NASCAR CUP SERIES
HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 15, 2020
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference and discussed the upcoming races in the Round of Eight, the leadership of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, his focus on advancing to the championship round, and more. Full Transcript:
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU’VE SEEN AS JIMMIE JOHNSON’S TEAMMATE THAT MAKES YOU THINK OH YEAH, THAT’S WHY HE WAS ABLE TO WIN FIVE CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A ROW?
“Yeah, that five in a row thing was unbelievable. I watched it for sure, and was around there when he won his seventh, so I can imagine what it felt like to lose to him five times in a row as a competitor. Jimmie is just, I don’t know, everybody says it all the time about how good of a guy he is on the race track and off the race track. But he just has everything prioritized the right way, I feel like. His work ethic is extremely high. He’s a very competitive person. But, he’s competitive in his own way. He’s not the kind of guy that’s picking fights every week. He’s just the kind of guy who just wants to beat you. And, I think that’s why it rubbed so many of his competitors bad over the years because he was just better than they were; and they were better as a team. But he wasn’t flaunting it all the time or getting up to peoples’ faces about it. He just carried himself well and competed at a very high level for a very long time. The way I see him as a teammate and how great of a leader he is, I can totally understand where that came from.”
HOW DO YOU GET OUT OF THIS ROUND OF EIGHT THAT YOU’VE BEEN IN THREE TIMES BEFORE? IS YOUR TEAM FOCUSED OR DOING ANYTHING TO GET YOU PAST THIS ROADBLOCK?
“For us, we’re not going to try to reinvent the wheel. That’s number one. I think another thing that we don’t want to do is to get too far off the beaten path. I feel like for us, when we’ve been at our best and as a team, myself included, performing at the level that we’re all capable of doing, I feel like we’ve contended with the best of the series this year, in my personal opinion. And, I think we’re capable of doing that again. So, from my situation, I’m just trying to sit back and trying to do exactly that; and trying to perform at the level I know we can. And I think if we perform at that kind of level, I think that we can move on and give ourselves a shot. So, I’m just trying not to get trick or smart or reinvent things, I think, is the best way to move on.”
IS THERE ONE TRACK IN THIS ROUND THAT PARTICULARLY CONCERNS YOU?
“Well Texas has been a struggle, as you all (media) know, for us, since the repave. So, that one for sure, sticks out. I’m not thrilled about going there. But the people who win a lot of races and win championships don’t have bad race tracks and that’s just a fact. Kevin (Harvick) and Denny (Hamlin) and those guys who have been winning all these races this year, they can win about every week. So that’s kind of where we need to get to. And I think that’s been where I feel like some of our issues have been over the years is just a little inconsistency. And I think cleaning up those bad race tracks is a thing that we have to do. And it’s something I think we’re capable of doing; we’ve just got to hit on something there at Texas and eliminate bad tracks and I think we’ll be fine.”
WITH CLINT BOWYER ANNOUNCING HIS RETIREMENT LAST WEEK, CAN YOU REFLECT ON THE ENERGY AND EXUBERANCE HE’S BROUGHT TO THE SPORT AND HIS LEGACY WITH THE GAME?
“Yeah, I think Clint is obviously a very loud individual and he’s a very competitive guy all at the same time, but he’s certainly the life of the party. He always has been. I think his attitude and just the way he is has really made it a lot of fun for all the people over the years in certain environments. So, I’m going to miss that about him. He can make light of a very serious situation sometimes; which, sometimes that’s what people need. But yes, it’ll be interesting to see how he does. I think he’ll be a great addition to the booth, or wherever they put him, I guess. I’m sure it’ll be entertaining.”
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SPECIFIC MEMORY OF HIM?
“I can’t say I do. I’m not best buddies with Clint, or anything along those lines and I’ve never been a teammate, or anything. I feel like I see him at events that we have to do with the other drivers, but that’s really about it. So, in those types of things, he seems like a fun guy. All the things that you see on TV, I think that’s very much his personality. But I don’t know that I know Clint well enough to give you a good story.”
LOOKING AT THE PAST FEW YEARS AND NOT BEING ABLE TO MAKE IT TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN TAKE FROM THOSE EXPERIENCES TO APPLY THIS TIME?
“Yeah, I think much like the other question. We’re just trying to build on what we have, you know, and get better and not try to recreate or re-do things or do things different. I feel like our approach is plenty good enough to compete and be a contender. We just have to improve in certain areas. And I think inconsistency has been a problem. We want to be able to win races everywhere. And, I think there have been certain tracks over the years that have stood out consistently year after year, that have kept us from having good runs in places that we are not the most excited about going to. And you just can’t have that. The people who win all the time, people who are championship, and people that contend every week don’t have bad race track and they have an opportunity to win every single week. And we all know that. It’s not something that’s out of the realm, a possibility. If you want to be a top dog in this deal, you’ve got to be able to win every week. And that’s the way it’s been; and I don’t see that changing.”
