- 1st – Alex Bowman, Hendrick Chevy
- Greg Ives – Winning Crew Chief
- Rick Hendrick – Winning Team Owner
- 2nd – Chase Elliott, Hendrick Chevy
- 3rd – Kyle Larson, Hendrick Chevy
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our race-winning driver, Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 ally Chevrolet. I believe we will also have his crew chief Greg Ives joining us.
ALEX BOWMAN: Greg is yelling through this glass. He’s right outside the window looking like an idiot (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: We’ll start with questions for Alex.
Q: This was a track position game. How confident were you after you got the lead on the pit stop?
ALEX BOWMAN: I think straight up the 5 was a little bit better than us. I knew that track position was key. Clean air was tough today, tougher than previous races here I feel like a little bit.
I just felt like if I could keep the bottom closed off, it would pretty hard for him to get to me. If he did get to me, he would have to wear stuff out pretty bad.
My pit crew I feel like won the race getting us off pit road there first. Man, just really cool to get to race Kyle, have such a great day for Hendrick Motorsports.
Q: Mr. H said it’s pretty much a formality for you to sign an extension for multiple years. Do you feel any more comfortable in your future now than your typical you never know what’s going to happen?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I mean, I think so. Just being at Hendrick Motorsports is obviously where I want to be. I want to continue to work with ally and drive the 48 car. Like he said, we’ve been working on it. I think I want to be there, they want me to drive their race car.
It’s cool to have a guy like Rick Hendrick say he wants you to continue driving his race car. It means a lot to me. Just a really special place to be. Appreciative for the opportunity.
THE MODERATOR: To let everyone know, we’re also joined by crew chief Greg Ives. Questions for both Alex and Greg.
Q: Alex, you had a runaway train with the four guys finishing in the top four, but you were the locomotive, not the caboose. How did it feel being the locomotive pulling that train to a 1-2-3-4 finish?
ALEX BOWMAN: It’s pretty amazing. I feel like we’ve been off for a couple weeks, but we’re still the same race team that won in Richmond. We’ve been probably a little down on ourselves. Just tried to get the guys back motivated after a rough week last week in Darlington. Our pit stops were incredible today.
To run 1-2-3-4 for HMS, so cool. I don’t know when the last time that happened was, but it’s been a long time. Really, really cool to see it.
Q: Back to the pit stops and the pit crew. What was the reaction when you did the burnout in front of them? Was that for them because of what they were able to do today?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure. I mean, if we don’t beat the 5 off pit road, we probably don’t beat him in the race. I give them all the credit for the win there. I think without them we wouldn’t have gotten it done. So appreciate Greg and all those guys working so hard throughout the week to continue to get better. They’ve been super fast all year.
It’s cool to win a race that you can really point back to them and say they’re who got it done. It was cool to be able to do that. I feel like other guys do that all the time. Their pit crews come to the wall. I go to do burnouts, I can’t even see any of my guys.
I yelled at them, You guys got to come to the wall. It was really cool to get to do that.
Q: What is the significance to you obviously for yourself in Victory Lane but also the 48, getting Rick closer to the record for most wins by one team?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I just want to be the guy that ties them and beats them, right? All four of us want to be that guy. It’s cool to put us one closer. Yeah, I mean, I want to be the guy that gets those wins for Mr. H because I feel like — not that any win is not special, they’re all really special, especially when you only have four of them, but I feel like I really want to be the guy that gets that done for him.
Q: Did it take them long to get that fire out?
ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t know. I stopped paying attention. It’s a long way from when I was on fire in New Hampshire, that’s for sure.
Q: Alex, certainly Greg has talked about in the past about pit road. You talked about what the pit crew did today. How has Greg helped, what you’ve done to be better on pit road so far?
ALEX BOWMAN: Greg, yells at me whenever I don’t maximize my lights and my segments, my rolling times, average speed. At Hendrick Motorsports we really like charts. In our meetings we talk about charts. There’s a lot of charts. Sometimes I look bad on those charts, and that’s when Greg yells at me (smiling). There’s a lot of different pit road charts and ways to look at it.
He’s tries to do whatever he can to help me maximize each and every area. I feel like I’m gaining on it. There are definitely guys that do a little bit better of a job than me right now still. But that 48 pit crew makes up for it a little bit because they are super fast each and every week.
