CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1 – Qualified 10th
ELLIOTT ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN:
“It was really good to get into the second round (of qualifying). I feel like the first lap of our session was solid. I missed a couple of areas. That was going to be the big thing – was if you were going to be able to get it done on the first lap and not have to run again. I made a pretty big mistake on my second run and I was honestly surprised we got through, so that was encouraging. And then I about wrecked there in (turn) four on our last lap. I wish we could have gone a little faster, but I’m glad I didn’t wreck it because I was very, very close to not driving this car tomorrow.
But like I said, definitely good to get through. We haven’t had a nice second round in a while, so that was nice.”
GRANT ENFINGER, NO. 42 SUNSEEKER RESORTS CAMARO ZL1 – Filling in for Noah Gragson at Sonoma Raceway this weekend, Enfinger made his first-ever laps in a Next Gen Camaro ZL1 ahead of his first career NASCAR Cup Series start. Post-qualifying quotes:
OVER THE RADIO, THE TEAM SAID YOU WERE DOING A GOOD JOB WITH YOUR PACE. WHAT WAS IT LIKE FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT?
“Yeah, it definitely took awhile to get comfortable with things just with it being a new car. I was really concentrating on the tire – just trying to feel the tires and trying not to do anything incredibly dumb early on. Definitely taking it slower to get up to speed. I felt more and more comfortable the more laps I ran. I felt like we were struggling a little bit on the backstretch there, but I got more and more comfortable there on my side, and I feel like we’ve made it a little bit better in qualifying, as well. Definitely need a few more laps before I can give them some good feedback, but overall, just getting more and more comfortable. I’m concentrating on my shifting, especially from second to third gear there.
But overall, had a fun day here. I want to send a big ‘thank you’ to Noah (Gragson). He’s been trying to walk me through this for the last couple of days - about kind of transitioning from the truck to here and what that experience will be like, and how close the simulator world would be to where we are. I appreciate all of his help.”
DID YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THE SEAT?
“Yeah, definitely I felt comfortable in the seat. Overall, the way the pedals feel, the throttle and the brake pedal – everything is a lot different than what I’m used to in my truck, but I’m comfortable in there.”
WAS IT LIKE YOU’RE DRINKING FROM A FIRE HOSE WITH THE DIFFERENCES WITH THE SHIFTER AND ALL OF THE OTHER FACTORS YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH?
“I think anytime you’re racing in the Cup Series for your first time is drinking from a fire hose. But to me, I think the biggest thing I’ve been concentrating on, that Noah (Gragson) wanted us to hone into during practice and go back and look at data on, is the tire. I remember right at the beginning of last season; I feel like you couldn’t slip these things at all. Obviously the crew chiefs and these teams have made those cars better and better. You still have road blocks you have to worry about and stuff like that in different parts of the track. I was trying to get used to the curbs and trying to see what I could and couldn’t take advantage of. And yeah, I definitely know already without looking at SMT, a problem spot I have. And then I’m sure Luke (Lambert) and the guys on the No. 42 Sunseeker Resorts Chevy team will be able to help me dial in some of the other little fine tunes.”
WAS IT STRESSFUL OR WAS IT MORE LIKE – I FEEL SO GOOD IN THIS VEHICLE.
“I think it was stressful leading up to it. But yeah, once practice started, it was like – let’s feel this thing out. Mike Beam, Luke Lambert and everybody did I think as good of a job as they could about not putting any extra pressure on me and just trying to let me learn a new car. It’s obviously an overwhelming experience through the course of the last few days, but Noah (Gragson) told me a few times and my wife told me a few times to just try to enjoy it. So I’ve been trying to do that and I was out there in practice.”
WAS SHE STRESSED FOR YOU?
“I think she didn’t like seeing me a little stressed. I think she could see that I was just trying to prepare as much as I could. I wasn’t spending quite as much time with her in the evening times – just been a little bit of an overwhelming last couple of days. But like I said, the first lap of practice, all of that kind of went away. It’s just a race car and trying to learn a new car.
So thank you to Maury (Gallagher), Mike (Beam), Sunseeker Resorts and Jimmie (Johnson) – who’s ever there at Le Mans – and everybody that allowed this opportunity. Incredibly unfortunate circumstance with Noah (Gragson), but appreciate his help through this whole transition, as well.”
WOULD YOU SAY THAT NOAH GRAGSON WAS MOST GIVING IN ALL OF THIS? I KNOW HE HAS TO FEEL TERRIBLE..
“He definitely feels terrible for missing the race, but I feel like above all, he’s been the most genuinely happy that I get to experience this opportunity. He’s mentioned that to me a few times about just soaking in the moment and enjoying it. He means that from the heart, so that’s pretty cool.”
ENFINGER ON THE OPPORTUNITY:
“I don’t think anything can really prepare you for this, but I’ve been racing my whole life and it’s just a new race car. I’ve very much enjoyed practice and qualifying. And like I said, I have a lot to learn for tomorrow, but I’ve enjoyed everything to this point.”