CHASE ELLIOTT, CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 SCORE VICTORY AT CHARLOTTE
Team Chevy Takes Four of Top-10
CONCORD, NC (September 29, 2019) – Chase Elliott adds to his impressive road course resume by winning the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course in his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1, his third victory of the season and 13th top-10 finish in 2019.
With a dominating performance in a chaotic race, Elliott rallied from a near-disastrous wreck when leading the restart on lap 64, and was eventually able to retake the lead of the 248-lap race with just six laps to go. The victory, Chevrolet’s sixth win of the season, is the manufacturer’s 46th win at the Charlotte facility, the first ROVAL win for Team Chevy, and the 785th all-time win in NASCAR’S top series. The win at the 17-turn, 2.32-mile road course is Elliott’s sixth victory in 142 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Races starts.
The win is the 256th MENCS triumph for Hendrick Motorsports, which was also celebrated by Elliott’s teammates Alex Bowman, who finished in the runner-up spot in his No. 88 Nationwide Retirement Plans Camaro ZL1, William Byron, who was sixth in his No. 24 UniFirst Camaro ZL1, and Jimmie Johnson with a ninth-place finish in his No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1.
Kevin Harvick (Ford) was third, Clint Bowyer (Ford) was fourth, and Brad Keselowski (Ford) rounded out the top-five finishers in the race.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season continues next weekend at Dover International Speedway with the Drydene 400 on Sunday, October 6 at 2:30 P.M. ET. Live coverage can be found on NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
CHASE ELLIOTT, RICK HENDRICK (OWNER), AND ALAN GUSTAFSON (CREW CHIEF), NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1 PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: Good evening. We are going to start our post‑race media availability here for today’s Bank of America Roval 400 with our race‑winning team owner, Mr. Rick Hendrick. Congratulations on that victory. We will take questions for Rick.
Q. Rick, what was your swing of emotions from watching Chase go nose first into the wall and then him coming back and winning?
RICK HENDRICK: Man, I thought it was over. I mean, I thought that he made ‑‑ if we came back to the top 10, that would be great. But the car was really fast, and I thought it was hurt when it went into that barrier. But he came out and the lap times were good, and then we got a couple of cautions that helped us, and he got back up to the front. The car was really good, and he made some unbelievable moves, so I’m just really proud. Three out of the last five road courses he’s won, that’s pretty sporty.
Q. That was a really gritty performance by Bowman. Can you just talk about the heart that this kid has and what he put into his performance today?
RICK HENDRICK: You know, nobody tries any harder than Alex does. He just didn’t give up. I mean, and he was quick, but he ‑‑ I mean, he just refused to lose today. I thought, man, if he gets up there to Chase, we might have a problem. But no, Alex is committed. He’s a hundred percent in. Greg, that’s such a good team. I’m excited to see where they’re going to go here in the next round. But he did ‑‑ when you think about where he came from and finished second, that was unbelievable. Proud of him.
Q. Rick, Chicagoland aside earlier this year, do you believe that today and maybe these last two days are a defining moment for Alex within his history at Hendrick?
RICK HENDRICK: I think Alex is just getting better, and he’s had some rough luck. But if I watch his progression, especially on the mile‑and‑a‑half, he’s got heart. I mean, he’s got talent, and he’s got heart. And I think giving him the right circumstances and cars, he’s going to win more races.
I’m extremely happy with Alex because his commitment is 100 percent. He and the team work extremely well together, and he will not give up. So I think that’s the key to Alex Bowman, and we’re getting better, and he’s getting better, and I’m looking forward to the future with him.
Q. Last season Chase obviously won his first race at Watkins Glen and then really the team seemed to gel in the playoffs. They got a couple wins the season before the playoffs. Given his performance today and what you’ve seen so far this season, do you see any reason why he can’t be a contender for one of the four spots at Homestead?
