MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 24, 2018
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed the race at Martinsville Speedway in October, his thoughts on his teammate Jimmie Johnson and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND AT MARTINSVILLE:
“Our last two races here have been much improved over the first couple and we are not real sure why that has been, but it has been a better track for me. This has been one of my worst places and one of the places that I personally feel like I’ve struggled at a lot. So, to have a couple of good runs here the past two races has been nice, encouraging, had a car good enough to compete for a win here last time. We were close this race last year, but definitely better in the fall. So, we learned some things. My emotions are just excited and looking forward to the weekend and an opportunity to go and try and compete for a win.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR EASTER? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT TEXAS?
“Yeah, going to go and take a trip with some friends next weekend, so I’m looking forward to that. It’s always nice to be able to go and get away a little bit. So, I’m going to enjoy it.
“As far as Texas goes, we actually got to test there in January. We didn’t have a very good test I didn’t feel like in January, but a lot has changed since then and we’ve got a chance to bring our cars back from the West Coast and work on some things. I hope that is going to help our cause there and we can try to get rolling.”
WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON WHY SO MANY DRIVER’S HAVE TROUBLE GETTING TUNED INTO THIS TRACK?
“Well, if I had won a race here, I would feel better about having an answer, but this place is just so… for me and I can’t speak for other guys, but I did a lot of short track racing kind of coming up trying to make it here. And I still enjoy short track racing, but this place is just not at all anything like any short track that I raced at. Now there are guys that raced short tracks in different parts of the country that had places like this, but we just didn’t. The Montgomery’s of the world and the Gresham, the old Peach State racetrack, Lanier, Pensacola, South Alabama Speedway, all those places that we raced at a lot were just nothing like this. To me they drive more like the 1.5-miles do and the worn out 1.5-miles. So, it’s just a different animal having the corners be so tight. It’s a very finesse racetrack. You really have to find a rhythm here and be able to repeat that rhythm within a few inches every lap, I feel like to really make the difference. It’s just different and I don’t know if that is the same for other guys, but I think that has been my struggle point is kind of everything that I have learned short track racing and the habits that I have kind of taught myself and the ways I’ve been stuck in just do not apply here. Which is very hard to get yourself out of those habits.”
ENTERING THIS WEEKEND HAVE WILLIAM BYRON AND ALEX BOWMAN LOOKED TO YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON IN TERMS OF ADVICE ON HOW TO GET AROUND THIS PLACE?
“Yeah, I mean, probably more Jimmie than me. I can barely help myself here, so I think they should definitely lean on him and his success here has been very consistent over a long period of time. So, if they come to me, I’m pointing them to him.”
HOW MUCH HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE OCTOBER RACE HERE LAST YEAR?
“Yeah, I mean the could have, would have, game doesn’t really matter. There was a lot that was laying on that race. It wasn’t just a win, it was a chance to go race for a championship, so that obviously had a lot of implications, but it doesn’t matter. It didn’t happen. I can’t turn back time. So, we all kind of know the implications and the things that could have been, but they weren’t so no point in really getting caught up in it too much.”
EVERY TIME YOU SEE THAT SCENE FROM LAST YEAR DOES IT BRING BACK MEMORIES? DO YOU CRINGE?
“My reaction is everybody’s got to try to write a story, right? It’s been a long time ago, last October to now has been a good while back and like I said a second ago, I can’t do anything about it. So, for me, when I think about that night, I try to make myself think about the characteristics and things that our car was doing that made us good. And just try to run laps in my head and try to have… I remember a lot of that night and when your cars are good a lot of times I feel like you remember certain things about them and you just try to think back on the small things that were making the difference that were allowing up to have the performance we had. Something for me to think about to try to apply this morning and hope we can get our car driving like that and if we can, hopefully, we will have more opportunities and be in that position.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE WITH WHAT HAPPENED HERE LAST YEAR AND AT PHOENIX THAT THERE IS A MESSAGE THAT A DRIVER EVENTUALLY HAS TO SEND THAT YOU WILL MOVE THEM OUT OF THE WAY?
“I guess so, yeah, I mean I think you race people how they race you. There is a difference in moving a guy out of the way and them being able to move on and finish and them not. So, I think that is the tough thing. To be honest with you, it’s very difficult to move guys out of the way. It’s easy to make a mistake and to wreck them. I’m probably not good enough to move them out of the way and not wreck them. So, for me, I just better figure out a way to pass them without touching them would probably be the best option. But, there are going to come times when you are going to be racing hard and you are going to touch and you are going to move guys and people aren’t going to be happy and that is part of it. But, yeah, you’ve got to draw a line somewhere and like I have said before, you are going to get taken advantage of. That applies anywhere in life.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GET MORE RESPECT ON THE RACETRACK NOW?
“I mean, to be honest with you, I haven’t really had a whole lot of issues with a lot of people. I try to show respect to guys that show me respect. I think there has been a very mutual understanding there. There are a lot of guys I enjoy racing with. There are some guys I don’t that don’t enjoy racing with me, which is fine, that is their opinion. I’m not going to lose sleep over it. I think it all kind of makes the world go around.”