Q: Greg, you talked a couple weeks ago about the pit crew, your philosophy. You talked more about consistency. Talk about how you came to that philosophy. How does that philosophy work in a situation where it’s a winner-take-all pit stop?
GREG IVES: Yeah, I mean, for me it’s all about, as Alex said, the details of it, but also letting the guys kind of play in their own space. They want to play at a high level. It’s all about creating comfort in that high-level stress environment.
The last couple weeks I’ve been putting them in a lot of changes, high stress environments, trying to get them to go fast when they have to make a lot of adjustments. I think it’s kind of like a batter swinging a heavier bat. I created some uncomfortable situations. Weren’t really looking good as far as times on pit road. Ultimately, I feel like for the adjustment stops we were doing a good job of making up time and figuring out where we had some deficit.
It’s all about going down and talking. I talked to them this week. I broke down how well or how bad I was doing. Rolling that left front tire, I wasn’t doing it right last weekend, opened it up. We all worked through it. They’re not scared to tell the crew chief that I need to get better in the situation.
I think ultimately being on the same platform as them, allowing them to make some mistakes, when mistakes come learning from them rather than scolding them.
I really appreciate what they do, the family we’ve become. We’ve been together for five, six years now. It’s easy to work through complications when you have that open communication.
Q: Obviously you won in the No. 48 car. Obviously, Jimmie Johnson has dominated for years here. What does that mean to you?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it means a lot to me. I was terrible here when I would come here for other teams. I got a little better when I started driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Had some okay runs here and there. My first or second time here for Hendrick Motorsports, I was struggling in practice. I would text Jimmie, bug him all night before the race trying to ask him what he does, how he approaches this place, what kind of line he runs. I just stuck to that, really tried to run like Jimmie did, run the Jimmie Johnson line, be tight against the black, super disciplined, super patient, kind of do some of the same things that he does with the throttle.
Next year we came here, we ran second and third. Last year we had a solid top five. We’ve kind of been good here ever since. To win here with the 48 car is special, but to do it using I guess tips that Jimmie taught me is pretty cool.
Q: Greg, Alex has described his relationship with you, it seems like you have similar personality, but how would you describe your relationship with Alex?
GREG IVES: This question always is fun for Alex to pick on me a little bit.
Yeah, I mean, we have a great relationship. That’s all because we love race cars, we love cars, we love racing and getting better.
The number one thing when it comes to a driver and my philosophy is the ability to learn. There’s things that go on in my head, sometimes it’s hard for me to talk about them or tell Alex. That’s why he calls me the riddler. Ultimately I get to the point where I just tell him what I want and he does it.
Today we were working through some brake pressure stuff, talked him through it. He didn’t get upset about it. I wasn’t trying to make him upset, I was trying to make him aware.
Ultimately you have to that have relationship of trust. If he understands and knows what I’m looking at, he has the ability to respond the proper way in the car. When we get out, there’s no hard feelings. We just go on our way and have fun again the next week trying to overcome either a bad race or a race win.
He talked about Darlington. We were up in the lounge. We were trying to figure it out. Right after a race, if you have a bad one, sometimes you don’t want to talk, but we were able to. I told him, Hey, pump the guys up. Get involved and pump them up. He did. I was in a situation where I was upset and frustrated with the car’s performance. You needed him to do what he needed to do.
He did a good job overcoming the last few weeks. Ultimately that’s because we have a relationship not only with him and I but throughout the full race team.
Q: Greg, I know the dynamic of the team has been a little bit different with Rowdy’s passing. What has Alan brought to the team from your standpoint? How has he changed or uplifted the dynamic?
GREG IVES: When you’re going through that, one of the biggest things you have to do is find a connection not only with the team but you have to find that connection with the person that Rowdy was. Alan and Rowdy had a friendship and a relationship prior. He was somebody that understood Rowdy and his attitude towards everyday working. He understood Rowdy’s personality from a team aspect, how valuable he was to us, keeping us motivated every day and every week. That’s where I found comfort with the guys around us.
The pit crew had a big say in how they replaced one of their fallen guys. How was he going to mesh with the team? I would take meshing with the team over talent. Alan and Rowdy came in close together, they stayed friends. They had a similar work ethic. Ultimately it felt like the right choice for him to step into a position that was very difficult to endure and go through. He helped us find a little bit of peace in it all.