RICK HENDRICK: Absolutely. He is ‑‑ he’s been good everywhere. But the organization is getting better, all the cars have got speed, and Chase has got so much confidence. I’m just looking forward to Dover and Kansas. I think they’re going to be great races for us, and I think Chase can go all the way.
There’s a lot of guys have built up a lot of bonus points in front of us, but I think we can win our way in.
Q. Chase’s celebration, did you see that, and what did you think of it?
RICK HENDRICK: No, I didn’t see it. I think he went back to the barrier and did his burnout there. I thought that was cool. But I didn’t see it. But I thought it was really neat.
You know, I think Chase, he doesn’t give himself enough credit. I mean, he told me after the race he kind of made a big mistake. Man, you drove the wheels off the car and you won, you came back. Everybody, that’s a tough ‑‑ I think that’s the toughest corner in it. But I think that was cool that he did that.
Q. And then during the race, Alex had an incident with Bubba Wallace and Bubba also confronted him post‑race. I was wondering if you saw those things and what your opinions were on it?
RICK HENDRICK: I didn’t see that. Any know. I knew Alex was dehydrated and went to the care center, but I did not know anything about he and Bubba having a confrontation. That’s news to me.
Q. Did you say anything to Alex after the wreck yesterday and starting the backup car and having kind of this week of adversity? Did you say anything special to him before this race about the odds stacked against him?
RICK HENDRICK: Actually before the race started I talked to him. I said, hey, man, you’ll be go, just do your thing. Don’t worry about the car, you’ll be good. He carries a lot of weight on his shoulders, a lot of pressure, and we try to help him all we can because he wants it so bad. He was beating himself up about wrecking a car with 30 seconds left in practice, but this is a whole new day.
I think coming away from this race, he’s going to have a lot of confidence going into Dover because I kept hearing the guys tell him where he was, two points ahead, one point behind, three points, got to pass this guy, you’ve got to pass that guy. On this track, that is the most treacherous track that I’ve seen these cars run on. If you make a mistake you’re in big trouble. I’m real proud of his performance today.
Q. Rick, I was just wondering if you could talk about the maturity of William Byron through the first round of the playoffs and how far that can take them?
RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, nobody knows how hard William Byron works. Chad Knaus gives him homework. He studies everything. He’s mature way beyond anything I could imagine. He listens, he picks every single video apart and looks at all the traces. Nobody works as hard as William does to understand what he did wrong and what he did right or the guys that are in front of him, what they’re doing. He is coming so quick to be, what, 10 front row starts, five poles, laps led. He was really good at Sonoma. He was good at Watkins Glen. He got into that jam with Kyle. But that kid is going to ‑‑ I’m not going to call him kid. That man is going to be really good for a lot of years to come. I’m super excited about our young guys.
Q. Not related to the race, the Stenhouse news this week created a little bit of a flurry. There’s a lot of driver change going on. I know your lineup is presently set. What do you make of what’s happening right now, and do you consider this a reset?
RICK HENDRICK: You know, I can’t really put myself in anybody else’s shoes. When you’re a team owner you get a lot of pressure from the sponsors. People expect you to do things, expect your people to perform and handle themselves a certain way. You know, I can’t really judge what another owner does because I’m not in their shoes.
It’s a tough business. That one shocked me because I thought that Buescher was all set in the 37.
Q. Rick, you started today with two drivers on either side of the cut line and you walk out of today with the win, four drivers in the top 10 and three drivers moving on in the playoffs. Just talk about how big today was for Hendrick.
RICK HENDRICK: Well, you know, any time you can bring all the cars and they can run well ‑‑ we haven’t been as good as we needed to be this year and last year, but we’ve worked extremely hard, and to see the cars run like they did today, super proud of them, and it’s a lot of ‑‑ you know, it’s a lot of hard work. There’s so many good teams and good cars out there. To finish in the top 10 or top 8 with four cars, it’s really hard. I’ve never seen the competition as tough as it is right now with as much talent as there is in the top 10 drivers. It’s going to be a dogfight all the way to Homestead.
