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April 17, 2016

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Chase Elliott

Bristol, Tennessee

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our fourth‑place finisher and highest finishing rookie, Chase Elliott, driver of the No.24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet. This is a career high fourth‑place finish for Chase. His previous career high was fifth at Texas last week. Chase, great job out there. Can you tell us a little bit about your race today?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, it was really just had a really fast car I think was the biggest thing. Guys brought a good car this weekend. We started a little slow, didn't qualify as well as we'd like to on Friday but I thought we hit on a couple things yesterday in final practice that fortunately carried over to today and was able to kind of work our way up through there. Hate to have a loose wheel, but guys did a good job overcoming that having a fast pit under green only losing two laps. That was big to keep us in contention there and try to get back on the lead lap. Definitely a long afternoon, but had a fast car, and that was the biggest thing that kept us alive.

Q. Chase, the guys that beat you here today were just perfect here at Bristol. Has your late model experience helped you keep it in the groove today and keep up with those guys up front?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I don't know. It's hard to say. I hope so. I hope that's the case. But this is ‑‑ Bristol is a little different than any other short track I race on in late models, I guess kind of similar to Winchester. But I hope so. Hard to say, different cars. But like I say, I hope so.

Q. Chase, your dad actually got his first short track win here at Bristol. How does it feel to get your best finish here as of now?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, well, like I say, I think it just comes back to having a good car, and I thought our guys did a really good job throughout the weekend. We didn't start off like we wanted to, but we were able to kind of work through some things, lean on our teammates a lot. Friday night, kind of looked at some notes and what our teammates were doing that we felt like they were doing really well, and I feel like that saved us a lot this weekend, just to try to get in the ballpark and then start fine tuning what we needed personally.
Just proud of the effort, and definitely a cool place. Looking forward to getting back here in the fall and trying to do a little better.

Q. Chase, on Lap 1, Junior made an unscheduled stop because of a lack of power. Was there any worries throughout the race that the same thing might happen to you and by extension maybe the rest of the team?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I really didn't know what happened to him. I was going to ask him in just a second. No, I never asked, and they never told me. Ignorance is bliss.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by our second‑place finisher, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No.88 Nationwide Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. This is second runner‑up finish. Could you talk a little bit about that great come back?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Yeah, we got the Roush system on our cars for the stuck‑throttle issue, and just warming the brakes up, I engaged that system to kill the throttle. I was warming the brakes up like I always do, and apparently I applied too much pressure and it killed the motor.
We'll work on that and maybe raise that threshold a little bit because I wasn't really using the brake that much.
So I just needed to cycle the ECU, reset that, came to pit road and did that. I probably could've done it on the track and saved ourselves a lot of trouble, but you don't know what's going on at that particular point, and you listen to the first thing anybody tells you when it comes to direction, and the first thing that my spotter said was that if I need to pit, I need to come on now. We got on pit road, cycled it, lost a couple laps. Greg did a good job getting the wave‑arounds and knowing when to take them and stuff, and we got back on the lead lap. We had about a 10th‑place car. We weren't really that good all day. We tried a setup that we've never really ran here before, just trying to learn a little something going forward, and we'll go home and science it out a little bit.
We got real lucky the last three restarts to be on the outside line. We restarted 10th, 6th and 4th, and when you restart 4th you're typically going to come out in second place after that. I was hoping we didn't have any more cautions after that. So it was good. We'll take it.

Q. So it's a system where if you brake really hard, it kills the engine?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Yes. If your throttle is stuck and you mash the brake to a certain, you're going to mash the (expletive) out of that brake when the throttle sticks, it'll shut the motor off. That's a system, that's one of the two systems that you have to choose from in this sport. The other is a button on the steering wheel. I don't like the button on the steering wheel, because when the throttle sticks, I ain't going to think mash a button. I'll be in the fence before it's over with. So the brake thing works too good.

Q. Was there any thought crossing your mind that, oh, we can't finish two laps down with Peyton here?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Wasn't really thinking about it, but I was glad‑‑ he probably left when we got two laps down. He didn't stick around to see our comeback.
But we just did a lot of good things today and got real lucky on a lot of restarts. But I was glad he was here. I'm very curious as to what he thought about our sport because he's been to Indy a couple times, to the Indy 500, but this is a real unique racetrack, and when we went around the track for intros, he was pretty surprised. He couldn't believe the banking and all that. I tried to explain it to him, but you really can't until you come here and see it.

Q. Chase, on that final restart, you stayed with the leader better than most of the inside lane had all day. Is there anything you had learned throughout the day?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I didn't‑‑ I mean, I didn't feel like I did any better than anybody else did on the bottom. If I had, we would have got the lead. Unfortunately, we didn't. That's just a tough spot to restart. It seems like the banking kind of falls away a little bit off 4 there, and the guy on top has got a little more grip up there. Whatever it is, seems like it's easier to get rolling up there for whatever reason. Just hard to get going. Unfortunately didn't do a good enough job down there.

Q. Dale, second‑place finish last weekend at Texas, second here today. How do you feel about going to Richmond next weekend?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Well, I hope the second comes a little easier than this one did. I'd love to get a win. We weren't really as close today as we were last week. We had a really good car last week, a top‑3 car. This car wasn't that good, but we kind of understand why. We're going outside the box as far as what we typically run here for setup.
And that's good. You didn't‑‑ the setup didn't quite work but you still had a good day and you can go home and learn and try to science it out and make that setup work. I like finishing good, and that's going to help us get into the Chase pretty comfortably if we don't have any major issues, but we certainly want to win. Going to victory lane is important to our sponsors, and it's obviously fun. But it's good for our team to set ourselves up to not have to worry about the Chase anymore. Even though you know you're a top‑5 team or top‑10 team that should make the Chase without any issue, you can't help but count them points to 16th or 17th each week.

Q. How did you keep yourself from just panicking when you had the problem and you tried several times to get a lap back and it took several times?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Yeah, I turned 40. Quit panicking. It is what it is these days.
You know, as I got older, I tried harder to enjoy what I'm doing, and not get really upset and too out of shape when things aren't going our way, plus I know Greg and them guys are on the pit box trying everything they can, and for me to‑‑ they're the only ones I'm going to be able to yell at, so for me to‑‑ it doesn't do any good to be hollering at them or upset or just lose your mind, and the over‑the‑wall guys especially, we don't really spend a ton of time with the over‑the‑wall guys, and they're real sensitive. They're big ol' guys and athletes, but they've got big hearts, too, so you can't be screaming and coming unglued because they don't want to work for people like that.
Yeah, just trying to have more fun and enjoy it. We had a little trouble early, and it just made today more difficult and made the challenge more fun, made it a bigger challenge than it was, and to run second, it's a great feeling to come back from what we did. It's something to smile about.
THE MODERATOR: Dale, thank you for your time. Good luck in Richmond.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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