chevy racing–nascar–richmond–chase elliott


CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference to discuss his outlook going into the second race of the Playoffs at Richmond Raceway, how his team is preparing for the NASCAR Cup Series’ first visit to the track this season, the pressure that comes with Playoff racing, and more. Transcript:  I THINK YOU’VE ONLY LED SOMETHING LIKE 34 LAPS AT RICHMOND THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR. WHAT HAS IT BEEN ABOUT THE RACING AT RICHMOND THAT HAS PREMITTED YOU FROM RUNNING OUT FRONT?“I don’t know, to be honest. I was really optimistic going to Richmond once I got to Cup. We had some really good runs there on the Xfinity side – was solid there for two years. Got over there to the Cup side and it’s just been horrific for whatever reason. But it hasn’t been for the lack of effort. Man, we’ve worked super hard at it to try and get better. We’ve put a lot of effort into it this week already – just trying to make the right decisions, have a good game plan for the event, and setup wise, try to have our car driving as good as we can. I don’t know why it’s stuck out so much for me. The track, in general, I think brings challenges and the fact that it’s boring – not that it’s boring to watch, but from a driver’s standpoint – everyone is doing just the exact same thing. It’s very hard to be different at that track. Everywhere is a game of inches, but that place is like a game of centimeters it seems like. Just tiny little adjustments here and there can make a huge difference. So, for whatever reason, we’ve just struggled with that or I have struggled with that personally – whatever it may be. But man, we’ve put a lot of effort into this week. I hope this is the one that makes us different and can get things back on the right track there – or get on the right track. Not that we were ever there, but get there, for sure.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR. DOESN’T HAVE A REPUTATION, AT LEAST WITH US, OF MAKING WILD OR RISKY MOVES. I’M CURIOUS IF THAT IS ACCURATE AND IF SO, DOES THAT CHANGE ANY WAY ABOUT HOW YOU FELT ABOUT THE WAY THE FINISH ENDED SUNDAY.“No, I feel like Martin (Truex Jr.) and I both have a lot of respect for each other. I know from my end, I respect him – he’s a champion. I feel like we’ve had some really hard battles together, so I would hope that’s mutual. And if it’s not mutual, I still have respect for him either way. I do think that situation was a racing incident. I think we were both battling really hard for a win. I think any other time in the race, I probably would give him the position. But in that situation, you have to know that nobody is going to let anybody in for a race win with 15-laps left. I hate that it happened – it hurt both of us. So, like I said, I don’t think it was something he did on purpose. I think we were both being aggressive and when you’re coming to a race like that and a potential win of the Southern 500, I mean I think I’d be foolish not to push for every last inch that I would have an opportunity to get. It was just an unfortunate end to a solid comeback for us.”
SO, THAT’S A LOT DIFFERENT THAN WHAT HAPPENED WITH KYLE (BUSCH) IN MAY?“I do think that was a little different than the May thing. Similar and different, I guess. But definitely the situation was different.”
AT DARLINGTON, IT WAS RATHER CALM – THE DRIVERS WERE RATHER CALM. DO YOU THINK WE’LL SEE THE SAME THING AT RICHMOND OR DO YOU THINK THE AGGRESSION WILL RATCHET UP AS WE GET CLOSER TO BRISTOL? “I think the aggression is always there, whether you see it on TV, hear it on the radio, or watch it in person. I think it’s always there – we’re always pushing, always trying to get all that we can get. I mean just because we don’t hit each other, move somebody out of the way, crash somebody, or somebody gets wrecked, that doesn’t mean that the aggression level is not there. I think it’s always around and we’re always pushing. Even throughout the regular season, there’s points, wins and things that all mean way too much just to leave aggression in the bank for this time of year. I think it’s there, I think it’s been there and I think it will always be there.”
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT AT RICHMOND?“I never know what to expect, as you can see by my results at Richmond. But I think for us, we just want to be solid. I’m not so much worried about everybody else – just trying to be solid, try to get the areas of the track that I think we really struggle in to be better. And hopefully if we can improve those areas, we can improve our finish and running position throughout the event.”
SINCE YOU DIDN’T RUN HERE IN THE SPRING WITH THE DOWNFORCE PACKAGE, WHAT HAVE YOU ALL LOOKED AT AND HOW MUCH GUESS WORK IS IT GOING TO BE?“Yeah, we’ve just looked back at races past, the event last year and just trying to find any type of trend that maybe we’ve done good with or trends that have led to poor finishes or poor runs. So, we’ve looked at a lot of data and just trying to understand that. But there are certainly things I complain about with the car that have always been there, so we’re just trying to nail down those things and trying to make them better. It’s been a struggle, as I’m sure you all know, and we know, for sure. But we’re working hard and I hope this is the week where we can get on track there.” 