Q. Rick, of your four drivers, Chase and William were obviously the youngsters, Jimmie is the elder statesman, but a lot of people don’t remember that Alex has got almost 150 starts in the series. Do you put additional pressure on him because of his experience, or do you let him just kind of be his own man and whatever evolves evolves?
RICK HENDRICK: I don’t think you can count his starts. I think you have to look at the equipment he was in, and if he had equal equipment as what these other guys have, I think he would be in much better ‑‑ he would have done better, won more. Every time we put Alex in a car ‑‑ the first time up in New Hampshire, he was running up in the top 10. I mean, he’s got a tremendous amount of talent. There’s so many guys in this sport that have a lot of talent that just never get an opportunity to get in the right seat.
Q. I think you touched on what I wanted to ask you about, but with the stable of drivers that you have now compared to years ago with Gordon, with Johnson and whatnot, what is the learning curve when you have a younger set of drivers and you’re trying to groom them but trying to manage the expectations of sponsors and running the business?
RICK HENDRICK: You know, our sponsors are pretty excited about the young guys because they see how much potential they have. I think by having Jimmie there with them and Chase’s experience, that they feed off of each other. I look forward to years to come because I felt like, yeah, William had not done ‑‑ he hadn’t spent any time in most any series, but he’s a quick learner and got a lot of talent. But you never know how good they’re going to be until you put them out there with the best, and it’s when they start running the top 15, top 10, that’s one thing, but when he starts running up there in the top 5 with the guys that are winning the races, that’s when you see the level of talent they have, and now what they need is experience. They just need to keep racing and running up front, and they’ll get their share of wins.
THE MODERATOR: We’re going to continue with our post‑race media availability here for today’s Bank of America Roval 400. We’re now joined by our race‑winning crew chief, Alan Gustafson. We’ll take questions for Alan.
Q. What was the damage that was done when Chase plowed into the tire barrier?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Fortunately, it really wasn’t much. It seemed like it pushed the hood down more than anything and kind of pushed the hood inside of the top of the fenders and kind of pushed it back into the windshield. The biggest thing that we really had to do is get that back sealed up and get it down. Having that vented isn’t the greatest thing in the world for the performance of the car. Yeah, it was a biggest task. As long as the splitter was intact and in good condition, no tire rubs, we were going to be in decent shape. That was the case. We got lucky on that. I don’t know how we didn’t have more substantial damage than that. I think that just went our way.
Q. What did Chase say happened when he hit that tire barrier?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Well, those restarts, it’s tough to time your speed when they’re out there running laps. They exit that chicane pretty consistently, and then have their braking marker set up. In that situation he was carrying a bit more speed than he had at the restart before, and I haven’t gone back and analyzed if he braked at the same spot or drove it in a bit deeper, but nevertheless he locked up the left front tire and couldn’t get it back and just had to go straight.
Q. How surprised were you ‑‑ obviously you’ve got to have confidence and all that when you make those repairs, but he slid into the frigging wall nose first. How surprised happily were you when he was starting ‑‑ when you could see that it really didn’t affect him that much?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, it was ‑‑ as soon as he backed it out, I was like, man, it looks pretty good, and then NBC kind of followed us, so we had great shots of the car, and we could see that it just didn’t sustain that much damage. Yeah, I mean, super surprised. I just kind of going off last year and the thing that kind of stands out is when the 2 did something similar and took half the field with him. Those cars were destroyed. You know, when you see him kind of smoking it off in there like that, you’re like, yeah, that’s not going to be good. But it worked out for us. I don’t know if the tires ‑‑ I don’t know what’s down there to be honest with you, if it’s tire barriers or some type of foam barrier or whatever, but it seemed like it just slid up the nose of the car and ultimately didn’t damage it very much.
