Chase Elliott held a virtual press conference on Thursday, March 18, for local Georgia news outlets before the first Atlanta Motor Speedway Cup Series race on Sunday, March 21.
Elliott discussed a range of topics during the conference, like how he feels about the NASCAR 2021 Cup Series season so far, and how he feels that the upcoming race in Atlanta won’t give him too much of a home field advantage.
Here are five takeaways from the press conference:
Elliott learned a lot from his offseason racing, despite the outcomes being generally unfavorable.
“Number one thing was that I didn’t do very well in any of my offseason racing,” Elliott said. “When you challenge yourself in different ways, it’s good for you. It’s good for you to go and push yourselves to new levels. Coming off a great season, it’s great to go and find new limits. Understand more about yourself in different ways. If you take one thing from all those new experiences combined, you’ve spent your time in a good place. It was worth doing it. The bottom line is just a new challenge, a new set of circumstances pushes yourself in ways I haven’t done in the past. Hopefully I can do some more of it.”
Elliott attempted to enter the truck series race at Bristol’s first ever dirt track race in preparation for the Cup Series race on Sunday, March 28 but was unable.
“I put some effort into trying to get in a truck next week,” Elliott said. “I would’ve liked to, it just didn’t pan out. This was a great opportunity I thought. I don’t necessarily think the cars are going to drive very similar to the cup cars next week, but to just see the race track and get some hands-on experience before we show up next week will be helpful. I do think the trucks will drive way more like the cup cars next week when it comes to the driving capability of them.”
Though Elliott’s dirt track racing confidence might be low, his excitement to continue practicing it is high.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with it. I’m not very good at it,” Elliott said. “I’m looking forward to trying to get better. More than anything, I enjoy the challenge of it. It’s just a discipline that I haven’t spent much time trying to work on my craft in and try to get better at. The fact that it is something new intrigues me and has my attention and I want to get better at it. I think I can get better at it. That’s where I have some motivation and drive to do more of it because I don’t feel like I’ve learned everything I need to do the best I can at it.”
Despite racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway growing up, Elliott isn’t sure why he hasn’t won a Cup Series race at his hometown track.
“For us, it’s been super hit or miss and I don’t know why,” Elliott said. “We’ve gone there and had a couple days where I thought we were capable of winning and then we’ve been there and just been way out to lunch. I’m not sure what that is all the time. Obviously, there’s car figurations, rules and different packages that play a role in it. Hopefully this week we can be on the hit side and execute a good race. You have to have things going well for you to have a shot to win anywhere, but definitely have to execute a good race to put yourself in a position to win. Hopefully, we’ll be able to check both of those boxes.”
Elliott believes the Hendricks MotorSports team is working better together this season than years prior.
“I don't think any of the drivers are trying harder than we have in the past,” Elliott said.”I think it’s just a really nice effort from top to bottom of trying to take four fast race cars to the track every weekend. I do feel like everybody is-- I don’t want to say sharing information, because we’ve always done that -- but working together a little more from all aspects. You might have some people that work really well together. I feel like everybody is superfluid and open about everything and I feel like it’s showing on the track.”
The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway starts Sunday, March 21 at 3 p.m. Elliott starts in fifth. He currently sits in ninth place in the Cup Series playoff standings.