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August 7, 2018

Chase Elliott

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone, and happy Tuesday. Thank you for joining us today in advance of this weekend's events at Michigan International Speedway. We are now joined by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship contender Chase Elliott, driver of the No.9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. The NASCAR Next alum captured his first Cup Series victory on Sunday at Watkins Glen in his 99th series start. The win also marked Hendrick Motorsports' 25th Cup Series victory.
Chase, thanks for spending some time with us this afternoon. In Victory Lane you mentioned during your interview that you had used a recent speech given by the University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart as a form of motivation. Can you share with us what part of that particular speech really stuck out to you?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, so he had had a press conference, I guess, a couple weeks ago and talked about pressure being a privilege, and I think he preaches that to his players and so on, which I thought was really cool. It was something that kind of sat with me. So I felt like it was something that I heard for a reason, and I really appreciated it.

Q. Was the plan for you to fly back to Dawsonville the whole time, or was that a spur‑of‑the‑moment thing?
CHASE ELLIOTT: No, that's where I currently reside, so I was planning on heading home.

Q. I also want to ask, obviously with the change in leadership this week at NASCAR, do you know Jim France at all, and do you feel like the change will have any impact on you guys as drivers?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I've been around him some. I haven't ever had any issues with Jim. I expect them to do fine, and it doesn't change my job, so I'm going to do my thing.

Q. Now that you've had a day or two to kind of let things sink in, have you processed everything that happened, and how does that change your mindset for the rest of the season?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I think I've tried to process it for sure, and I don't necessarily think it‑‑ it doesn't change my mindset, I don't think, for the rest of the year, you know, a whole lot. It definitely doesn't change our approach each week. I think that we've always kind of had the same procedures each week leading into a race, which I think is really kind of cool because, I mean, since the day I got here, my first Daytona 500 with Alan and my current team, we've had the same procedures each week that we go through for these races, and nothing has changed. And to know that that process and all those things worked to compete for a win just kind of confirms that that's a good way to go about things. So no, I don't think there's any reason to change that.
But certainly want to stay on offense and try to get some more points, and certainly I think now the only thing we are thinking about a little more is just trying to get some more playoff points and get to that next bracket of guys that are still ahead of us because I think they're certainly within reach, and if we can keep running good, I think we can track them down.

Q. Since the announcement on Saturday with your dad going to run the Xfinity race at the road course in a couple weeks, have you received any offers to run a second car out there?
CHASE ELLIOTT: No, I haven't had any offers. A lot of people are asking me if‑‑ people in the media asking if I'd go do it, but no, no offers to go run. It would be really cool to go do, but I think more than anything, I think Dad just wants to go have some fun, and the opportunity was there for him to go do it. I think he'll enjoy his time, and that's really all that matters, so I'm excited to watch him.

Q. We saw your dad's reaction in Victory Lane. What were your mom's words for you when you got to talk to her?
CHASE ELLIOTT: She was just excited. Her and I both kind of wished that she had been there to experience it and be there in person, but it was still great to be able to come home and see her first thing and enjoy that moment there with her, too.

Q. Did those good luck charms from Atlanta Motor Speedway come into play at any point?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I hope they were coming. They came in this year. We were able to get a win this year, so I guess it didn't hurt anything.

Q. Yours was eerily similar to your father's first victory. He got his first win at a road course, you got your first win at a road course. Do you feel like that's something that builds confidence moving on in your career?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I think so. Just kind of odd how much our careers as far as that first win mirrored each other. So really weird more than anything. But whether that's just by chance or whatever, I don't know. But who knows what the rest of my career brings. You have no idea as far as that. But it's been a fun weekend, and looking forward to the rest of this year.

Q. Entering the season with two teammates in addition to Jimmie, how has your relationship among your teammates evolved from the start of the season until now?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I mean, honestly, I feel like Alex and William have kind of fit in well, and honestly, I don't think anybody's role has really changed or the complexion of what we do each week has really changed. Certainly different personalities and different people than Dale and Kasey, but as far as how we go about things, how we communicate, this or that, nothing from that end has changed. They fit in and seem to do a really good job.

