MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
FOOD CITY 500
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 21, 2017
CHEVROLET’S KYLE LARSON AND CHASE ELLIOTT WILL START ON THE FRONT ROW FOR SUNDAY’S FOOD CITY 500 AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY. THE DUO WILL LEAD THE FIELD DUE TO THEIR POSITIONS IN THE CURRENT OWNER’S POINT STANDINGS BECAUSE THE QUALIFYING SESSION FOR THE MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES WAS CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER. BOTH LARSON AND ELLIOTT DID GET ON THE HALF-MILE TRACK IN THUNDER VALLEY FOR THE FIRST AND ONLY PRACTICE SESSION OF THE DAY WHERE THEY ENDED SEVENTH AND 11TH RESPECTIVELY ON THE SPEED CHARTS. EACH DRIVER MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA TO TALK ABOUT THE TRACK CONDITIONS, OUTLOOKS FOR THE RACE ON SUNDAY AND MANY OTHER TOPICS. FULL TRANSCRIPTS:
POST PRACTICE DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPTS:
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CHEVROLET SS – Starting on the Pole by virtue of being the points leader since qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather
TALK ABOUT STARTING FROM THE POLE AND HOW STRONG YOU’VE BEEN IN STAGE RACING:
“It’s been a good season for us. Our race cars have been really fast. I’ve scored stage points in all but one of the stages. That is important to be the point leader. You’ve got to be running top 10 every race to gain as many points as you can. Like I said, our race cars have been extremely good to allow us to run up front like that. Hopefully, we can keep it going. It’s nice to be the point leader and be starting up front here at Bristol. I always race really well here. I just don’t qualify well. Being handed the pole like this will hopefully help us out on Tuesday or Wednesday or whenever we race (laughs). It will be cool to start from the front and hopefully, like I said, hopefully that number one pit stall kind of helps us gain some spots on pit road and have a clean race.”
SAFE TO SAY YOU COULDN’T RUN THE TOP LIKE YOU WISHED YOU COULD IN PRACTICE? DID YOU TREAT THIS LIKE IT WAS YOUR ONLY PRACTICE FOR THE WEEKEND?
“Yeah, we did treat it like it is going to be our only practice. Yeah, in the Xfinity practice I tried to work the top in. I feel like it would still be really fast up there, it’s just nobody is brave enough to go up there and work in the groove. The VHT is wider than the width of our race cars now too, which makes it extremely easy to run around the bottom and not a lot of fun. I don’t know, maybe some guys like it, but I think, yeah it looks like old Bristol because we are all running around the bottom, but I just don’t see how that is fun. So, we will see. Maybe we will get some rain and wash some of that stickiness off the bottom and maybe NASCAR and the track won’t reapply and it will get somewhat closer back to normal. I thought the Fall race, I think it was like three or four feet wide. I thought that was a good width because you could get your left sides are in it and you really had to be cautious of hitting your marks every corner. Now it’s like you just fire off from the corner and it doesn’t really matter where you enter as long as your right sides are in the grip you are going to rip around the corner. Just makes it too easy for us and I don’t think that is good for racing.”
HOW GOOD IS IT TO BE KYLE LARSON RIGHT NOW? DOES THAT WEIGH ON YOU? THE FACT THAT YOU ARE DOING SO WELL THIS YEAR? DID YOU EXPECT TO BE WHERE YOU ARE AT, AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON?
“Yeah, I mean it’s awesome to be running up front. Not only in NASCAR, but in all the other types of racing I’ve been doing. I just hope we can keep it going. Like I said, each and every week I say it, it’s just really cool and it makes me proud that through all the hard times and all that everybody at the race shop continued to work extremely hard and put ourselves into position where we are at right now where Jamie (McMurray) and I both have cars that are capable of winning each and every race. The race team guys and gals don’t get enough credit. Jamie and I we get all the credit and really it’s them why we are as fast as we are.”
HOW BIG OF A MORALE BOOST IS THERE AT THE SHOP?
“Oh, it’s been huge. Anytime you can run up front it’s a morale boost. I know everybody at the race shop is pumped up and continuing to work even harder and it’s showing at the race track.”
IF THIS WEEKEND COMES TO BE MORE LIKE THE OLD BRISTOL HOW MIGHT YOU HAVE TO CHANGE IN HOW YOU DO THINGS?
“I mean I will probably have to go back and watch like 1980 Bristol or something like that. It will be interesting. I think you look at myself and Chase (Elliott) who I feel like have been the fastest all year long who are young and haven’t gotten to race around Bristol when it’s been on the bottom. We were both a little bit off in practice, so it will be interesting. I think you will see some of the veterans, the older guys who did get to run on the old Bristol excel if it does end up being around the bottom. But, Bristol is Bristol and it’s an aggressive track and I still feel like I should be okay once we get to racing.”
