MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
AAA TEXAS 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
NOVEMBER 3, 2017
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 HOOTERS CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed his chances for victory at Texas, last week’s race at Martinsville Speedway, his thoughts on younger drivers competing with veteran drivers and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT THIS WEEKEND AND YOUR CHANCES HERE AT TEXAS TALK ABOUT THIS WEEKEND AND YOUR OUTLOOK HERE AT TEXAS?
“This place is certainly different now with the repave but we feel pretty good about it and feel good about our car. I think we are at a place where if we just can put together a solid weekend we can try and give ourselves a chance to win which is pretty important for us at this point. We’ll see.”
I KNOW THAT AFTER LAST WEEK DENNY (HAMLIN) SAID HE REACHED OUT TO YOU OR REACHED OUT IN THAT DIRECTION. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS LOOKING BACK AT THAT RIGHT NOW AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SEEING YOUR FACE AS BIG AS A BILLBOARD AS THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION AS YOU ARRIVED HERE IN TEXAS?
“Yeah, definitely kind of strange. You know, as far as last week goes, I don’t know that my thoughts today are a whole lot different than they were then. I am still pretty frustrated about it and you know, as long as the week has gone along it has given me a lot of time to think about how close we were to going to Homestead. I think if anything else that will drive you up the wall more if you think about it. Definitely not happy about it and I don’t think a whole lot has changed. But no, I am not going to answer your questions about whether I am going to get him back or not. Don’t even ask because you are not going to hear it from me. Just don’t go there. But yeah, I don’t think my mindset has changed from that standpoint. This is a point in this round where we are going to have to perform these next two weeks to have a chance at Homestead now. We are going to have to do just that.”
DO YOU HAVE TO PUT DENNY (H OUT OF YOUR MIND BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU HAVE AT STAKE OR IS THE FACT THAT HE POSSIBLY TOOK THAT CHANCE AWAY FROM YOU STILL IN YOUR HEAD?
“For us, we are in a position where we are not completely out from points. You could have some really solid weeks and get stage points and those guys don’t and potentially get yourself back in it without winning. It’s going to be really hard to do and I think you are going to have to be in contention to winning these next two weeks, if not, winning an event. You have to see how this weekend goes to know how next weekend has to be. I am not overwhelming myself with him or any other driver in particular as the weekend goes along. I don’t think you can do that and look yourself in the eye and think you have a fair shot if you have that mindset coming into the weekend. So, we are going to go about our business like we always do and hope that we make the right guesses, that I make the right judgement calls, and that Alan and the team makes the right calls throughout the weekend to have a chance to win.”
WERE YOU OVERWHELMED BE THE OUTPOURING YOU RECEIVED FROM THE FANS FOLLOWING LAST WEEK’S RACE?
“It was definitely unexpected for sure. I wasn’t expecting to have that or hear that or see it throughout the week. It’s been…I don’t know if refreshing is the right word but it’s been definitely pretty encouraging seeing that kind of support despite the circumstance. To seeing people encouraging you and wanting you to go win this weekend…to me the message from the fans this weekend has been the best thing you can do is go and win one of these next two weekends and give yourself a shot at Homestead. I think a lot of the people that watch our sport know that and I am looking forward to giving it my best shot.”
“I think it does for sure. I want to make people proud, but I don’t think you can get consumed with their opinions all the time because I think that might drive you a little crazy. I think in the right circumstance it can, but you have to be able to turn that off when it’s not the right circumstance.”
IS WHAT HAPPENED AT MARTINSVILLE GOING TO BE FUEL FOR THIS WEEKEND’S RACE OR NEXT WEEK?
“I definitely think so. For us to go to a place last week where I have typically struggled at and haven’t had many good days….to go and to lead laps and actually have a shot to win at Martinsville…if you had told me that last year, I would have told you – you were crazy. But yes, I think it all fuels you. I think it all has to fuel you. I think it has to fuel our team, our road crew guys, our pit crew guys, and myself. I think it has to, I think it does, I think it is. I think that all those things are going to have to be in place and we are going to have to bring some fire the next two weeks to be a part of the show in Miami.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE AS A YOUNGER DRIVER THAT VETERANS ARE MORE PRONE TO TAKE THE AGGRESSIVE DECISIONS?
