TEAM CHEVY: TOP-20 IN NASCAR CUP SERIES PRACTICE
5th ERIK JONES, NO. 43 BOMMARITO AUTOMOTIVE GROUP CAMARO ZL1
6th TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 3CHI CAMARO ZL1
8th KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 VALVOLINE CAMARO ZL1
9th ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 MOOSE FRATERNITY CAMARO ZL1
14th CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 HOOTERS CAMARO ZL1
16th WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
18th TY DILLON, NO. 42 CHEVROLET MILITARY APPRECIATION CAMARO ZL1
20th AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 GET BIOETHANOL CAMARO ZL1
· The NASCAR Cup Series participated in a 50-minute practice session to kick-off the series’ inaugural race at World Wide Technology Raceway.
· At the end of the practice session, four Camaro ZL1’s placed in the top-10 of the speed charts, with Erik Jones leading the way for Chevrolet as the fifth-fastest car overall.
· Tyler Reddick (6th), Kyle Larson (8th) and Ross Chastain (9th) rounded out the Team Chevy top-10.
· Qualifying to set the lineup for the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series event at World Wide Technology Raceway will take place tomorrow (Saturday) at 10:00 a.m. CT.
· FS1 will telecast the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 Presented by TicketSmarter at World Wide Technology Raceway live at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 5. Live coverage can also be found on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 HOOTERS CAMARO ZL1; ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 MOOSE FRATERNITY CAMARO ZL1; AND WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1, met with media after the NASCAR Cup Series practice. Media session highlights:
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 HOOTERS CAMARO ZL1
HOW DID YOU FEEL AFTER THE PRACTICE AT GATEWAY - ABOUT HOW THE SIMULATOR TOLD YOU IT WAS GOING TO BE LIKE OR WAS IT DIFFERENT?
“Yeah, it’s about like everything I’ve watched here before. It’s kind of like a big Martinsville, honestly. It reminds me a little bit of that, just on a larger scale. I think the racing is going to be a lot like Martinsville was this year, too, so it should be good.”
WILL IT BE AS TOUGH TO PASS BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS TO SHIFT ?
“I’m not sure it has as much to do with the shifting as it is just the proximity of the guy in front of you. The entry is pretty narrow, so for you to get some fresh air is pretty difficult to do. So, you’re always kind of following that guy in front of you on entry. It’s hard to position yourself in a different spot to gain some comfort via clean air; therefore, you kind of get to a certain point in disturbed air and it’s going to be difficult to feel as comfortable as you would if you weren’t.”
QUALIFYING TOMORROW IS VITAL?
“Pit stops and restarts will be vital on who wins.”
HAVE YOU SEEN ANY MORE FALLOFF WITH THE TIRE BECAUSE YOU COMPARED IT TO MARTINSVILLE; AND PART OF THE PROBLEM AT MARTINSVILLE WAS THE FALLOFF OF THE TIRE.
“I don’t think the falloff and the shifting was the issue at Martinsville. I really don’t. I feel like it was just the lack of ability of being able to be close to someone on entry. It was very difficult to be right behind a guy without missing your center. I think you have to be in position in the center to pass a guy on exit. You’re not going to pass them unless you’re in a position to do so.
The tire falloff has been minimal at Martinsville for a while, especially when the temperatures are as cold as they were. That wasn’t the first time we’ve seen that. So, I don’t agree with that narrative.”
JUST THE FEELING ABOUT COMING HERE TO ST. LOUIS AND THE INAUGURAL RACE AND THE ENERGY SURROUNDING THIS. I’M SURE YOU’VE HEARD THAT SUNDAY IS SOLD OUT, SO WHAT IS THAT LIKE FOR YOU AS A DRIVER?
“It’s great to come to a new market like this and a market that seems like they want us to be here. It’s always exciting. I did a NAPA event in Litchfield, Illinois, this morning and there were a lot of people there and there was a lot of excitement about the race this weekend. I would say 80 percent of the people that were there are coming to the race and were excited about all the things that were going on here.