Yeah, very difficult, but ultimately that’s kind of how it all worked out.
THE MODERATOR: Greg, we’ll let you continue on with your obligations. Thanks for joining us and congratulations on the win.
GREG IVES: Thank you, guys. Appreciate everybody.
Q: You mentioned your crew guys were able to hop up on the wall. With everything opening up this weekend, were you able to celebrate with them a little bit more than the Richmond victory?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure. They were all in Victory Lane which is really cool. Means the world when I get to share that with them when I think so much of it was influenced by them. Really, really cool. Appreciative of getting to do that with them. Really neat.
Q: What has Alan brought to the team? The stop was brilliant at the end. I think the fastest of anybody this season to get you out front.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure, I think Rowdy had a really big outgoing personality in a sea of awkwardness that is the 48 team. I think Alan brings a really similar personality, outgoingness. He’s just a big personality, a lot of fun to be around, a lot of fun to talk to. Can talk to anybody. Always having a good time. Always upbeat and positive.
Rowdy was that guy. You have a lot of really awkward people on the 48 team, between Greg and I, some of the other pit crew guys, some of the team itself. We’re kind of a bunch of weirdos. It gets the job done. I feel like Alan brings it all together a little bit.
Q: All four teams are running at a really high level right now. Can you circle anything specific that maybe has changed or improved that has got all four of you hitting on eight cylinders at the right time? Is it communication?
ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t think there’s one thing you can pinpoint. I think it’s everybody in the whole shop working super well together, all four race teams working well together. Marshall Carlson is doing a really good job kind of getting everybody together. Chad Knaus is doing a really good job of taking lead in the shop.
From the top down, Jeff Andrews has a big part in everything, the four crew chiefs, all the way to guys that sweep the floor at night. It’s a team effort. Everybody is all in. It’s a good atmosphere right now. All the cars are fast. The 48 team, we’ve had our struggles, our races that have gotten away from us. Everybody has been really fast. That’s just brought a great atmosphere and continuing to go well.
Q: Looking forward to the Coke 600. With that extra hundred miles, your fast pit crew, the speed that the Hendrick cars have, you’re going to be one of the favorites going into that race. How do you feel being in that tier of drivers?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I mean, I think we probably could have won both races there last year. We won a bunch of stages. The green-white-checkered didn’t really go our way the first one. I crashed all by myself when we should have won the second one.
Probably my favorite oval we go to as far as the mile-and-a-half stuff. It’s got a lot of character. Some guys don’t like it, but I think it’s because they haven’t figured it out. Once you figure out turns three and four, it’s a lot of fun. You can manipulate your race car to do what you want it to do.
I enjoy it. A lot of different grooves. It gets slick. A long, grueling, fun race. Looking forward to 600 miles, being as prepared as I can be for it.
Q: Is there anything to that extra hundred miles for a driver?
ALEX BOWMAN: I think this race feels longer than that race does. Next week will probably be more physically challenging than the 600 is. Charlotte is not a place that really beats you up too bad. This place is really hard on you. A road course in Texas in the middle of May is going to be pretty rough as well.
I think all these races kind of strung together that are difficult physical days for us probably prepare us a little bit extra for the next weeks.
Q: I know the short tracks haven’t been your best friend. Now you have two this year. Throughout 2021 what have you learned about Greg and this team that might be new to you?
ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t really think there’s been a new thing for us. I think we definitely improved our short track program a ton. Richmond was a place we struggled at tremendously. Dover was one of our best racetracks, has been for a long time.
I don’t know if we’re really learning new things. We’re definitely gelling really well. Probably doing a little better job of overcoming the rough weeks in between Richmond and here than I would have previously. Just trying to be a little better leader, be a little more up beat.
Bristol, Martinsville, Kansas, Darlington, 2019, 2020, I probably would have been pretty mad all week, miserable to be around, angry about it. Just trying to stay really positive and be a good leader for those guys, do what I can to keep them pumped up.
We go to a lot of good places for us. Our weaknesses are shrinking, we’re getting better at the places we struggle at. I feel like we can go about anywhere and win right now.
Q: A couple of your teammates had issues with their brakes. Was it an issue of too much tape, track temp or anything like that?