Q. Per NASCAR’s timing and scoring data, you had the second fastest car in the race today. Through the three road courses this year, your car ranked as the fastest. Over the last few years, Hendrick Motorsports has waned in terms of overall speed but you’ve managed to maintain really good speed on road courses. How have you been able to do this?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, who was fastest today? I’m surprised we weren’t fastest. Harvick was? Gotcha.
Yeah, I think it starts with Chase. I think he’s a good road racer. We were fortunate enough really where this kind of started in my opinion was we had a test at Watkins Glen in 2016 when he was a rookie, and we worked through a lot of things there, and we came up with a really good package that was really good and really fast, and something he was very comfortable with.
Unfortunately we didn’t really perform that well that year, but that is the basis. That test was the basis. That’s where we found the speed in the car and were able to generate a package that had a lot of pace, and we’ve just carried that on kind of from that point in time.
I think we’ve run better than it shows in ’16 and even this year. Obviously we won Watkins Glen and here and then we were third at Sonoma when we had an engine failure. Yeah, I think it starts with him, and then that test rings to me as a place that since then we’ve just had good pace and a good package that we can build on.
Q. Alan, timing is everything, and you guys right now are showing the speed that you need to. All three Hendrick cars are into the next round. What do you guys need to move on to that round of 8, and how close are you to being where you need to be to compete for the championship?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I mean, these rounds are tough. This round, you can get through this round with just not making mistakes. Fortunately for us we ran really well at Vegas and really good here, so‑so at Richmond, but they’re going to get tougher, and with Talladega looming, you never know what’s going to happen there.
We’re going to have to have knockout top 5s and win, and certainly I think to get to Homestead, if we don’t win and get close on bonus points to get to Homestead, we’re going to have to win a round in that round of 8. I think the 4, the 19, the 18, the 11 I guess, I don’t know where we stack up to all those guys now, but certainly the 19 and the 18 have a lot of bonus points, so it’s tough to make up that amount on those guys in three races. Even if you outrun them, those guys are typically in the top 10 scoring stage points. For us moving forward we’re going to have to be top 5 certainly this next round and then winning past that.
Q. Alan, I think at one point you or Chase might have expressed some frustration on the yellows that were called today, lack of yellows. Can you comment on that?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: I expressed some frustration on the lineup. That was really frustrating for me. I didn’t see anything about the yellows. The lineup there when we had gotten tires, I can’t remember, it cycled back and some guys had stayed out, and we had just pit, beat the 4 off pit road, first car off pit road, and then they were supposed to swap the 48 and the 2, and that was what was conveyed to the spotters, and then the 48 pulled down and the 2 stayed in the bottom lane, and he was supposed to swap to the top lane. So long story short, that puts us back a whole ‘nother row and puts Harvick up a whole ‘nother row, so a guy that we beat off pit road now is three spots in front of us, which is unbelievable to me, and I just don’t see how you can start the race in that position.
Fortunately for us, we were able to win that stage, but that was going to be ‑‑ that put us in a bad spot, and I feel like the team and the driver and all of us had put ourselves in position where we needed to be, and then to get kind of bumped back like that ‑‑ I don’t know exactly what happened. I’m not in the tower, and I’m certainly not criticizing the job that those guys do. They’ve got a very, very tough job. But if the 2 was supposed to move and he didn’t move, he needed to be black flagged; it’s that simple. Now, if there was something that I didn’t understand correctly or he wasn’t supposed to move, then that’s a different story but there’s really no scenario that I can understand where the 4 should be in front of us when we beat him off pit road, right. There’s nothing that could transpire to me that would move him up.
So that was really frustrating. And fortunately we came back from it, but you never know, right, that could have been the difference between that one stage point or that could have been the difference between getting crashed or not getting crashed, and who knows what happens.
