NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
AUTOTRADER ECHOPARK AUTOMOTIVE 500
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 22, 2020
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 HOOTERS GIVE A HOOT CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference to discuss his outlook going into the second race of the Playoffs’ Round of Eight at Texas Motor Speedway, the preparation that goes into the Playoff races, what he’s taken away from the 2020 season, and more. Transcript:
CHASE, YOU START FOURTH IN THE HOOTERS GIVE A HOOT CHEVROLET, WHICH SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD START. YOU’RE FIFTH IN POINTS; DOWN EIGHT FROM THE CUT-OFF LINE OF FOUR. HOW ARE YOU LOOKING AT THE WEEKEND?
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. Texas is a challenge, for sure. It’s nice to have a good starting spot, which is certainly helpful, and hopefully we can try to keep our track position. That’s a very tough place to pass and make a lot of ground since they re-configured it. Yeah, I think that will be nice. Hopefully, we can keep the track position and move forward.”
DO YOU GIVE A HOOT ABOUT THE EIGHT POINTS BELOW THE CUT-OFF LINE? DO YOU GIVE A HOOT ABOUT THAT OR IS IT JUST POINTS, YOU’VE GOT TO GO WIN AND YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO KIND OF THING?
“Yeah, I mean to be honest, I feel like I’ve really worried about the points situation less this year than I ever have before. It matters, don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t care. It does matter, but I just think the more that you understand that winning is paramount and that’s the only guarantee that moves you on. And also, realizing that if you make the Final Four, you’re going to have to go win that last race. So, I’m just really a big believer in feeling comfortable in that moment and just trying to thrive in the situation of having to win, and I think that’s how we need to treat these last two races in this Round. Ultimately, if you’re not winning races at this level, you’re not going to win the championship anyways. So, that’s how we have to approach it and I feel good about that.”
THIS HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST UNUSUAL, IF NOT THE MOST UNUSUAL, SEASON IN NASCAR HISTORY. YOU GUYS HAVE GOTTEN SO MUCH DONE, SO MUCH GOOD DONE. WHAT’S THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’LL TAKE AWAY FROM THIS 2020 CAMPAIGN AND WHAT HAS BEEN THE ASPECT THAT WORKS BEST?
“There’s a lot of things, I think, this year. I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but yeah, I think there’s a lot of things that we’ve learned as an industry. The amount of time we’re spending at race tracks I feel like is maximized for the drivers and teams, and we’re still putting on the same great race on Sunday. So, that to me is the biggest thing that this bad situation, obviously with all that’s going on in the world, led to a simplified version, I guess, of what we had with really no negative effect of the actual product on Sunday. I do think there was a complexity that had gotten so complex through greed and money. Just like money drives everything, so over the years, things just kind of got carried away and carried away to the point where I’m not sure it could sustain and I think we learned lessons this year that can really help this deal not only last for a very long time, but I think grow in the right direction that racing should.”
YOU MENTIONED THE RE-CONFIGURATION AT TEXAS BEING A PROBLEM. I’M ASSUMING YOU’RE REFERRING TO TURNS ONE AND TWO, NOW BEING 20 DEGREES AS COMPARED TO THE THREE AND FOUR OF 24 DEGREES. IS THAT THE PART OF THE TRACK THAT GIVES YOU THE BIGGEST PROBLEM?
“To be honest, I feel like I’ve had my struggles on both ends of the race track. I don’t know that it has as much to do with the banking re-configurations. Maybe, just the fresh asphalt. I don’t really know exactly what it is. One and two has certainly been a struggle, but we’ve had our problems at the other end of the race track, too. So, I guess the combination between that and the track surface being new, Goodyear having to bring a really hard tire – something in that whole realm of change has not suited me well in the past, unfortunately. I think for me, just focused on trying to look forward and not bring those bad vibes to Texas this weekend I think is a big piece of improving. Just having a better mindset and looking forward to another opportunity there.”
WANTED TO LOOK AHEAD A WEEK – MARTINSVILLE. YOU’VE RAN WELL THERE, THE ORGANIZATION HAS RAN WELL THERE. JUST DESCRIBE THE IDEA OF HAVING AN OLD-SCHOOL, SHORT TRACK BE KIND OF A DECIDING FACTOR OF WHO MAKES THE CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR AND WHO DOESN’T.
“Yeah, it does. I think Martinsville is certainly a place that deserves to be on the schedule and I think it deserves to have an important place on the schedule. Where it’s been placed in this final 10 races over the last – it’s been right there towards the end of the season for a long time. It’s been a deciding factor of who makes the Final Four every year since this format was implemented, if I’m not mistaken. So, it’s always been important and I think rightfully so.”