ALEX BOWMAN: I haven’t really talked to my teammates to know what they were fighting with. We had massive brake issues. Pretty much had no brakes. Spent a lot of 400 laps pumping the brake pedals up, hoping they were going to work in the next quarter. They worked when it counted.
We’ll have to address what was wrong there, what we missed. Never had brake issues before here. Obviously we had really fast race cars to be able to overcome it. Definitely struggled with that a little more than we would have expected.
Q: You’re going to the Circuit of the Americas next week. How tough is it going to be to get a setup for that place, the limited amount of practice time?
ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t even know how much practice we do or don’t have. It’s the same for everybody. We just got to go there and try to hit it off the bat. Chase has been there. That’s a big help. It will be crucial to learn from him. It’s crucial to learn from him any time we go to a road course, he’s so good at them.
Just trying to improve. I feel like our weak point is going to be me as a race car driver. I feel if I do my job, do a good job for the team, we’ll have a good, solid day.
Q: This time last year the No. 48 was one of the most talked about rides in terms of who was going to fill that seat. How does it feel to vindicate the faith that Mr. H had in you?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it’s really cool. To come to a place like Dover, the 48 has had so much success, get a win here, never won here with Mr. Hendrick here, so it’s so cool to be able to do that. Just really neat.
I feel like throughout my career I’ve had my fair share of doubters. To be able to get two wins here to start off the season, be having a good start to the year, is really cool.
Q: Mr. H said he took you aside before the season started and said, You can’t be Jimmie Johnson light, we want you to be Alex Bowman. In your words who is Alex Bowman?
ALEX BOWMAN: Race car driver/weirdo, awkward human (laughter).
I don’t know. I feel like I’m just a regular guy. I obviously really enjoy what I get to do. Put a lot of time and hard work into trying to be the best race car driver I can be. I don’t have any, like, extravagant hobby. I don’t have, like, this super big personality. I’m not a villain like you see some of the other guys. I guess I don’t have that. I just kind of am myself.
I like to spend time at home with my dogs. I have a small group of friends. Spend a ton of time at my shop working on the Sprint car stuff. Every day that I’m not at Hendrick Motorsports, I’m in the simulator, at the shop, laying underneath a race car working on it.
Yeah, that’s about all there is to it for my life.
Q: COTA and the Coke 600, NASCAR will hold practice and qualifying sessions those weekends. Have you missed the extra time at the racetrack? Are you and the drivers ready for the potential to add more sessions onto the schedule now that restrictions are getting lifted?
ALEX BOWMAN: I really enjoy the lack of practice. I feel like growing up, you’d show up, get one hot lap session, qualify, heat race, race. Your whole day was like 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and you were done.
I enjoy kind of the compact schedule. Mostly looking forward to be able to work with my race team and maximize our race car for Sunday’s race, something we haven’t done in quite a while. It’s going to be cool to be able to do it.
I’m not going to lie, I definitely like the schedule we have now for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Alex, thanks for joining us this evening. Congratulations on the win. We will see you next week for that practice and qualifying.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the owner of Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Hendrick, whose cars finished 1-2-3-4 today. We are going to open it straight up to questions for Mr. Hendrick.
Q: Was this on a bucket list for you at all to see your cars go 1-2-3-4 in a race?
RICK HENDRICK: Every time you’re in a race, you like to see them run 1-2-3-4. The feeling is unbelievable. It was probably the longest last hundred laps that I’ve ever seen in a race just because I kind of wanted to see it so bad, so close. To be able to pull that off, that’s kind of one of those things in racing that you would say was on your bucket list.
I’m extremely happy and proud of all the guys. It was a great day for the organization.
Q: One away now from Richard Petty, Petty Enterprises. We just heard from Kyle Larson that he said you talk about this all the time with him, remind them how close you are. How big of a deal would it be for you to catch now and tie with just one away?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, Richard is a good friend. He’s the King of this sport. But any time there’s a record out there, you have an opportunity to break it or tie it. I think a few years back, I thought it would be impossible. If you told me in 19, what, 84 that you’re going to be here for this long or that you had an opportunity to win all these races and championships. I kind of pinch myself because it’s just really hard to do. The sport is so competitive right now.
But I think our guys, I know our guys, are working together better than they ever have in the shop with Chad and Jeff Andrews. We’ve got a lot of talented people. Good to see these young guys like William, 11 races in the top 10. When you look at that, now we have four wins this year. Chase has been so close. We got some great tracks for him coming up. I’m really proud of the folks. I just love to see guys like Cliff or Greg become star crew chiefs.
