On-track Interview With: CHASE ELLIOTT
I think it’s all finally starting to soak in for Chase Elliott, the sport’s most popular driver, now its newest champion. Just 20 days shy of his 25th birthday, the youngest champion since Jeff Gordon won his first of four titles back in 1995. Chase, you’ve been asked all week time and again what it would mean to you to win this championship; you didn’t have an answer back then. How do you answer that one now?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I’m not sure that I still even know. I just, man, I’m at a loss for words. This is unbelievable. Oh, my gosh. We did it. I mean, we did it. That’s all I’ve got to tell you. Unreal.
Championship crew chief, Alan Gustafson, is now a NASCAR Cup Series champion, and very deserving. I just can’t say enough about our group. I felt like we took some really big strides this year, and last week was a huge one. To come out of that with a win and a shot to come here and have a chance to race is unbelievable.
Heck, I don’t know. I don’t even know. This is unreal.
You got back around Joey Logano and that 22 and then you just had to wait it out. I know you were anticipating a late caution. We’ve seen them in the other championship races. What was going through your mind in those closing laps?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, just waiting on the caution, as always. You know, I saw Joey was pretty loose there and felt like I needed to get to him while I could. I knew I’d been kind of tight on a longer run and he was probably going to get a little better. Just unbelievable.
I mean, I just never would have thought that this year would have gone like it has. I mean, NASCAR Cup Series champion; are you kidding me? Unreal.
You come from a Hall of Fame pedigree. You’ve got your parents, Bill and Cindy, here to celebrate with you. They’re behind the car here. What does it mean to you to add to the family legacy?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Oh, it’s unbelievable. All you can dream for is an opportunity, and I’ve been very fortunate to have that over the years. You know, and that’s all thanks to some great people. You know, my parents obviously have played a huge role. The past year has been tough. I lost my best friend about a year ago tonight. Lost my grandmother last year. And all those things bring families closer, so I really can’t thank them enough.
Mr. Hendrick, for taking a chance on me and believing in me when a lot of people didn’t. I think it really says a lot about him. And then to have a championship sponsor like NAPA, all of our partners, and Chevrolet, huge thanks to Team Hendrick and everybody at our shop that peaked at the right time. That’s all we can ask for.
It almost seemed like a changing of the guard. We saw a lot of people come by to congratulate you after the finish including the seven‑time champion Jimmie Johnson. What did that moment mean to you?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Oh, my gosh, to share a moment like that in Jimmie’s last race and to win and to lock the championship, those are moments you can only dream of. You know, and this is a dream. I’m just hoping I don’t ever wake up.
You didn’t get to celebrate the win for Martinsville a week ago, but you can bet this 24‑year‑old will be celebrating this tonight.
— NASCAR —