Chase Elliott puts CAMARO ZL1 1LE on pole at Phoenix
AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 7, 2020) – Behind the wheel of his No. 9 Unifirst Camaro ZL1 1LE, Chase Elliott will lead the field to the green in Sunday’s FanShield 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway. Elliott ran a fast speed of 138.116 mph in today’s qualifying session to earn his ninth Cup Series career pole and first of the 2020 season. It marks the eighth time a Hendrick Motorsports driver has won the pole at the 1-mile, low banked oval track located near Phoenix.
Elliott’s Busch Pole Award was the second of the year for the new Camaro ZL1 1LE, which made its debut at the Daytona season-opener, the 18th pole for Chevrolet at Phoenix Raceway, and 716th for Chevrolet in NASCAR’s premier racing series.
Kyle Larson, qualified his No. 42 McDonald’s Camaro ZL1 1LE in the fourth position, to give Team Chevy two of the top five spots in the order. Former Phoenix race winner, Kurt Busch, aboard his No. 1 GEARWRENCH Camaro ZL1 1LE was seventh quick; and Alex Bowman, last week’s race winner at Auto Club Speedway, qualified his No. 88 Axalta Camaro ZL1 1LE in the eighth position.
Kevin Harvick (Ford) was second-fast, Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was third, and Ryan Blaney (Ford) qualified fifth to round out the top five.
FOX will telecast the 312-lap race live at 3:30 p.m. EST Sunday, March 8. Live coverage can also be found on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 UNIFIRST CAMARO ZL1 1LE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THERE ARE A LOT OF COMPARISONS TO THE 2018 PACKAGE, BUT STILL SOME SLIGHT DIFFERENCES. DO YOU THINK THE CAR DRIVES LIKE IT DID TWO YEARS AGO?
“Yeah, it’s really similar. And, like I said, I think Kevin (Harvick) and I were battling for the pole here a couple three races ago, or something. I think the package may have been different from what it is now. I don’t know that it really changes a lot from the car-side of things, or the set-up-side of things, or who is going to be good. I think the same crowd is always going to be tough. You know how it is. I don’t know that it really matters how big the spoiler is. So, hopefully, the race is better for the people watching, but I think the same guys will still be good.”
DO YOU HAVE TO RE-TRIM THE CAR FOR TOMORROW’S RACE?
“The cars are impounded. So, we can’t really adjust on them much before tomorrow. So, everybody kind of has what they have for the race. That’s the whole point of this Saturday qualifying procedure. You have to qualify with whatever set-up you’re going to run in the race.”
JUST LOOKING AHEAD TO ATLANTA, YOUR HOME TRACK, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS GOING THERE? WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED WITH ANY IMPROVEMENTS YOU’VE MADE ON THE PACKAGE BETWEEN NOW AND NEXT WEEK?
“Atlanta has been, we started off there and I thought 2016 went really good. That was kind of my first 1.5-mile with the No. 24 team at the time and I thought things went really good. In 2017, we went back and were even better. I thought we had a real chance that day. And then in ’18 and ’19 have been dismal. So, hopefully, this weekend is better and you never want to run bad at your home track. So, hopefully, we can turn that around. It’s been, I feel like, it’s been a rough go the past two years. So, yeah, hopefully, we can improve and be back like we were in 2017.”
WHAT DO YOU FEEL WILL BE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE TOMORROW, WHETHER IT BE TIRES THE PJ1 OR THE NEW PACKAGE?
“All of the above, for sure. I think it’s interesting; I was not expecting to run up in the grip there in (Turns) 1 and 2. And then once Kevin did it and a couple of other guys did it, I was watching, and I thought that must be the thing to give it a shot. So, I felt like that was going to give us the best opportunity to win the pole. I thought we could run the bottom and probably have a solid lap, but I don’t know that it would have been a shot at qualifying first. So, I thought it was worth a chance to give it a try. So, I think that’ll be a changing dynamic tomorrow. I think at some point we’ll probably wear it out, and then I would say the guys who are really good around the bottom will probably shine when it comes time for it to really matter.”
YOU LOOK LIKE YOU’RE IN A SIMILAR POSITION TO ALEX BOWMAN LAST WEEK. IS IT KIND OF LIKE FINGERS CROSSED TO DUPLICATE WHAT HE DID?
“Not really. For us, I think in my opinion, I don’t think we were very good in race trim yesterday. Our car didn’t drive very good. And we worked really hard on it to try and make it better. So, our mock qualifying run was good, I guess, as far as what the board said, but it was way slower than what we ran today. So, I definitely didn’t have near as much confidence in our race trim runs. We made a lot of changes from yesterday to today. So, I was glad to see the car still had some pace. I hope that means it drives really good tomorrow, but I think until we get there it’s hard to say. Alex was really good last week and did a fantastic job all the way from Friday to Sunday. Those are the kind of weekends you want to have, for sure. Hopefully, we can join him on that.”
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