Chase Elliott

NASCAR News: Rain Cancels Qualifying; Elliott to Start on the Pole

When continued inclement weather, the NASCAR Cup Series’ qualifying session in Loudon New Hampshire was canceled. The lineup of the USA Today 301 will be set per the rule book, putting Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1 team on the pole.

Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1

Chase, you’re the pole winner. What does it mean to be upfront to start this race on Sunday?

“Yeah, I mean obviously we’d rather have an actual pole, for sure. But you know, circumstances being what they are, fortunately our team has been performing at a really solid level over the past couple of months. The reality of it is that it put us in a position to have a good starting spot for a rainout situation. That’s just the reality of the weekend. Certainly, we’ll take a good starting spot, and more importantly, take a really good pit pick there on pit road.”

Talk a little bit about leading the championship standings and getting back in the groove that you’ve really established over the years.

“Yeah, I mean like I said, I feel that our team has been in a good spot, really all year. To be honest, I’ve been super happy with where we’re at; really happy with everything, in general, top to bottom. I feel like we’re all in a good place. I feel like I’m in a good spot with what I’m looking for in the car. I feel like Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) is in a good place with knowing how to give me some of those things. I think that for us, we’ve just got to continue to keep working down those paths. I think that we’d like to have a couple more wins than we have right now. But at the same time, I’ve always been a believer that if you’re upfront – putting yourself in position, stringing together good finishes – you’re going to have your opportunities. I don’t feel any different about that now. I think we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”

A lot of the time, championships are won in the little moments. The season that your team has put together to this point, how important are these little moments if you’re going to get back up to the top of the hill this year?

“Yeah, I mean I think obviously the way the playoffs are now is different than what it used to be. So you have to be really good in those last 10 races and you really have to be extraordinary in the last three or four. I think a lot of it is just having a solid enough base and a solid enough foundation to get you through those first two rounds without many problems; just have solid days. And then you want to be super good in those last three or four weeks. I think that we’re capable of doing that with where we’re at right now. We just have to keep it rolling. We’re only halfway through the year, so there’s a lot of racing left. A lot can change; a lot can happen. It can go your way or it could not, and ultimately it’s up to us to determine the direction it goes.”

I don’t imagine you look at points too closely, but did you take a second look when you saw that you were up top?

“Yeah, obviously they told me out there after the race (at Iowa Speedway). But yeah, it’s nice to be leading the points. Obviously, like I just said, there’s a lot of racing left. I think that we have room for improvement still yet, and the reality of it was that Kyle (Larson) had an unfortunate situation last weekend. We would like to get to a position where we could just be better and get more points, and so on and so forth. That’s where I’m at. I think that there’s still things we can do better; still things I can do better.. bringing more pace and just trying to be a little quicker. I think all of those things are really right there for us in the taking. Hopefully we can add that to our foundation that we have right now and I think we’ll be in a good spot.”

I know you’re not on social media much, but yesterday Christopher Bell said “when Chase comes to JGR…”, and one of your teammates joked that you were headed to JGR. I’m curious, did any of your friends or families fall for it and ask you if you were actually leaving?

“(Laughs) Yeah, I heard about that. It was funny.. the boss actually sent me a message about another – I’m not sure who sent it to him or whatever, but there were all kinds of stuff. He sent me this screenshot that I was leaving and going somewhere else and was going to own a team.. there’s been all kinds of stuff, evidently, going on that I didn’t know what I was doing this week. I guess I’m headed to go drive for JGR now, too (laughs). I don’t think so.. if I am, I didn’t know about it. But I felt bad for (Christopher) Bell.. such an honest mistake, you could tell. It was such a genuine – like he just slipped up, you know? Excited for (Chase) Briscoe, though. I think that will be a really good opportunity for him. I hate that Bell was the one to break the news. I’m sure he got into trouble for that, but it’s all good (laughs). It was going to come out eventually.”

Talk about the challenges that New Hampshire Motor Speedway presents.