It’s all been really good for us. Good to have Rudy. Put Rudy and William together, it’s like magic. We just have to keep digging because everybody behind us, they’re going to be there every week.
I’m glad we got it done one time. I don’t know if we’ll ever do it again. I’ve seen Joe do it, I’ve seen Penske do it, I’ve seen Stewart-Haas maybe not win all four cars, but all three cars. To see them dominate a race like that…
We just got to get ready, do it again, show up, have a game face on, do the best we can.
Q: When did you start to think perhaps you could catch Petty? Did you get to 150 or 200? At what point did that become a goal?
RICK HENDRICK: One time I thought I’m not going to live long enough to do this (smiling). It was around 250. Then last year we clicked ’em off. Actually I really tried not to think about it until this year. This year when everybody started talking about it, then I thought, Man, this is in reach.
I’m really proud of the organization. But I’ll say this about Richard: nobody in this sport has ever given as much as he has. To see him on pit road, see him signing every autograph. I’ve got one of his autographs when I couldn’t get in the garage area through the fence at Martinsville. I know what that feels like. He’s a tremendous ambassador for this sport.
If I get the record, somebody will break it behind me.
Q: We’ve seen a Hendrick team, mostly the 9 team, be dominant, win races. Now you have sustained success across the organization. Why do you think that is?
RICK HENDRICK: I think we’ve had superstars that win. We’ve won 17 races before in a year. One car was just dominant, maybe too dominant than the others, which is just so-so. The way we’ve kind of started back four, five years ago, putting all engineers in one place, putting all the crew chiefs in one place, taking our best folks like Ron Malec, they’re in charge of this part of the vehicle, Chad is in the shop, you have Jeff Andrews.
When I look at the way they’re working together, respect that the drivers have for each other. They want to beat each other. That’s what we pay ’em to do. I know we don’t, we’ve never had the focus on four. Maybe we wanted to, maybe we tried to, but when they all are in there together, you could give one of the other guys his car and they wouldn’t know the difference, you know, swap cars.
It’s rewarding to see. To see Marshall, Jeff Andrews, Chad, the crew chiefs, all of the folks working, and Chevrolet. GM has been a big supporter. Richard Childress and I now have aligned to do things together. Boy, that’s going to make a big difference and has made a difference. He’s a good friend. I respect him a ton.
So there’s a lot of things that have come together. But I think having these young guys that are all so young, having Kyle in the mix, he just drives the wheels off of it. I think they all make each other better. To see William blossom like he has, Alex, a guy that didn’t have a chance now have two wins this year, finish sixth in the points last year, I think the future is really bright for us.
There’s nothing that beats teamwork. You’re stronger together. That’s been my philosophy on the automobile side and the racing side. I was told early on that I’d never win a championship having multiple cars. It’s worked.
It’s all about people. I don’t care what kind of business you’re in, it doesn’t make any difference. It’s people. It’s people that make the difference.
Q: Alex Bowman’s future with your team, can you give an update on where you’re at?
RICK HENDRICK: We’ve already started. It should be done any time. We want Alex there. He wants to be there. It’s kind of at this point just a formality.
Q: Is it a multi-year deal?
RICK HENDRICK: Yes.
Q: You were talking about Alex. It’s one thing to get the opportunity to join Hendrick Motorsports in general. This year, with him taking over the 48 that made so much history, planting the car in Victory Lane at Dover, talk about how Alex has embraced this opportunity.
RICK HENDRICK: First of all, ally, the sponsor, we’re great partners in the car business and in racing. When you say you have to replace Jimmie Johnson, they were more than willing and wanted to let Alex have a chance.
I told Alex, You’ve got to be your own guy. You can’t be Jimmie Johnson light. You got to be Alex Bowman, just do your deal. We are going to be there with you and you’re going to do great.
Greg is a great crew chief. I just didn’t want Alex to have too much pressure on him getting in that situation. That is some big shoes to fill. No different than going behind Dale or Jeff Gordon, all the championships he has.
But I think Alex has embraced it really well. He and Greg are very good together. And ally does a ton of promoting and they really like him. It’s all good.
Q: Chase has run up front most of the season but has yet to get into Victory Lane. Is there anything that stands out to you with him or is it mostly circumstances?
