CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP
ROUND 6 OF 10
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 21, 2016
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway and discussed working with teammate Jimmie Johnson this weekend, his recent stretch of bad luck, his outlook on the remainder of the Chase should he and the No. 24 Chevy SS team advance past the Round of 12 and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR TEAM’S APPROACH GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND:
“I think for us we are obviously disappointed in the way the past two weeks have gone having such strong cars over the past two weeks and having the ability to go and contend with some of those guys. Obviously, to end like it did was disappointing, but for us it puts us in a pretty simplistic situation for this weekend and having to have a really good run, if not have to win. Like I said, it’s a simple position that we are in and we are up for the challenge and looking forward to Sunday.”
ARE YOU MORE DISCOURAGED BY YOUR BAD LUCK THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS OR MORE ENCOURAGED BY THE FACT THAT YOUR CARS HAVE BEEN FAST FROM THE START OF THE CHASE ALL THE WAY THROUGH?
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by the outcome the past couple of weekends. I think anybody would be and should be. The biggest piece of it I think is the encouragement of how we have been running. I’ve been impressed with how our team has come together, how we’ve stepped up our game as an organization when it came time to start the Chase. I think that says a lot about our group and our team for not quitting and getting to where we need to be and keep fighting for that right direction. To be honest with you, yes, I’m disappointed. Yes, it’s a bummer, I hate it. You hate to have things go like they have, but I think I’m more encouraged by the way we have been running. At the end of the day that is the most important thing. I would personally rather have to deal with certain situations or go through some hard times running well when you know you have been running well than to be running decent and just get lucky and squeak your way through. I would rather fight through whatever kind of issues you’ve got to have if you are running well to make it through.”
HAVE YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON HAD DISCUSSIONS ABOUT HOW THE NO. 24 AND NO. 48 TEAM ARE GOING TO WORK TOGETHER ON SUNDAY? AS A DRIVER THERE IS ONLY SO MUCH YOU CAN DO, BUT WHAT DOES ALL THAT ENTAIL?
“I think the biggest thing we look at is it’s great to have teammates, especially when you come to the plate tracks. We have seen groups or teams work together in the past to try to help a guy have a good run or help an organization to have a good run as a whole. We have had some small conversations, but we are going to go into more detail I feel like later on this weekend, probably sit down and try to get a better idea of how we want to proceed forward. I think the biggest thing, to answer your question, is just to not hurt one another. At the end of the day you can be in situations and it can be hard to help somebody so to speak, but there are sometimes where you could hurt them a lot easier. So I think just trying to avoid the hurt side of that and just be as helpful as you can be without getting yourself in trouble.”
SHOULD YOU BE ABLE TO PULL THIS WIN OUT AND YOU ARE ABLE TO ADVANCE TO THE NEXT ROUND OF THE CHASE DO YOU FEEL LIKE IF YOU CAN GET PAST THIS WEEKEND’S RACE THAT YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO GET THAT FIRST WIN AND BUILD MOMENTUM FOR NEXT YEAR, STUFF LIKE THAT?
“I 100 percent think if we can advance through this weekend I without a doubt feel like we can be a contender. I think if you don’t feel that way you need to go home. I definitely feel that way. I think we have been running well enough the past couple of weeks to be a contender. Obviously, we haven’t had the finishes to show it, but I feel like the way we’ve been clicking, pit road, practice, the race, I feel like all that stuff has been going in the right direction. I definitely think that we could be one of those guys if we can make it through this weekend. A lot of it, you have to have things go your way for sure. We’ve seen this over the past couple of years with this format. Me sitting at home watching as a fan, you’ve got to be good, but you’ve got to have some things go your way sometimes. You also just have to make it happen somedays. So, it is just kind of how this deal works.”
HOW DID YOU AVOID ALL THE ON-TRACK INCIDENTS IN MAY? IN SOME OF THOSE ACCIDENTS IN MAY, IT LOOKED LIKE IT WAS FROM CARS PUSHING AND SHOVING EACH OTHER. WHAT IS THAT LIKE? HOW HARD IS THAT? HOW MUCH DID YOU ALMOST LOSE CONTROL AT TIMES?
“To be honest with you I wish I knew how we made it through the first race without having any issues. We had a really strong car, sat on the pole here, which was great. We’ve had really fast speedway cars throughout the year, as the No. 24 team has over the past couple of years. That being said, I would like to say we had a certain strategy to make it through that race, we just really didn’t. There were times when we tried to be up front, there were times we got shuffled out and we ended up in the back. We were just really lucky to get around the wrecks as we did. It is definitely difficult.
