MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
FOLDS OF HONOR QUIKTRIP 500
ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 23, 2018
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) and discussed the new inspection process, the Lucky Charm campaign that AMS put on, his love for racing at Atlanta and many other topics. Full Transcript:
BEFORE HIS FORMAL MEDIA AVAILABILITY, ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY PRESENTED CHASE ELLIOTT WITH A FINAL ‘LUCKY CHARM’ TO COMPLETE THEIR CAMPAIGN TO HELP HIM GET HIS FIRST WIN – A JERSEY WITH HIS NAME ON IT FROM THE GEORGIA BULLDOG FOOTBALL TEAM
YOU ARE A BUSY GUY WHEN YOU COME HERE:
“Yeah it is kind of funny. Not all, but the majority of our partners are based here in Atlanta. Good to have that kind of home connection with them and good fit. Really neat, thanks again to the folks at Atlanta for doing this for me. I’m a big Georgia (Bulldogs) fan. Great to see.”
WHAT WAS THE BEST LUCKY CHARM THAT WAS SENT? DID YOU HAVE ANY QUALMS OVER THEM DOING A PROMOTION OVER THE FACT THAT YOU HAD NOT WON?
“No, I didn’t have any issues with it. It was, I feel like, a nice gesture more than anything. Man, there were a lot of teddy bears I felt like sent in. A lot of St. Patrick’s Day charm items sent it. Hard to pick one. No, I think it’s a cool deal and I appreciate everyone’s support for jumping on board and being willing to support something like that. It’s pretty cool.”
WHEN IT COMES TIME TO REPAVE THIS PLACE DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS OR IDEAS WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT AGGREGATE THEY SHOULD USE OR HOW THEY SHOULD PAVE IT?
“Yeah, it’s tough. Everybody says it’s inevitable I don’t really know why. I have visited a lot of tracks over the years that have had the ability to patch and do good patch work and kind of fix their problems and still to this day haven’t been paved. I think if we are smart enough to do a lot of things we ought to be smart enough to be able to patch some issues in the track and let it keep on riding.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SPENCER DAVIS?
“I don’t know Spencer personally, but I have raced with him a lot as you said. He has always been a really good racer. I feel like he is always kind of overachieved with what he has had to work with, which is impressive. A lot of people don’t do that. I’m glad to see he is getting an opportunity in something that he deserves to be driving and I expect him to do really well throughout the season. I don’t think Daytona is a fair judge, but I think once we get to some other places, I expect him to do well. Nobody in here should be surprised if he has some good success.”
IF YOU HAD TO GUESS WHAT IS YOUR PREDICTION FOR THE INSPECTION THING TODAY? ARE WE GOING TO SEE A BUNCH OF TEAMS WAITING IN LINE OR IS EVERYBODY GOING TO GET THROUGH NO PROBLEM?
“Well, we were supposed to have limited the inspection process by a lot. What is it? It’s supposed to be what; 90 seconds is that what it’s supposed to be? Is that right? I see a lot of head nods. Yeah, I mean if everybody gets through in 90 seconds we shouldn’t have any issues, right?”
HOW ARE YOU ANTICIPATING THE NEW CAMARO TO PERFORM ON THE 1.5 MILE TRACKS? I KNOW THIS IS ONE AREA CHEVY HAS WORKED A LOT TO TRY AND CLOSE THAT GAP:
“Yeah, I mean I hope it goes really well. I think that… first off, I don’t think it is really fair for us to show up here at Atlanta and everybody get a judgment on where we stack up here. This is our first go at it as well as everybody else’s. We saw other manufacturers come here last year being their first week and didn’t necessarily fire off the best, but were the best before it was over with. I think you have to give it a little bit of time. You have to work through some of the things. The bodies are different. That means you are going to see different numbers in the wind tunnel. That means your balance sheets and your sims that you work on the computer, all that stuff is going to be different and I hope we hit it this weekend don’t get me wrong. I’m not making an excuse. Either it will be good or it won’t but I think we have to work through some of the differences. We have seen some of those differences today. No reason why we can’t fix it though I don’t think and try to get it as good as we can and hopefully better than the rest.”
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG DRIVERS GOING INTO THIS SPORT?
“I think just stick with it. I think that you are not always going to be faced with the best opportunities or you could have situations where there is some uncertainty I feel like as you move forward. To me, I think Alex Bowman has been a good kind of representation of that. He ran a couple of years in a car that really had about a zero percent chance of winning races. Found himself in the right position at the right time and taking over for Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. before it was all said and done. I have a lot of respect for him in that sense and I think that he is a good example to look at.”
THERE WERE A LOT OF SPEEDING PENALTIES DURING THIS RACE LAST YEAR. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT PLAY AN IMPACT INTO THIS WEEKEND’S RACE?
