MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 5, 2017
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 HOOTERS CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed plate racing, his year to date so far, Bill Elliott’s 16 most popular driver awards, and much more. Full Transcript:
YOU ARE FRESH OFF A TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY, YOU BRING HOOTERS BACK INTO THE SPORT, YOU HAVE ‘CHASE WINS, YOU WIN’ PROGRAM, YOU’RE WEARING A PAIR OF SHOES THAT COMMEMORATES YOUR DAD’S RECORD-SETTING POLE RUN HERE, 30 YEARS AGO, AND IT’S YOUR THIRD ‘CHASE YOU’ EVENT OF THE SEASON. WHERE DO YOU FIND THE TIME?
“It’s been a busy week for sure. I’m excited about all the programs we have going on. It’s really cool having Hooters on the car this weekend. I’m happy to have them back. It’s a great thing for our team, for sure; but for the sport in general. Hooters has such a great history within racing, not just in the NASCAR world. We’re happy to have them on board. If we win on Sunday, everybody gets a free appetizer at Hooters, which is pretty cool. And, if we finish second through fifth, I think everybody gets a free Mountain Dew. Hopefully we can do that.”
MOST OF THE RECENT RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES HAVE BEEN WON BY VETERANS….GUYS THAT HAVE MORE THAN 100 STARTS. WE KNOW YOU HAVE FAST CARS, BUT WHY DOES EXPERIENCE SEE TO MATTER SO MUCH? WHO ARE YOU TAKING THE MOST MENTAL NOTES FROM?
“Good question. I look at the way our car drove at Daytona and the speed that it had in it. I was really pleased with that. And, if it was the Daytona 497, I think we would have been all right. I’ve been really happy with our speedway program, in particular. I feel like we’ve made it better, really. I thought the 500 this year was our best performance on a plate track. Hope we can bring some of that here. I don’t know why whose guys win. It’s a good question, but I have no idea. I can’t say that I’m going to do my job any differently because the guys with a lot of starts have won the past number of races. I think Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) seem to have won a lot of them over the past few years and they’ve done a good job of mastering plate racing. I think there’s always something you can learn from and look at from guys like that who have won a lot of these things here recently. In the long-term history, I don’t know why that is.”
NASCAR DECLARED JOEY LOGANO’S WIN ENCUMBERED LAST WEEK. HE LOSES PLAYOFF POINTS, BUT HE KEEPS THE WIN. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ENCUMBERED WIN RULE?
“I’m still trying to figure out what ‘encumbered’ means (laughter), so I’m not real sure. I’m not involved in their team. I don’t know what’s going on. I find it hard to believe that whatever they had going on made him win the race. We ran about 13th to 15th the majority of the day and Joey was right in front of me the majority of the day. I didn’t think he was as good as Brad was, but they did a great job. His crew chief was making the right calls and him getting up on the wheel at the end to win. But, if whatever they had going on helped him, I’d be surprised.
“It is big, but at the same time, Joey is fast every week and he’s one of those guys that can win any weekend. So, I’m sure he’s going to have plenty more opportunities to win before we get to Richmond.”
YOUR DAD (BILL ELLIOTT) WON MOST POPULAR DRIVER 16 TIMES. WHAT ADVICE DID HE GIVE YOU AS FAR AS REACHING OUT TO THE FANS AND ESTABLISHING THAT BOND?
“With him, he had such a great connection to just your every day group around the Southeast. And from what he came from, not having a whole lot, to how he and his family went about racing. I think that was a connection that people had with him and they could jump on board because they were just a bunch of guys from the hills of north Georgia that happened to show up and compete and ended up being really good at it. And they did it their own way. They didn’t ask for anybody else’s help. They did their own deal. So, it’s definitely a different world. I’ve been very lucky to grow up in the house that I live in with my dad and his family and my mom and the racing history there. I’ll be the first one to say I’m very luck and have had great opportunities because of that. I still think you have to do the job that’s at hand behind the wheel to stay here and to be around. But, I think from a fan’s perspective, one thing he has always talked about is you may show up to events and you might have some folks that don’t care to be there and some that do care to be there, but if there’s just one person there that you could change their day and make their day worth coming for, or getting up for, then our job is good. At the end of the day, I think we’ve done our part. All it takes is one person and I agree with that. If you can change one person’s day for the better, I think it’s all worth it.”
YOU’VE LED LAPS AT PLATE TRACKS BEFORE AND HAD A GOOD RUN AT DAYTONA. WHAT DID RUNNING UP AT THE FRONT HELP YOU PROGRESS? WHAT DID YOU LEARN TO CARRY FORWARD? CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STORY BEHIND THE SHOES?
“I thought the 500 this year was our best performance at a plate track. Just the more time you spend racing; we got to race in the Clash this year, which was just more time on-track. We got to race in the 150’s, which is more time on track, which never hurts. Any time you can get around those guys that win these things a lot, I think it’s helpful. As time has gone on, I’ve had some good opportunities to race around those guys and hopefully pick up on some things here and there. And also try to learn things for yourself that you can file away and hopefully have one up on them at some point down the road as the end goal. Hopefully we can progress and do what we did at Daytona and try to make it a little bit better at the end of the day.