Q. Is this a difficult race because it’s so new for everybody, NASCAR included, and when spins happen, sometimes they’re yellow, sometimes they’re not, is it harder for you on what are going to be cautions and what aren’t?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, my opinion on the cautions are, look, you don’t want to throw them, and I’m assuming that’s what they’re trying to do. I’m not watching the race as intently as you guys are or they are for sure. My comment on the cautions is you want to delay it. I’ve done a lot of road racing in my life and in my career, and that’s pretty standard operating procedure. They leave it green until there’s a point that somebody is in harm’s way, and I think that’s what they tried to do, what I’m assuming they tried to do, and if somebody is in ultimate in harm’s way and their safety is at risk, then the caution comes out. But there’s so much space, you should allow the race to transpire, and I think that’s the best philosophy and the way it should happen, and the premier road racing series will do that typically, even when cars have failures and pull off to the side, as long as they’re out of harm’s way, they continue to race.
Q. You’ve been with Chase for a little while now, and I think a lot of us and the fans have been spoiled in recent times with the chemistry developing very quickly between drivers and crew chiefs, and there were years where that would take seasons for it ever to really gel, but you guys have been together a little bit, and it seems like you’re starting to get more to that almost finishing each other’s sentences now. Do you feel like you’re at that point where just by things like the inflection in Chase’s voice lets you know what’s going on even without him telling you?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I mean, I think that relationships is kind of like an arranged marriage. You never know ‑‑ you kind of don’t really choose your driver and the driver doesn’t really choose his crew chief in most circumstances. You never know if you’re going to see it eye to eye or you’re going to get along, and I think it takes a while to build trust in the relationship and to build the foundation to know that ultimately I’m looking after his best interest and he’s looking after my best interest, and certainly the best interest of the team.
For us, I’ve been pretty fortunate with the guys I’ve worked with, it’s not been a huge problem, and it wasn’t a huge problem with Chase, and we’ve gotten along pretty well from the beginning. But over time as you go through different circumstances and different situations, that gets a bit stronger and stronger, and as you have success, right, you get stronger and stronger, and that forges a better relationship and puts you in a situation where you can overcome more things and you don’t waver. The worst thing you can do is if things don’t go your way, the worst thing I can do, right, is say he made a mistake and try to blame him, and the worst thing he can do is say, well, the car did this or that and try to blame me. That doesn’t get you anywhere. I think if you’ve been through it enough and have trust and faith in each other and all that stuff, you just deal with it and focus on improving, and that’s what we do. That’s what we’ve always tried to do and I think it’s certainly not getting worse, and I think probably getting better because we’ve been having some pretty reasonable success.
THE MODERATOR: We will take questions for Chase.
Q. When you hit the barrier in Turn 1, after that, when did you know it was going to be okay and you might have a chance?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, definitely at the time I thought we were done for sure. You know, I could see they were showing it up on the big screen, I could see the big screen down the back and I was looking at it, and I was like, well, the hood is not that bad, but I thought the splitter was knocked up, and I felt like if that was going to be the case, then we were probably done from there, and obviously just a really stupid mistake. I mean, I’m not sure you could do something more stupid than that.
If there ever is a notebook of things not to do, that should be number one in that book.
Q. You asked on the radio (indiscernible)?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I was curious about it, and I just didn’t compensate enough for the faster pace. I mean, yeah, it was nobody’s fault but mine.
Q. You’ve had your first win came at Watkins Glen a couple years ago. How does this racetrack compare to Watkins Glen as a road course?
CHASE ELLIOTT: It doesn’t. I mean, other than you turn right. It’s really different. But I felt like this track is more similar to Sonoma than I think it is Watkins Glen for sure, but it’s still road course racing, and it’s still ‑‑ the fundamentals I think are similar, but the track surface and the condition and everything is definitely ‑‑ definitely suits more of a Sonoma style than Watkins Glen.
Q. Chase, you’ve won races at each of the next three tracks in the Round of 12. Do you anticipate a win coming in the next three weeks?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I hope so. You know, nice to have an extra six points going into the next round for sure. We’ll go to work on Dover on Tuesday and start our prep and really think about the next one. But it’s hard to carry anything really from today into next week just because it’s back to the ovals. Anything we learned today from a road course standpoint obviously we don’t have another one the rest of the year. But can definitely take those six points with you as long as you’re alive in this playoff system, and hopefully we don’t need them but we got them, and hopefully ‑‑ well, it’s good either way, so we have them.
