May 16, 2021
An Interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our third-place finisher, Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet.
We'll go straight to questions for Chase.
Q. What does it mean to be part of a day when Hendrick goes 1-2-3-4?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Really cool. Glad Mr. Hendrick was here. He has been at just a few races this year. He picked a good one today. Yeah, just proud of our whole team. Everybody, HMS, I feel like we have a really talented group of people that work really hard. It's just nice to see their hard work awarded like that, in that manner, in that type of domination.
Those guys led, I guess Kyle and Alex, pretty much led the whole race. Really cool. Just really proud of everybody. Glad to be a part of the team.
Q. Halfway through the regular season, what do you think of your team's performance at this point? How do you grade things out?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, I think we're in a good place as far as where we ended the day today. I thought we were close. Just needed to do just a tick better. Needed to have a little better restarts, have just a tick more pace. I really thought we were pretty close. So happy with our run.
Q. Any races in the first half of the year that you'd like to have back that you thought maybe you could have won?
CHASE ELLIOTT: No. That's why we race.
Q. Obviously to do as an organization what you did today, it's not easy. 2005 the only other time it's been done. Is there a way to characterize how difficult it is for one team to put a thrashing on the rest of the field?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, obviously, because of the significance of it, I guess you said it's only been done one other time?
Q. Three times, once in the modern era, Roush in '05.
CHASE ELLIOTT: There you go. It's obviously really hard.
It's one thing to have four fast cars. I think that happens fairly often. But have four fast cars with four really well-executed races. Yeah, it's a cool thing. It's very hard to do.
Q. Is that a case of teamwork? Have you been working closer together compared to previous years or everybody hitting on all cylinders at the right time?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I feel like our communication is good. I feel like it's been good in the past, too. I wish I could say that or give you a really good reason as to why. I just think everybody in our company's really motivated right now, working hard to provide fast cars. I feel like everybody is pulling the rope in the same direction. As good or better than it's ever been since I've been there. I think that's key.
But I think as far as our communication, how closely we work, I don't really know that's much different.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by our second-place finisher, Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Nations Guard Chevrolet.
If you have a question for either Kyle or Chase...
Q. Chase, did you have any of the brake issues that the 24 and the 48 experienced through the course of the race?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Fortunately no, I did not.
Q. Chase, how does a race like this build into next week going into the Circuit of the Americas road course where you've been pretty strong at those types of tracks the last couple years?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, honestly it really doesn't. They're all kind of new opportunities, in my opinion, new weeks. Obviously a much different track than what we raced on today. I don't feel like there's really any comparison at all.
Q. Chase, the Coke 600, Hendrick should be pretty fast again. You've come about as close as possible to winning it. Can you describe how tough it is to win a race like the Coke 600?
CHASE ELLIOTT: They're all tough to win. I haven't found an easy one to win personally. I think they're all pretty difficult. I don't think the Coke 600 is any different.
Q. Is that last hundred miles any more significant than in the past where it was about attrition? What does that do for a driver?
CHASE ELLIOTT: As much as you want me to say yes, the answer is no. I mean, it's just not any different really. Just happens to be another hundred miles.
Q. Still a crown jewel for you?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, absolutely.
THE MODERATOR: Chase, thanks for joining us. We'll let you move on. We'll continue on with questions for Kyle Larson.
Q. Kyle, do you feel like you're still learning some about the Hendrick cars as far as restarts and other things? Do you feel like you're totally comfortable with the cars?
KYLE LARSON: No, I mean, it all seemed pretty normal to me today. I don't know, do you think I could have did anything different on the restart?
Q. No, I don't know. I'm trying to figure out if you feel like you I don't want to say gave it away, but do you feel there's still learning for you to do with these specific cars that potentially could help you be stronger down the road?
KYLE LARSON: Well, I mean, I think you learn. Every time you hit the racetrack, you learn something. I'm sure I learned something today. We'll be better again in the future.
Q. This is the 267th win for Hendrick Motorsports. Not an opportunity every day you get to eclipse the King for a record. How meaningful is it to you to have contributed to that? Does having that record in front of you, do you feel like it will add even more motivation for you, or business as usual?
KYLE LARSON: I mean, I think it's definitely business as usual. We all know that milestone is out in front of us. We know that it's really important to Mr. H. He mentions it almost every time I feel like I talk to him. I hope we can get there quickly. I hope I'm the driver to do it and break that record whenever we get to it.
But, yeah, it's definitely a cool, cool milestone that I think is obviously important to him. To have a day like we all had today with all four of us in the top four, that's never been done at HMS. This year has been great so far for our organization and we look forward to adding to it.