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE BEFORE YOU FELT LIKE EVERYBODY WAS MOVING UP TO THE OUTSIDE IN THE RACE IN AUGUST? IS THAT KIND OF YOUR TIMETABLE OR DO YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE LATER BECAUSE NOW THE LOWER GROOVE IS WIDER NOW?
“Last Fall practice was very similar to this we all ran the bottom, but we had more practice to… where nothing is really on the line you could move up and try and slowly work the top in. You may be a second slower or more a lap, but at least you are working the groove in where if it rains a day and a half or two days and the next thing on the race track is the Cup race, there is going to be a lot to risk to go up there and try and work in a lane. So, I think if it does rain a lot we will definitely probably end up being around the bottom the whole time. Then again if it rains a lot it might wash some of the VHT off. I think had this weekend have no rain in the forecast it probably would get somewhat back to normal, but I think with all the rain it’s going to make it hard for us to go up there and widen the track out.
“With that I don’t know if the tire dragon could even run up top with that banking, but it may help speed up the process if they can apply some rubber up there for us. We don’t need any VHT up there I don’t think, but I think if they could at least supply some rubber up there it would help us.”
WITH THE WEATHER SITUATION, WHAT’S THE BIGGEST THING YOUR TEAM NEEDS TO DO TO GET YOU FROM WHERE YOU WERE TODAY IN PRACTICE TO WHERE YOU SHOULD BE BEING ON THE POLE?
“The forecast changes so much here, it seems like. But yeah, it looks like it’s going to rain quite a bit tomorrow and then for sure all day on Sunday. We got this one hour-long practice in all around the bottom. I thought our race car was pretty good. We could always be a little bit better. I thought the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) and the No. 77 (Erik Jones) are probably the best. I felt like I was probably third to fifth or sixth or seventh fastest, better than I typically am around the bottom here. And I felt like the VHT was getting a little slicker, so the balance was changing throughout the practice. You don’t want to venture too far off of your package that you’ve ran here before because if the track does move up, or the VHT wears out, you don’t want to be lost. So, I think we’re going to stay somewhat close to where we are right now and probably tweak on a few things that will hopefully make us better.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 MOUNTAIN DEW/LITTLE CAESARS CHEVROLET SS – Starting Second
TALK ABOUT WINNING STAGES AND BEING SECOND IN POINTS WHICH HAS LED TO YOUR FRONT ROW STARTING POSITION ON SUNDAY:
“I’ve had some good opportunities to have some good stage runs throughout races over the course of the first handful of weeks here. I felt like just trying to take that next little step or big step and try to turn those fourth’s and fifths into first’s and second’s in those stages consistently. I think we have been close, just haven’t found that next touch that we need. So, we are hoping this weekend will be an opportunity for us to do that.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE FEELING WHEN YOU GET OUT OF THE VHT (TRACTION COMPOUND) WHAT THAT IS LIKE AND HOW IT MAKES YOUR CAR UNSTABLE?
“Yeah for sure. The VHT or whatever they have put down on the bottom it has obviously got a lot of grip just like it did here last Fall. To me the cars, the way they drive down there are very similar. To me the difference in what I see is like we have seen at Martinsville where the folks, those of you that have walked across the race track after a Martinsville race, excluding this last race that we ran at Martinsville, there is always a lot of little pieces of marbles and rubber build up from just outside the groove all the way that kind of get pushed out all the way to the wall. For whatever reason, it is doing that here. So, I think it is just going to take a little more time to move the groove up because of that, but I do think it will go up eventually.”
DID YOU TREAT THE PRACTICE TODAY LIKE IT COULD BE YOUR ONLY PRACTICE FOR THE WEEKEND? IF NASCAR WANTED TO QUALIFY THEY PROBABLY COULD HAVE QUALIFIED AT 8PM TONIGHT. HOW MUCH DID IT HELP KNOWING YOU COULD FOCUS ON RACE PRACTICE TODAY AND NOT WORRY ABOUT QUALIFYING?
“I definitely treated it like it was our last shot to run, at least in race trim. For us it is great to be able to start second, but also know if you don’t have your car driving correctly you can leave second position and head south pretty quick. I think it’s still really important to have the thing driving like you want in a race trim situation. Even if, we were going to qualify, it is still more important to have your car driving well in the race even if you didn’t have as good of a qualifying effort. I don’t necessarily think that is the end of the world if it is driving like you want during the race.”
WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE SPIN? HOW DID YOU KEEP IT OFF THE WALL?
“I was experimenting with the bottom lane. I was trying to see just how close to the apron I could get to find some more grip. It seems like some of the VHT area is getting picked up and I was just trying to get a little lower and got a little too much of the apron. So, that is what happens when you get too much of the apron. Don’t do that.”