CHEVY MENCS AT ATLANTA: Chase Elliott Press Conf. Transcript

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MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

FOLDS OF HONOR QUIKTRIP 500
ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY

TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT

MARCH 3, 2017

CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Atlanta Motor Speedway and discussed the launch of his foundation, the final laps of last weekend’s Daytona 500, his outlook for this weekend at Atlanta and many other topics.  Full Transcript:

CAN YOU RECAP THIS LAST COUPLE OF DAYS WITH THE CHASE U EVENTS AND A GREAT VISIT YESTERDAY WITH YOUR FOUNDATION:
“We did, yeah we are kind of launching our foundation this weekend, which is exciting and something new for myself and our entire team.  I think my Mom deserves a lot of credit on that.  She has been working really hard at it.  Our entire team has, but we had a good event at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta yesterday.  For those of you who don’t know, we had a shoe drawing contest that kind of includes some of the patients there at the hospital to design some shoes for myself and our three teammates, Jimmie (Johnson), Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) and Kasey (Kahne) are all going to wear shoes.  I’m actually wearing mine for Sunday right now.  A young lady at the hospital drew these and Alpinestars was kind enough to actually make the exact copy of what they drew.  Pretty exciting.  We are going to auction them off. They are up for bid right now for the next nine or 10 days on chaseelliott.com.  So, looking forward to that.”

ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR BROADCAST DEBUT TOMORROW?
“I’m excited, it’s something that I’ve never done before and I honestly didn’t really see myself doing it or being asked to do it, so that was kind of cool.  I thought Atlanta was a fitting place to give it a shot.  I’m excited about that.  I have not talked to anybody about it really yet.  We have a broadcast meeting in the morning at 7:30, which I’m kind of excited about and I’m also kind of not excited about being it is at 7:30 in the morning.  I think after that we will probably talk a little bit, maybe to Jeff (Gordon) I think he is a great one to lean on.  He has a lot of experience over the past year or so.  I’m not sure if he will be in that meeting or not, but we will see.”

TAKE US BACK THROUGH THE LAST FEW LAPS OF THE DAYTONA 500.  TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS AFTERWARDS HOW DISAPPOINTED YOU WERE:
“Yeah, I mean had such a great car down there and a great start to the week, a great Thursday night and I felt like for us, absolutely, sure very disappointing.  That was a devastating way to end a good week for sure.  There are two things, I think, to look at when you think about Daytona for us.  A. We had to play the cards we were dealt.  I felt like we planned to the best of our ability.  I think that is something to be proud of.  B. We ran out of gas.  Yes, we were leading and it’s easy to say ‘ah it was ours to lose’.  In reality there were still three laps to do and three laps at Daytona is a long time.  So, I think for us to sit back and think that we had it locked down is kind of foolish.  For us, it’s disappointing for sure, but there are some positives to take from the day and again, we were faced with circumstances that we really couldn’t control and I felt like we played what we had the best we could.  Somedays that is all you can do.”

WITH THE NEW TIRE RULE COMING INTO EFFECT THIS WEEKEND HOW ARE YOU GOING TO APPROACH QUALIFYING TO CONSERVE YOUR TIRES FOR THE OPENING LAPS OF SUNDAY’S RACE?
“I don’t think anybody will. I think the big thing is just trying to hit your laps.  Ideally, you want to make three laps in qualifying.  You want to try to get yourself into the top 24 and then the top 12 and then make a run at the pole.  I think if you mess up in a round, it’s going to be really hard pressed to be able to run again and have a realistic expectation of having a shot at the pole.  I think it’s real important to hit on that first try.”

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL FROM THIS YEAR TO LAST YEAR NOW THAT YOU HAVE SORT OF BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT:
“Somethings I guess we have.  I’m sure there are a lot of, well, I know there are a lot of things that I haven’t been faced with yet that you are going to see as time goes on.  In some aspects, I feel comfortable, I feel better about some things that I have been faced with.  Like I said, there are things I haven’t seen yet.  Of those things that we have seen, I feel good about and I feel great about our team.  I think we made some good chances over the off season.  I feel like everybody’s moving in a positive direction and I feel like I’m just kind of real proud and happy to be where I am. I think we are in a good position as a group and I think all of our guys are working well together and at this point in the season that is kind of all you can ask for until you get started and kind of see what you are missing and where you need to go.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON STAGE RACING AND HOW DO YOU SEE THAT PLAYING OUT HERE AT ATLANTA?
“Yeah, I will be honest with you I’m kind of curious myself to see.  I thought the complexion of the Daytona 500 was changed a little bit with the different strategies and I think that is going to be a consistent thing throughout the entire year.  The biggest thing I looked at with Atlanta is tires are at such a premium here.  You run just a couple of laps and you are going to want tires again because that is going to allow you to move forward.  You are going to have tenths of a second, even half a second difference even just after a few laps on a set of tires.  I think with that, everybody is going to want tires all the time.  I think that is going to make the strategy play a little more simplified than maybe it was at Daytona, but I do think the track surface is going to have a big factor in the stage racing as the year goes on and what you can do on a set of tires, how long you can stay out and I think that will change it a good bit.”