“Yeah, I think the toughest thing about Loudon is just the lack of banking that it has. The straightaways are really long, so trying to have your car in a position where you’re just comfortable enough to get yourself in the corner is going to help you turn the middle and ultimately make the straightaway long on the backside. I think that why it’s tough; the corner entries are flat, the straightaways are long and you’re going pretty fast. There are bumps into (turn) three that can be a little unsettling. So just finding that right balance and the amount of comfort that you’re looking for in your car is really important. Comfort in this car, in general, is hard to find. And when you do find it, it’s worth the wait, for sure. So that’s what we’re looking for.”

I realize that it’s still only midway through the season, but it’s certainly looking like you, Kyle (Larson) and William (Bryon) are going to be three of the guys that are going to be going for the regular season championship and probably the overall season championship. What is that like, in terms of, are you guys still sharing everything? What is that dynamic like?

“Yeah, over the course of my time being there, nothing has ever changed, whether we’re racing – Kyle (Larson) and I have raced for a championship for a couple of times, I guess now, at Phoenix (Raceway). I can say with a lot of confidence that our meetings have not ever changed in how everyone talks; the things that are discussed, information that’s uploaded into our internal servers, as far as setups and things of that nature. It’s all very straightforward. It’s all an open book. What you take and do with that from there is up to you. It’s just important for us to try and lean on each other and ultimately take the information that you gather and try to do a better job with it.”

With how difficult it is to pass here, how much confidence does it give you to start on the pole?

“It’s certainly nice… nicer to have the pit pick, though, to be honest. I always feel like the pit stall is more important than the starting spot, just because you live with the pit box all day. The odds of you leading 301 laps are slim to none, but you live with that box all day long and that’s something that can help you all the way through. If you get a late caution or whatever and you’re right there in the hunt, that can be the difference of you coming off pit road first or third, and I think that’s a really important thing that we see every single weekend. Excited about that. Really, I think it’s a team effort that earned us that opportunity. It wasn’t a stellar lap on my end, it was just a solid effort from our group other the last two or three months to have us in a good position to take advantage of the circumstances today.”

Starting Lineup

Pos Car Driver Team
Row 1: 1 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
2 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Dutch Boy Ford
Row 2: 3 24 William Byron Valvoline Chevrolet
4 20 Christopher Bell Rheem Toyota
Row 3: 5 48 Alex Bowman Ally Chevrolet
6 22 Joey Logano Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford
Row 4: 7 19 Martin Truex Jr. Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota
8 1 Ross Chastain Kubota Chevrolet
Row 5: 9 6 Brad Keselowski Ford
10 4 Josh Berry # Miner DOCKS DOORS AND MORE Ford
Row 6: 11 99 Daniel Suarez Choice Privileges Chevrolet
12 45 Tyler Reddick SiriusXM Toyota
Row 7: 13 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kroger/Kleenex 100 Years Chevrolet
14 11 Denny Hamlin Yahoo! Toyota
Row 8: 15 17 Chris Buescher Fastenal Ford
16 38 Todd Gilliland Grillo’s Pickles Ford
Row 9: 17 23 Bubba Wallace DraftKings Toyota
18 54 Ty Gibbs Monster Energy Toyota
Row 10: 19 5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet
20 77 Carson Hocevar # Delaware Life Chevrolet
Row 11: 21 10 Noah Gragson Ford
22 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
Row 12: 23 14 Chase Briscoe Zep Ford
24 51 Justin Haley Fraternal Order of Eagles Ford
Row 13: 25 34 Michael McDowell Long John Silver’s Ford
26 7 Corey LaJoie Schluter Systems Chevrolet
Row 14: 27 21 Harrison Burton Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford
28 42 John Hunter Nemechek Family Dollar Toyota
Row 15: 29 2 Austin Cindric Autotrader Ford
30 8 Kyle Busch FICO Chevrolet
Row 16: 31 41 Ryan Preece Mohawk Northeast Ford
32 43 Erik Jones Dollar Tree Toyota
Row 17: 33 31 Daniel Hemric Poppy Bank Chevrolet
34 71 Zane Smith # Focused Health Chevrolet
Row 18: 35 15 Kaz Grala # MEAT N’ BONE Ford
36 16 Ty Dillon(i) Car Bravo Chevrolet
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