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CHEVROLET NCS AT NEW HAMPSHIRE: Rain Cancels Qualifying; Elliott to Start on the Pole

NASCAR CUP SERIES
NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
POST-QUALIFYING REPORT
JUNE 22, 2024

Rain Cancels Qualifying; Elliott to Start on the Pole at
New Hampshire Motor Speedway

  • When continued inclement weather, the NASCAR Cup Series’ qualifying session was canceled. The lineup of the USA Today 301 will be set per the rulebook, putting Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1 team on the pole.
  • The USA Network will broadcast the NASCAR Cup Series USA Today 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, June 23, at 2:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage can also be found on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

TEAM CHEVY UNOFFICIAL TOP-10 STARTING LINEUP:
POS. DRIVER
1st Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1
3rd William Byron, No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL1
5th Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1
8th Ross Chastain, No. 1 Kubota Camaro ZL1

 Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1 – Pole Win Media Availability Quotes

Chase, you’re the pole winner. What does it mean to be upfront to start this race on Sunday?

“Yeah, I mean obviously we’d rather have an actual pole, for sure. But you know, circumstances being what they are, fortunately our team has been performing at a really solid level over the past couple of months. The reality of it is that it put us in a position to have a good starting spot for a rainout situation. That’s just the reality of the weekend. Certainly, we’ll take a good starting spot, and more importantly, take a really good pit pick there on pit road.”

Talk a little bit about leading the championship standings and getting back in the groove that you’ve really established over the years.

“Yeah, I mean like I said, I feel that our team has been in a good spot, really all year. To be honest, I’ve been super happy with where we’re at; really happy with everything, in general, top to bottom. I feel like we’re all in a good place. I feel like I’m in a good spot with what I’m looking for in the car. I feel like Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) is in a good place with knowing how to give me some of those things. I think that for us, we’ve just got to continue to keep working down those paths. I think that we’d like to have a couple more wins than we have right now. But at the same time, I’ve always been a believer that if you’re upfront – putting yourself in position, stringing together good finishes – you’re going to have your opportunities. I don’t feel any different about that now. I think we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”

A lot of the time, championships are won in the little moments. The season that your team has put together to this point, how important are these little moments if you’re going to get back up to the top of the hill this year?

“Yeah, I mean I think obviously the way the playoffs are now is different than what it used to be. So you have to be really good in those last 10 races and you really have to be extraordinary in the last three or four. I think a lot of it is just having a solid enough base and a solid enough foundation to get you through those first two rounds without many problems; just have solid days. And then you want to be super good in those last three or four weeks. I think that we’re capable of doing that with where we’re at right now. We just have to keep it rolling. We’re only halfway through the year, so there’s a lot of racing left. A lot can change; a lot can happen. It can go your way or it could not, and ultimately it’s up to us to determine the direction it goes.”

I don’t imagine you look at points too closely, but did you take a second look when you saw that you were up top?

“Yeah, obviously they told me out there after the race (at Iowa Speedway). But yeah, it’s nice to be leading the points. Obviously, like I just said, there’s a lot of racing left. I think that we have room for improvement still yet, and the reality of it was that Kyle (Larson) had an unfortunate situation last weekend. We would like to get to a position where we could just be better and get more points, and so on and so forth. That’s where I’m at. I think that there’s still things we can do better; still things I can do better.. bringing more pace and just trying to be a little quicker. I think all of those things are really right there for us in the taking. Hopefully we can add that to our foundation that we have right now and I think we’ll be in a good spot.”

I know you’re not on social media much, but yesterday Christopher Bell said “when Chase comes to JGR…”, and one of your teammates joked that you were headed to JGR. I’m curious, did any of your friends or families fall for it and ask you if you were actually leaving?

“(Laughs) Yeah, I heard about that. It was funny.. the boss actually sent me a message about another – I’m not sure who sent it to him or whatever, but there were all kinds of stuff. He sent me this screenshot that I was leaving and going somewhere else and was going to own a team.. there’s been all kinds of stuff, evidently, going on that I didn’t know what I was doing this week. I guess I’m headed to go drive for JGR now, too (laughs). I don’t think so.. if I am, I didn’t know about it. But I felt bad for (Christopher) Bell.. such an honest mistake, you could tell. It was such a genuine – like he just slipped up, you know? Excited for (Chase) Briscoe, though. I think that will be a really good opportunity for him. I hate that Bell was the one to break the news. I’m sure he got into trouble for that, but it’s all good (laughs). It was going to come out eventually.”

Talk about the challenges that New Hampshire Motor Speedway presents.

“Yeah, I think the toughest thing about Loudon is just the lack of banking that it has. The straightaways are really long, so trying to have your car in a position where you’re just comfortable enough to get yourself in the corner is going to help you turn the middle and ultimately make the straightaway long on the backside. I think that why it’s tough; the corner entries are flat, the straightaways are long and you’re going pretty fast. There are bumps into (turn) three that can be a little unsettling. So just finding that right balance and the amount of comfort that you’re looking for in your car is really important. Comfort in this car, in general, is hard to find. And when you do find it, it’s worth the wait, for sure. So that’s what we’re looking for.”

