MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 21, 2018
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 HOOTERS CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed the Playoffs, the upcoming race at Charlotte next week, the importance of Stage points, and more. Full Transcript:
HOOTERS ANNOUNCED THEIR CONTINUED SPONSORSHIP WITH YOUR TEAM AND HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, AND ACTUALLY AN INCREASE. IN THE SPORT AS A WHOLE, IS THAT A BOOST FOR EVERYONE TO SEE THAT MORE SPONSORS AND CURRENT SPONSORS ARE PICKING UP AND DOING MORE FOR DRIVERS AND FOR THE OVERALL SPORT?
“Yeah, for sure. For me in general, I feel like it’s been a really good partnership and very natural. They’ve done such a great job activating. They only have a few races a year. But, they’re important to them and they’re important to us. And when you have a company like that who has those couple of races and they do it the right way. They’re respectful of my time, which makes me want to help them more and vice-versa. So, like I said, it’s been very natural and very easy to work with. And when things are like that the flow is great. And typically the relationship lasts longer because of that, too. So, it’s very well understood on both sides of the ball is great to be on the same team.”
DID YOU NEED TO GET YOUR SHOULDER CHECKED OUT AFTER LAS VEGAS LAST WEEK?
“Yeah, I got it checked out. All good. No worries. No apparent issues with it.”
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT BEING IN THE BOTTOM FOUR DURING THIS WEEK’S RACE?
“Not too bad. Last week obviously sucked. Just having probably one of the best 1.5-mile cars that we’ve had all year, we had one of the worst results of the season. So, it’s just the way it goes. And with the way the format is now, stuff happens. In that situation, I don’t know what you’d do any differently. We had a solid day going. We were playing catch-up a little bit from a couple of mistakes. Ultimately you limit those mistakes and try not to be behind those guys and you further forward and hope you miss the melee. So, I think it’s going to be wild throughout the next couple of weeks. Obviously, everybody talks about how wild next week is going to be, but nobody really knows. It could be the smoothest race ever. Who knows until we get there.
“Until you get the race started and get going, I don’t know. The big thing I’ve noticed this year about the Playoffs is that it didn’t seem like we had as many random winners throughout the season. It seemed like the people who won, I thought were guys who have run pretty well throughout the year for the most part. So, your field of 16, to me, is probably as strong as it’s ever been since I’ve been doing this. Typically, your first round is not too bad because those guys that might have not had a very good day going and had a weather delay get them a victory, or whatever, and get them in; they were the first ones out, typically. But I feel like this year it’s about as strong as it’s been since I’ve been involved. So I think it’s going to be tough all the way down through this round, the round of 12, and the round of 8 and so on. I think this round is going to be tough. I expect tomorrow night to be hard fought. I can’t say that I’m going to do things a whole lot different because you can get yourself in trouble trying to overreach a lot easier than you can just trying to do what you normally do. We normally try to win, so that’s not going to change tomorrow night.”
LAST WEEK AT LAS VEGAS, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS PROBABLY HAD ONE OF THE BEST PERFORMANCES AS A TEAM AS A WHOLE, RUNNING INSIDE THE TOP 10 FOR THE ENTIRE RACE. ALTHOUGH RICHMOND IS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT TRACK THAN LAS VEGAS, DO YOU THINK MAYBE YOU HAVE TURNED THE CORNER IN THIS SEASON THAT HAS BEEN SO UP AND DOWN?
“I hope so. I agree with you. I thought last week, as a whole, we were probably about as good as we’ve been all year, which was encouraging. That’s good. That’s only going to help all of us. I know that Vegas and Richmond don’t look anything alike, but typically the same guys win every week. Ultimately, they have the fastest cars, or are the best drivers. So, in my mind, I’m thinking I know they’re not very similar, but the same people run good everywhere. So, I think if you’ve made a gain somewhere, it’s probably going to show up here, too.”
SO, WHAT’S THE MENTALITY? YOU START THE PLAYOFFS. YOU HAVE A GREAT CAR. AND THEN SOMETHING HAPPENS THAT’S NOT YOUR OWN FAULT. HOW DO YOU GO THROUGH THE WEEK AND TRY TO KEEP A POSITIVE MINDSET NOW THAT YOU’RE IN A HOLE AFTER THAT?
“I think, for me, just the lack of patience, you know, when something like that happens on a Sunday, and you’re in this final 10. We only have nine races left, which is crazy. I feel like we just started. But, I’m just ready to go again. Like, I got in the plane to go home on Sunday after the race and the race is still going on and I’m leaving. I’m just like man, I wish we were lining up to run Richmond, now. Like I don’t want to wait a week. I want to go now and try to fix it. Because ultimately that’s all you can do is wait for the next race and go again. Ultimately just try to fix the problem tomorrow night and try to get another sticker.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS STAGE 2 IN THESE RACES? HOW DOES THE STRATEGY PLAY OUT IN STAGE 2 TO GET GUYS TO WHERE THEY CAN CONTEND FOR WINS BEFORE THE END?
“Stage 2 is about as important as Stage 1; but not as important as Stage 3. Those Stage points are important to get. I think that’s a bit of a gain that everybody has been playing throughout the year. And especially as the Playoffs start, you can make-up a lot of points by winning or finishing well in one, if not both, of those Stages. That’s huge, especially when you’re in a hole like we’re in right now. Stage points are crucial and especially if you don’t have a very good car, you might elect to try to get some Stage points. If you’re pretty good, then the question kind of raises as to if you want to try to get the Stage points or set yourself up better for the end of the race. That’s a call for my crew chief, Alan (Gustafson); and we’ll kind of see how we are.”
WITH THE ROVAL NEXT WEEK, SOME PEOPLE SUGGEST THAT IT COULD IMPACT THE RACING EVEN TOMORROW NIGHT BECAUSE OF THE UNCERTAINTY. HOW DO YOU VIEW THAT? CAN THE ROVAL IMPACT WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN ON SATURDAY NIGHT?
“I don’t know. I know everybody talks about how wild it’s been, and I’ve been right there amongst them. But until we get there, I don’t know. That race might be the smoothest race of the year. It’s just tough to say. Obviously, it’s so un-dividing and it’s going to be so slow, I’m sure there will be a lot of rooting and gouging next week and real easy to pick-up some damage on your car. As fragile as these cars are, we saw last week guys were just barely touching the wall and three or four laps later they’re crashed. That’s the big one for me is just how fragile these cars are now. And you can’t really even lean on anybody and continue forward. So, It’s important to run good here, absolutely. I would love to go and have another sticker Saturday night and not have to worry about next week. But, I think at the end of the day, I’m also encouraged by the road course races this year, and how we’ve ran. It makes me pretty excited to go there next week and feel like we have a good shot, too. It depends on which side of the bed you wake up on.”
WHAT CAN YOU NOT DO WITH THESE CARS AT A SHORT TRACK?
“Well, I mean, just look at the contact. Any time you touch anybody, with how the fender comes over the tire and the bodies being metal and where the seams meet on the body itself, when you touch somebody in the door, it’s going to fold the fender in ever so slightly. Obviously, we’re all trying to get our cars as wide as possible. The tires are going to be right up against the fenders. You can’t hardly tough anybody anywhere anymore. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the world we live in.”
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