YOU TALKED LAST WEEK ABOUT TEXAS, SINCE THE RE-PAVE, HAS KIND OF BEEN A STRUGGLE FOR YOU. WHEN YOU SEE THE PLAYOFF FORMAT COME OUT AND THE ROUND THREE CUT-OFF RACE BE MARTINSVILLE, DOES THAT GIVE YOU A LITTLE BIT OF CONFIDENCE FOR THE FACT THAT – HEY, IF I GO THERE AND I HAVE TO HIT A HOME RUN, I KNOW I’M CAPABLE OF THAT?
“Yeah, I think we’re capable of running good everywhere. So, that’s really where my mindset is. I hate to just say – OK, yeah we’ve had good runs at Martinsville, so we’re just going to count on that one. That’s not how you have to go about this. And also, as great as it is to know that we’ve had some good runs at certain race tracks, past success doesn’t equal future success. It never has and I don’t think it ever will. You can still go to a place that has been good to you and struggle. We can go to Martinsville next week and be terrible. That’s just racing and that’s just the way it is. So, I think for us, just to look at an event because we’ve had a couple of decent runs there in the past and put all our eggs in that basket is not wise.”
YOU’VE ALSO BEEN THERE WHERE CERTAIN THINGS HAPPEN DURING THE RACE BECAUSE SO MUCH WAS ON THE LINE. WITH EVERYBODY BEING SORT OF PACKED IN AND AROUND THAT CUT-OFF LINE, DOES JOEY LOGANO WINNING LAST WEEK AND KIND OF LEAP-FROGGING, IT MAKE PACK A BUNCH OF GUYS INTO A VERY, VERY SMALL BASKET GOING INTO THAT RACE.
“Yeah, I mean it certainly can. We don’t know what the points situation is going to look like until we get through Texas. Yeah, I’m sure no matter what it looks like, there’s going to be guys that have to win just like there always is and guys who are flirting around the line. So, that’s just a product of three-race rounds, a product of the reset and a product of how this format is. Regardless of whatever happens this weekend, I’m sure it will be an exciting event to watch.”
WITH SO MUCH ON THE LINE IN THE PLAYOFF RACES, HAVE YOU CHANGED AT ALL PREPARATION-WISE? WITH NO PRACTICE, TOO, ARE YOU STUDYING ANYMORE NOTES, WATCHING ANYMORE FILM OR DOING ANY MORE MEETINGS?
“Honestly, our approach has been the same as its always been when we had a bunch of practice. And I think for us, I feel like we are just trying not to re-invent the wheel and just do our thing, which I think there’s something to that. Something to be said for that and not trying to out-smart ourselves. Say we have our meeting on Monday, right, and on Wednesday, I have a thought or I have an idea, Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) has an idea, or one of our team members has an idea – we all reach out to each other and get on another call and discuss it. But if we feel good about our meeting on Monday and feel like we’re ready to go, I’ll go through my regular prep for the event, they will as well, and I’ll see them on Sunday morning.”
HOW MUCH TIME IS THAT PREP? ARE YOU SPENDING ONE OR TWO HOURS A DAY? IS IT FOUR OR FIVE HOURS A DAY? IS IT EIGHT HOURS A DAY?
“That’s tough – I think it’s hard to put a number on it. I’m the kind of guy where I might watch certain things at certain time. But also, I feel like I might be riding down the road and have a thought pop in my head and I’ll start down a rabbit hole of thinking – what I think caused this or what I think we need to do better and why. So, it’s hard for me to put a timeframe on that because I feel like my mind is always kind of thinking about it and when you have those good ideas or something that makes sense in your head, something that you can explain easily, I try to pass those things along. And it’s really just kind of an open dialogue all the time, I guess, is kind of how we approach it. So, it’s hard to put an exact number on that.”
WHEN YOU GUYS GO TO MARTINSVILLE NEXT WEEKEND, THERE’S GOING TO BE LIMITED FANS THERE. THERE WEREN’T FANS WHEN THE CUP SERIES WAS THERE EARLIER THIS YEAR. AFTER GOING THROUGH THIS SEASON, WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN TERMS OF HAVING FANS AND NO FANS, EVEN THOUGH THERE’S GOING TO BE LIMITED FANS?
“Having people back at a smaller number, I think, is better than no one being there, for sure. So, ultimately, I think it’s all a step in the right direction and a direction we need to get back in, in my opinion. I don’t know how long we can sustain going to race tracks and nobody being there. This is an entertainment industry, ultimately, for TV broadcasters, ticket sales and everything else. We’re lucky that TV has become what it has over the years – how easily accessible it is to everybody’s phones now. If we want to watch a sporting event, it’s going to be on somewhere, right? So, we’re very lucky to have that because otherwise, I’m not sure we would still be doing what we’re doing. Whenever the tracks, the sanctioning body and all the higher-ups that make those decision feel like it’s a good time to bring people back, I’m sure they will in full capacity. And until then, we’ll enjoy the crowds of whatever they let in.”
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