“I’m really excited about the shoes. I would take them off and show you, but that would take me a minute. I posted a picture on my Instagram if anybody is interested. It was 30 years ago this weekend that Dad ran 212 mph here in that old Coors car, which I think its really cool. He still has a few of his Coors cars in the shop and I always think it’s pretty neat to look at them and see how they were built and what they put into them and just how simple everything was. They just tried to simplify things as best they could. They were kind of in their own box with having the spoiler laid back as far as it could possibly go. Like he says, they just didn’t know any better. They did it their own way and did really good at it. I think it’s really cool and a great part of racing history in general. Obviously I’m a little biased because of my dad.”
DO YOU FEEL THE PRESSURE OF THE SPORT ON YOUR SHOULDERS? AS A YOUNG DRIVER, TO YOU FEEL YOU ARE CARRYING THE SPORT? IS THAT EXCITING?
“I can’t say that I do, really. I think in a lot of ways, Dad and the way they went about their racing, I’ve tried to apply that to my racing and not so much worrying about everybody else. When we would go to a short track race or a Legends car race, we made it a point to show up and park as far away from everybody else as we could because we didn’t care what they were doing and we didn’t want to be involved with what they had going on and all the clicks and the groups and all the mess that goes on in the garage area. It’s like high school some weeks. I think in a lot of ways just staying away from that stuff is great and I try to apply that to my racing and be me. I want fans to follow it, for sure. I’d love to have their support. But, it’s their choice. If it’s genuine, I think it’s great. That’s my only request. I want it to be genuine for whoever they want to pull for, whether it’s me or somebody else. Find that connection you have with somebody and make it genuine and make it something you want to be a part of and that’s what racing is all about is finding your guy. So, whoever it is, great.”
YOU DON’T FEEL A RESPONSIBILITY?
“I just feel a responsibility to do my job and try to go fast and try to give ourselves chance to win races and hopefully the rest of it will take care of itself.”
GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY, WOULD YOU DRIVE THAT 212 MPH CAR AROUND HERE WIDE-OPEN TODAY?
“I don’t know that I could handle it. But, I would definitely try, for sure. I’d love to give it a shot. But, I don’t know that I would have what it takes to hold her wide-open. That’s not easy back then. Those things. I remember Dad telling me stories. They basically kept leaning the spoiler back until he just couldn’t take it anymore. And that was how they figured out when to stop. He kept pushing the limit until he couldn’t drive it, which is pretty cool, really.”
WOULD IT BE UNSAFE?
“It would probably be less safe than what we have in our cars today, with the seats and everything. But it would still be really cool, in my opinion, regardless.”
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR SEASON THROUGH THE FIRST QUARTER?
“I think we’ve had some ups and downs. I feel like we fired off really well with the way we ran at Daytona and Atlanta. I thought our West Coast swing was pretty strong. I feel like over the past few weeks we really haven’t performed up to our potential. As a group, I think anybody in our group would feel the same way. We’ve had some fast cars at times. We’ve had our driving good and then other weeks, not so much. But, we definitely need to execute races; even on the days that your car is not driving like you want it to. That execution and doing everything correctly on pit road, restarts, giving the right information, can turn a bad day into a pretty good day, really. Like last week, for instance, we ran not very good and just inside the 15th; not quite inside the top 10 the majority of the day. We got towards the end of the day and had an opportunity to finish up well inside the top 10 if we had just executed a little bit better. So, that’s what we need to do. And we know we need to do that. And, we’ll try to make that happen.”
YOU WERE 7 YEARS OLD WHEN DALE EARNHARDT JR. WAS FIRST VOTED MOST POPULAR DRIVER AND HE’S WON 14 IN A ROW. HOW DO YOU THINK THE SPORT IS GOING TO CHANGE AND HOW ARE DRIVERS GOING TO HAVE TO CHANGE WHEN HE LEAVES THE SPORT?
“Well, he’s won 14 now. I still think its pretty cool Dad has 16. So, he’s not going to beat that, which I think is pretty cool. I’m biased. Dale has been a great ambassador for our sport and I have a lot of respect for him in a lot of different ways. But, going through all the things he’s gone through and to still be the person he is today, it would be so easy to go off down a bad path in his situation and going through the things he went through and having the opportunities he had. It would be easy to not treat people right or do things wrong. I commend him for his efforts there in doing things the right way over the years from when he started all the way to now. I think he’s a better person now than he’s ever been. I think every day that just continues to get better. You see all the things he does with his community and everything else. Whether you’re Dale racing cars or Tom Brady playing football, or LeBron (James) playing basketball, nobody can play or race forever. At some point it’s going to change. It’s part of life. Luckily for the fans of our sport, there are a lot of talent that’s coming up that are not just racing in Cup right now, but are in the Xfinity Series, Trucks, and even a lot more guys that are racing in the short track world that unfortunately will probably never get a chance that deserve it way more than a lot of people here, that could be here doing just as good of a job, if not better, than anybody else. There are a lot of people to pull for. There’s no reason why we can’t find people to pull for as a fan moving forward because there are a lot of great people to choose from.”