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May 30, 2021

Chase Elliott

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Press Conference

An Interview with:

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, who finished second in tonight's Coca-Cola 600.

Q. Chase, I'm curious your take on the lap traffic. It seemed like the closing rates tonight were pretty significant. A lot of them looked like you guys used them for picks. What was your take on the lap traffic tonight?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, it was -- I felt like pretty -- as bad as I hate to say this, pretty normal here in the last couple years, so I wasn't super surprised by any of it, to be real honest.

Q. Did you feel like NASCAR needed to make any calls regarding any penalties for minimum speed, or do you think that minimum speed needs to be addressed moving forward at this point?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Man, I can't answer that. I really try hard to stay out of the official calls. That typically doesn't get me anywhere good, so I'm not sure.

Q. When it comes to where Larson was better, Byron said that it just seemed like the 5 was stuck to the track. Was that something that they could have done differently at the shop? Could you guys have adjusted to get closer to him, or was it just out-and-out better tonight?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, great question. He definitely did a better job for sure. I thought he did the best job driving and being able to make pace and not abuse his tires each run. Yeah, best driver, best car won tonight. There's no doubt.

I think for us, we just look ahead, and I'm excited for more opportunities. That's all you can do when you get beat is look ahead and be excited for another chance.

Q. Is it frustrating for you at all now that you've come so close in two straight Coke 600s and just haven't gotten to Victory Lane yet?

CHASE ELLIOTT: I mean, no. Obviously I would love to win, like anybody would, but we didn't last year and we didn't this year, and that's just what it is, so onward.

Q. What does it feel to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports during this historic time in their NASCAR history, and how does it feel to be a part of the 269 wins, the record that was set tonight?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, just super proud of everybody. I've said this over the course of the last couple weeks. Mr. Hendrick has changed a lot of lives I feel like throughout the course of his career and what he's meant for motorsports I feel like goes without being said. He's changed my life, and for that I feel like he deserves to be on top. I'm a little biased, but I feel like he does.

I feel like he treats people with a lot of respect and integrity, and he just goes about his business like someone should. He's a great role model to a lot of employees, not just in motorsports but across the automotive group side of things, and there's a reason he is a successful man in not only business but in life.

He deserves to win. He deserves to be on top, and I'm glad to see him be there.

Q. What sort of impact has Mr. H left on your life personally, and how does it feel to vindicate the trust he put in you when he put you in first the 24 car and now the 9 car moving forward?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, for sure. Like I said, he's offered me opportunities I would have never had otherwise, and that's really, not to be short, but that kind of sums it up. If he hadn't done what he did and stuck with me and wanted to give me a chance, I don't think I'd be sitting here. It's pretty much as simple as that.

Q. When we watched the race, the package seems to be, I don't want to say slower, but it seems a little different than in years past. Was the passing a little more difficult? Help fans understand how hard it is mentally to be out there and trying to be on the ragged edge of speed for the entire 400 laps.

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, it's always hard to pass. We've had multiple different packages, and it's always hard to pass. Until we learn how to defy physics, it's going to be hard to pass. That's just what it is. I don't think that's ever going to change. But I do think the best drivers and the best teams tend to find their way to the front of these races, even with it being so hard to pass. That's why we race. It's a challenge, and we all embrace that challenge. We play within the rules that we are given, and I'm sure the rules are going to change a bunch over time and continue to change, and it seems like every time they change, the better guys and the better teams tend to always find their way back to the front, and I don't think that'll ever change.

Q. Mentally how tough is it to be out there for that 400 laps being on the ragged edge the entire time.

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, actually I feel really good. I feel like the race went by really fast. What time did we start, 6:30? It was over about 10:30. I thought it was quick. Felt good.

Q. Chase, you and Kyle raced pretty hard when you were together on the track, and even coming down pit road at one point he got to your inside. Where is the line there of racing your teammate hard but not -- what's acceptable, what's not acceptable?

CHASE ELLIOTT: I don't know, I thought it was all good. We were racing hard and racing for the lead of the Coca-Cola 600. Yeah, I didn't see anything wrong with anything that happened tonight.

Q. That was enjoyable.

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, was it fun to watch? There you go.

Q. I wanted to ask, how much does it become a mental battle when your teammate is so strong and you guys are a top-2, top-3 car and you just can't get there and really do anything with it?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, just keep pushing. We absolutely got beat tonight, no question. They did a better job, as I said before. The only thing you can do is just look for more opportunities, be excited for another chance, and fortunately we have that next week, next Sunday, and the Sunday after that. We'll just try to get a little better and me do a better job, us communicate better as a team, execute better, and try to have a better result.

Q. You led a lot of laps here last year in the races. Were you as good tonight as you were last year and Kyle Larson was just better?

CHASE ELLIOTT: That's so hard to honestly really compare year to year in my opinion. Just things change, and the cars sometimes drive a little different. So I couldn't give you a fair assessment on that.

Kyle was definitely better tonight, and that was the only thing that mattered today, currently, here in 2021. I don't know how to compare it to last year, but we were -- yeah, I don't know. Good question.

Q. Does it feel like almost a friendly boxing match between the two of you at Hendrick right now?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, I think we're all just trying to maximize the opportunities. This is a sport that comes in waves. It's a roller coaster. There's going to be good times, there's going to be bad times.

I hope we're always this good and always this competitive, but I think the law of averages would tell you that that's not going to last forever, so I think we all want to try to take advantage of the opportunities that we have right now as a company and continue to challenge ourselves to be better because our competitors are getting better, they're pushing harder. We need to make sure we're not just happy with where we are, we've got to get better, too. We've got to push, because May isn't -- that's not when we hand out the big trophy. We need to make sure we're on our game when it counts.

Q. Obviously you won the last road course, wet Circuit of the Americas. Talk about what you're expecting next week at Sonoma Raceway?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, Sonoma has been a place that I haven't done a very good job at I don't feel like. It's been a pretty big challenge. Looking forward to getting there, looking forward to another shot. It's been a couple years -- yeah, two years since we've been there. Been a little while, but looking forward to getting back and having another chance.

THE MODERATOR: Chase, thanks for joining us today. Congratulations on the second place tonight and we'll see you at Sonoma.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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