Q. Your celebration was obviously in like the Hall of Fame of celebrations. At what point did it occur to you, like you know what, I’m going to just drive it back down there and stuff it in there and do a burnout?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I was coming back on the frontstretch and I saw that dang thing, and I was like, well, I couldn’t pass this opportunity up to go down here and redeem myself a little bit in Turn 1. Yeah, I was pretty excited about that one. I’m typically not very quick‑witted, but I was really proud of that. I was pretty fired up. Definitely it should have never been special in the first place, but since I went out of my way to make it special today, I felt like I had to go back and see it one more time.
Q. You didn’t sound too pleased with your practice or your qualifying on Friday, but of course practice went really well for you yesterday. What were you able to see yesterday that helped you bring it together today?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, that’s a good question. Friday was really just a struggle. Just never felt like I got into a rhythm Friday, spun out there in qualifying, made a dumb mistake there, too, and that set us back. Certainly not how you want to start the race, middle of the pack. You’re asking for it in there and getting body damage or some problem. You know, luckily was able to get our car driving better yesterday in practice, and then stayed out of trouble those first handful of laps and was able to get strung out and get into a rhythm and from there felt like our car was close.
Q. Chase, in the several weeks leading up to your win at Watkins Glen, you guys had struggled a lot with performance. I was just wondering since then up until today’s victory, do you feel you guys have corrected some of the problems that you thought you had or addressed and feel that it’s put you in a good position to challenge for the championship?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Oh, I think we’re a stronger team now than we’ve ever been. I honestly feel like we’re really close to being able to assert ourselves amongst those top teams. I feel like we have that in us. I don’t say that because we won today, I say that because I believe it. I think that we definitely have work to do. You know, you can’t go and run as bad as we did last weekend and then come here and win. You’ve got to be able to have a little more consistency than that. So we definitely have our work cut out for us and trying to get better. But I think we are the type of team and we have a good enough group of guys that we can run with those guys or really whoever, I think, whenever we’re at our best, and I thought we proved that today.
Q. Chase, it was a good weekend for the entire Elliott family. Your dad got to visit Victory Lane yesterday at Road Atlanta and then you win today. I can’t imagine that’s something you thought would happen over the course of your career. What did that mean to you?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, it was cool. They’ve been driving vintage cars at Road Atlanta this weekend. I wanted to go over there and see it. I’ve never made a lap at Road Atlanta. It looks like a really cool place. Definitely neat, not something you would necessarily think would happen. That’s kind of a tough thing to do for sure. But definitely pretty cool and hopefully we can share some more weekends like that moving on.
Q. Alan was in here and was talking about how there was confusion for you guys on the order of one of those cautions. Could you explain that?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I’d have to ask a question on that one. I don’t understand why that was okay or why that wasn’t addressed. But yeah, I think the 48 and the 2 were in flip‑flopped positions. It was made apparent over the radio. I think Jimmie made a very conscious effort to move down and try to swap with the 2, and the 2 wasn’t having it. That was his decision. But they let him run with it, and I’m not sure.
Yeah, I can’t answer that. I think they were supposed to swap spots and one of them did and the other one didn’t, so you tell me.
Q. Is this race tougher year two? I know it’s a road course but a different kind of road course, for NASCAR to call it where sometimes guys spin and there’s yellows, sometimes there’s not? Is it confusing from that perspective?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I don’t know ‑‑ obviously that’s a discretion call for whoever makes that decision. If they think somebody is wrecked bad enough or whatever, I guess then they put the caution out. I don’t know. But that’s not really for me to concern myself over. I don’t make that decision. Luckily for us today the cautions fell at a good time, and honestly had more cautions there at the end than what I was wanting, but you don’t always get what you want, and luckily it worked out for us.
