MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 13, 2017
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media today at Talladega Superspeedway to discuss his team’s Playoff momentum, his first experiences at restrictor plate tracks, watching teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., at plate races and other topics. Full transcript:
YOUR TEAM SEEMS TO HAVE MOMENTUM THAT HAS BEEN PICKING UP WEEK AFTER WEEK. WHAT HAS BEEN BEHIND THAT RESURGANCE AND THE PROGRESS YOU’VE MADE?
“I don’t necessarily think it’s one thing. It’s been a combination of a bunch of things. Our cars have been better, our execution at races have been better and our pit stops have been better. It takes everything to have a full, complete day. So I don’t think it’s one thing. Luckily, a lot of things have been working good over the last few weeks. Hopefully we can carry it forward. We’re going to have to in order to have a shot.”
HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT TO RACE ON A RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACK? YOU KIND OF HAVE TO DO IT ON THE JOB. HOW TOUGH WAS IT TO DO WHILE YOU’RE RACING?
“It’s a unique style of racing. It’s something that we don’t do a ton. The races are spaced out kind of equally I feel like. So just when you feel like you haven’t done it in a long time, it seems like the next one rolls around. But you’re right – you have just go do it to learn. There are some things you can watch and pick up on but at the end of the day you just have to go do it and go forward. I haven’t been doing it real long myself so I can’t say that I have figured every little trick out. I’ve certainly learned a lot over my first handful.”
WAS IT SCARY THE FIRST TIME YOU DID IT?
“I wouldn’t say scary. There’s definitely a lot of uncertainty as to what’s going to happen when you’re counting on the rest of the people so closely to not mess up. As I’ve done it more, you become more comfortable with certain people. Some people you’re never comfortable around but there are some guys that you feel better about or put more trust in to give them a harder shove. Or maybe they have a little more trust in you and want to give you a big push. There are certain guys that I would do that to and certain guys I definitely would not do that to. I have learned that much – who and who not to from that perspective.”
THERE’S A LINE IN A CERTAIN MOVIE THAT SAYS THAT IF YOU AIN’T FIRST, YOU’RE LAST. HAVE YOU COME TO LOOK AT LIFE IN THOSE KIND OF TERMS?
“We’re not to that point of the playoffs yet. Consistency can still carry you forward with where we are. There is going to come a time where you’re either going to have to win it all at Homestead or depending on how you come through this weekend, what you will have to do next week at Kansas to get through. I don’t think we’re not in that position yet but we’ll see.”
THE ELLIOTTS CERTIANLY HAVE THEIR OWN HISTORY HERE, BUT IN THE PAST FEW YEARS HOW MUCH HAVE YOU COME TO KNOW ABOUT THE EARNHARDT LEGACY AT TALLADEGA?
“Anyone who follows NASCAR has to be aware of that. I’ve come and watched a lot of these races before, and with Dale’s success, people enjoy coming here to watch that and know that he is going to have a great shot of winning the race. He’s a lot of people’s favorite driver, so when you go somewhere and you know a guy is really good at a track, that’s probably one you want to watch. To be a spectator and see how fired up people get in the stands when Dale makes a good move or takes the lead of a race, it definitely is something that will give you chills. I have a lot of respect for that. Dale is no slouch at plate racing and he never has been. He will certainly be a threat this weekend.”
WITH STAGE RACING AND THE EXTRA POINTS YOU CAN EARN, HOW DO YOU STRATEGIZE LATE IN EACH SESSION TO OPTIMIZE THE POINTS?
“I don’t know if you can just form a plan late in the stage and expect it to work out for you. Stage points are very important… especially for us. We’re at a pretty big deficit starting each round not having a lot of bonus points that other guys have. Stage points are really our only way of catching up. That’s something I have looked at and something everyone else is looking at, too. The stages are important, but no it’s not worth wrecking yourself getting some stage points. If you can make it work then great, but ultimately I’d like to still be part of the event when it’s over.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TAKEAWAY FROM MARTINSVILLE TESTING AND HOW YOU THAT WILL PREPARE YOU FOR LATER IN THE PLAYOFFS?