RICK HENDRICK: It’s just circumstances. I mean, he had a five-second lead at Daytona, the road course. We elected to pit, couldn’t get back to the front. So he’s been in position to have a good day and win races, but it just hasn’t worked out.
He had a great run I think it was Kansas. Guy with new tires on the outside, got blocked there at the end. Those things are going to happen. But he’s too good. That team is too good. He’ll be there. He’s going to win some races and he’ll be there for the championship again.
Q: You mentioned some of the challenges building up. A few years ago there were some challenges with the organization, the car not able to win. Talk about this journey going from some relevance to dominance.
RICK HENDRICK: Well, I think we had to do some work on the car. I think we submitted a car that was probably a little too vanilla, too many character lines, too much like a stockcar when everybody else, Ford and Toyota, went more aggressive. We had to pay for it.
Then when the 1LE came out, all the teams worked together, it was Ganassi, Childress and us, and GM put a lot of effort into the car, we’re seeing the results. I feel like we’re even or as good as or better than a lot of the guys out there.
When you’ve been on top of the mountain, you stand there and watch somebody else win 15 races or whatever, you struggle, it just makes you work harder. I think our group of people have so much pride in what has been accomplished, that now they’re super excited. They see the youth in our camp. Nobody is going to retire any time soon.
I’ve seen too many drivers retire. I’ve been through it with Dale and Jeff and Jimmie and others. I think we are set for a really good run here for the next years, multiple years. I like where we are. This doesn’t mean a lot. This means we did it one time out of 40 years, I guess. We just got to stay sharp and not think that we’re ahead of anybody, but we just got to race to be there.
I think we got great momentum right now. I can’t believe William has 11 top 10s and run up front a lot, I mean, lead, and he’s won two races, last year and this year. I think we’re ahead of schedule with Alex. Chase showed what he can do last year. Having Kyle in the mix, his talent, just makes everybody better.
Q: I’m not trying to push you off to the side, but how much patience do you have, how has that changed, certainly you could be closer at any point to just retiring on a boat and enjoying your free time as opposed to being at the track as much. Is there less patience because of fewer opportunities to win races and championships?
RICK HENDRICK: Well, I do like to fish. I do like the boat. When I go to the doctor anyway, they ask me if I’m retired. I tell them I’ve got two jobs. I work every day and weekends. I love it. I mean, that’s what makes me get up in the morning. I’m competitive. I think the guys around me are very competitive. We want to win and we want to set records.
I’m not going to be every single week, two days a weekend, if we get back to it at the track. I’m there with the guys. I’m with them in the morning. I balance it. But I love it. I’ve raced all my life. That’s all I’ve done. The two things I love in my life other than my family is the car business and racing. I’ve been fortunate to be able to make a living doing both of them.
I don’t see retiring any time soon.
Q: You’ve seen a lot of Hall of Famers come through your stable. What are your feelings with this specific group that you have now, when you have a day like, this the momentum you do? How does it compare to the days past dominating and winning championships with Jimmie?
RICK HENDRICK: I kind of like it better in the old days where you had a points lead, you didn’t have to go to a Round of 4, Round of 8, have a little spread. If you had a really good year, you kind of had a lot. It’s hard to do it now. You could have a flat tire or anything can just take you out of it after you’ve had a banner year.
I think these guys, William at 23 has got so much ahead of him. Chase at his age. Alex and Kyle. They’re young guys. I mean, they’ve got a lot of runway ahead of them. We should just get better. They will get better. We will get better. I love the chemistry. I think we’re in good shape for a while.
THE MODERATOR: Mr. Hendrick, congratulations on the fantastic day at Dover today. We appreciate your time.
RICK HENDRICK: Thank you. Good to see people without a mask.
Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our third-place finisher, Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet.
We’ll go straight to questions for Chase.
Q: What does it mean to be part of a day when Hendrick goes 1-2-3-4?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Really cool. Glad Mr. Hendrick was here. He has been at just a few races this year. He picked a good one today. Yeah, just proud of our whole team. Everybody, HMS, I feel like we have a really talented group of people that work really hard. It’s just nice to see their hard work awarded like that, in that manner, in that type of domination.
Those guys led, I guess Kyle and Alex, pretty much led the whole race. Really cool. Just really proud of everybody. Glad to be a part of the team.
Q: Halfway through the regular season, what do you think of your team’s performance at this point? How do you grade things out?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, I think we’re in a good place as far as where we ended the day today. I thought we were close. Just needed to do just a tick better. Needed to have a little better restarts, have just a tick more pace. I really thought we were pretty close. So happy with our run.
Q: Any races in the first half of the year that you’d like to have back that you thought maybe you could have won?
CHASE ELLIOTT: No. That’s why we race.
Q: Obviously to do as an organization what you did today, it’s not easy. 2005 the only other time it’s been done. Is there a way to characterize how difficult it is for one team to put a thrashing on the rest of the field?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, obviously, because of the significance of it, I guess you said it’s only been done one other time?
Q: Three times, once in the modern era, Roush in ’05.
CHASE ELLIOTT: There you go. It’s obviously really hard.
It’s one thing to have four fast cars. I think that happens fairly often. But have four fast cars with four really well-executed races. Yeah, it’s a cool thing. It’s very hard to do.
Q: Is that a case of teamwork? Have you been working closer together compared to previous years or everybody hitting on all cylinders at the right time?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I feel like our communication is good. I feel like it’s been good in the past, too. I wish I could say that or give you a really good reason as to why. I just think everybody in our company’s really motivated right now, working hard to provide fast cars. I feel like everybody is pulling the rope in the same direction. As good or better than it’s ever been since I’ve been there. I think that’s key.
But I think as far as our communication, how closely we work, I don’t really know that’s much different.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by our second-place finisher, Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Nations Guard Chevrolet.
If you have a question for either Kyle or Chase…
Q: Chase, did you have any of the brake issues that the 24 and the 48 experienced through the course of the race?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Fortunately no, I did not.
Q: Chase, how does a race like this build into next week going into the Circuit of the Americas road course where you’ve been pretty strong at those types of tracks the last couple years?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, honestly it really doesn’t. They’re all kind of new opportunities, in my opinion, new weeks. Obviously a much different track than what we raced on today. I don’t feel like there’s really any comparison at all.
Q: Chase, the Coke 600, Hendrick should be pretty fast again. You’ve come about as close as possible to winning it. Can you describe how tough it is to win a race like the Coke 600?
CHASE ELLIOTT: They’re all tough to win. I haven’t found an easy one to win personally. I think they’re all pretty difficult. I don’t think the Coke 600 is any different.
Q: Is that last hundred miles any more significant than in the past where it was about attrition? What does that do for a driver?
CHASE ELLIOTT: As much as you want me to say yes, the answer is no. I mean, it’s just not any different really. Just happens to be another hundred miles.
Q: Still a crown jewel for you?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, absolutely.
THE MODERATOR: Chase, thanks for joining us. We’ll let you move on. We’ll continue on with questions for Kyle Larson.
Q: Kyle, do you feel like you’re still learning some about the Hendrick cars as far as restarts and other things? Do you feel like you’re totally comfortable with the cars?
KYLE LARSON: No, I mean, it all seemed pretty normal to me today. I don’t know, do you think I could have did anything different on the restart?
Q: No, I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out if you feel like you I don’t want to say gave it away, but do you feel there’s still learning for you to do with these specific cars that potentially could help you be stronger down the road?
KYLE LARSON: Well, I mean, I think you learn. Every time you hit the racetrack, you learn something. I’m sure I learned something today. We’ll be better again in the future.
Q: This is the 267th win for Hendrick Motorsports. Not an opportunity every day you get to eclipse the King for a record. How meaningful is it to you to have contributed to that? Does having that record in front of you, do you feel like it will add even more motivation for you, or business as usual?
KYLE LARSON: I mean, I think it’s definitely business as usual. We all know that milestone is out in front of us. We know that it’s really important to Mr. H. He mentions it almost every time I feel like I talk to him. I hope we can get there quickly. I hope I’m the driver to do it and break that record whenever we get to it.
But, yeah, it’s definitely a cool, cool milestone that I think is obviously important to him. To have a day like we all had today with all four of us in the top four, that’s never been done at HMS. This year has been great so far for our organization and we look forward to adding to it.
