Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Phoenix–Chase Elliott

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
ISM RACEWAY
BLUEGREEN VACATIONS 500
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
NOVEMBER 8, 2019

CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTOCARE CENTER CAMARO ZL1, met with media to discuss his mindset going into this race weekend, how he’s been able to overcome adversity throughout the Playoffs, what to expect from the traction compound throughout the weekend, and more. Full Transcript:

COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND, OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE LOOKING LIKE YOU NEED A WIN HERE AT PHOENIX TO MAKE THE CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR. IS THAT THE MINDSET COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND AND HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
“Yeah, I would say that would have to be the mindset, for sure. It takes some talent to get 80 points back in two weeks, but we’ve achieved it. Certainly self-inflicted; I hate that I messed up last week as bad as I did, there’s really no excuse for that. But we’re in the position we’re in, we’re there, it’s reality and we certainly will have to win to have a shot next week.”

HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF BEING IN THIS POSITION, HAVING SUCH HIGH EXPECTATIONS COMING OUT OF THE SECOND ROUND?
“We were in a tough spot in that second round too, so it’s definitely not where you want to be by any means. But I do think to still have a chance this weekend I think is good. I feel like our team has worked really hard to get us this far. We could have very easily not made it past Kansas and been out then; for us to be a part of this deal and to still have a chance. There’s three races in every round for a reason and you just can’t let those first two weeks affect your mindset, your approach, your aggressiveness and your will to want to win in this last opportunity for us. Just because we’re in a tough spot and it’s our last chance to make it to Homestead doesn’t mean it’s over. We still have an entire race on Sunday. I just think you have to make sure you keep that in mind. It can definitely be challenging to look and say ‘I crashed on lap eight last week and that’s not good obviously’. But you just have to approach this week as a new one and know if we win on Sunday, we can race again next week and have a shot at it. It’s just not over until it’s over.”

WHAT’S THE BALANCE LIKE THIS WEEK WHEN OBVIOUSLY THAT HAPPENED AND YOU HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY? ARE YOU DWELLING ON THAT AT ALL OR BEATING YOURSELF UP OVER IT? ARE YOU IMMEDIATELY FOCUSED ON THIS OR DO YOU GO BACK AND FORTH?
“No, I had 475 miles to think about it last week. So, I deserved that really, to ride around for 475 miles and think about it. By I would say mile 400 of that, I was pretty much over it and I was really just thinking about Phoenix. During the race last week, I was thinking about Phoenix and thinking about what we struggled with here in the spring, and cruising around and just thinking about what we can do to be better. Obviously, we were just in a position where we needed to finish and my mindset had really moved on by the end of the race last week. I was really just thinking about this weekend, thinking about practice day today and what we could do to be really good. At the time, that’s about all I could do. I’m glad that I was able to do that and, no, I’m not dwelling on last week. At this point, we still have an opportunity ahead. The opportunity is here, right now, and we either make the most of it or we don’t.”

THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF CHATTER ABOUT DRIVERS INTENTIONALLY CAUSING CAUTIONS WHEN THEY’VE HAD FLATS. IS THIS ANYTHING NASCAR NEEDS TO GET INVOLVED IN? FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, FROM WHAT YOU WOULD NORMALLY THINK YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU HAVE A FLAT, HAS THAT CHANGED OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS?
“No, I haven’t really kept up with what people have said about it. But I would say the more NASCAR is in a position to make tough calls like that, the worse it is. That’s such a tough thing and it’s such a tough call. I don’t know how you would ever get that right. Like I said, bottom line is the more they can stay out of it, the better and to not be put in those tough positions. I don’t know what the answer is or whether someone spun out on purpose or not, I really don’t know. I’m not smart enough to tell you what the solution is either.”

INAUDIBLE
“I can’t say I’ve seen one. But I haven’t watched last week’s deal, so I really don’t know. I heard about it, but I don’t know. It’s tough. You could certainly sit there and you might have an assumption, but unless you’re in that car driving it at that particular moment, do you really know for sure? No, you don’t. So, I don’t know.”

YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO OVERCOME ADVERSITY EVERY ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS THUS FAR. WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE TO THAT SUCCESS IN THAT REGARD?
“Well, we had some good fortune at Kansas. I feel like we were in a position where we had to win that race and we were in a position to battle for the win. Obviously, we didn’t win, but things went our way enough to get through the round. That to me was a good opportunity for us to have our backs up against the wall and have to go perform. I thought we did a really good job of having to perform. We didn’t win, but I thought we made the most of an afternoon that really wasn’t going that well. We were struggling in the long runs, had lost a lot of ground. We had a couple of great pit stops there at the end and some good restarts to put ourselves in a position to win, and that’s what you have to do. I just think being put in that position is good, good experience. Whether you are in that position where you have to win now or three weeks ago or if you make it to Homestead, you’re going to be in that position down there. I think just being comfortable with that is a necessity with the way this is and there is no cruising or pointing your way through at this point. When your back is up against the wall, you have to go perform. I think the better you feel about that situation and the more you embrace it, the better off you’ll be. As a team, not that we’ve had the choice, but I feel like we’ve definitely embraced it. We embraced it in Kansas and I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I’m not really concerned over it or anything. We’re just going to go and do our thing, have fun and try to put ourselves in a position to win.”

JUST FROM LOOKING AT THE XFINITY PRACTICE, GIVEN HOW HIGH ON THE TRACK THE PJ-1 IS, DO YOU EXPECT IT TO BE A FACTOR IN SUNDAY’S RACE, PARTICULARLY WHERE YOU GUYS RUN THREE AND FOUR NOW?
“I don’t know until you kind of get out there and see just how high it is or how high up the race track it feels. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t find a little bit of it on Sunday. As your car starts to drive bad, people are passing you or vice versa, people are going to hunt around and try to find some speed. I could see it getting worked in. With the temperature being warm here, it seems like that stuff likes heat. That might promote it some as well. With the weekend being the way it is and these races are kind of short out here in general across the three series, it might take until Sunday to rubber up the rest of the race track enough to want to search up that high. We’ll see, I don’t think it would be a bad thing if we do find it.”

YOU SAID YOU CAN’T LET IT BOTHER YOU, YOU JUST HAVE TO MOVE ON. YOU WERE ONE OF THE WORSE ABOUT BEATING YOURSELF UP AFTER A RACE IN THE PAST. HAS IT BEEN YOUR SUCCESS AND WHERE YOU’RE AT NOW THAT HAS CHANGED THAT? WHEN DID THAT SWITCH HAPPEN TO WHERE YOU CAN PUT IT BEHIND YOU AND CONTINUE TO FOCUS WITHOUT BEATING YOURSELF UP?
“I don’t think I ever did put it behind me. I still do, I still look at last week. Just like I said last week and just like I said today, doing something that dumb, there’s really no excuse for it. Crashing by yourself, ruining your day and putting yourself in the worse points position is never an excusable act from a race car driver’s standpoint. So, I don’t think it was ever that I wasn’t able to put it behind me. I think it just depends upon when you guys ask the questions and what kind of mood I’m in. But I think at this point, we’re in Phoenix and I’ve moved on. As a team, we know the position we’re in right now and it kind of is what it is at this point. We’ll either run good this weekend or we don’t. If we do, we have a chance next week. If we don’t, we’ll go to Homestead and try to build a notebook for hopefully an opportunity down the road.”

I’VE HEARD YOU SAY THE TERM ‘SELF-INFLICTED’ A LOT DURING THIS PLAYOFF, EVEN RELAYING TO THE ENGINE STUFF FOR THE TEAM AS A WHOLE. ARE YOU A BELIEVER IN RACING LUCK AT ALL OR IS EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN A RACE SOMEWHAT SELF-INFLICTED IN YOUR VIEW?
“There might be the occasional thing that’s kind of odd or whatever, but I just really think a lot of it you do to yourself. I know there’s been times in my career where you qualify bad, you’re back in the pack and you crash early in the race. Well, don’t qualify bad and you wouldn’t be racing around that group. Like last week, I crashed, so that’s my fault. I look at the engine failures we’ve had and the parts failures, some of those things we are better than. We should be able to do a better job. As a group, we are better and I don’t point fingers. I say ‘we’ because I’m a part of that as well. The engine shop didn’t come banging down my door on Monday because I crashed on Sunday. So, we all have that respect for one another and I think we all hold each other to a high standard of wanting to do well. I think that’s the standard that everyone as a company and each department needs to hold each other to a high standard. If not, we’re going to struggle and get worse. So, we all need to keep each other propped up and make sure we’re all doing each other’s jobs. I think that’s the part of being good and being honest with your entire company with everyone being able to be transparent. If we’re all lying to each about the jobs we’re doing, then that’s a whole other problem. I like the fact that we can do it as a group, struggle as a group and do well as a group. I think that’s really important.”

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