CALLING IT JUST A RACING INCIDENT WITH WHAT HAPPENED TO MARTIN TRUEX JR., DOES THAT MEAN THAT ANY ON-TRACK PAYBACK IS OFF THE TABLE? YOU CONSIDER THE TIME OF YEAR AND IT BEING THE PLAYOFFS, DOES THE IDEA OF ANY TYPE OF PAYBACK EVEN CROSS YOUR MIND WHEN YOU’RE SO FOCUSED ON ADVANCING?“I’m going to race people how they race me. I think that’s fair in all respects and the same in the other direction, for sure. But the way I look at those situations is this: I think the people that win in this series and win a lot don’t find themselves in the type of position that we were in on Sunday night because they don’t let the guy in second ever get to that point to have a chance. So, the way I view it is I can’t control what a guy does when he’s up next to me and he can’t control what I’m going to do. But I can certainly control my decision-making prior to something like that happening to do a better job in extending the gap to that person behind you to where they don’t have the opportunity to be up there by you to make a mistake, to run you over or whatever the situation may be. So, I’m a believer in that and I certainly think I can do a better job in extending a lead in that situation to not allow an opportunity to present itself and that is the focus I have moving forward – just trying to be better, be faster and get far enough away from the people behind you where they can’t get to you.”
GIVEN THAT THE TIRE SETUP IS SIMILAR TO WHAT HAS BEEN RAN AT NEW HAMPSHIRE AND PHOENIX, HOW MUCH CAN YOU USE THAT DATA FOR SATURDAY? WHAT DIFFERENCES ARE EXPECTED, GIVEN THAT IT’S GOING TO BE AT NIGHT AND IT’S GOING TO BE A DIFFERENT TEMPERATURE? “Man, I’ll be honest with you, I gave up on the tire thing a long time ago, as far as what tire was run where. I felt like it confused me more than it helped. It’s rubber, it’s on asphalt and that’s really all I care about that. We’ll focus on getting our car driving good. The temperature – it seems like things are cooling off a little bit right now, which is great. The fall, a beautiful time of year. All kinds of sports on TV, so a good time to be Playoff racing.”
I’M CURIOUS ABOUT THE NEWS THAT BROKE OUT EARLIER THIS WEEK – WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY BEING RE-CONFIGURED TO A SHORT TRACK?“Yeah, it’s super interesting, for sure. I think, much like everybody, I enjoy short track racing. I think it’s a good thing – I don’t see any negatives to it. Certainly that race track was old and abrasive. I think it might have been the oldest asphalt surface on the tour, or one of, for sure. But nonetheless, I don’t see any negatives to it. I think short track racing is a plus. I think we need more of it. I thought Fontana was a good track – one of the better bigger, 1.5 or 2-mile tracks that we go to, so you can kind of look at that and find a thing to complain about. But I feel like we all do enough complaining as is, so yeah I think it’s great.”
“Ultimately, I think the bigger picture that we should all be really excited about is the leadership at NASCAR is doing something different nowadays and it’s becoming a trend. It’s really been a trend all year. I think instead of finding the negatives in some of the things that they’re doing, I think we should all be super excited that they’re actually changing and doing some things different – have some different ideas and they’re putting them to work. That’s something that I don’t think has happened probably ever until right now. So, just excited to see them trying different things. If something works out or it doesn’t, I think we should be excited that they’re trying them and I think that will be a great addition to our schedule.”
HAVING PRESUMABLY USED YOUR MULLIGAN OF THE ROUND WITH THE INCIDENT AT DARLINGTON, HOW MUCH ADDITIONAL PRESSURE DOES THAT PUT ON YOU TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU PERFORM THESE NEXT TWO WEEKS TO ADVANCE?“I don’t know that you can ever be comfortable in this Playoff format, really. I honestly think that the more that you keep that mindset, the better off you’re going to be. We see it – if a guy has a bad round and get’s in positions to have to win, we’ve seen people get in that position and win. And if you ever make it to the last race, that’s a must-win anyway. So, I think the more you enjoy that position in having to perform and not ever feeling comfortable, I think the better off you will be and the better you’ll be prepared if you ever get to that last race.”
SPEAKING OF ADDING SHORT TRACKS TO THE SCHEDULE, YOU’VE RAN A BUNCH OF THEM ACROSS THE COUNTRY. WHAT TRACK DO YOU FEEL WOULD BE A PERFECT ADDITION TO THE NASCAR SCHEDULE?“There’s a lot of really great short tracks, I feel like. My favorite one over the years was the All American 400. I thought that was such a cool event, cool city. That was a great race track I enjoyed going to in Nashville and I think it would be a great place. Not just the track itself, but there’s just not a lot of locations like that left in the United States. There’s not a lot of tracks, in general, that we go to that are close to a city like that. I think the fact that there’s still a working short track that’s asphalt, that’s in town, we definitely need to not let it go away as an industry, for sure, to whatever level that may be. But that would be a great venue and hopefully one day we can find ourselves there.”