On Monday, January 27, I had the opportunity to take part in a teleconference with Hendrick Motorsports driver, Chase Elliott. The winner of the 2018 Most Popular Driver Award spoke on a variety of topics.
Here my takeaways from his comments.
Heading Into Year Four
When prepping for the conference, the one thing I was curious about was how Elliott felt about his career so far heading into his fourth full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I asked him exactly that, and in addition if he had any expectations for the next four years.
“Well, the first two were — I had some ups and downs, I guess, obviously last year being the best of the three,” Elliott said. “It’s kind of hard to believe that this will be year four. It’s gone by really fast.”
As far as the future, the 23-year-old remained mum, as he is keeping his eyes on the present.
“I don’t know,” Elliott said. “ I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow, much less in four years, so we’ll cross that bridge as it approaches. Hopefully, I’m employed and can come see y’all in the media center after some Sundays.”
A Rolex 24 In The Future?
A Twitter conversation between Elliott, and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson raised a lot of eyebrows as the two expressed their interest in competing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
However, when asked about it, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet denied any current plans to compete in the event.
“I think it would be fun to do,” Elliott said. “I know there was nothing serious about my Twitter exchange with him, mostly because it was on Twitter. But I think in general, I’d love to run the race. I think it would be a lot of fun, and if the opportunity presented itself, luckily our partners at Chevrolet are deeply rooted in the IMSA series and certainly could potentially have connections there if it were to work out. So who knows, but we haven’t — nothing has been discussed on it, you know, aside from just messing around on there.”
Jeff Gordon’s Influence
With Jeff Gordon being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on February 1st, the Dawsonville-native was asked to reflect on the time he has spent with the legendary driver.
“Yeah, honestly before my involvement at HMS I didn’t know Jeff no better than I know you. So it was really a fresh relationship then, and I have enjoyed getting to know him,” Elliott said. “ He’s become a good friend and definitely a mentor of mine, and as he’s taken on more leadership roles and been around the track more with us now, trying to help and get our program in the right direction. I think a lot of him. I think a lot of his career, obviously, in the past. That kind of speaks for itself. But I think he’s a good leader outside of the race car, too, and yeah, I’ve enjoyed having him around. Obviously very well deserved, and no one should be surprised by that, so happy to see it for him.”
Confidence in his Crew Chief
The upcoming season also marks Elliott’s fourth year with Alan Gustafson, making them the now-longest duo at Hendrick Motorsports. When asked about their relationship, he expressed belief in his crew chief’s ability.
“As I’ve told a lot of people, I kind of let his do his thing and he lets me do mine, and we really just go about our business that way,” Elliott said. “Our friendship has grown, I think, over the past couple of years. We’re by no means best friends. I think he would tell you the same thing but, we work well together, and I think that we enjoy the competition aspect at a similar pace, and he and I, I feel like, view a lot of things the same way from that aspect, and when you’re working with somebody and you’re in the roles that he and I are both in, I’m not real sure that there’s a much better fit or a better way to go about it.”
Heading into the 2019 season, Elliott will look to improve upon a season where he saw three wins, ten top-five’s, and 20 top-10’s.
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