I realize that it’s still only midway through the season, but it’s certainly looking like you, Kyle (Larson) and William (Bryon) are going to be three of the guys that are going to be going for the regular season championship and probably the overall season championship. What is that like, in terms of, are you guys still sharing everything? What is that dynamic like?

“Yeah, over the course of my time being there, nothing has ever changed, whether we’re racing – Kyle (Larson) and I have raced for a championship for a couple of times, I guess now, at Phoenix (Raceway). I can say with a lot of confidence that our meetings have not ever changed in how everyone talks; the things that are discussed, information that’s uploaded into our internal servers, as far as setups and things of that nature. It’s all very straightforward. It’s all an open book. What you take and do with that from there is up to you. It’s just important for us to try and lean on each other and ultimately take the information that you gather and try to do a better job with it.”

With how difficult it is to pass here, how much confidence does it give you to start on the pole?

“It’s certainly nice… nicer to have the pit pick, though, to be honest. I always feel like the pit stall is more important than the starting spot, just because you live with the pit box all day. The odds of you leading 301 laps are slim to none, but you live with that box all day long and that’s something that can help you all the way through. If you get a late caution or whatever and you’re right there in the hunt, that can be the difference of you coming off pit road first or third, and I think that’s a really important thing that we see every single weekend. Excited about that. Really, I think it’s a team effort that earned us that opportunity. It wasn’t a stellar lap on my end, it was just a solid effort from our group other the last two or three months to have us in a good position to take advantage of the circumstances today.”

William Byron, No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL1 – Starting 3rd

Are you prepared to race with no practice or qualifying, and how does that impact things for tomorrow’s race?

“I mean, for us, it’s probably a little nerve-racking, just because we haven’t had a ton of success here. So we just wanted to get laps and get a good balance. But we had good notes from last weekend and I feel like all four of us are probably going to be close or in the ballpark. This isn’t our best track, but if we can unload and have decent speed and a decent balance, we’ll be fine. Typically, we do hit our balance off the truck, no matter what track it is, so I’m not super worried.”

What would it mean to you to take Hendrick Motorsports back to victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway?

“Yeah, Kasey Kahne was the last win here, so that’s been awhile, for sure. He was really good here, so maybe we can get some of that magic back. But I don’t know, it’s just been a tough place for us the last few years. I feel like it’s only gotten tougher for us. My first start here – we weren’t good at a lot of tracks that year, but we were OK here. I think we finished like 14th. But it’s just progressively gotten worse. Hopefully this year we can turn that around. Last year, we had a decent car. We were a little bit tight and then we got some damage on the splitter on pit road; ran into Justin Haley on pit road and that really hurt our day. Hopefully this year we’ll have a smooth execution and be upfront at the end.”

Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1 – Starting 5th

Bowman on how he feels going into tomorrow’s race with no qualifying:

“I’m not that sad that qualifying got rained out, to be honest. My average qualifying attempt here isn’t great, so I probably ended up with a better starting position without qualifying. Obviously we wanted to get laps. This is a place I’ve struggled at for a long time, so I’m running the Xfinity car, too, to try and get better. I haven’t gotten any laps yet, so we’ll see.”

How are you feeling with the weather forecast tomorrow? What are you planning for?

“I’m kind of curious to see how today plays out. Obviously, we want to get the Xfinity Series race in. I would rather not have to run both in the same day, but if we do, I’m sure it will be fine. We’ll wait and see.”

Is there anything you can learn from the Xfinity car that will help you for tomorrow in the Cup car?

“Yeah, I mean I think just fundamentally, I’ve struggled here. The way I like to approach race tracks just doesn’t really work at this place. My best day here in the Cup car, even though we blew a tire late and didn’t get the finish we deserved, was 2016 when I ran the Xfinity car on the same weekend. So hopefully we can go back to some of that; get more laps on the track, more reps and be better in the Cup car.”

Ross Chastain, No. 1 Kubota Camaro ZL1 – Starting 8th

How does no qualifying truly effort your day in the race tomorrow?

“I don’t know.. when it comes time to race, I go race. Wherever I start, we’ll make a plan to get to the front. It’s not the longest race of the year by any means.. it’s one of the shorter ones. But yeah, it’s alright – whatever it is, we’ll take it as it is.”

What’s the confidence going into this weekend knowing the success has been seen in the past at similar tracks?

“Yeah, the confidence came for me at New Hampshire (Motor Speedway) when I got my crew chief, Phil Surgen, on top of my pit box. He changed the game for me at this track.”


About Chevrolet

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands. Chevrolet models include electric and fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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