CHEVY NCS AT KANSAS 2: Post-Race Notes and Quotes
TEAM CHEVY NOTES AND QUOTES (INCLUDING ALEX BOWMAN AND CHASE ELLIOTT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPTS):
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 CHEVYGOODS.COM/TRUCK HERO CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 3rd
“It seemed like we needed a really long run there at the end. We were pretty free all day and snugged it up and snugged it up. We got our Truck Hero Camaro running a little better but didn’t really have much right rear grip. There at the end, just running wide open and it finally came back to us. I kind of burnt the tires off of it to try to get there in the first place. It is a bummer. I messed up coming to two (laps) to go and cost us any chance that we had. It is still a really good day for us. Thanks to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. We are building great Camaros, just came up a little short today.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 6th
WHAT A CRAZY DAY FOR CHASE ELLIOTT. IT WINDS UP BEING A SIXTH-PLACE FINISH, BUT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT ALL THE RADIO ISSUES ALL DAY LONG. YOU MUST MENTALLY BE FRIED AFTER THAT RACE. HOW BAD DID IT GET AND HOW MUCH OF A DISTRACTION WAS THAT, CHASE?
“Yeah, it wasn’t a massive deal. The good news was they could hear me, I just couldn’t hear them once we went green. Once we kind of had the situation understood, that they could hear me and I just couldn’t hear them, that helped, obviously. And then from there, I just kind of knew what to expect. I was just trying to pay attention to lap count and when everybody else was going to start pitting or not. But I don’t think it ultimately hindered our performance at all.”
“We had a pretty fast NAPA Camaro. I felt like we fired off well. Lost a little track position there in that middle stage and it was just tough to get a big chunk of it back in a hurry. Had a bad restart there, fell back too far, and it just took me a long time to kind of claw back up through there. We’ve got two more weeks and we’ll try to go get them in Texas.”
MINUS EIGHT GOING INTO TEXAS – I KNOW THAT’S A RACETRACK WHERE YOU GUYS HAVE STRUGGLE IN THE PAST. BUT MARTINSVILLE AT THE END OF THIS ROUND, CHASE, HOW DO YOU ASSESS THE NEXT TWO TRACKS?
“I’m looking forward to both of them. Like I’ve been saying all week, I feel like you can’t have bad tracks and expect to win a championship. You need to have a shot to win every week and I believe in that a lot. We’ll go to Texas, give it our best shot to go win, and same at Martinsville. Hopefully, we’re still alive come Phoenix.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 8th
“It was a good day for us by the end there. We had a couple things happen early on that we had to recover from. We took two tires early and fell back really far in the field and that was tough. We rebounded from that though and got our car tightened up which we needed. We were just too loose for the majority of the day. By the end our car was really fast and we could have ran around fifth to seventh-place and ended up finishing eighth. That’s a good day for us. We’re putting together solid runs and we just need to keep that going as the year ends.”
BUBBA WALLACE, NO. 43 CASH APP CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 18th
“A pretty uneventful day for us. That was the best car we’ve had at a 1.5-mile track in a really long time. We did our homework. The guys did a really good job getting our No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Cash App Camaro ZL1 1LE kind of where we needed it all day. We started out really good and maintained that. We got a little behind on that last pit stop – a little on the tight side. But the pit crew was beyond flawless today, so super proud of them. Great effort for us for Kansas Speedway – come out of there with a good run and learned a lot heading into Texas Motor Speedway. We’ll see what we’ve got.”
TY DILLON, NO. 13 GEICO CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 24th
"Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 1LE was a lot better there at the end of the race. We just didn't have the speed overall that we needed with this package. You have to have so much downforce in the car to make up any ground on the track. Our Germain Racing team never gives up and even though the timing of a couple cautions didn't go our way, we battled back to finish 24th. We have three races left together and our focus now shifts to Texas next week."
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 CATERPILLAR CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 25th
“We had good speed in our No. 8 Caterpillar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE at Kansas Speedway today. It was hard at times to get a feel on the handling of our car since it felt like it would take about seven to eight laps for the front tires to come in today, but we did a better job adjusting throughout the race this time than during our first trip to Kansas earlier this year. It felt like for most the day I was snug on entry to the corners but then would become loose on center and exit, so a lot of our focus was on figuring out what changes would help me the most overall. We just have a couple other things to continue to work on as a team to put ourselves in better contention at these races. I thought maybe I had a right front tire coming down a couple laps before I got into the wall towards the end of Stage 3, but it was tough to tell if that is what was happening in that moment, so that’s a feeling I’ll definitely put in my notebook and learn from. We still have three more opportunities left this year to finish out my rookie season strong, and I’m really looking forward to getting to Texas Motor Speedway next week to try to finish one spot better than we did in July.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Sidelined by engine failure on lap 197; Finished 38th
TOUGH WAY TO END IT FOR KURT BUSCH HERE AT KANSAS. THEY HAD THE SPEEDING PENALTY EARLIER. CAME BACK FROM THAT AND WAS RUNNING ALMOST TOP-FIVE THERE. KURT, ANY INDICATION BEFORE THAT? IT SEEMED LIKE IT HAPPENED ALL OF A SUDDEN THAT THE ENGINE STARTED TO GO.