Q. Compared to Kansas, your post race comments sounded like it was more magnanimous of being second. Was it a fact of having all four Hendrick cars, whoever had clean air simply with the edge today?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I honestly don't know if there was anything I could have done differently to win the race after we came out second on pit road. I would choose the top behind him, get to second every time. Maybe I could have chose the bottom on restart, but I still don't think I would have stayed with him till he was inside or anything like that. Probably would have fell back to third or so.
I feel like we maximized our day. We were all so equal. I think any of the four of us could have been out in the lead. That person probably would have won. Just, yeah, we were all equal.
Their pit crew did an awesome job. Our pit crew has been amazing all year, too. Like I said, I'm not disappointed or upset about this second because I feel like there wasn't anything else I could do.
Q. Last year you were here obviously, there were no fans in the stands. This year it seemed like a decent crowd. What is it like to be racing now more regularly in front of fans?
KYLE LARSON: I didn't get to experience it all last year, but I can imagine it was probably eerie not having any fans at these races.
But today it felt close to normal. Was definitely happy to hear the crowd yelling and screaming before the race, and afterwards, too. Things are starting to feel like they're getting back to normal. I think we all love not having to wear masks throughout the garage area and outside any more.
Yeah, it's getting normal again. We're getting fans back, which is great.
Q. For drivers, a crown jewel race for a driver like yourself, Daytona, the Coke 600. Do you think about those things in your career and on your trophy mantel, if you will?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I haven't thought about that race yet because we still have COTA, I don't know, maybe something else after that. Yeah, I mean, we all want to win the big ones. I've been fortunate to win the All-Star Race, which is a crown jewel. But for sure you want to win all of them. You want to win honestly every race.
Yeah, I mean, it's definitely one that's up there that means a lot. I think the purse is really big, too. I think that adds some ambition for everybody to want to go out there and win.
Q. Can you describe how that race turns out with the day/night thing, the extra hundred miles?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I'm curious and excited to get there in Hendrick equipment. Ganassi I would always run really well at the All-Star Race, then I would run pretty good the first third of the 600 or so, then I would always seem to lose the balance once it went to nighttime.
Yeah, I guess we'll see what the difference is this year. Maybe it will be a lot different, too, because the All-Star Race, all the extra laps on the track. Maybe it will suit me a little bit better.
Q. Had it been anyone other than Bowman on the restart that had the lead, would you have been more aggressive? Clearly you don't want to take your teammate out on a restart.
KYLE LARSON: No, I mean, I was really aggressive that one where I got to his bumper, pushed him through the middle of one and two, then again in the middle of three and four. At that point I didn't really care it was a teammate in front of me or not. I wasn't going to push him any harder than I was there because I already had him pretty sideways. Same would have went for anybody else. I'm not going to try and wreck anybody.
The 4 car was coming really fast up top, so I didn't want to give him an advantage, smoke by all of us. You never know with him out front, it could be really, really fast. We didn't want that to happen.
Q. Do you take any solace in winning stages, leading the most laps?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, it all looks good for stats and stuff, laps led. Winning the two stages, getting those couple points for the Playoffs is obviously really important. Obviously we would have wanted five more with the win, but we'll take what we can get and keep stacking 'em up as often as we can, just try and position ourselves to be in a good spot come Playoff time.
Yeah, if you can't win the race, you definitely want to have a good points day.
Q. You mentioned it's not what you wanted, but a big day for the organization as a whole. Chase said he hasn't felt like communication has been too much different. You haven't been at Hendrick Motorsports as long as the other guys. What have you noticed as far as all four cars running as well as they have? Is there anything specific you can attribute to how strong the team has been?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I'm not sure. They've obviously had an amazing race team for a very, very long time. I have found it interesting, multiple times throughout this year Marshall Carlson at HMS, he'll talk about how everybody in the shop is so excited to be working there, working on our race cars, never seen the organization happier and more excited to go racing than they are right now.
I find that crazy to think because you look at all the races that Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, they've had multiple, like, powerhouse drivers at one time on their team. For them to be saying this is the most excited they've ever been is pretty unreal to me when we've got four young guys in the sport who haven't really won many races, when you really think about it, compared to the guys that used to be there before us.
I think maybe he's saying a little bit of the future is what gets everybody really excited there. Yeah, just an awesome day for the organization. Glad I could be a part of it.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thanks for joining us today. Congratulations on the run with Hendrick today.
KYLE LARSON: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports