CHEVY MENCS AT PHOENIX TWO: Post Race Notes and Quotes
POST RACE NOTES & QUOTES:
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 HOOTERS CHEVROLET SS – Finished 2nd
THIS SECOND PLACE FINISH HAS GOT TO HURT A LITTLE BIT MORE
‘Yeah, for sure. We were so close to having another shot next week. But man, I can’t say enough for our team and our Hooter’s Chevrolet this weekend. We fought really hard today and gave ourselves a chance. Our car was really fast on those short runs after a caution and after pit cycles on tires. It fired off really good and we did pretty good on the short run all day and got really tight as the run went long. And once the rubber laid back down I was just hanging on and hop I could get to traffic before I started going away. It’s just such a bummer. I was telling my guys we’ll get it right someday, or I’ll get it right someday. We’ve had so many good opportunities and at some point, we’ve just got to close.”
WE SAW A LOT OF HARD RACING BETWEEN YOU AND DENNY HAMLIN FOR THAT POSITION. WERE YOU THINKING OF MARTINSVILLE IN THAT MOMENT?
“Oh, well I’m going to race guys how they race me and keep a smile on my face regardless. I’m happy to race guys how they choose to race me and that’s the way I see it.”
JUST A WHISPER SHORT DESCRIBE THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR RACE CAR IN THE CLOSING LAPS:
“Yeah, our car was really good on the short run after those cautions and the rubber got picked up. As I went, I just got tighter and tighter and couldn’t keep it turning and couldn’t roll the middle like I needed to. I felt like I might have had enough to keep him back there if I hit all my marks and got really tight off (Turn) 2 and made it one lap and basically gave away all my gap and once he got there it was obviously hard to hold him off. Man, it’s such a bummer to be so freaking close again. Had a shot to go race for a championship next week, so we fought as hard as we could today. I told my guys a minute ago, at some point we will figure out how to close or I will figure out how to close and we can have some great opportunities down the road, I hope.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GREW AS A RACE CAR DRIVER TODAY?
“I would like to think so. I hope we grow every week. I hope I grow as a person every week and grow as a racer every week. That is something I think everybody tries to do and I try to do better and do my job and came up short again and that is frustrating and I get it. We just have to keep our morale high and go to Homestead next week and get ready to close out the season strong and bring everything we’ve got come next season.”
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet. He was the second‑place finisher in today's race. Chase, so close once again. Take us through the end of the race there.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, our car was really, really fast on those short runs after the rubber got picked up, and we had struggled to be super tight on the long haul and kept taking off really good and was able to kind of work our way forward. I gave everything I had to try to get a big enough gap so that I could try to keep Matt back there, and tried with everything I had, and it wasn't enough.
I felt like I gave my 110 percent today, although very disappointed, again, to be so dang close to winning and having a chance to race for a championship. Learning the hard way, I guess, in some ways, but it's hopefully making me a better person and making us better down the road.
Q. You just said a minute ago you gave 110 percent; when Matt Kenseth closed the gap to you in the final stages, can you let me know where exactly he had the advantage? Was there a special part on the track where he was quicker than your car?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I don't know; ask Martin. He was behind us. I don't know, I felt like our car turned the middle really good on the short runs, and I felt like I just had to park it in the center after a few laps and just kept getting worse and worse and had to over‑slow the corner and just left myself really vulnerable to getting passed. I just tried to get as big a gap as I could possibly get to keep him back there, and unfortunately wasn't enough, and I got real tight off 2 there one lap and gave away my gap, and after that it was just hard to get him off my bumper once he was there.
Q. Was the battle with Hamlin and the contact any result from Martinsville, or if Martinsville never happened do you race the same way?
CHASE ELLIOTT: A wise man once told me that he'll race guys how they race him with a smile on his face, so that's what I did today. I raced him how he raced me, and that's the way I saw it. That's about all I have to say.
Q. Was the wise man your father?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Doesn't matter. (Laughter.)
Q. Is the more disappointing the win or not being able to go for the title?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Both. I mean, I don't know how you pick. You know, when one means that you have an opportunity to do the other, then I'm not sure how you differentiate the two. But I don't know, just very disappointing, and I just hate that ‑‑ I just hate so bad for my team. They've been so close to winning a handful of races the past couple years, and just, like I told them after the race, at some point I've got to figure out how to close better, and I take responsibility for that. I felt like I gave it my all today, and we'll try to go to Homestead next week, finish the season as strong as we can and then get ready to come at them next year as hard as possible.