“No, I don’t think so. I listened to Erik’s (Jones) answer and I think he said it pretty well. I don’t necessarily think that Denny (Hamlin) or anybody in that situation, his situation at Bristol racing with Kyle (Busch) for the win was a great example of that. I think we both know that Kyle wasn’t looking at him as ‘ah he is a rookie I can beat him’ he was probably thinking ‘man I’m giving this all I have and I can’t shake him’. Erik did a great job at Bristol and I think that was a great example, so, no, I don’t think guys label you as a rookie and race you differently from it. I think they label you as the racer you are from the day you come in the sport until it changes. And if it doesn’t change I think that is what you are in their eyes and until you do something to change that view from their perspective then that is what they label you as and they are going to take advantage of whatever piece of that they can because it is their jobs.”
ARE YOU GOING TO COMPETE IN THE SNOWBALL DERBY?
“Nope, you will not see me there. Man, I would love to go run that race again someday. I think it would be really cool, but I’m pretty picky with how I like to do things there. We had a great group of guys when we were racing those cars and it wouldn’t feel right for me to go and race and not have some of those same guys there to help and what not. Never say never, maybe one day down the road the pieces will line up and we can all get back together and do another race somewhere, maybe somewhere else and then go down there, but not this year.”
YOU SAID IT WAS SOMEWHAT ODD TO SEE YOUR FACE OUT THERE ON THE HUGE BILLBOARD THAT ALSO CAME WITH A MONIKER CURTSEY OF EDDIE GOSSAGE PROCLAIMING YOU AS THE ‘PEOPLE’S CHAMPION’ DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?
“I don’t know. It’s not for me to say. I’m in the position and I’m not A. the track promoter and I’m not the people, B. in this situation, so I can’t answer that.”
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK THIS WEEK THAT ALL THE CHEERS YOU RECEIVED AFTER MARTINSVILLE MIGHT LEAD TO YOU BEING THE MOST POPULAR DRIVER AFTER DALE EARNHARDT, JR. RETIRES THIS YEAR. DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THAT?
“Well, I did find a lot of support throughout the week and I do appreciate it and as I’ve told you guys before, whoever people want to pick to pull for if you can find a genuine connection with that person then great. If it’s me of if it’s somebody else, I think as long as you have some reason that is genuine and not just because somebody told you to or because it’s somebody you know or somebody you know likes him, then I would say go for it. If last weekend makes you want to pull for us the rest of the season and on moving forward then great. If it doesn’t then don’t is my advice. We welcome any kind of support we can get. I certainly do. It is appreciated. It always has been. It’s been very refreshing to see a lot of that throughout the season not just last weekend. I think there have been a lot of people pulling for us throughout the year that I’ve noticed more than ever and I think that is pretty cool, not just in the last week.”
DO YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE GROWING IN YOUR TEAM AS A RESULT WITH THE CONSISTENCY YOUR TEAM IS BUILDING OVER THE PAST WEEKS?
“Absolutely! That’s a great point and thank you for bringing that up and not just the rest of the mess in the past week. I think that the way we have run is very encouraging. I think for us to come down pit road leading the race last week, and leave pit road leading the race was huge too. All those pieces have to be there. I see no reason we can’t continue to have the performance we’ve had over the course of the first handful of races in the playoffs. It has been a lot of fun to run like we’ve been running over these past number of weeks. It is refreshing for me. It is refreshing for our team. It is exciting for our team to see the car that they’ve been working so hard on all week go and run well. I want to deliver them the things they deserve. We have been working with a lot of these guys…I love working with those guys. They have busted their tails for me for almost two years now. I would love to repay them with a trophy some time. There is no team that deserves that more than them.”
DOES THIS WITH DENNY TURN INTO A RIVALRY THAT EVERYONE SAYS WE NEED IN NASCAR? IS THAT A DISTRACTION OR IS IT SOMETHING THE FANS CAN GET THEIR ARMS AROUND?
“I don’t think it is a distraction for us. Again, like I said a minute ago, you can’t let the situation and the things that went on there consume you. If you do, you are going to lose sight of what really matters. What really matters is us trying to win one of these next two weeks and go race for a championship as we were so close to doing last weekend. Close doesn’t cut it in any form of racing. I’ve kind of learned that the hard way over some circumstances that either I’ve put on myself, or things just haven’t worked out. I think you have to stay focused on some right things and not be consumed with all of the distractions and the things that are going on that you guys have to do your jobs and write about and put out there. I get it. But we can’t be consumed with that, it’s not going to do us any favors.”
HOW MUCH DID YOU PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT WAS BEING SAID ABOUT LAST WEEK?
“I didn’t flip on the TV one-time last week. I watched a little bit of Netflix, but that’s all. I didn’t watch any NASCAR stuff. I updated my Twitter a few times, but mostly to see what was going on in the college football world because as you all know the Georgia Bulldogs are ranked number one right now in the country. I was more consumed with that, than this other stuff.”