ARE YOU FEELING MORE PRESSURE, EITHER INTERNAL OR EXTERNAL, TO MAKE THE CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR?
“Personally, and as a team, there’s nothing anybody outside of myself or my team is going to say to me to make we want to win a championship more. So, that should answer that.”
WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON LEAVING, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THERE WILL BE A VOID IN LEADERSHIP. AND IF SO, ARE YOU TRYING TO FILL THAT ROLE?
“I think from my perspective, I’m certainly not trying to replace Jimmie. I feel like everybody kind of has their own way of leadership and their own way of carrying themselves. I’m certainly not Jimmie. And, I’m not going to ever act like I am. He is just such a stand-up individual. He’s the kind of guy that you want on your team. He’s the kind of guy to look up to as far as how he leads his life off the race track with his family; just the whole nine yards. But, from a leadership perspective and trying to fill that role, I don’t know that I’m going to be very productive in trying to be him or try to fill that. I think the best thing I can do is be myself. I think there’s a lot of attributes that he has taught me over the years that I can carry forward and maybe make myself better and maybe make me a better race car driver and maybe make me a better person, but I’m certainly not going to try to fill anybody’s shoes or fill the role.”
IS THERE MORE CONCERN ABOUT COVID-19 OR IS THERE MORE PRESSURE TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU’RE STAYING IN AND NOT GOING OUT ANYWHERE TO MAKE SURE YOU DON’T GET IT DURING THESE LAST FOUR RACES?
“Yeah, it’s a good question. I think just practicing all of the things that they tell us to do every day is the best thing you can do. It’s a difficult thing to just completely avoid the world and avoid people; especially when you have to travel from state to state. We have a lot of traveling coming up for these final races. So, I think it’ll be important to practice those things. You’ve got to wash your hands and be as safe and as clean and sanitary as possible. And from that perspective, I think that’s really all I can do; and hope for the best.”
IN YOUR MIND, WHAT TYPE OF VALIDATION DOES A CHAMPIONSHIP PROVIDE A DRIVER?
“That’s a good question. I don’t necessarily know that I; when you’re on the hunt for one or you’ve never done it before, I’m not sure I’m thinking about the validation it’s going to give me on the back side. I think I’m really just thinking about that being the goal and that being what I want to achieve and being that next step or the next thing that our team wants to go and have a shot at trying to make the Final Four. So, I’m not sure. I feel like that’s something you kind of reflect on after you do something like that. I’m not sure you really know what it feels like or what validation it might give you internally unless you’ve achieved it; which I obviously have not. So, I think that’s more of a back-end question if you get there.”
AS AN ATHLETE, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS SIMILARITIES BETWEEN WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH IN THE PLAYOFFS AND WHAT THE BRAVES ARE; OR WHAT THE LAKERS WENT THROUGH RECENTLY? DO YOU, AS AN ATHLETE, PAY CLOSE ATTENTION OR IS THAT MORE RELAXATION WHEN YOU’RE WATCHING THOSE EVENTS AND YOU’RE NOT TRYING TO GET THINGS FROM OTHER ATHLETES OR TEAMS?
“Yeah, I definitely do. I try to learn and I think it’s a great thing to sit there and watch certain players and how they handle adversity and how they deal with bad times; or, how some guys can deal with being really good for a long period of time and how they can continue to sustain that type of performance over the long haul and how they deal with the media. All those small things, I think you can learn from. I enjoy watching the sport. Obviously, I’m a Braves fans and they have a game today, and that’s why I’m wearing the hat. To be honest with you, I forgot I had this media availability today; but I am sponsored by NAPA, if anybody doesn’t know. They were on our car last weekend. But yeah, I think you can learn from that kind of thing and whatnot, too. So, as much as I enjoy watching I do try to learn.”
YOU MENTIONED TEXAS EARLIER, WHERE IT’S BEEN A STRUGGLE; BUT MARTINSVILLE HASN’T BEEN. WITH THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MARTINSVILLE’S MORE TRADITIONAL NATURE VERSUS THE LAST TWO ROUNDS AT TALLADEGA AND THE ROVAL, WHAT’S YOUR COMFORT LEVEL?
“I feel like this round has kind of had a similar look to it over the past years. Certainly, Phoenix has been in there. But Texas has also been in there, which has been a poor race track for us. I feel like the same challenges are still kind of in this round as what they have been. Does that make sense? So, I don’t necessarily think it has a different complexion from what we’ve seen in the past couple of years. But I definitely think it’s going to be tough. You’ve got to execute these races and like I said, you’ve got to eliminate those bad tracks. You can’t have them. And, hopefully we can get things going at Kansas and have something to build on for Texas. But a week at a time and I’m focused on Kansas right now.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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