THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott, two more of our Championship 4 drivers.
- Denny was just talking about how obviously the pit stop for Larson and the pit stall selection kind of made the difference in him taking the lead on the final stop and seizing control. Did that feel like that was a pivotal moment of the whole race?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: In our case it wasn't a pit stall, we just had a slow stop.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Same for us.
- There was so much talk all week about qualifying maybe not being important, but he has that first pit stall because he qualifies first.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Didn't make a difference.
- Could each of you kind of discuss your race, starting with Martin?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I mean, for us we had just a solid day. We hung around right there where we needed to be, had a really good car, especially on the long runs early in the race. Track position was tough. Seemed like whoever was out front could drive away for 30, 40 laps and then you'd kind of race from there on until the end of the run.
It seemed like we were pretty good.
Felt like all of us were really equally matched, honestly. We were all really good, really fast. Whoever got out front seemed to be good on the short run, and then long run it was kind of back and forth between everybody all day it seemed like.
So we did everything we needed to. We got a lucky break there with the caution when we pitted and got us the lead, and we were driving off into the sunset. I don't know what the caution was for, but just untimely caution for us and lost two spots on pit road and that was the race. 20 to go, you're not going to pass one of the fastest cars out there. We just didn't have the short run speed all day, and then certainly with 20 to go it's going to be hard to pass anybody out front in clean air.
I think if we would have had the lead, we could have held him off. But hindsight is 20/20, and we didn't have the lead, so here we are. Really proud of our team and our season. Come in here once again as underdogs and had a shot at it, so that was fun.
- That break with pitting under green right before the caution and cycling the lead, did you feel like maybe this was going to be my day or did you not really trust?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It was too early. You know at some point you're probably going to get a caution. Lap car, back marker is probably going to crash into the wall for no reason or something stupid like it always happens. So I'm not sure what happened, but that's probably what happened.
- Chase, your race, you had contact with Kyle at one point. That seemed to maybe help his car a little bit in terms of downforce.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, maybe. I kind of thought I had a run a little bit and I didn't think there was quite enough room, and I thought he was going to come to the wall, so I was like, well, I'll try to go to the bottom really fast, and then he ended up like not moving, and then I came down. It was just a really weird set of circumstances, ended up hitting him in the right rear and it flared the thing out. That was nice.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It looked really good.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, it was nice. If you want to do that --
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Why wouldn't you hit me like that.
CHASE ELLIOTT: If you want to do that to me next year, we'll work on it.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: That thing was sexy.
CHASE ELLIOTT: It did. It looked good. Glad I could help.
But yeah, just honestly really proud of our effort. I thought we had a really good car. Honestly I thought all four guys, to Martin's point, were good. I felt like we all kind of had our moments really throughout the day. You get a caution with 20 laps to go, it's going to be very difficult to run down and pass the guy that jumps out front in the restart. But yeah, proud of our team. Felt like we had a nice game plan coming into the week. Felt like our car did a lot of the things we wanted it to do. No major mistakes, just needed to be a little better in those first few sequences of restarts and pit stops there at the end.
- Denny said yesterday he felt like the top 4 pretty much ran top 4 all day, and he said this is going to come down to one little thing, final pit stop or where the caution falls. Did you guys expect that? Is that just how these championship races seem to unfold or all races seem to unfold?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, with the way this deal is, for sure. One race -- I mean, yeah, it's going to be hard to -- most of the time, your four consistent guys throughout the season are likely going to be here. You might have one guy that maybe isn't or wins a race or something and gets in, but for the most part they're going to be good cars. So when you get to the last race, they're all going to run good. That's just the way it is. Everybody wants to win.
Yeah, I don't foresee that changing. I mean, at least not while they leave it like this.
- Chase, your first few years in the Cup Series trying to get those wins, coming so close to that and then you break through, to kind of look back and see that journey and how frustrating that can be, but what you learned, does that prepare you for a Championship 4 weekend when maybe you win, maybe you don't?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah. I mean, yeah. Some of those really tough days I thought prepared us to be able to come here and have a shot to win last year. Those tough losses teach you good lessons. I felt like our team came into the last couple years here with a really good mindset and were mentally strong enough to go and compete for the win. That's really all you can ask for.
Felt like we have a good group.