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November 15, 2014

Chase Elliott

Greg Ives


KERRY THARP:  Chase Elliott is the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion.  He's the driver of the No.9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.  Congratulations, Chase.
CHASE ELLIOTT:  Thank you, guys, appreciate it.
KERRY THARP:  And he's joined by his crew chief, Greg Ives.  Chase, you're the youngest driver in the history of this sport, and this sport has been around a long time, youngest driver in the history of this sport to win a NASCAR national series championship.  As Dale alluded to the other night, you're 18 years old, and did you ever think growing up as a youngster there in Georgia that you would be where you are now?
CHASE ELLIOTT:  No, absolutely not.  For us to even have thought that‑‑ I really didn't know if we were going to be racing full time this year or not.  It was unknown, and much less all the years leading up to this.  We've been fortunate to have success at different levels and short track racing.  I had never thought anybody would be right if they'd have told me that, either.
It's just been a very, very fun road.  I feel very fortunate to have not just this year with Greg and with Dale and Kelley and Mr.Hendrick, and just honestly, the best group of people that you could possibly have surrounding you in racing in the past five years that I've been short track racing and whatnot.  I feel like I've had the absolute best possible people there, too, and I feel like all these people along the way have made me look a heck of a lot better than I really am, and they're the reason we're up there tonight.  It's been an honor to work with these guys, and not just this year, but all along the way.  It's been fun.
KERRY THARP:  Greg, congratulations on this championship.  What does it mean to you both professionally and personally?
GREG IVES:  Well, first off, it's just been an honor to be able to be part of any type of championship team.  You know, Chase has the ability to‑‑ he's all humble over here, and he has that "I will" attitude.  He never did, "I will try, I might."  He always did‑‑ he's going to be a champion.  That's what his attitude was.  I saw that right off the bat when he was testing for the HMS Cup guys at Nashville and when he came and sat in our cars.  It was confidence that he could go out there and run with the best of them.  He's been able to do that.
I've been very fortunate to have worked with him, very fortunate to have worked with JR Motorsports and all Hendrick Motorsports.  They have given me this opportunity.  We made the best of it over the year, maybe not so much tonight, but we made the best of it over the year.  And the promising thing is, no matter what, Chase and I always try to learn something from whatever happens.  We're always grateful for the position we're in, whether it's 17th, 30th, or winning the race.
That's rare.  That's rare.  And people who become successful sometimes don't remember that, and he's going to for a long time, and that's the true integrity and character of Chase Elliott.

Q.  Greg, how did having the championship already sealed up change the strategy for tonight's race for you guys?
GREG IVES:  Well, I mean, it really changed.  It wasn't just for tonight's race.  It was for practice, for the future.  You know, we feel like, as a race team, we came out of the box very strong, and to continue that, you have to experiment, you have to learn, you have to grow.  And after things happened in Phoenix, we kind of sat down and thought about it, got with my engineers, my guys, and talked to Chase.  And we were walking out, and we were like, you know what, we need to go after what we've been thinking about all year.  We had speed in our cars, and we knew there was‑‑ there was more out there.
So for us, I sat down on the plane on the ride home, and we went through some sim, and I came up with the setup, and we unloaded and Chase was happy with it.  It wasn't right, it wasn't 100 percent perfect, but he's like, man, this is a package we can work with.  You know, it started there, and going into the race, Chase and I have over the years‑‑ over the year‑‑ he doesn't have many of those, so over the year, we talked about just trying to put ourselves in position to maybe do something different.
But in the end, looking back, it's like, man, he had such a good handle on the car and the ability to give me feedback to make the car better.  But in the end, you know, we had a solid night.  We didn't finish where we wanted to.  You know, like I said, when Chase gets back to 25th, 28th, whatever, that I put him there on those pit stops, it's an opportunity for him to grow and to learn, and part of it's just keeping it together through the whole race.  That's a mental challenge on his part, mental challenge on the whole team's part, to make that happen.
Like I said, I couldn't be more proud of what he was able to do tonight, drive it back to contending for a top 5, and he's going to give it all he's got.  He was describing to me how the car‑‑
CHASE ELLIOTT:  A little too much.
GREG IVES:  That's all right.  That's what we're here for, to push it.  Yeah, it changed a lot, to answer your question.

Q.  Chase, you mentioned you guys would kind of get back a little bit for one reason or another, but you always seemed to be coming back toward the front.  At the very end of the race you were doing that.  What happened there at the end?
CHASE ELLIOTT:  Yeah, lack of a driver was the biggest thing that happened there.  Yeah, like Greg said, we had a really fast car tonight, and we tried to do something different, and it only takes one thing.  If that run goes green, then we're in a great position, and everybody else is in a bad spot.  When you're one of the only people on pit road, that can work one of two ways, and unfortunately it didn't go our way, so we had to bite the bullet and stay out.  There towards the end on tires, we lost a lot of track position, and we finally got back on equal tires as everybody else.  And we drove back up to fighting with Kyle for fifth and just trying to get all I could get.  The speed is as close to the wall as you can get here, and I got a little too close.