IT’S BEEN A MIXED BACK FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS THUS FAR THIS YEAR, HOW DO YOU SUM UP AND ASSESS WHERE YOU AND THE NO. 9 TEAM ARE AND HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AS A WHOLE?
“Well, I mean, I think we are obviously not where we want to be first and foremost. I’m not going to lie about it and say that I think everything is perfect. It’s never perfect, but I think Phoenix was a good race for us, Jimmie (Johnson) ran pretty well at Fontana, so I feel like there has been some light here and there, we just have to figure out what it takes for all of us to have that success. Or for all of us to be solid and to do it on a consistent basis, so I have been very pleased with our team. I think that we have been, last week was not a very good run at all, I wouldn’t consider last week this being the case, but I think the other races we have made the most of what we had and the execution of our races have been pretty good, I feel like for the most part. Obviously, didn’t finish a couple, wrecking at Daytona, wrecking at Vegas, but we were fast at both of those places or better. Vegas, I don’t think we had anything for the guys to win, but we could run midway through the top 10. I’m not deflated personally, I think that our team and myself and Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) have a very similar mindset with where things are at and we are just trying to make the most of what you can week-in and week-out. I think that I know that he can build a racecar and come to the racetrack that is capable of winning and I think that he believes in me enough to know that I can come and compete with guys to win races. I think as long as that trust is there then the rest of it, it may take time or it may not, but I think as long as that understanding is there it will all work out.”
YOU’VE BEEN RACING WITH AND AGAINST JIMMIE JOHNSON FOR SEVERAL YEARS NOW. DO YOU SEE ANY DIFFERENCE IN JIMMIE NOW THAN WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED RACING WITH HIM?
“I would like to have his slump. I don’t know about everybody else. Man, no, look everybody tries to ride on the age thing that is just so not true. You don’t forget how to drive. You don’t change your driving habits. You don’t just do all that in the course of a couple of years and the guys is still one of if not the greatest driver ever to ever come through NASCAR. I would probably say the best ever without question. I just… to make accusations that he is not as good as he once was is just simply not true for anybody. I’m not saying you are, but for anyone to think that is not the case. I can assure you if the man has a car that is capable of going to run well and to run inside the top five and lead laps and dominate races, he is probably going to be doing that. I expect him to get back to that dominance that he has had if he has the cars and opportunities to do that, I definitely think he will. So, no I don’t see any difference really with him.”
HOW MUCH OF THE SLOW START TO THE SEASON HAS TO DO WITH THE AERO OF THE NEW CAMARO ZL1?
“You know aero as much as you wouldn’t think it matters here, I think it matters everywhere, it just matters a lot less here. I think you can take some damage and things and still run good with it here, so I think you can get away with maybe less this or that from the aero side. A lot of guys do sacrifice downforce in their cars and things for low light and left weight and trying to keep everything, the center of gravity low. That is an option that you kind of have coming here. You can take the downforce option, which not many people do because we are going slow and what not. It’s kind of short track racing 101 when it comes to that. I feel like most guys take their cars and do. I do think that us having the new body this year is taking some time and has been taking some getting used to and some development. That is a big change. It doesn’t necessarily look like it from TV, but all your aero maps and all of your numbers that you have been crunching for years all of that stuff is different. It’s not fair to run four or five races and put a label on us yet. I think we have seen it before people have body changes within their manufacturer and it takes some time to develop that stuff. I do think that it could be related to that, but I think that it takes time.”
WHY TO YOU THINK JIMMIE JOHNSON IS THE BEST WITHOUT QUESTION?
“I think there are a lot of things that factor in, but one thing I look at is winning five championships in a row is pretty impressive in my opinion and now he has walked in the room, so the pressure is on (laughs). I think it is just an opinion and I have my opinion on that and I just don’t see those other guys in the same situation, man I just… and I’m not taking anything away from them they are all legends of the sport, right? But I just don’t see anybody competing with what he has done in the short amount of time he has been here.”
WOULD YOU HAVE FELT AS COMFORTABLE DOING SOMETHING LIKE WHAT YOU DID LAST FALL SIX MONTHS OR A YEAR EARLIER?
“I don’t think… just because you don’t see something doesn’t necessarily mean that is not there. I frankly don’t think I’ve really changed a lot over the course of my time here. I think it was just the way the circumstances played, but I think if that had happened six months before, my reaction would have been the same and I would have gone about it very similarly or even a year before, I think whether you are a rookie or in your second year, just because you are a rookie doesn’t mean that is okay in my opinion. I think that when you get to this point, yes, you might have a stripe on the back of your car, but you are here for a reason and you have the opportunity because you know how to race and you’ve done a lot of racing to this point. You might have the yellow stripe, but man, there is a lot of experience that you have when you get to this point. And I think some people forget that sometimes.”
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