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April 29, 2018

Kurt Busch

Chase Elliott

Lincoln, Alabama

THE MODERATOR: We're going to get started with our post race media availabilities. We are joined by our third‑place finisher, Chase Elliott, driver of the No.9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet.
Chase, take us through the final surge there.
CHASE ELLIOTT: It was definitely interesting. Last few laps was really trying to make a run and do something there at the end. Those guys were being awfully patient with one another. I was very surprised. I mean, it was more than obvious that they were not going to help me move forward.
We had a solid car. I don't think it was the best car today, but we had a good car. Our team did a nice job overcoming a little bit of damage there mid portion of the race. Alan made a good call there towards the end to ultimately get us some track position and have a shot.
It was a pretty wild afternoon. Cars were hard to drive. Scared some people off from running three‑wide and four‑wide. That was interesting, as well. So could have been worse.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy Haas Automation Ford.
Kurt, take us through the final surge to the finish.
KURT BUSCH: It was an awesome finish. But I thought two Stewart‑Haas cars running second and third should have been able to pull this off. Stenhouse came up from behind and tried to make some moves. Nine times out of the 10 the 17 car statistically is going to be the guy to beat at a plate race. Once he got to my rear bumper the one time and pushed me by Kevin, he didn't get to stay with me. I lost track of him.
Everybody from Chase and Stenhouse, everybody is back there three‑wide ripping and gouging, trying to go hard. It takes two cars to try to break through the leader. I'm happy that a Ford won. It wasn't the right one.
Kevin was in good position. I was going to roll with him in any direction that I could. We just got broken up by Stenhouse. Man, it's just so close. You wish you could go over and do it again. I feel like I left that one out on the table.

Q. Chase, could you talk about being the Chevy in the Ford sandwich there. You really were kind of the lone man and got it done.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, it was interesting. Like I said a second ago, I was really surprised with how patient they were being with one another. Really thought they would want to win a little more than what they did, or at least showed to me.
I tried to kind of break out of line and do a couple things there. Like I said, it was very obvious that nobody was going to help me, around me. It's hard to move forward. Even if I had just had one other person to help, I felt like it would have made a big difference. Like I said, could have been worse.

Q. Kurt, after the race, talked to Kevin. He said he felt like you guys got separated somehow. You touched on this, but you went out without him, but he wasn't expecting that. Were y'all planning on getting together and going to the front?
KURT BUSCH: That's what common sense would say. I was going to roll with Kevin whichever direction he went. Stenhouse came with such a run from behind, I knew at that point the 9 would shove to the inside, then it would be the 17 and 41 to the outside. It happened for half a straightaway then things kind of broke apart with everybody getting stuck side‑by‑side.
If I had to do it all over again, I just needed to manage the run that the 17 had on me because when we stayed single file, the 22, the 4 and the 41, we could lay down some good lap times and the others couldn't quite catch us.

Q. Kurt, based on what Chase said, that he couldn't get any help, you guys were too patient, was that the strategy? Were you deliberately too patient, lined up together like that?
KURT BUSCH: Well, I mean, the guy that's leading the race is pretty fast. The guy that's second is really fast. The guy that's third is fast. When you time together three guys that are from the same manufacturer, that's what puts you in position to win.
But then once it's five to go, nobody's really caring who's got what brand underneath the hood, the shape of their car. It's my job as a teammate to help Kevin a little bit further down into getting two to go, one to go. Then there's Stenhouse, who has won a lot of these plate races recently. He came in there with a head of steam. I wanted to roll with him. Didn't materialize.
That's how we got all strung out, trying to be the one guy by himself, where you need three to kind of hook up and go and try to pass the leader.

Q. How difficult was passing today? Did the rules package have anything to do with that?
KURT BUSCH: I feel like the ride height rule dropped the rear of the car even more from where it was at Daytona. When you look at some of the numbers, there's less downforce on the cars. These rear spoilers still to me are way too narrow. They need to be all the way out to the edge of the fender so it's easier to side draft off of people. That would help with stability and with side drafting.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thanks for joining us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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