NASCAR Media Conference
July 10, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference. We are going to open with Chase Elliot, driver of the No. 94 Aaron's Dream Machine Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Elliot will make his fourth series start on Saturday in the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway.
In his first three series starts, Elliot has scored three Top 10's, averaging a finish of 5.0 which is tied for the best average finish for a true NASCAR National series rookie in the NASCAR Champion World Truck Series. Immediately following Chase, we will be joined by Bill Elliott.
Chase, you had one of the best starts in NASCAR history, and now, head to Iowa Speedway where you won last year. What is your confidence level going into this weekend, which will be your fourth NASCAR champion world Truck Series start.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Obviously I'm very excited. I think this racetrack is a lot of fun. I think it puts on some great racing, and the place is known for that in the past. I feel like if we can get up there and just put together a mistake‑free weekend and just have everything go our way, I think we'll be just fine.
Q. I know you've only had a few starts at the Truck level, but how close do you think you are to winning at that level in NASCAR?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I think we are pretty close personally. I feel like everything is where it needs to be to have success. I feel like our trucks are fast and all the guys do a really good job. I feel like if we can just get to Iowa this weekend and I can do my job and know what I want when we unload and just put together a mistake‑free race, I think we are right there, man.
I feel pretty confident in that, and yeah, the biggest thing is just me learning. I've made a lot of mistakes these past three races, and if I can just put a mistake‑free race on my end and if the guys can do their job, I think we are right there.
Q. You have the shot to be the youngest winner in Truck Series history; have you thought about that? Would it mean anything to you?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I haven't thought about it a whole lot. For me we are just there to win like everybody else is and try to do a better job than the next guy.
So haven't really put a whole lot into my age and how old I am and how old the rest of these guys are. Just more so our personal program and what we need to do to be a little bit better.
Q. Second and third generation drivers, there's always a comment about, well, if they get the speed gene or not. How much of that do you think is natural, obviously some of the stuff you got from your dad, his physical and mental characteristics are important, but how do you balance that? What's your thought about the natural, as opposed to‑‑
CHASE ELLIOTT: That's a good question and I haven't put a whole lot of thought into that personally.
I think the big thing is just kind of growing up around the sport and seeing more or less what it takes, I feel like, to do a good job. I by no means have that figured out. I think being on the outside looking in the sport for so many years, I think that definitely gives you a different perspective.
For me I feel that helps me to grow and hopefully do a little bit better job and like I said, just have a really solid understanding what have it takes to be successful.
Q. What do you think is your biggest challenge so far? What's been toughest for you along this path, moving up kind of fast.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, obviously a lot of things. A lot of changes comes up with moving up a level. For example, I struggled with green flag pit stops at Dover, and that's just one of very many things that change along the way and that's one thing that I've struggled with up to this point.
That's something I've put a lot of emphasis on to do a better job the next time that opportunity‑‑ the next time we have to make some more green flag stops.
So pit road has been a struggle for me, doing that, that's kind of something new. For me, that's been my biggest speed bump so far, and hopefully I can get that corrected this weekend.
Q. You mentioned the green flag pit stops. I'm wondering if you can tell us a couple of those, the mistakes that you've made at the Truck level, and do you attribute it just to inexperience and then after it happens, how do you work through it and what do you do to make sure it doesn't happen again?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, you just need to practice it more, and the more you do it, the more used to it you're going to get.
But you watch guys do it on Sundays, and it doesn't do it justice. It's just such a different feel, and there's so much time to be gained getting on and off pit road, making sure you slow down to pit road speed; that that's a big piece of the race.
Nowadays where we don't see a lot of cautions like we have in the past, green flag stops are very, very important. You see guys like Kyle Busch do such a good job and gain a lot of time on guys on pit road; you can gain half a second on a guy in front of you on pit road, that's huge. That's hard to get on the racetrack. So there's a lot to be gained or last.
As for me at Dover, you're a lot better off to be a little bit slow going down pit road than you are having to be fast coming back in. It is tough to weigh the cost and benefits, and you've just got to really be careful there, but at the same time, you've got to be aggressive, too.
Q. Do you find yourself beating yourself up after you do that or are you able to step back and just say, okay, I've learned something here, and move on.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, I don't think you can beat yourself up too much about it. It's obviously something that you're going to be frustrated at yourself. That's just because you want to do better. But at the same time, you've got to take and learn from it, and hopefully you can try to dig yourself out of the hole that you got yourself in that day.
But if not, you've just got to learn and come back and do a better job next time and try to not make that mistake. That's what I'm going to shoot for in the future, just not make a mistake getting on and off pit road and I just feel like that in and of itself is going to be a big step to get to where we need to be.
Q. Is there any added pressure on you since you're a second generation racer?
CHASE ELLIOTT: No. I obviously get that question a lot, and I really don't feel any.
For me, you know, a lot of it now is kind of up to me, and me trying to kind of make a name for myself. Hopefully I'll be able to do that, and you know, I'm just another racer out there trying to do a little better than the next guy and we are trying to win like everybody else, so I don't feel that.
Q. And what kind of driver do you want‑‑ as you continue with your NASCAR career?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, obviously a champion, that's where you want to end up. Hopefully you can do it more than once. That's what I'm shooting for and hopefully we can get there.
Q. Rick Hendrick said a weeks years ago he was able to put you in a Nationwide car next year, do you feel that you're ready for that now and where do those plans stand?
CHASE ELLIOTT: For sure, well, first off, I feel like I'm ready for it personally. I think given the right opportunity, I feel like I can do a good enough job behind the wheel to be competitive at that level, and hopefully that's what works out.
You know, we've been very fortunate to have Aaron's with us, especially this year in the Truck Series and running ARCO races, and hopefully we'll have that next year and we can get things worked out.
But obviously nothing's set in stone yet, but you know, for me, the biggest thing is our sponsor, and just having a sponsor like Aaron's that's such a great supporter of NASCAR; just they get it and they understand what it takes to be a supporter of NASCAR, and hopefully we can keep them on board.
Q. Do you feel like it's for a full season, or are you just trying a partial next year? What is the plan?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Obviously a lot of it is still up in the air. I don't want to jinx anything by any means.
Obviously we are shooting for full‑time doing something. I don't know what that will be, but me personally and us as a group, we want to go race full‑time next year, and I think if we can have a good rest of the season this year and get some good results and finishes, and hopefully get to victory lane, I think next year will figure itself out.
THE MODERATOR: That's all the time we have for today. Chase, thank you for joining us and best of luck this weekend at Iowa.
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