“Yeah, usually there’s no warning. Everything is so buttoned up these days in the engine department. I haven’t seen an engine problem in years. No fault of anybody at Hendrick engines. We’re running hard here. We were running top-five and there’s a ton of RPM down the front-straightaway with the tail wind. We were right in the mix. We were doing the deal. I just couldn’t quite clear some guys to get into that top-three or four and then our car would come back to us on the long run after about lap 30.”
“It’s a shame for everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing. Having an engine failure in the Playoffs – it’s just like a huge parachute that slows you up. We’ll pack that parachute up, throw it away and we’ll go to Texas to win. We knew we were going to have to win either here or Texas. Martinsville we have a shot at it, too. The odds are stacked against us, but hey, we’re in the top-eight for a reason. I have a great crew chief, Matt McCall, and we’ll bounce back. Thanks to Monster, GEARWRENCH, Chevrolet. It’s just one of those things where you have an engine failure and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 CHEVYGOODS.COM/TRUCK HERO CAMARO ZL1 1LE, PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Alex Bowman, our third‑place finisher. We'll get right to questions for Alex.
Q. Are you happy with a top three run, your best run since Darlington, or are you frustrated because you lost points on the cutoff?
ALEX BOWMAN: I'm just here to get top fives because you told me I wasn't getting enough top fives, Bob.
No, I mean, I think it's obviously a really good day for us. We didn't have the car that we hoped to have. We struggled with it quite a bit today. Still got good stage points. Didn't really have the speed we wanted to have.
But our last couple changes really got the car dialed in. We needed a little bit longer run there at the end. I think we were the fastest car, just kind of ran out of laps.
Happy and sad, a little bit bummed we lost points. A little bummed Joey won. That makes my life harder over the next couple weeks. I feel like we had a really good day. I'm really proud of my race team.
A lot of people said we were going to go out early in the Playoffs. We're still here fighting. We're still bringing really fast cars to the racetrack each and every week.
Q. I'm trying to understand what drivers view about races like today. You had Harvick who had a faster car, couldn't get by Logano because he didn't win the race off of pit road. That's been the package for the last couple years. Have you accepted it and that's how racing is or do you feel like guys still come away with races like that and they're privately saying screw this package? How do drivers view it?
ALEX BOWMAN: I'm just happy I have a job and get to drive racecars for a living.
I think it is somewhat frustrating that it comes down to blocking for an entire run. I think we're all on the same package, right? We're all race car drivers. Most of us would go race lawn mowers if NASCAR said they were switching to lawn mowers next week.
I think for us, we're all just trying to do the best job we can with the package we have to race. That's part of this package. On a cold day like today, it really brings out that element of it. Yeah, I mean, I wish it was easier to pass when you're a faster car. Maybe not easier, but maybe less easy to block.
That's just part of the package. We're all trying to maximize it the way we need to.
Q. Was there any concern when Kurt Busch's engine went away, since he also has a Hendrick powerplant? Have they been able to use any of the ECR components yet in the cars y'all are using for the Playoffs?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, so I didn't even know the 1 car had an engine issue. That's a bummer for sure. Our engine shop does a great job. Yeah, that's a bummer.
I don't know exactly what parts and pieces we've used or haven't used yet. I know everybody is doing a really good job of working together. Chevrolet is doing an awesome job kind of helping us all work together.
Proud of everybody at the engine shop. I think this week was a step in the right direction. I think we were definitely it seemed a little better on restarts. We're headed in the right direction. Everybody is definitely working really hard.
Q. Does this team have a little bit of a chip on its shoulder? You say with a smile almost every time you come on, Nobody expects us to be here, nobody thought we would still be here. Is that what fuels this team, kind of at times maybe a lack of respect?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I use that as a lot of motivation personally. I love it. Honestly, like, if people want to motivate me, just talk crap about me on the Internet. It works pretty well (smiling).
Yeah, I mean, I do think my team is a little bit undervalued. They're one of the best race teams in the garage. They make up for me not being very good at some of these places, give me some pretty great racecars to drive.