ON MISSING OUT ON GETTING HIS FIRST VICTORY AT THE DAYTONA 500:
“Um no, it is still kind of the same deal.  It’s disappointing.  You learn through this stuff and you just try to think about what you could have done differently.  At Chicago, faced with a caution there at the end of the race, I don’t really know what we could have done about that and I really don’t know what you do about running out of gas with just a couple of laps to go either.  In both of those cases, I felt like from a performance side I thought we did a good job and we were close, just not close enough.  I don’t know.  I don’t know that it really changes my complexion or outlook on how I view things.  It’s definitely a disappointing finish to a good day.”

HOW DISTRACTING IS THIS WEEK FOR YOU WITH ALL THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND THIS BEING YOUR HOME TRACK?
“You know not really.  I think our group does a pretty good job of trying to manage the different things that we have going on.  The cool thing about this weekend is we have our foundation stuff has really been the biggest thing of the week.  That is enjoyable, fun and something that we have enjoyed doing and working through.  We are going to have those families here at the race track on Sunday and that is really the biggest thing for us.  So, no, I think it feels pretty normal from a how busy you are standpoint.”

WHAT WAS YOUR AWARENESS OF THE FUEL SITUATION AS THE DAYTONA 500 WENT DOWN?
“Well they said we were going to be really close and that we were basically right there if not a little short.  And really the situation we were in, leading the race, we didn’t talk about falling back to try to draft because we all know as soon as I do that, the caution comes out and then everybody makes it from there.  So, I knew it was really close and I knew just from the lap that we pitted without them telling me, I knew it was a long way on gas for everybody.  Obviously, once it sputtered I really knew that we were close.  I was the first one to know for sure.”

WERE YOU MORE DISAPPOINTED OF THE FACT THAT YOU HAD SUCH A GREAT HANDLING CARE AND WEREN’T ABLE TO CAPITALIZE ON IT OR BECAUSE OF THE FUEL SITUATION?
“I guess a little bit of both.  I think they kind of come hand in hand.  I mean, we had a great car for sure and the day went pretty well for us.  Being able to lead some laps and kind of be able to push some lanes forward.  I thought our car had the ability to kind of be that guy and be able to push a lane and make something happen, which is what you always want at a speedway.  We were fortunate enough to stay out of some of the wrecks. So, really, I think the biggest disappointment is it was… we were able to survive all the way to the end and that is a hard thing to do in itself.  You don’t see a whole lot of superspeedway races come down to fuel mileage.  I think that was a big thing was it’s just so hard to survive that race and just to make it to the end.  We saw a lot of torn up cars and we were fortunate enough to get there and I think that is the biggest thing is we made it to the end.  Just not in the right manner.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RESURFACING THIS TRACK?  ARE YOU SHARING YOUR TIPS AND TRICKS FOR RACING ON THIS TRACK WITH ANY OF YOUR OTHER TEAMMATES?
“No, I hope they are sharing their tips and tricks with me.  Jimmie (Johnson) he has won a lot of races here. I think Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) finished second last year.  They have had a lot more success here than I have for sure.  As far as the repave goes, I think my only thing there is I’m really going to enjoy this weekend and I’m excited to run the Truck race and the Cup race on the old surface.”

COULD YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR DECISION TO RUN THE TRUCK SERIES RACE FOR GMS RACING AND HOW MANY RACES YOU MIGHT RUN WITH THEM THIS YEAR:
“It was something those guys approached me about I guess about a month or so ago and asked me if I had an interest in running here.  I said, absolutely, I thought it would be fun.  There was really no more thought put into it than that.  It was a phone call.  I got a phone call from Mike Beam and asked me if I would be interested and I said yes.  And we started working it out.  It was really kind of a no-brainer for me.  I think they are a team that is doing a lot of things, I think, in the right direction.  They seem to be building their program the right way.  I have known some of those guys over there for a long time.  Mike (Beam) used to work at Dad’s shop back when he did his own deal and what not.  From that side, it’s pretty cool and once I got the okay from all the folks at Hendrick Motorsports it was straight forward.”

DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE GOING TO RUN ANYMORE TRUCK RACES?
“I would be open to it for sure.  Obviously, we will see how this weekend goes and if they want to have me back or not, I’m not sure.  We haven’t really talked about any other races.  I have expressed interest in doing some other races, unfortunately, it is not that easy.  We will see.  I hope we can have a good run for those guys.  We will have, I think, Allegiant on board and NAPA on the truck this weekend too.  Hopefully, we can have a good run for them and maybe that will offer some more opportunities to do it again in the future with them.”

YOUR DAD RAN SECOND A LOT OF TIMES BEFORE HE WON HIS FIRST CUP RACE.  HAS THAT SUBJECT EVER COME UP IN YOUR CONVERSATIONS?
“Yeah, he has brought that up a couple of times.  He has mentioned that.  It’s one of those things where it’s crazy.  Obviously, that was back in the ‘80’s and things were a lot different, but it kind of just goes to show you if it’s not your day, it’s not your day.  As well as they ran, for him to not have a win until he did there at Riverside.  Like I said, I guess whenever it’s meant to be our day, it will be and hopefully that day comes.”

ON PAYING TRIBUTE TO WENDELL SCOTT:
“Oh for sure.  Wendell, talk about a guy who earned it the hard way.  I mean I don’t think you could find a guy… I’ve heard some stories about him over the years of working on his own cars, hauling stuff to the race track with just nothing. I have a lot of respect for that.  That is something that hard work ethic is something that should be valued and I think he definitely was the definition for sure.”

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