The series of 12 Questions interviews continues this week with Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports. These interviews are recorded as a podcast but also transcribed for those who prefer to read.
1. How often do you have dreams about racing?
Racing’s weird. A lot of times I lay in bed at night — I don’t go to sleep very quickly — and I’ll think about it a little bit before going to bed. Especially if it’s race weekend or something like coming (to Sonoma), kind of running laps around the road course in your head. And when I do that, I never fall asleep, so it kind of keeps me up. So my mind wanders elsewhere.
The last dream I had about racing was, somehow or another I was running the Indy race somewhere. Actually it was an F1 race. Weirdest thing ever. And I get in the race, qualified like third or fourth, and we’re going out to the grid. We’re about to get into the cars and I realize I didn’t have my suit on. I was in my street clothes, and I had to go run and change really fast and I missed the start of the race. Nightmare, basically.
Lewis Hamilton’s not going to let you win when that happens.
No, definitely not.
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
I think it kind of depends on the circumstance and whether or not the other person knows whatever drove to that contact in that situation. Sure, if I get into somebody — whether it’s on accident, on purpose, whatever — I do think if an explanation is needed, it’s probably in your best interest to at least say something. You race around the same people every week, so you’re gonna be around that person again and they can make your life easier or harder.
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
Within racing, I just think the kind of competitor you are. If somebody’s bragging on the type of competitor you are and how you conduct yourself, I think that’s a pretty big compliment regardless of performance. I just think if you’re appreciated and respected from your peers, I think you’re doing something right. It’s not necessarily a compliment, but if respect is there, I think that’s a pretty big one in itself and you can typically tell whether someone respects you or not. I think that goes a long way.
4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?
I had a chance to hang out with Daniel Ricciardo from the F1 side (at Texas last fall). He’s not a celebrity — a California celebrity — but obviously a very well-known racer. Had a lot of fun with that.
I think kind of keeping it in the racing community, hanging out with people that understand what you have going on is a lot more fun than hosting somebody that has no clue. I’m a fan of different things. But hosting other people within a type of racing, I think is very cool because they know a lot about racing,
Obviously if they’re invited here, they are well-known in whatever area they race in. And they know a lot about it, they just don’t know a lot about this kind of racing, and I don’t know a lot about their kind of racing. So it’s an easy cross and an easy thing to talk about the differences and similarities as well.
5. In an effort to show this is a health conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?
No, absolutely not. No. I’ll take my chances.
6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished. This is the 2015 Kentucky Fall race for Xfinity. It wasn’t really the fall, but second Kentucky race.
Second Kentucky race 2015 — was it repaved yet? No, it was not repaved in 2015. I wanna say we finished either second or third to Brendan Gaughan?
Nope, this was P4.
P4, I was close.
Blaney won this race.
You remember this?
I remember that now. There was another one, we had a real huge race with Brendan Gaughan and I think Ty Dillon, us three raced really hard there at the end for a race. That might have been the first Kentucky that year, maybe it was in ’14. But I remember that one too.
How good are you at remembering races in general?
Depends on the race. If something memorable happens or you’re up towards the front and you’re contending — I feel like I remember a lot more from when I’m contending or am relevant in a race. When you’re back there rooting and gouging for 15th, 12th or worse, I try to forget those really fast.
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
I’m a J. Cole fan, so I think he’s pretty good for a rapper. I don’t know a lot about the rapping world, but always kind of liked his music.
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
I think it depends on the week. To be honest with you, I feel like that probably changes often. I had a favorite there last fall. You all can figure that one out.
9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.
That’s pretty funny. I’m going to say LeBron on the crew chief side because his ability to remember plays in a game is very impressive to me. I’m going to say Tom Hanks spotting because I think he’ll keep his mouth shut. And Taylor Swift can drive the motorhome just because I would get to hang out with her more in that sense, so that would be a good option for her.
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
Finding one that nobody else is going to. That’s the key, going off the beaten path. When Dale Jr. was here, there was one in his hauler, so I went there every Sunday before the race. And then this year, for some reason — there’s a lot of people not happy about this, me being one of them — it’s no longer there. They turned it into an IT room to house a bunch of the electronics and whatnot. I always went there. So this year has been tough. That’s an important part of your Sunday is getting that done at the right time.
11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and decides a replacement is needed. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car after your next win?
I couldn’t. I cannot backflip off the side of a car, so the price would be high. Real high.
12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He wants NASCAR to race at Bristol on Wednesday nights once a month as points races. Would you be up for that?
I would entertain that idea. Bristol’s pretty close to me and that’s a fun place, so why not?
The next interview is going to be with Aric Almirola. Do you have a question I can ask him?
To be honest with you, I don’t really know Aric that well.
That’s so interesting to me when drivers say that. I think it was Noah Gragson who tweeted you this week and he’s like, “Chase Elliott knew who I was!” I was like, “Why would Chase Elliott not know Noah Gragson? Of course he knows that.”
Well, I think he was being a little sarcastic. Maybe he wasn’t, but I’m pretty certain he was. But yeah, I thought he did a good job there at Iowa, put on a show. So that was fun to watch for me.
But as far as for Aric, I don’t know. Really the most I’ve learned about him in recent times was his show he did, I guess, he went to Cuba, right?
Yeah, FS1 did a feature on that.
But I think kind of keep it more on a racing side. … Obviously his switch, he has an opportunity to drive some really good cars this year. What does he feel like SHR does as a whole is better or what his favorite part about being there now is? What is the best thing that’s helped him from where he’s been in years past? I think that will be interesting to know.
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Chase Elliott: