think if we can get things rolling a little better and find some pace and find some consistency in running well each week, I think; it’s easy to have everybody hyped-up and attitudes would be great when you’re running good. It’s the years and the weekends that you’re struggling to keep everybody’s morale high. I think Alan does a really good job of that.”
WITH YOUR POSITION IN THE PLAYOFF STANDINGS, DO YOU AND ALAN LOOK AT GAMBLING MORE? OR, DO YOU MORE FOCUS ON TRYING TO PRESERVE THE POSITION YOU’RE IN RIGHT NOW?
“That’s a really good question. It’s a tough question because you know now days, a gamble is not so much a gamble anymore. You might see a guy come down pit road and do something really different and see them stay out on two tires. Or, stay out and not pit. Or, come down pit road and do gas only at some point in the race. Now we see that every single weekend. Everybody knows all the tricks to track position and the pit strategy to move forward in a race or take a chance. Really the only time we see somebody have something weird work out for them is when a caution falls at the right time for them and none of us really know when that’s going to happen. So, I think we’re all gambling per se. We’re all just kind of doing it together instead of one person being on their own island.”
MONDAY IS THE ECLIPSE? DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO WATCH IT? IS THAT SOMETHING THAT INTERESTS YOU AT ALL?
“That’s a good question. I like this question. I didn’t know about it until about a week and a half ago. I was at a friend’s house and he was telling me about it and telling me what he was going to do. He’s like, this is this huge deal. I’m like, what is? I didn’t know anything about it. So yeah, I’m interested. I think it’s kind of cool. I feel like what would be really neat would be to go fly; go take off and be flying while it happens. So, I was going to go do that, possibly, if the weather was good on Monday. I do have a flight to catch Monday night, so if I can make the timing work I’d like to go fly and see it from the air if we can do that.”