Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott who competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series says that he feels a tremendous amount of relief after taking victory in Watkins Glen at the weekend.
Speaking during a media conference following his win, Elliott said:
Oh, for sure, definitely. A lot of relief, a lot of emotion in general, but definitely relief I would say would be one way to describe it. It’s been — I’ve left these races pretty down over the past couple years at times and had some great opportunities, and I think that you just have to realize, we run second eight times, whatever it was, I think kind of one thing I tried to beat in my head was that you don’t run second eight times by luck and take it for what it is. That’s the truth, you just don’t. You have to realize that you were in those positions for a reason, A; and B, if you were in them at one point in time, you can get back to them and learn from whatever it was that prevented you from ultimately getting a win and try to correct it to do so.
I learned a lot about myself the past couple years. I’ve learned a lot racing in general. I felt like the end of last year I was probably at the top of my game that I’ve ever been racing as a race car driver in general and felt coming into this year with a lot of confidence and knowing that I felt like we could compete with these guys and haven’t had the year that we were hoping for, but the past few weeks have been encouraging and feel like we’ve been running more like we did last fall, which was really nice, and no reason why we can’t do that more often.
Elliott came home just ahead of the Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry of Martin Truex Jr and speaking about the close finish with Truex, Elliot said:
Yeah, we started that last run, and Martin was saving gas pretty heavily, so I started to save gas, as well, trying to back up to him. I didn’t want to get too far out to where I’d burn up what I had. And then he started to inch back to me as I was still saving, so then I tried to pick it back up, and as I picked it back up, he was still gaining on me. I think he had found a couple things that was helping him.
It was just funny, like if I hit a good lap and he hit a good lap, we would come out pretty even. He might gain on me a little bit here or there, but we were just better in completely different parts of the racetrack. He might be better than me in one section and then me be better than him in another.
So my big thing was just trying to make the most of the sections that I felt like I was better than him and not mess up. We were coming to that white flag, I felt like I had a pretty nice gap, just don’t mess up, and I messed up, of course, and I had to knock it out of gear and I completely missed Turn 1 and luckily had a big enough gap that he couldn’t get up next to me.
Just nice to — Dad mentioned he was close on gas, too. So just nice to win it straight up and it not be a fuel mileage race. You can win these things a lot of different ways, but to actually go out there, run in the top 2 or 3 all day long and race the guy that’s won the past two road races straight up for a victory at the end is very satisfying.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch rounded out the podium in third place. Speaking about Busch coming up to congratulate him in Gatorade Victory Lane, Elliott said:
And Kyle, as well. I’ve been on the bad end of Kyle winning a couple — last year at Dover, and he won Martinsville, too. So yeah, that was pretty neat. And racing against him today, felt like we paced him the majority of the day, and that’s just satisfying as a racer when you’re able to go and race with the guys who are dominating this deal right now and actually be a legit contender and not back into one. That’s pretty cool.