Q. Can you take some solace in knowing that the support you have from the crowd is overwhelming? The only time they really ‑‑ even MRN they were saying you would have thought Dale Jr. took the lead when you passed Kenseth the first time. Do you get anything from that, that maybe you can take that with you going forward?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, that means a lot to me to have great support and great fans. You know, I want people to pull for whoever they want to pull for and it be genuine, and if that's me, then I certainly will take all the help I can get, so I appreciate each and every one of the folks here that came out, that had the right hats and shirts on and even the ones that didn't. Happy to have them, and hopefully we can ‑‑ I just want to make them proud someday and tried to do it today.
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA CHEVROLET SS – Finished 6th
THAT WAS A PRETTY GOOD RUN OUT THERE FOR YOU GUYS TODAY:
“We were really good about three quarters of the way through the race. There was one kind of bad run there and the way the sequence of tire strategies worked, we didn’t quite have enough track position to stay out. So, we had to pit and I think we did pretty good to hang on with the two tires that we had. We had a really fast car and it’s really hard to pass here and we passed quite a few cars today, so I am really proud of our Cessna Chevrolet SS team.”
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS – Finished 10th
LAST RACE HERE AT PHOENIX TALK ABOUT IT:
“So, happy for Matt (Kenseth). Me and him kind of going out at the same time. I’m so happy for him to be able to win and have some joy in his life and celebrate, but this place has been really good to me and we worked really hard today trying to get our car better and we made some improvements, but we still don’t have the kind of speed that we wish we had. We really wore ourselves out trying to figure it out.”
TALK ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF WINNING AT HOMESTEAD:
“Yeah, I mean I’m not thinking about. I’m trying to run hard, trying to do well, trying to figure out our cars and get as good a finish as we can. Next week is going to have a lot of things going on. Going in there and trying to do as well as we can is at the top of the list, but there are a ton of other things happening. WE will just take it one day at a time, it’s going to be a busy weekend.”
IT SEEMED LIKE YOU GUYS WERE GAINING SOME MOMENTUM LATE, BUT JUST RAN OUT OF TIME:
“Well, this place is pretty important for track position. We never really had that, but we did have some speed at the end. We certainly made some great changes in the middle of the race. Our car was not very good and really gained on it a lot. I think we had about a 20th-place car all day, made some adjustments and I think we did make it a 10th place car, if not even better than that.”
TY DILLON, NO. 13 GEICO MILITARY CHEVROLET SS – Finished 11th
CAREER BEST DAY FOR YOU HERE IN PHOENIX – TALK ABOUT IT:
“Yeah, it was. I wish we could have had some more of these throughout the season. When you are running good like that you get to learn a lot more. We had a couple of mistakes that might have kept us from running even better than what we ended up. But, proud of our effort. I learned a lot about what it takes to race good here in the Monster Energy Cup Series. I feel like all-in-all it was a great finish, but I feel like I learned more than what this finish is going to show. Excited to keep going and it is great momentum going into the last race of the year.”
CHRIS BUESCHER, NO. 37 CLOROX CHEVROLET SS – Sidelined with a broken brake rotor on lap 251
ARE YOU OKAY THAT WAS A HARD HIT? ANY IDEA WHAT HAPPENED?
“Yeah, I’m okay, thank you. These cars have come a long way and really appreciate all the innovation that goes into that. I’ve had more than I want for impacts this year. On that note, it’s fine, our Clorox Chevrolet was okay. We were getting better through the race. We got a little bit of a long (brake) pedal there and I think we broke a rotor or something along those lines. The hood basically blew a part, thought it might have been a tire, but no brakes at that point. Not fun, not how we wanted to end our day. We were fighting back. It wasn’t going to be a great day, but we were making the best of it.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – Sidelined by blown right front tire on lap 149
ARE YOU OKAY AND DID YOU HAVE ANY WARNING THAT TIRE WAS GOING TO BLOW?
