Chase Elliott is learning to love road-course racing

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 24: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, races during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 24, 2018 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott made a major move in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

No, Elliott didn’t win the race, but his fourth-place finish was a career best in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in five starts on road courses.

While other contending drivers – including top-three finishers Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer – came to pit road before the ends of the first two stages to set up superior track position, Elliott stayed out through the green/checkered flags to collect stage points, finish fourth in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2.

In the final stage, however, he overcame the disadvantaged track position to run fourth behind the three strongest cars in the race. And by scoring 49 points on Sunday, seven more than any other driver and nine more than race winner Truex, Elliott solidified his 13th-place position in the series standings.

More than anything, Elliott has begun to enjoy road course racing.

“It was a lot more fun, this trip out here, than it was the last two times,” said Elliott, who finished 21st and eighth, respectively, in his first two Sonoma races. “I made a lot of gains, personally, I think, for me at this track. It’s been one of my worst. To come here and have pace on Friday and qualify good on Saturday, and to have pace today, it was just a lot more fun.

“I appreciate everyone on my NAPA team working hard this weekend. We had a fast Chevrolet all three days. And that’s nice to show up and get rhythm. We kind of had to pick our battles today. We elected to get some stage points and that set us back a little for that last stage, but I don’t think we had the pace that the leaders had. So it was a good finish for me, and we’re looking forward to the next road race.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.