“I was really excited to go to Martinsville to test… as bad as a place as it’s been for me, aside from the spring race. I was really looking forward to getting some laps, and I’m glad we did, but it was definitely still a struggle over the couple of days. I don’t feel like I found a very good rhythm. What I felt like I learned in the spring didn’t really seem to come back and work the same as it did at the test. I think our cars are good. That’s not the issue. You just have to find a rhythm; it’s such a rhythm racetrack. We ran hundreds and hundreds of laps but unfortunately it never clicked for me. We learned some things, for sure. I had Jeff (Gordon) there trying to help me as much as he can, and I tried to lean on him for that. I hope when we go back that we will be prepared and it’ll work out.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR. HAS TALKED IN THE PAST ABOUT PAINT SCHEMES TENDING TO MOTIVATE HIM, ABOUT THE VISOR CAMERA AND HOW HE WANTS TO GIVE FANS A SHOW. DO ALL THE DRIVERS LIKE THE SHOW OR IS HE JUST A DIFFERENT BREED? WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITH HIM TO SEE WHAT THOSE TYPES OF THINGS THAT MOTIVATE HIM?
“That’s a good question. I think some people probably care about some of that type of stuff more than other people. I think some people are probably more interested in running good, or whatever motivates them I guess is what they are going to find. So if a guy likes paint schemes and helmet cameras and that motivates them to find that next little bit, then great. I think everybody has to find that extra motivation each week. Whatever it is for you – great. I have no issues with that. But I don’t necessarily think he is a different breed. I just think if that is his way of finding motivation, then that is great. I’m sure the fans will enjoy seeing his perspective of the race this weekend.”
IN FIRST FOUR RACES OF THE PLAYOFFS, YOU HAVE AN AVERAGE FINISH OF 4.25 AND YOU ARE LEADING THE HENDRICK CONTINGENT. DID YOU EXPECT TO BE THAT GUY?
“We feel like we can be that team if we all do our jobs right. I don’t think, again, we knew coming in we could run well, and we can do it. If all things are clicking right, there is no reason not to. Certainly to be among the top teams, or to be the top team, you are going to have to beat your teammates too. They count as well. I feel like we can run with them and run with anybody on a good day.”
RYAN NEWMAN GOT ALL THE WAY TO SECOND IN THE POINTS BY NOT WINNING A RACE. DO YOU THINK UNDER THIS PLAYOFF FORMAT THAT YOU COULD POSSIBLY DO THAT THIS SEASON?
“I would rather have a W and not have to play that game, but you are going to go and push every week and if a win is in your future, great. That certainly is a huge help as we go through these rounds. As we all know, the win trumps everything. For us being at a deficit in the points as we start each round, a win would be the perfect scenario for us. I think consistency will probably get you through this cut round that we are in. But I would be… I don’t know that you have to win to get to Homestead, but I would say you are going to have to run pretty dog-gone good, and you are going to have to have multiple chances to win if you don’t to make it through with the rest of those guys.”
HOW CRAZY DO YOU THINK OTHER DRIVERS ARE GOING TO BATTLE FOR STAGE POINTS HERE? IS IT GOING TO BE AT THE END OF THE RACE, OR IS IT NOT GOING TO BE TO THAT DEGREE?
“I can never guess what the rest of these guys’ moods are going to be when we show up at these places. Sometimes we get here, everybody is really calm. Then sometimes we get here and everybody wants to push each other and try to push through the corners and everything else. I can’t read their minds. I think what happens is when one guy starts to get aggressive, the guy around him has to get aggressive to start dealing with that guy. And then when that happens, the guy in front has to deal with it, and so on. I think that is what happens. If it shows up and that is the kind of race it is going to be, then we will see. I definitely think there is going to be some emphasis on running well in the stages. But I just hope that everybody will want to get to the end as much as they want to have stage finishes, too. So I really don’t know, but I could see it being pretty wild to try and get those points.”