CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP
ROUND 3 OF 10
CITIZEN SOLIDER 400
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 30, 2016
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed his impressions of the Chase in his first appearance in the playoff, how Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s presence at the race track this weekend boosts team morale, the probability of a Hendrick Motorsports car making the championship round and many other topics. Full Transcript:
IF YOU WIN ON SUNDAY NOT ONLY DO YOU AUTOMATICALLY ADVANCE INTO THE CHASE ROUND OF 12, BUT LITTLE CAESARS WILL BE GIVING AWAY ONE FREE FIVE DOLLAR HOT AND READY LUNCH COMBO FEATURING A 20 OUNCE MOUNTAIN DEW TO EVERY CUSTOMER WHO COMES IN ON OCTOBER 11TH. NO PRESSURE THIS WEEKEND:
“It’s really cool to be carrying the Mountain Dew colors this weekend. They have such a cool brand and they have been doing some really cool stuff with us this year through commercials, advertising and then definitely this deal with Little Caesars to give away a free lunch combo on October 11th if we can pull it off this weekend. I’m just proud to be a part of their brand and really excited to have them on the car. They are such a great group of people and have been awesome to work with. We appreciate it and looking forward to the race.”
SINCE THIS IS YOUR FIRST CHASE, HOW HAS THE ACTUAL EXPERIENCE DIFFER OR HAVE BEEN SIMILAR TO WHAT YOUR EXPECTATIONS WERE COMING IN?
“I think this first round, to me, has been similar to races that we’ve seen throughout the year. I guess just kind of regularly. I don’t think the intensity of a lot of the guys that have experience in this deal, I don’t think it has been ramped up quite to the point that it will be depending upon if you make further in. I think the further you get into it the more it is going to ramp up, for sure. Obviously, when guys are put in certain situations their intensity is going to ramp up individually as you see, like last year, this race last year was a big race for that. I think a lot of it is situational, but to me this first round has been pretty normal as far as the races go and how I’ve seen people driving and what not. I feel like has been pretty similar to the races throughout the year. Like I said, I think if you make it further into the deal it will ramp up, I’m sure, I mean it has to as you start eliminating more guys and it gets down to a smaller group of people.”
DO YOU SEE THE RACE AT CHARLOTTE NEXT WEEK BEING BETTER DURING THE DAY AND WHAT DO YOU EXPECT WHEN WE GET THERE NEXT WEEK?
“That is a good question. I’m trying to think, so we ran the Showdown race event leading into the All-Star race during the day and I thought it was a fun race. But, I thought the race that night was fun too. I don’t know I think it’s tough to say. I guess was it last year that race got rained out and they ran it during the day? I can’t remember, but it seems like it’s going to put on a good show, I feel like, at night. The thing about Charlotte is it just picks up so much speed when that sun goes down. Whatever they did on the surface of that race track and how they, when the repaved it, it just seems like the grip when the sun goes down is like it was when it was new. I never raced on it when it was new, but it sure does have a lot of grip. That is interesting to me and I think that as you get into nighttime that is why we see the speeds pick up so much. If a guy can get his car driving right around the bottom of the race track that is definitely going to be the place to be. It’s tough to say I haven’t run a whole lot of day races there and I haven’t, other than the Showdown, I haven’t done one in a Cup car during the day really. It will be interesting, but we are kind of into that part of the year where it is starting to cool off, so I don’t know that it would make that big of a difference now this time of year as it would if it was in the summer.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR. IS GOING TO BE AT THE TRACK THIS WEEKEND. DOES IT BOOST TEAM MORALE TO HAVE HIM AROUND?
“Yeah, I think so, I hope so. We obviously all want him to be back and to be getting better. I don’t know a ton about what he has had going on. I know he has been doing a lot of sponsor obligations and things of that sort and making sure he has stayed true to his commitments, which I think is pretty cool and tough to do I’m sure in his situation to just be doing that stuff and not be racing. I have a lot of respect for him on that front and I definitely think so especially the No. 88 group. For those guys to see him at the race track and there supporting them, I’m sure it has to mean a lot to those guys. I think as a company it does, but definitely centered around the No. 88 group I 100 percent think it would for sure.”
ON THE POTENTIAL OF HAVING A HENDRICK CAR IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND:
“I definitely feel like we have an opportunity to get there for sure. I think we’ve been fast enough these first two weeks to get there. I think a lot of it is just going to depend… just being fast doesn’t guarantee you to make it to this next round. For us, I was really proud of the way we ran last weekend. We ran inside the top five the majority of the day. That was a huge improvement for our group. Loudon is a terrible race track for me, so I was really happy with just the fact that we were able to be kind of in that group. I don’t think we had anything for Martin (Truex, Jr.) or Matt (Kenseth) or Kevin (Harvick) there at the end, but you just never know how those races are going to play out. I had a bad restart there at the end. The guys on tires end up getting to you with those cautions and you just got to play defense sometimes. In those situations, I know we didn’t get the finish we were hoping for, but at the same time you’ve got to kind of look at the other outcome you could have been wrecked and sitting in the garage there at the end. You kind of have to look at that both ways and when you are playing defense it is easy to be sitting in the garage pretty quickly. I 100 percent think our group or Jimmie’s group could make it. I feel confident in that. I think we’ve been fast enough these first two weeks to do it, but obviously you have to have some things go your way throughout this deal and you’ve got to execute your races and try to stay mistake free.”
WHERE HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN ABLE TO PICK UP SPEED AS AN ORGANIZATION CORNER SPEED OR STRAIGHT LINE SPEED?
“You are not going to like my answer, but it’s honestly a little bit of both. I know that our engine department has been working really hard. I think that you see their improvements across the board, not just Hendrick cars, but I have a lot of respect for Mr. Hendrick and everybody at the engine shop for making their engine program so fair. I think they do a really good job of making it fair across the board from our four team cars to the Stewart-Haas cars to the Ganassi cars, everybody is getting good stuff. I think when you see an improvement in the engine shop you are going to see that across the board and I think we’ve seen that the past couple of weeks. I think there is definitely something there. I know from the chassis side and some of the things we’ve had going on there, the body side, I know Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and our group has been pushing really hard on that front trying to improve, trying to get the best stuff we can get pumped out of the shop and to the race track. I think it’s a little bit of both to be honest with you and I think we are moving in the right direction on some items that I think we’ve been missing. That is encouraging to me.”