Q.  How much disappointment, overall, was there tonight?
CHASE ELLIOTT:  Well, we're definitely disappointed.  It was my fault for sure.  We could have come home with a top five, maybe a top four‑‑
GREG IVES:  I told you, see?
CHASE ELLIOTT:  Had I not put her in the fence there on the racetrack and during my burnout, it would have been a pretty good night.

Q.  Chase, speaking of you being hard on yourself at times, everybody else watches you and they're like, wow, this guy is really good.  Obviously, you have a lot of self‑criticism.  Next year and going forward, what do you think you still need to work on?
CHASE ELLIOTT:  Winning more races and not letting the same people beat you every week I think is the biggest thing.  Keeping it about as simple as possible, and I think that's about as simple as it can get.  I see things I can improve on personally and stepping up and not letting people out‑drive you every week because I feel like that's happened a lot this year.  I'd like to minimize those weekends, and I feel like we have the cars, the teams, the motors, the group of people to go and contend with the best.  We've just got to put it all together and not talk about it anymore and go do it.

Q.  Piggy‑backing off of that question, you have been very humble throughout this entire process, this entire year.  It seems like even when you have good runs, you're still hard on yourself for things that you've done wrong.  Most 18 year olds aren't like that, they're very‑‑ they know everything in the world.  How have you been that humble?  How do you stay humble throughout this whole process?
CHASE ELLIOTT:  I think you just have to realize the truth.  I don't think it's as much as being humble as much as it is being honest in my eyes.  I know things can go south a heck of a lot faster than they can go good for you, and just because you had a good run on Tuesday, that doesn't mean you're going to be any good on Wednesday.  You're happy right now, you might be mad in an hour.  So everything can change and go the other way so fast that there's no need‑‑ and getting too up on the ups, and you've just got to understand that ‑‑ I'm sure things are not going to get any easier in the sport.  Things are always changing, and you have to be‑‑ you just have to, I guess, kind of learn to deal with the ups and downs, and I just try to be honest with it is kind of the way I go about it.

Q.  Chase, what does your boss have to look forward to next season having Greg Ives as a crew chief?
CHASE ELLIOTT:  Well, I think Greg is very deserving of the opportunity, and I think anybody that is wondering about the change, I think they're going to be pleasantly surprised by the results and the effort and the teamwork and the way that Greg treats people, not only to me this year driving his cars, but he treats people the way they should be treated that work on the cars, and nobody has‑‑ nobody's role means any more than anybody else's, and I think Greg has a great understanding of that.  He obviously has the smarts and whatnot to do the job.  But I think the biggest thing is leadership, and like I said, treating people the right way will go a long way, and I think he treats his guys the way they should be treated.

Q.  Greg, after it was announced that you'd be Dale Jr.'s crew chief next year, how nerve‑racking was it for you, and were you forced to compartmentalize working on Chase's car and then days where maybe you would spend some time with Dale Jr., and would you have been racked with guilt if today didn't come through?
GREG IVES:  No, we all have our jobs to do.  I'm very focused and very strict on what I do each week.  But it always comes down to the people you put around you, too.  I have great engineers, I have great car chiefs, I have the people in place to make all this happen.  It's not myself, it's not just Chase, it's all JR Motorsports organization and leadership of the guys at the shop with Mike Bumgarner, Donny Tarantino, and it's all those guys that make us sitting here happen.  It has nothing to do with any announcement.  My job when I got announced with Regan Smith in 2012 was to go out and win races and try to win championships.  When I got announced with Chase, that did not change.  When I got announced for Dale, that didn't change, either.
You've got to be very‑‑ like Chase said, honest with yourself.  We're in the sport to do what we love to do but also produce results, and I know that was something I had to do with Chase and Regan and now with Dale.

Q.  Chase, could you share what you would give advice to young people?  You're only 18 years old.  Could you share as far as the success goes, what you could share that you have you think that would help young people?
CHASE ELLIOTT:  Well, I don't think you need to listen to me in anything.  I think as I said before, I think the biggest thing is just being honest with yourself, whether you like it or not.  There may be days where you have to be honest with yourself and in the back of your mind you know you didn't do something right or know that you could have done a better job.  And I think you just have to face those issues yourself first and foremost because if you can't get through it yourself, then it doesn't matter what people say about you or from a distance or whatever.  It's kind of irrelevant if you can't face those things personally and kind of get through them on your own.  Obviously, you can have help to get through those things or through struggles or things you struggle with, but you've got to first and foremost realize that you need to fix something and know that just because you might excel in a certain area doesn't mean you can't get any better, and never stay closed minded enough where you're not open to trying new things.  But at the same time having enough confidence in your ability that you are giving it your best shot each week and believe in what you're telling your guys and how you go about things.
KERRY THARP:  Chase and Greg, congratulations on this championship.  Enjoy it, and I'm sure we'll be seeing you real soon.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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