home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


October 11, 2020

Alan Gustafson

Concord, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No.9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet.
We'll get started with questions.

Q. Do you have something for road courses? Is there something you do that Chase takes advantage of that isn't able to be replicated now by anybody, including your teammates?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I think it's him. I think we have Chase Elliott. That's the difference. He's really, really good. Yeah, I don't know what else to say.
I think his performances speak for themselves.

Q. You were 12th at both Texas and Kansas earlier this year. Do you feel like you've gotten better? How much better will you need to be to have a shot at Martinsville to advance without a must‑win situation?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, both races were disappointing for us. I think we were slightly better than that at Texas, if you look at kind of average run, speed, whatever. We didn't get great finishes either place. We just weren't very good at Kansas which was extremely disappointing because that's historically a pretty good track for us, a track that we enjoy going to race at, have had success in the past.
I think we have to be top five every stage and every finish. That's the only way you're going to get through that, or win. It just comes down to the number4, right? You need to be really, really close to that or on that every time points are offered.

Q. This is the fourth year that the 9 car made it to the Round of 8. You guys have been good, but you haven't gotten to the final step yet. What does it take to get you through this round? Where do you think this team ranks with the last three, four years?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I feel like there's always ifs and buts. I feel like there's certainly a couple times that I think we could have advanced. Last year was pretty disastrous for us with the Martinsville parts failures and the issue with the tire failure at Phoenix.
Phoenix has been tough on us. That fall race for whatever reason, we were in a position to win it a few years back, spin on pit road. Had some trials and tribulations there.
Yeah, we got to find a way to get through. Certainly winning one of these three, or as I mentioned before, running at the sharp end of the spear, is going to be what it takes. I think we can do it.
We've progressively gotten better and better and better. I think we were much better than our results showed last year, our performance in the Round of 8 showed last year. We just had really, really bad rounds.
Yeah, I think we can do it. We're going to work really hard to do it. We have great support behind us. Everybody at HMS is doing a great job. Greg and Alex did a great job getting through. We have two with a shot to make it through. Certainly we'd like to get them both through.

Q. Are you a Final 4 team?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I think so.

Q. After watching yesterday's Xfinity race, seeing the rain, what was going through your mind as far as planning for today's race? Do you feel your car would have been just as good in the rain if it would have continued all day?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Man, it's tough. That's a tough one. I watched that race yesterday. I saw everybody making some error at some point in time that was detrimental to their finish. A.J. spun, Briscoe spun. Everybody who ran at the front had some type of issue. The 9 spun, the 7 spun. Everybody did.
If we were racing in that sort of downpour, the way the water can puddle, the way things can happen, it's just really random.
No, I can't tell you with any confidence that we could have performed the same way in those conditions. I don't know that anybody can, to be honest with you. I think it's just super tough circumstances I felt. I felt for those guys yesterday, for sure.

Q. Where do you feel the team's weaknesses are right now that you need to improve on going into this next round?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, it's just always the same things. You have to have faster cars, bring faster cars to the track, have faster pit stops, execute the race better. All the above. You just always are continuously trying to improve those areas. Certainly never satisfied.
I don't feel like there's a glaring weakness in our team. I don't feel like we have something that we can't overcome. You just have to continuously improve. We have to have our four best races these last four races. That's kind of what it comes down to. We have to operate at our maximum potential. Certainly we'll try to improve and do the best we can.
Right now it's probably about getting 100% of what you've got. The teams are going to be in a position that I think it's going to be more about execution than developing something or coming up with some more performance.

Q. It wasn't the smoothest of days, as you had the loose wheel. What was going through your mind at that point?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: It certainly wasn't good. We couldn't take a chance on it. We had to protect our position in the Playoffs first and foremost. That weighed pretty heavy on us all day long. I think some of our early performance was, or lack of performance, based on us trying to protect that position.
We need a little better situational awareness in that case and shouldn't have had that happen. That goes back to something that we've got to execute on and improve.
I was just trying to get video of it to know if I had to come back down. I should have just come right away. It took too long. You don't get too many opportunities, the caution laps are so long, you get one shot to pit and then you're coming to the green. That was a little bit of a rough patch, but everybody kept their wits about them and overcame it.

Q. You won a protest last week that gained you a lot of spots. How surprised were you to win a protest? How much did that impact any of your strategy or preparation for today?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, yes, yes on all accounts. I was disappointed we got penalized, for sure. I feel like if you watch that race over, that Chase threw the least amount of blocks and impeded anybody's progress the least of any car on the track. Never once threw a block when he was leading, never once put anybody in a dangerous situation. Then when we get the penalty, I was kind of dumbfounded.
The 17 made a pretty aggressive move to the bottom. Certainly, yeah, we can probably slam on the brakes or crash him. I don't feel like it's good to put the drivers in a position where they have to decide if they want to take a penalty or they want to send a fellow competitor through the infield.
I was disappointed in the penalty. I was very appreciative of the way that NASCAR was willing to review it, the fact that they overturned it. Everybody has their opinions and their sides of the story. I feel like it was pretty obvious once you watched enough replays to see how that all transpired. We certainly didn't deserve to lose all those points.
Yeah, as far as does it impact the way we come here? Certainly. That was a lot. I don't remember exactly, but I think it was 16 points or something. Yes, it definitely impacted the way we came here.

Q. Does the Hendrick Motorsport track attack program help the organization on road courses at all or are they completely unrelated to what you do?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: I'm not really sure what they do, so I can't answer that question really.

Q. Does anything feel different this year about Chase specifically as a driver? Do you sense any more confidence from him?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I think the experience, the trials and tribulations, the successes and failures, they all cumulatively add up.
He's a great driver. He's a really, really intelligent person. The more opportunity he has to race and go through these situations, compete and win, yeah, he's just going to get better and better. I think with that brings some confidence.
There's nothing quite like living through the different circumstances and the pressure of having to race your way in or having to protect a lead to get in. All that stuff's really unique and really tough to manage. I think the more you go through it, the better you get.

Q. How does one go about an at‑track appeal? How do you make that happen at Talladega?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Well, that's interesting. The way it transpired, I knew from Dustin Shoulders, my race engineer back at the shop, I asked him where we started. He typically calculates the starting positions for us. He told me he couldn't give me the exact starting position because the results were under review, which I understood, as chaotic as it was.
I saw on the front straightaway we were very close to the line. I couldn't see from my perspective if we crossed the line.
Long story short, I never heard anything, didn't know. We were waiting on pit road to go through inspection. I was watching the Jumbotron. It had us only 20 something points above the cut line. I was like, there's no way, there's some bad math, but that's really bad math.
I went to TV and they told me we were last on the lead lap. At that point in time I told Jeff Andrews, started calling everybody I knew saying, Man, we got to do something with this because that's not right.
Jeff did a great job of knowing who to see, what to do. That's all him. He took care of it from there.
THE MODERATOR: Alan, thanks for joining us. Good luck as the Round of 8 starts next week.
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Thank you, appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297