“I feel like a lot of the mayhem that went on in that first race and I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong this weekend, but I think a lot of it was we were fighting that weather that weekend. That rain was coming in and I think we were all pretty antsy because we felt like that rain could be there anytime. We were past halfway. I think all that… to me the entire race looked like the last 20 laps of a typical weekend. It was that way about the whole day. I feel like the intensity was high throughout the entirety of the race as we ran. I feel like a lot of it had to do with that. To me it didn’t have the same feel as the Daytona 500 did or the Fourth of July Daytona race did. I think some of it was that. I could be proven wrong; this is obviously a big race for a lot of guys and lots on the line for a lot of us. I think at the same time that weather had a big factor. I don’t really know a good way to make it through. You can’t go anywhere in a hurry in these cars in these packs these days. I think a lot of it is important to try to methodically put yourself in the right positions at the right times throughout the race and make your moves when you can. It gets to a point and it’s hard to move forward in a hurry. That can become an issue.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE WAY YOU RAN HERE IN MAY AND HAVING WON THE XFINITY RACE AT DAYTONA IN FEBRUARY GIVES OTHER DRIVERS CONFIDENCE TO WORK WITH YOU ON SUNDAY?
“I hope. I feel like the biggest thing is you want to be reliable in that standpoint. But guys know when other guys have a fast car at this place. If you can be that guy in the draft that can make a lane go forward or be a good pusher or have the ability to push a lane when it is having a hard time going forward, I feel like guys notice that more than anything. A lot of it is how your car is driving, how fast it is and what its ability is in the draft. People take note of that, and they see it very quickly. You’ll see it in practice. If you’re running along in practice and you’re pushing a lane forward, people recognize and that will make them want to work with you more. But you also want to do your job, try to be reliable and not doing anything stupid.”
I TALKED TO YOUR SPOTTER LAST NIGHT, AND HE SAID WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU’RE COMMUNICATING WITH HIM IS THAT IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE RACING. THERE’S NEVER ANY DRAMA, AND THEREFORE HE CAN FOCUS MORE ON THE RACING. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT COMES TO YOU NATURALLY OR IS THAT SOMETHING YOU WORK AT?
“I just try to pay attention to the stuff that doesn’t matter. Sometimes complaining about certain things doesn’t get you anywhere. My dad spotted for me a lot when I was short-track racing, and some of that kind of comes from my time talking on the radio with him, his personality and how our personalities are. There’s no need to talk about some stuff while you’re racing. We’re here to run a race and focus on the things that are important. As you run along throughout a weekend obviously you want to keep it light where there are times to have it that way. But keeping your eye on what matters and not worrying about stuff that doesn’t is the biggest thing.”
DID YOU DIAGNOSE THE PROBLEM FROM LAST WEEK WITH WHAT CAUSED THE TIRE RUB, AND WAS YOUR ISSUE THE SAME AS KASEY (KAHNE’S)?
“To be honest with you, we’ve kind of come to the conclusion that it was a freak incident. We haven’t been doing anything the last couple of weeks that would cause it. So we did identify that it was happening when I would get up on the racetrack off the exit of Turn Two. That’s a pretty abrupt banking change, and we’re hitting it pretty hard under green-flag conditions. You hit it hard throughout the weekend, and it was weird that you don’t have that kind of stuff happen. But as those fenders heat up and get warm throughout a day, they can flex and bend easier. I hit the banking with the right-side first and the left-rear when it compressed folded the fender up under the tire. Once the car traveled down into the corner, it obviously cut it. The best we can figure out that our incident and Kasey’s was the same but we hadn’t done anything different the past number of weeks. It was an unfortunate situation for us.”
WITH THE UNPREDICTABILITY OF THIS TRACK, WERE YOU IN FAVOR OF THE SWAPPING OF THE ORDER IN THE CHASE AND MOVING TALLADEGA AROUND?
“The way this deal is, and with any type of point’s situation, you kind of control your own destiny in a lot of ways. If you’re in a position where you’re counting on that last race to get yourself through, then you didn’t do something right in the first two is the way I see it. You have the opportunity to advance before you get here, and even if this race is changed around to where this isn’t the last race, you have the opportunity to advance before or after it. It’s the same for everybody. I have a hard time complaining about that when I’ve had two opportunities to make my way through. As a team, we’ve had two chances to do that. We’ve had the same opportunities as the other 12 guys or however many are left to make it, and we’re in a position where we haven’t. We’ve got to bite the bullet and take the circumstances as they come.”
THERE’S A TERM CALLED RACING LUCK AS A CATCH-ALL FOR THINGS THAT ARE BEYOND A DRIVER’S CONTROL. IN YOUR FIRST YEAR, HOW MUCH HAVE YOU FOUND THAT TO BE A FACTOR IN THE SEASON AND AT A PLACE LIKE THIS?
“I don’t know… there are obviously some things you can’t control. There’s a lot of things you can control. I’ve learned over the years that a lot of your performance you have at the racetrack to me starts long before you ever get here. That’s the important side of it – control the things you can control. The stuff that is out of your hands is out of your hands. To worry or to let it bother you to the point that you can’t stand it, there’s no need. You have to have things go your way, certainly, but there are things you can control before you get here. We’ve had some unfortunate circumstances over the past couple of weeks – some of it self-inflicted. You have to look that, see how you can fix it moving forward and how can we continue to get better and progress as a race team. I’d rather be good any day rather than lucky. If you’re good you can try to work your way through some things and deal with it as they come. To me, the biggest piece is trying to maintain and control the things you can before you show up every weekend and throughout the race. It’s just part of it some days.”