MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
BOJANGLES SOUTHERN 500
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. SCHEDULE
SEPTEMBER 1, 2017
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA CHEVROLET SS met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and discussed driving the No. 9 in 2018, his throwback paint scheme, his European vacation and many other topics. Full Transcript:
THE NO. 24 NOW YOU ARE THROWING BACK TO THE NO. 9 NEXT YEAR, SOME PRETTY COOL NEWS THAT CAME OUT THIS WEEK:
“Yeah, it was. As I have kind of said all week and I’m sure everybody has heard. It’s something I’m really excited about. It’s an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, something that I guess with just the way the changes and all the things that are happening at Hendrick next year it was a good time to do it. And with all that being said, Mr. Hendrick, I guess kind of had that in the back of his mind and was thinking about it. I had always kind of lightheartedly joked about it over time and somewhere along the line he has been really listening to that. I appreciated it for sure. Excited for the rest of this season. Definitely as I have said throughout the week too, you know I have an opportunity to add on to the success Jeff (Gordon) has had in this car and I would like to do that before I don’t have that opportunity anymore.”
HAVE YOU GOTTEN A LOT OF REACTION FROM THE FANS FROM THE NUMBER CHANGE?
“Yeah, I have. From everything I’ve seen, everybody is pretty fired up as much as I am. I think the response as I have seen is it just fits. That is kind of the way I have seen it in my mind too. It’s something that fits me. It fits the history of my family sure, but it also fits the history of what I’ve always kind of ran and where I came from starting to race go-karts and things over the years. That has been the biggest response I have seen. I certainly agree with it.”
SINCE YOU HAD ALREADY NOW RACED ALMOST TWO SEASONS IN THE NO. 24 DID YOU HAVE ANY SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT MAKING THE CHANGE?
“No, I didn’t have any second thoughts. I mean it was really a no brainer for me. Anytime you have a chance to kind of go back to where you came from in a sense with your number that is a number I’ve been tied to for a long time. When you are a kid and you go and you are going to play soccer for the first time and you pick number nine, I feel like from there you are always going to have that connection with it or whatever. So, for me, no, it was pretty easy to want to take that opportunity. The only thought I have had is the No. 24 it really has become home for me over the past year and a half and I feel like I have kind of got to that point with it and felt at home. So, that is the only thing to it, but no, it was a no brainer for me to want to take that chance.”
YOU CAME INTO THIS SERIES WITH HIGH EXPECTATIONS. A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM THOUGHT YOU WOULD HAVE WON BY NOW…
“I’m sorry I let you down.”
THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE FINISHED SO WELL SO MANY TIMES DOES THAT ENCOURAGE YOU THAT THE WIN IS RIGHT NEXT DOOR? ARE YOU WORRIED AT ALL?
“No, I’m not. I look back at some races we had last year, we have had a couple of opportunities this season, the chances have been there. It is kind of one of those things like ‘boy if I knew last year what I knew this year,’ you would have liked to think we could have made the most of some great opportunities we had last season, more than a couple of times. So, I think that is encouraging. I think we need to find a little speed and continue to execute our races well. I think we have been doing that better over the past couple of weeks. Bad circumstances at Bristol, but we were running decent around fifth or sixth, well inside the top 10, so we definitely have some work to do, but no, I’m not concerned about it. I think if we get things where they need to be and I can execute and do my job and the way I need to do it, I don’t see any reason why we can’t go and compete to win more races as we have done in the past. We have competed for them, just never done it.”
WHO WAS MORE THRILLED YOU OR YOUR DAD THAT YOU WILL BE DRIVING THE NO. 9 NEXT YEAR?
“I think me. I have always ever since I was little, like I said, that was the number I always picked, the number I always went with, the number I raced from go-karts all the way through late models, even the Xfinity years and all that was really because it was my decision. I mean I didn’t have to pick that number, I didn’t have to go with it, that was just kind of the number I had always liked. And really my passion and love for that number came from the Evernham days with my Dad and I was just old enough at that point to where I kind of started to understand and saw him racing. I made a connection with him with that number in the early 2000’s that really I have no idea about the 80’s and all the success then at that point when I made that connection. So, it was really all the early 2000’s that is kind of what made me want to be No. 9. So, no I definitely think I’m probably more excited than he is, I think, about it. Like I said, it’s going to be really cool. The No. 9, I’m biased for sure, but it’s too good of a number to not be running currently. It is just a good-looking number if you ask me, so I’m excited.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR VACATION:
“Yeah, me and a couple of friends went to Europe over the past off week. Got to go to the Belgium F1 race, which was pretty neat. It was cool to see how they do things and how much of a different world it is over there. It was kind of funny to see how much of what they do is different and how much of what they do is the exact same, we just have a little bit of a different way of getting to the final way of getting there. Definitely, the language barrier was a bit of a problem a few times, wasn’t too crazy about the food. We typically would eat dinner and then have to go back and eat dinner again at McDonald’s because the food was just really bad a lot of places. We struggled with that, but other than that it was a great time, a lot of fun and kind of a good way to recharge the batteries and get going again for this last stretch.”
“Yeah, we did, we actually flew into there, flew back from Atlanta, that was the only place we could find close enough to everywhere we wanted to go that had a direct flight. Went there, went to Ireland for a couple of days and from there to Germany, came across the Autobahn which was pretty cool and then from there drove over to Belgium for the F1 race and then back to the Netherlands to go home.”