Q. You’ve demonstrated your abilities at just about every venue you’ve been, but it seems like the road course seems to suit your style very well. Does a road course typically challenge a driver more or is a road course just a road course and an oval is an oval?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, it’s tough. They’re very different, your approach and how you drive the cars are very different, but I feel like you have to be able to be good at all of them. There’s really just not an area I think that you can be bad at nowadays and expect to compete with the guys who win championships in this deal.
We put as much emphasis on the road courses just as we do the other races. You know, and sometimes they have gone well and sometimes they haven’t. We’ve had our struggles at Sonoma and Watkins Glen really for that matter and had our struggles here on Friday. So I mean, it’s not just a guarantee you’re going to run good. It’s definitely a challenge, and it can be a challenge for whoever.
Q. Chase, I know it was a foam barrier, but when you’re going head‑on into something like that at that kind of speed, what are you thinking? What’s going through your mind?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I was just thinking, you idiot, like what did you just do, more than anything. But I hit it pretty hard. I thought it would hurt it a lot worse than what it did, and luckily the splitter didn’t get knocked up, and that was the saving grace of the whole thing. It was just kind of cosmetic hood damage and didn’t bust the radiator. Guys did a good job ‑‑ a lot of times when you have damage like that you come down pit road and try to fix it a lot of times you can make it worse than pushing and pulling on that stuff. Those are fragile areas. There’s really no support for the front fenders after it leaves the front bumper. It’s kind of its own piece of metal until it gets back to the A‑post, so that’s a fragile piece of an area of the car that could potentially cause a tire rub or this or that. The guys did a nice job to put it together the right way.
Q. You may have answered part of this, but to lead 35 laps, to be out there, to overcome what had happened and to have that momentum going into the next round of the playoffs, how important is that for you as a team to get that win?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, I mean, just those extra six points, you know. Who led the most laps today? Is that a point? Not anymore? Never mind, bummer.
But anyway, so yeah, I guess six points, that’s a big deal regardless, and obviously we wanted to win. But those six points stick with you, and you can’t put a price tag on that. You hope it doesn’t come down to six points. You hope that you’re cruising there and you’re able to run good enough or better yet win, but they’re nice to have for sure, and like I said, you can’t put a price tag on them. Those guys that have five, six wins are pretty well cruising to Homestead. You know that, and that’s the goal when we get to Daytona in February is to try to get up enough wins where these rounds, if you have a bad race that you can keep digging.
Q. Chase, I just wanted to go back to the accident. What was going on behind the wheel? Did it look as smooth or was it as smooth as it looked on TV when you hit the tire barrier and then seemed like you were quickly in reverse and got yourself going again?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I knew long before I hit it that I was going to hit it, so I was just thinking about reverse and getting out of there and finding a hole to crawl in as fast as possible because that was pretty dumb.
Q. On this course, and I don’t know if it’s because it’s the Roval or if it’s just the way this one lays out, but most of the time on road courses, passing is done under braking, and you out‑brake a guy and beat him in. We didn’t get to see all of your overtakes today, but it seemed like most of them were actually on acceleration and coming off of corners faster. Is that just the nature of this course, or was it the way your car was running?
CHASE ELLIOTT: You know, you just try to do ‑‑ you try to take advantage of wherever your strong points are, and I just didn’t feel ‑‑ at other places, braking zones are ‑‑ I think here, a braking zone would be a great place to pass. The problem with here is if you blow the backstretch, you’ve ruined ‑‑ you could potentially have ruined your day. The risk versus reward there doesn’t make a lot of sense. Other places, Watkins Glen, you out‑brake somebody into Turn 1, well, if you blow it you just run wide. So I think you have to think about that, and I think that was probably a big reason why guys just weren’t just champing at the bit to pull out of line down the back because we didn’t know if we were going to make it by ourselves a lot of times, much less two people.
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