“I don’t think you will see as many speeding penalties Sunday. As the year went along last year, NASCAR opened up the ability to look at pit road speeds throughout practice. I can’t remember if we had that ability here last year or not, but this was also one of the… it was early on in the times where they were doubling the timing segments. I think it was a little new to everyone and I can’t remember if we didn’t have the ability to look at it in practice, I think that was probably the reason why we had so many speeding penalties in the race, but something was definitely different. All that stuff doesn’t just happen when it’s a consistent thing. There is something that has changed and the teams missed. I think A. we have been used to the added timing segments for a while now and B. having the ability to look at it in practice you really have no excuse if you are hitting your lights properly obviously you can still make a mistake and speed, but no reason why the calculation shouldn’t be proper.”
AFTER THE RESTRUCTURING AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS LAST SEASON, IS THERE A LOT OF ANTICIPATION TO SEE WHERE YOU STACK-UP AND WHEN DO YOU THINK THAT EVALUATION MAKES SENSE? WOULD THAT BE AFTER THE WEST COAST SWING?
“Yeah, I think getting through the West Coast Swing and maybe even a little bit after that. The thing about the West Coast Swing is a lot of those cars are already prepared to go West. So, things that we may learn this weekend might not have the ability to be applied to the race car that we’re racing next weekend because that car is pretty much done, and it’s got to be driving West here early next week, right? So, I think once you get back from there and kind of evaluate where you are, hopefully you can put some of the things you’ve learned toward those weeks, but if it’s bigger changes and things that you need days in the shop to do, you’re not going to be able to make those changes until you get back. At least some of the bigger ones. So, we’ll see. I think after the West Coast Swing is a good time to evaluate. You might not get all the changes you want by then, but it’s a good time to look and see where you’re at.”
“I think there is anticipation anyway. We want to do better in general. Our team wants to do better. A lot of change I think has potential to be a lot of positive things going on. At the end of the day, we all want results, right? So, you want to see the changes in the things that we’ve done to end up in positive results. And I think we have all the pieces in place to do just that, it’s just a matter of execution at this point and putting all the pieces together and hope that they fall right.”
DID YOU WATCH THE REST OF THE DAYTONA 500 OR WERE YOU TOO FRUSTRATED TO WATCH? DID YOU HAVE TO DO ANY APOLOGIZING OR IS THAT JUST THE NATURE OF RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING?
“I didn’t get a chance to watch it. Once I got through the Care Center and got to the airport to leave, it was right at being over I would say. So, no, it wasn’t that I was too frustrated to watch; I think I was just ready to go home more than anything. And, no, I think that sure, there is going to be frustration. I was frustrated. I think everybody was frustrated. We just got past the halfway point and half the field got crashed in one wreck and unfortunately, I was the guy that was ahead of the rest of them. So, I can definitely take some blame for it. I think it’s so circumstantial though, and I think it’s so hard to point fingers in situations. Everybody is trying to take advantage of situations and if you don’t take advantage of a situation, you get taken advantage of by somebody else. I think everybody was being aggressive. I certainly was, but I know that the whole field was all day. And, you have to kind of set that precedent because if you let a guy run over you or make a move on you, he’s going to count on that every time. So, I just think you have to do what you think is right, go with your gut, and it didn’t work out last weekend. But, again, I think it’s hard to point fingers in an incident like that?
WERE YOU SORE?
“I was. But I feel a lot better now. I feel 100 percent, so I’m good.”
WHY DO YOU ENJOY RACING AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY?
“This is a track where you can have your car driving good and you might be able to make up a deficit that you might be fighting somewhere else or somebody have an advantage over you. I just think having the ability to go out and practice and your feedback is worth a little more here. I think that a lot of guys feel that way. As you run a race, how you drive your car at the first half of the run can affect how your performance is going to be in the second half of the run. In a lot of places, that’s not the case either. So, it’s just a fun place to come. I think anywhere that you run three or four laps and the lap times have fallen off significantly like they are here all the time, I think that makes it fun. It makes it fun from a strategy standpoint, it makes it fun for the racers.”
YOU’RE GOING TO BE IN THE FOX BROADCAST BOOTH FOR THE XFINITY RACE ON FS1, WHAT’S YOUR PREPARATION TO GET READY FOR THAT?
“Luckily I got to talk to Adam Alexander a little bit this morning. I did it last year. And honestly, those guys are so good at it, especially him. He does a really good job with it and he’s gotten used to having guests, I think, in the booth, so he does a great job of throwing it to you at the right times and not making it awkward, and allowing me to give some input when I need to and keep my mouth shut when I need to as well. I do want to thank FOX for letting me get on the air tomorrow. I’m excited about it. They’re also going to show a little bit of our foundation stuff this weekend again. We’re doing our shoe program with all four Hendrick drivers in coordination with the Children’s Health Care of Atlanta for proceeds going to them and auction our shoes off that we’re wearing this weekend. So, thanks to them for letting us get that on TV too and I’m excited to hopefully not mess-up their broadcast tomorrow, we’ll see.”