Q. Have the Hendrick teams been able to find out more about the secrets of the Camaro, the new car?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, I think we've been getting better for whatever reason that is I'm not sure, so I think that we still have room for improvement. I'm not at all saying that we're out of the woods, but I think that the past few weeks have been‑‑ we've been getting a little bit of momentum with a couple stage wins and then certainly leading into Watkins Glen was nice. The only bad thing is you only have one more road course and you have a whole bunch more ovals coming up. We need to continue to improve at the ovals and the road courses but definitely the ovals and try to get closer to those guys that have been really running good.

Q. I felt like the perception around you personally has been that you've underperformed, even separate from your teammates, but I think a lot of people tend to forget that last year you were basically two laps away from racing for a championship. Do you ever feel like that you actually have underperformed, and when you hear stuff like that, does that put like a chip on your shoulder to kind of prove them wrong?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, I definitely think there was some opportunities to win that I didn't capitalize on. You know, but looking at the way we ran last fall, I was pretty confident in the fact that if we had things going the right direction that we could run with those guys, and in my opinion, I thought we showed that pretty well. I don't think anybody really expected us to go and battle as far as we did into the Chase and to be pretty dang close to making it to the Final Four if we had been able to finish one off there.
All of that doesn't really matter, but it definitely motivates you to want to do better and come back stronger when you do have those rough days.

Q. I've known your dad for many, many years, simply because I was the first person to do an interview with him in Jackson, Michigan. Was there a point in your life that your dad Bill talked to you about becoming a NASCAR driver, or is that something that from time to time even when you were a little boy you had it in your heart that you would become a NASCAR driver?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, when I got old enough to start racing go‑karts, I certainly had interest in it. Did I know that I was going to make a career out of it? No, but I certainly thought I want to go race, and at eight years old, I'm not sure how much you actually know what you want to do.
But I had interest in it, and as I got older, I didn't lose interest in it and had some good folks around me to keep it going.

Q. It seems like the race on Sunday, coming off of a green flag, the car seemed to be faster than it has been in the past. There were times in the past when either on a penalty, on a green flag or just green flag racing, the car didn't come out of the hole as quick. Maybe that has helped you a little bit?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I hope so. We certainly had a lot of pace this past weekend, which makes life a lot easier when you're at the track. Was just nice to be in those positions that we were in, be in pressure situations on myself, on the pit crew, on Alan, the whole deal, because if you're going to compete, you're going to have to deal with those situations a lot. So just nice to have the pace and be able to execute a good race.

Q. I was curious over the last few days, have you felt more excitement or more relief from the first win? You've had maybe a day or two to reflect on it; what have been your feelings?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Honestly, both. Definitely excited, certainly relieved. A lot of satisfaction by the way that we went out and competed on Sunday, and I felt like really earned a win the right way, and we didn't back into it, I didn't feel like we lucked up and won a race. I really felt like we belonged up there this past weekend, and I think that's probably the biggest thing to me is just kind of how we did it, and like I said, just very, very satisfying.

Q. You came through Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder program growing up, and everybody still refers back to you when you're walking around there, and Garrett Smith even remembers that you come down once in a while. Do you have any plans on making it back to Atlanta Motor Speedway to run in a Thursday Thunder's legends car like David Ragan did about two years ago?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, definitely. I've enjoyed racing legend cars over the years. We used to race the road course there inside the racetrack at Atlanta, and that was probably‑‑ I think I had the most fun running the road course there than I did the quarter mile on the front stretch. If they ever run a road race there in the infield like they used to, I wouldn't mind going to do that.

Q. Did you ever figure out who the culprit was of your motor home decorating?
CHASE ELLIOTT: No, I have not. I don't know who did that. Well, nobody has fessed up to it, so I'm not sure.

Q. What kind of welcome party did you get when you returned home to Dawsonville? Looked like a pretty cool crowd.
CHASE ELLIOTT: It was. There was a ton of people there at the airport, which was really cool. A lot of people showing support, which meant a lot to me, and then once I actually got back home, a lot of my closer friends and some family were able to kind of enjoy a night there at the house and had a good time.

Q. You announced earlier in the season you were going to run the Bristol Xfinity race for the 23 team. Is that still intact, or will Spencer be back in the car for that race?
CHASE ELLIOTT: That's still intact. I'm scheduled to run it next weekend.

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