I think there’s a lot of traction, so now, we need to make sure we put on a good show number one. And then, we’ve seen this before, where the track gets an influx of people for the first time like they’re going to have this weekend; and the roadways aren’t prepared and we have a lot of traffic. If I was a spectator, I wouldn’t want to sit in four hours of traffic leaving this thing or be late getting in. We had that issue in Nashville and we had that issue in Kentucky years ago. So, I hope we’re prepared this weekend and we’ve learned our lesson there.”
DID YOU FIND ANY QUIRKS ABOUT THIS PLACE THAT YOU DIDN’T EXPECT?
“No – honestly, don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t have it figured out by any means – but nothing really surprised me.”
ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 MOOSE FRATERNITY CAMARO ZL1
HOW WERE THINGS OUT THERE DURING PRACTICE?
“Good. The track is different than what I remember it from the truck races I did in 2018 and 2019. By myself out there, it was fun. The ends are so different and tire falloff is just enough that I was starting to lose grip. I wasn’t really slowing down as much, but I was starting to get loose and get tight. It’s like a new challenge; it’s like a new race track.”
WHEN YOU WALKED IN THIS MORNING AND THE TRACKHOUSE RACING HAULERS WERE ALL THE WAY UP TOWARDS THE FRONT, WAS THERE ANY SPECIAL PRIDE IN THAT OR DO YOU NOT CARE?
“I do care. I accidently walked in from the other end of the garage, so I got to walk down the whole lane and it’s wild. I kept looking around – I mean I knew it, but I was like ‘holy cow’. Just to think that we’re second in points, I feel like we’ve out kicked our coverage a little bit. Week in and week out, we’ve had speed and raking in the points.”
THAT FEELING OF WALKING INTO THE GARAGE, WHERE THE HAULERS ARE AND BEING SECOND IN POINTS – IS THAT A FEELING THAT YOU WANT TO STAY; OR DO YOU THINK EVENTUALLY IT SHOULD BE A NORMAL FEELING FOR YOU GUYS?
“I think it’s human nature to get more comfortable in your surroundings once you’ve done it awhile. Everybody tells me I should expect to be fast. I should expect to be here; I should expect to race with my heroes. But until that day, I don’t really know how that’s going to happen. I mean it is getting more normal, but I still have the same feeling.
Yes, I think I should find some middle ground. I think looking back on this year, I’ll hopefully come back next year and have a different mindset of some things. I hope to evolve; I hope to be better. But I hope that it’s still special to walk into the garage for a long time. I hope that feeling never goes away.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
BYRON ON THE FLAT TIRE IN PRACTICE:
“I think it was just not knowing what our travels were going to be and putting ourselves in a little bit of a bad spot there. We definitely kind of had some ride quality issues down the straightaway. I started bouncing and I was a little bit nervous about it. I’ve had a couple of them, so as soon as it went, I knew. Luckily, it was on the straightaway.”
IS IT SOMETHING THAT YOU’RE CONFIDENT THAT IT WILL BE FIXED TOMORROW?
“Yeah, it was fine the next two runs. I think we ran 15 laps the next run and we were fine. The base of the car seemed decent, we just made kind of a testing change that last run and tried to learn some stuff. It wasn’t what we needed for right now.”
YOU HAVE 13 PLAYOFF POINTS; YOU AND ROSS (CHASTAIN) HAVE THE MOST. THERE ARE AROUND EIGHT DRIVERS WITHIN SEVEN POINTS. TYPICALLY IN SOME YEARS, WE’VE SEEN BIG GAPS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE REST OF THE SUMMER AND INTO THE PLAYOFFS?
“Yeah, it’s going to be a dog fight this year. We’ve had speed, but then we’ve had some weeks where we just miss it. We’re just learning this car. I feel like the times that we’ve missed it, it’s definitely tough to overcome. I feel like we’re still trying to find our footing; but when we nail the setup, we’re great and we can win. And when we miss the setup, we’re like 15th. So, we’ve got to figure out how to put our window closer together so we’re not a first-place car or a 15th-place car. It’s just a matter of figuring out those little things; me doing a good job communicating; and just bringing us together so we learn this car even better.”