Friday, Feb 03

Transcript: Chase Elliott - Phoenix Raceway

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Chase Elliott. We'll get right to questions.

Q. Chase, through practice now, through qualifying, where do you feel like you guys are set for tomorrow's race?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, honestly just kind of ready to go from the standpoint of a lot of times I think it's kind of hard to tell where you're at, what you have, how the race is going to unfold until the race unfolds.

Yeah, just ready to get tomorrow rolling and try to execute a perfect day. That's all we can do now.

I was pretty pleased with our qualifying effort. I thought we went faster than we did yesterday for a one-lap pace. I was pleasantly surprised with that. Hopefully it holds on tomorrow and we can have a good day.

Q. Chase, you won the championship here in 2020 obviously with the neon yellow 9 for Jimmie's retirement. I notice the neon 9 is on the car again. Who made the decision?

CHASE ELLIOTT: I have no idea. I don't know. I just saw it when I got here.

Q. Is there anything that you view this race that could be more unique than the other championship races you've been in here?

CHASE ELLIOTT: I don't think so. I mean, for me personally, it's still a great opportunity. Really all of the things that I feel like I have applied to me personally, and how I viewed the week, gone about it the past two years, I feel the same.

I don't really feel like there's anything that stands out a ton to me personally, or at least that's going to change my view on it right now.

Q. What are your expectations of this race? We talked to you guys about a million other things because it's the last race of the season. Actually in the car itself, what are your expectations of how it will go down?

CHASE ELLIOTT: I don't know. I mean, I think at this point in the year, with all the crazy things that we've seen, I don't think anything should really surprise us anymore, regardless of what it is.

Yeah, I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see. Like I said, I have a really hard time sitting here and trying to dissect what's going to happen in the future. I don't know. We'll do our homework tonight and give it our best shot tomorrow. We hope we can get the job done. That's all I can do.

I feel like we've done a good job as a team throughout the week controlling the things that we have directly in front of us in our hands. Frankly, that's all I can really do.

So we're about as ready as we're going to get for tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Once you get done debriefing, what do you do? Do you watch the Xfinity race? Go for a hike?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, the Dawgs have a big game going on right now. I was going to check up on them in a minute.

I'm going to watch the race, see if anything super surprising happens from a track perspective, maybe guys picking up on something today you might apply tomorrow.

Yeah, for the most part normal Saturday for me. Going to enjoy that.

Q. It seems like you're ready to go, get racing. If the race were right now, you'd be almost happier. How hard is the waiting period this week leading up to the last race and the off-season?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, that's every week, though, right? You got six or seven days in between all these things. It's not like we can race on Sunday, then we have a midweek race typically or anything like that.

Sometimes I wish we did. I feel like it would be kind of cool. That's pretty normal. Honestly, the week went by pretty quick. It was a pretty short week because we had media and stuff on Tuesday, we still had our regular meetings from a competition standpoint, then had to be out here for media again early on Thursday.

Yeah, no, it's been fun. I think from a driver standpoint, obviously still being in the Playoffs at this point in the season is a great accomplishment, something that as a team I'm super proud of all of us for achieving that.

It's not the end goal. You got to balance that a little bit. I feel like we're very hungry. We want to go give it our best effort tomorrow. That's what we intend to do.

Q. I feel like you seem to be in a lighter mood than other championship weekends or other weeks throughout the course of the season. On paper it looks like you guys have had the least momentum that you've had all season. What is your mindset? Can you explain what the last week leading into what this weekend has been like?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, I touched on what the week has been like leading in, so... That's really what the week has been for me.

Yeah, I mean, I think my response to the first part of your question is the story's not over, right? We're still writing the last chapter. The last nine weeks, in my view, are extremely irrelevant as it pertains to what happens tomorrow.

The narrative is there for the writing. It's our opportunity and our job to make sure it goes our way.

Q. Talking with your dad the other day, he referenced how time seems to go by so quickly. He thinks back to Indianapolis and says, look, that was 20 years ago, and he was next to me in Victory Lane, and we're kissing the bricks. He's like, What are you doing that for? Just about how time passes. When you think about 20 years from that moment, how do you view from that moment to where you are now?

CHASE ELLIOTT: I think he touched on it, right? Time just goes by so fast. I'm approaching my seventh year, the end of my seventh season, in Cup. For me, that always puts it in perspective as to just how fast time has gone by, especially since I've been doing the NASCAR thing full-time since 2014.

I mean, I assume that's the case, as you get older, regardless of what you do. I know since I got out of high school, things have just gone by faster and faster every year. It becomes very difficult to enjoy a lot of things, right?

I want to do well. I want to do my job. I think you have to mentally be where you need to be to do that. I think sometimes that can take away from being able to enjoy certain moments or certain instances.

But I try really hard to because I know you're not going to get this time back, you're not going to get these years back. I certainly respect that aspect of life and how fragile it can be, frankly.

I'm super proud of where we're at as a team. I've enjoyed being able to have the opportunity to go to these races with my family. We've been able to live this for many years. That's not something I take for granted. We've experienced some incredible moments as a family that I would never dreamed could ever happen. I'm sure they didn't either.

I admire those things. I respect those things. I try to enjoy them the best I can while also trying to make sure I'm doing my part for my team and living here and right now.

That can be a tough balance for anybody I think, regardless of what you do, what your job is. I don't think that's any different for me or what we do here.

Q. He talked about one of the more special moments, when you guys were in Colorado, go-kart racing. No pressure, all about fun. What does that period mean for you?

CHASE ELLIOTT: I was probably, yeah, 10, maybe 9, 10, 11, somewhere in there.

Q. Are there particular memories of that?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah.

Q. What kind of stands out?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, it was a unique point I guess in his life, too, because he had decided he wanted to quit racing full-time. That was when he decided, he and Mom decided they wanted to move to Colorado.

Obviously that's a big transition for any family, going from the East Coast, going out there, living out west.

It was a transition I think we are all willing to do. I didn't have much say, I was a child. I was along for the ride. I enjoyed my time. I'm glad we did it.

Racing was not as popular, I guess, out there as what it was back east, closer to Georgia. So, yeah, racing go-karts was kind of the only thing. There was a track out in Grand Junction, there were two or three tracks out in Denver. Basically they would have a state championship-type thing. You would go and you would run all those tracks inside the state. We did that for a couple summers, had a blast doing it.

Yeah, we did a couple really fun years of being out there. Dad was, I guess, thinking he was retired at the time. Just enjoyed being dad, enjoyed going to the racetrack and us racing together, working on the go-karts, cleaning trailers, all the things that come along with it.

Yeah, they were special years. Certainly glad I have them to look back on.

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