Yeah, I mean, I think we definitely have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. I think those last couple laps go a little bit differently and we could very well be going to Phoenix to race for a championship. I feel like we're right there, right where we need to be. Everybody is doing a really good job.
Q. How proud are you of the fact that you did make it, are still here with a fighting chance? You didn't hurt yourself today.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure. It's crazy to think about coming in, like, 17 points back and running third, getting stage points, now being 27 points back. That's a little wild.
Yeah, I'm really proud of our race team. The summer was really rough. We were able to switch it on a couple weeks before the Playoffs. Ever since then we've been firing on all cylinders, bringing great racecars to the racetrack, executing really well. Bristol and Talladega we had some issues. Other than that, really, really good each week.
Really proud of my race team.
Q. You were running up near the top 10 all day, not battling for the lead. What put you over the edge to close in at the end?
ALEX BOWMAN: We were really loose all day honestly. Didn't have a lot of right rear grip. Entry to both ends was really sketchy for the most part. Just had to calm the car down. Couldn't get it into the corner very hard.
We just tightened up and tightened up all day. We finally got it to where I could run about wide open up top, which helped me build a lot of moment and run them down there at the end.
Yeah, just really all day fought rear grip. Finally got the rear grip we needed in the race car at the end. Could have used a little bit more, but we got it much better over the course of the race.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Alex, for taking the time to join us. We'll see you at Texas.
ALEX BOWMAN: Thanks. You guys have a good one.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1 1LE, PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
WAS YOUR CAR WORSE AT THE END OF THE RACE COMPARED TO THE OPENING STAGE OR WAS IT JUST THE MATTER OF TRACK POSITION?
“I actually thought we got our car back pretty decent there at the end. Obviously, Kevin (Harvick) was very fast and just couldn’t find a way around the No. 22 (Joey Logano). But I thought we were better than we were in the middle stage of the race - I just had a couple bad restarts there just after halfway, fell too far back and it took a long time to get back up where we needed to be.”
WERE YOU CONCERNED AT ALL THAT NASCAR MIGHT MAKE YOU COME IN TO FIX THE RADIOS TO MAKE SURE YOU COULD HEAR YOUR SPOTTER OR DID YOU HAVE ANY SENSE THAT YOU FELT LIKE YOU COULD HEAR ENOUGH OF THEM THAT IT WASN’T AN UNSAFE SITUATION?
“I didn’t think it was unsafe. Honestly, I never even thought about that. Short track dirt racers around the country race with no spotters every weekend. We have both, so I don’t know why we can’t handle it if your radios go bad.”
IN DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES LIKE THIS, DOES IT MAKE YOU APPRECIATE MORE HAVING CLEAR RADIO COMMUNICATION WITHOUT HAVING TO RELY ON SIGNALS AND ALL THAT?
“Yeah, in certain situations, knowing what we’re doing as far as coming to pit road and things of that nature. But, luckily, I could hear them under caution, I just couldn’t hear them once we went green. We made those green flag pit stops there early in the race and, luckily, that was it. So, it could have been worse.”
YOU MENTIONED THE RESTARTS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RACE. OBVIOUSLY, THESE RESTARTS WERE WILD THROUGHOUT. LOOKING BACK, WHAT KIND OF WENT WRONG OR DIDN’T GO YOUR WAY? I KNOW A LOT OF TIMES, IT’S AS MUCH WHAT SOMEBODY ELSE DOES AS OPPOSED TO WHAT YOU’RE DOING.
“Yeah, I mean it is. Sometimes, you try to get greedy and end up just hurting yourself. I feel like that’s kind of what I did there on a couple of occasions. It’s so hard, sometimes, to have a good run and realize that not doing something with it is going to net you better in a couple of laps. That’s just something I need to do a better job of.”
ALSO, OBVIOUSLY THE STRUGGLES OF LAST YEAR IN THIS ROUND, TO GET A STRONG FINISH, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN, EVEN THOUGH YOU FALL BACK OUT OF A TRANSFER SPOT WITH JOEY (LOGANO) WINNING?
“I think for us, we just have to treat every week like it’s our last chance – like it’s the last race of the year. That’s the best way, I think, we can approach them and I think if you were to ever make the Final Four one day, you’re going to be better prepared for it because you have to go to that last race and likely win. So, I think the more we put ourselves in that position and recognize that now, the better off we’ll be and the better we’ll be prepared.”
DID YOUR TEAM EVER FIGURE OUT WHAT WAS CAUSING THE COMMUNICATION ISSUES. AND, IF SO, WHAT WAS CAUSING IT?
“I’m not sure. They could hear me, I couldn’t hear them, so that kind of tells me it was something with an earplug or something along those lines because the rest of it seemed like it was working fine. But, I don’t know for sure.”
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.