“Neither really, I’m not big into art. Actually, we did try to go to an art museum and the line was packed out, so we skipped that one. Rode bicycles around town and it was pretty cool.”
WHEN YOU REFLECT ON YOUR TIME WITH JR MOTORSPORTS CAN YOU KIND OF GIVE ME AN IDEA OF THE DRIVER DEVELOPMENT ASPECT OF THAT KNOWING WHERE YOUR CAREER WAS HEADED AND HOW JR MOTORSPORTS IS GEARED TOWARD DRIVER DEVELOPMENT AND IS DALE EARNHARDT, JR. INVOLVED IN THAT?
“Yeah, I mean Dale is… his name is above the door, so he is going to be involved at some point along the line for sure. My relationship and opportunity at JR Motorsports didn’t really come through him or Kelley, granted they did a lot of work once I got there that I’ve certainly appreciated over the years. My connection and opportunity there came from Mr. Hendrick’s involvement and ownership in the team. Which, I feel like is probably pretty similar to where William (Byron) is right now and how he kind of got his foot in the door over there, which is kind of how I did as well. So, I think in the right circumstance, yes, I think it’s geared to be a stepping stone for the next level in the right circumstance and some circumstances it may not be, it may be a good home for guys for a long time and if that is the case too that is great. Consistency is good at a race team and guys like Elliott (Sadler) and Justin (Allgaier) over there right now are really a good thing for the company. I think there are guys within the company that believe in those two guys, they want to be there, they want to work there and work on those cars because they know the consistency of what they bring. For a guy that is only going to be there for a year or two, you don’t know as a worker and as an employee. So, I think it’s good to have a mix of both and I do think in some cases, yes, it’s a nice stepping stone. I’m fortunate that it was for me and I’m sure William is too, but in some cases I think it’s a good consistent spot to stay.”
I THINK YOU ARE THE FIRST PERSON TO DRIVE THE SAME NUMBER YOUR DAD DROVE IN THE CUP SERIES HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT:
“Yeah, like I said, it’s special. I don’t know if I am or not, if I am that is really cool, but like I said, it’s an opportunity and something that I wasn’t going to turn down. I grew to love that number because of my Dad and because of the years he raced and I wasn’t going to say not to something that I always kind of joked about and wanted too… would definitely do if I ever had the chance and the chance has rolled around and luckily all of our partners and people that make the whole deal work were on board with it to get it approved and it did and we are going to race the Daytona 500 next year in the No. 9.”
HOW SPECIAL IS YOUR PAINT SCHEME THIS WEEKEND FOR THROWBACK WEEKEND?
“Yeah, I like our car a lot. It is a car my Dad ran a number of years ago, one of the first cars he ran. The cool part about the car we are running this weekend is it’s really not a car that people identify with him. A lot of people don’t even know he ran a baby blue car. So, pretty cool. He has a lot of history and insight on the car that I really didn’t know about. I did some stuff with him the other day and got to learn about kind of just the different things. He has such a good grasp on the history and how things were back then and why they ran that car and you look at the car, the driveshaft had come out of it at one race and it beat the hell out of the floorboard and a lot of the things inside of the car and all they did was just take a hammer to it, fixed it enough, put it back together and go the next week. So, funny to see that stuff and I mean it’s still beat all to crap in there and they just kept on trucking down the road with it. It was a cool story and like I said the coolest thing about it is not a lot of people even know about that car and even know that he ran it. Hopefully, that opens some eyes.”
WHAT DID YOUR DAD SAY WHEN YOU TOLD HIM THIS IS WHAT YOU WERE RUNNING?
“Well, he was excited about it. It was kind of in between that and I have another idea of a throwback scheme that I really want to do. I don’t want to give it away right now, but it was between that car and the other idea that I had. Both of them were going to be really neat to do and he is definitely excited about this one, but honestly, I think he will be more excited about my other idea if I can ever get it pushed forward and approved.”
DID YOU GET TO TALK TO ANY OF THE F1 DRIVERS? WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE AND WHO DID YOU TALK TO? AS TIME PASSES DO YOU HAVE A GREATER APPRECIATION OF YOUR WIN HERE IN 2014 TO WIN THE FIRST TIME? HOW DO YOU VIEW THAT WIN NOW COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WON THAT NIGHT?
“I didn’t get a chance to meet any of the drivers over at the F1 race. I was lucky to find my pass. I couldn’t speak the same language as anybody over there, they didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak whatever they speak. I had a hard time finding where I needed to go. Asking directions doesn’t work, so luckily, I had one phone number to get in contact with somebody, they did speak English and I was able to get my pass. We just barely made it in there. Had to hike about 4 miles from our parking spot to get there, so no, I didn’t get to meet any drivers, which was fine. Did get to see a couple of cars up close, which was pretty neat, to look at just all the things those things have going on. It’s pretty incredible and the speed they are able to carry is definitely neat. It is just wild to watch them I mean how fast they are going, but they can’t get very close to each other, but they are going fast. Cool to watch for sure.
“Yeah, well, I guess beginners luck. We had a great night here the first time and since then it has gone pretty poorly for me. So, at that point in 2014 we had some great stuff going on at JR Motorsports. We had some really strong cars, we had just come off a big win at Texas the week before, so it was just a really good time. We had things rolling at that point during that season, which was great and we came here with it. Had a really good car, we ran in the top five the majority of the night and had a late caution there, Kyle (Busch) was going to beat us for the win and ended up lining up on the top row and got a lucky restart and ended up winning it. So, it worked out, but it hasn’t gone that well since for sure.”
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