“No, I really didn’t have any warning. I knew I was hard on the brakes, but the run before we didn’t have any issues reported back. So, I felt like I was kind of doing the same thing. Unfortunately, with so few laps to go to the end of the Stage, as soon as I went in the corner and touched the brakes, the right front just blew. So, I hate it for this team. They’ve worked so hard all year long and I’m very proud of their efforts. It’s obviously not the result that we want, but we’re Hendrick strong and I’m proud of my Team 48 and very thankful for this sport that Lowe’s and Kobalt gives us, and Chevrolet. Unfortunately, we won’t have a chance to make eight (championship titles) this year, but we’ll come back next year and try real hard.”
HOW DISAPPOINTED ARE YOU NOT TO HAVE THAT CHANCE TO GO OUT THERE AND CHALLENGE FOR THAT EIGHTH TITLE?
“Yeah, I’m disappointed for sure. The last couple of months we’ve been staying alive and at this stage with the Round of 8 and then the Round of 4, you can’t just stay alive. You’ve got to be hitting on all cylinders and we just haven’t been there, unfortunately. Again, I’m very thankful for all the hard work that’s gone into this and all the efforts from (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and the team, but we just can’t get there right now. We’ll try again next weekend and then do some good changes over the off-season and come back next year and be ready to go.”
“Blew a right-front tire going into Turn 3. No warning, this track is hard on brakes. I felt like the run before reports back were that the brakes were good and we didn’t have anything to worry about and unfortunately, I just got them a little too hot trying to charge hard and put up a lap time that was needed. Such a bummer, it really is.”
SUM UP THE PLAYOFFS FOR YOU AND THIS NO. 48 TEAM:
“We have been staying alive and that is not going to cut it for the Round of 8 and then the Round of 4. We put a lot of effort into the whole season, especially the last couple of weeks and I just feel terrible that we didn’t get better results than what we have had. A huge thanks to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for their efforts, support from Lowe’s, KOBALT Tools and Chevrolet. We will go to Homestead and try to win one more and then get ready for next year.”
TELL US WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW DISAPPOINTING IT IS NOT BEING ABLE TO MOVE ON?
“Yeah, to blow a right-front like that is pretty disappointing. I didn’t know it was coming. Clearly just got the brakes too hot and popped that tire with like a lap to go or two laps to go before the stage was up. We weren’t leading, we were having a decent day, but we were going to need a great day today. I wish we were still out on track to still have a shot for it. You never know how these things unfold at the end, what kind of opportunities might come for us, but hats off to everybody at Hendrick Motorsport, although we haven’t had the performance everybody has been working really hard. Thanks to Lowe’s, KOBALT Tools and Chevrolet for all they have done.”
DID YOU NEED TO MOVE UP THE TRACK?
“Yeah, the line didn’t have much to do with the problem it was really just brake temp. Some guys were making it work higher up, Chad (Knaus, crew chief) was just feeding me some information on different lines on the race track. Just one of those days, one of those years.”
IS IT REALLY DISAPPOINTING OR DID YOU KNOW AT THE START OF THE DAY IT WAS GOING TO BE TOUGH?
“No, it’s disappointing. I anticipated this being a really scrappy race until the end. We had good speed. I know I wasn’t leading the race, but my lap times compared to the leaders was respectable. With some strategy or opportunities and we had clean air on the front, I think we had a shot at it. So, that is what we were really trying to position ourselves for.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 REFRESH YOUR CAR! CHEVROLET SS – Sidelined on lap 105 with an engine issue
WHAT DID YOU SEE, AND WHEN, WITH THE MOTOR?
“I think I was passing a lap earlier and when I lifted, I heard it start to blow up. I was hoping it wasn’t. But, by the time I got back to the gas I knew it was done. It’s just unfortunate to have four DNF’s in a row; two from engines and then two from wrecks. It’s a crappy way to end the season. I thought I had, by far, the best car here today, so I was really happy about that. The Refresh Your Car! Chevrolet was definitely the best car I’ve had at Phoenix. So, I’m happy about that. I just hate that we don’t really get a shot to race for the win.”
WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT WAS THE DIAGNOSIS?
“I think they are still just trying to figure out what went wrong with the engine. It felt exactly like what happened at Kansas, probably a little bit worse. So, I don’t know, it’s unfortunate. I haven’t blown up an engine since my first two Cup starts in 2013, now I’ve had three this season. It’s a little disappointing and definitely a bad time of year to have that stuff happen. Hopefully, we can rebound from it and Hendrick (Motorsports) can learn from it to prevent it from happening in the future.”
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.