Q: Compared to Kansas, your post race comments sounded like it was more magnanimous of being second. Was it a fact of having all four Hendrick cars, whoever had clean air simply with the edge today?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I honestly don’t know if there was anything I could have done differently to win the race after we came out second on pit road. I would choose the top behind him, get to second every time. Maybe I could have chose the bottom on restart, but I still don’t think I would have stayed with him till he was inside or anything like that. Probably would have fell back to third or so.
I feel like we maximized our day. We were all so equal. I think any of the four of us could have been out in the lead. That person probably would have won. Just, yeah, we were all equal.
Their pit crew did an awesome job. Our pit crew has been amazing all year, too. Like I said, I’m not disappointed or upset about this second because I feel like there wasn’t anything else I could do.
Q: Last year you were here obviously, there were no fans in the stands. This year it seemed like a decent crowd. What is it like to be racing now more regularly in front of fans?
KYLE LARSON: I didn’t get to experience it all last year, but I can imagine it was probably eerie not having any fans at these races.
But today it felt close to normal. Was definitely happy to hear the crowd yelling and screaming before the race, and afterwards, too. Things are starting to feel like they’re getting back to normal. I think we all love not having to wear masks throughout the garage area and outside any more.
Yeah, it’s getting normal again. We’re getting fans back, which is great.
Q: For drivers, a crown jewel race for a driver like yourself, Daytona, the Coke 600. Do you think about those things in your career and on your trophy mantel, if you will?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I haven’t thought about that race yet because we still have COTA, I don’t know, maybe something else after that. Yeah, I mean, we all want to win the big ones. I’ve been fortunate to win the All-Star Race, which is a crown jewel. But for sure you want to win all of them. You want to win honestly every race.
Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely one that’s up there that means a lot. I think the purse is really big, too. I think that adds some ambition for everybody to want to go out there and win.
Q: Can you describe how that race turns out with the day/night thing, the extra hundred miles?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I’m curious and excited to get there in Hendrick equipment. Ganassi I would always run really well at the All-Star Race, then I would run pretty good the first third of the 600 or so, then I would always seem to lose the balance once it went to nighttime.
Yeah, I guess we’ll see what the difference is this year. Maybe it will be a lot different, too, because the All-Star Race, all the extra laps on the track. Maybe it will suit me a little bit better.
Q: Had it been anyone other than Bowman on the restart that had the lead, would you have been more aggressive? Clearly you don’t want to take your teammate out on a restart.
KYLE LARSON: No, I mean, I was really aggressive that one where I got to his bumper, pushed him through the middle of one and two, then again in the middle of three and four. At that point I didn’t really care it was a teammate in front of me or not. I wasn’t going to push him any harder than I was there because I already had him pretty sideways. Same would have went for anybody else. I’m not going to try and wreck anybody.
The 4 car was coming really fast up top, so I didn’t want to give him an advantage, smoke by all of us. You never know with him out front, it could be really, really fast. We didn’t want that to happen.
Q: Do you take any solace in winning stages, leading the most laps?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, it all looks good for stats and stuff, laps led. Winning the two stages, getting those couple points for the Playoffs is obviously really important. Obviously we would have wanted five more with the win, but we’ll take what we can get and keep stacking ’em up as often as we can, just try and position ourselves to be in a good spot come Playoff time.
Yeah, if you can’t win the race, you definitely want to have a good points day.
Q: You mentioned it’s not what you wanted, but a big day for the organization as a whole. Chase said he hasn’t felt like communication has been too much different. You haven’t been at Hendrick Motorsports as long as the other guys. What have you noticed as far as all four cars running as well as they have? Is there anything specific you can attribute to how strong the team has been?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I’m not sure. They’ve obviously had an amazing race team for a very, very long time. I have found it interesting, multiple times throughout this year Marshall Carlson at HMS, he’ll talk about how everybody in the shop is so excited to be working there, working on our race cars, never seen the organization happier and more excited to go racing than they are right now.
I find that crazy to think because you look at all the races that Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, they’ve had multiple, like, powerhouse drivers at one time on their team. For them to be saying this is the most excited they’ve ever been is pretty unreal to me when we’ve got four young guys in the sport who haven’t really won many races, when you really think about it, compared to the guys that used to be there before us.
I think maybe he’s saying a little bit of the future is what gets everybody really excited there. Yeah, just an awesome day for the organization. Glad I could be a part of it.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thanks for joining us today. Congratulations on the run with Hendrick today.
KYLE LARSON: Thank you.