Teammate or not Chase Elliott wouldn’t have raced Kyle Larson any different at Sonoma

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 06: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, leads Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, to start the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 06, 2021 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott came into Sonoma as NASCAR’s best active driver on road courses. With six wins on road courses including victories on the last four road courses NASCAR has competed on dating back to last year, Elliott was one of the favorites heading into Sunday.

Elliott was certainly a contender for the win much of the race and led the second most laps on the day, 13. With the strength his Hendrick teammate showed all day, Elliott and his team tried everything they could to gain an advantage including pitting off sequence opting for track position, while Larson pitted for tires.

In the end Larson was just too strong and beat Elliott on a green-white-checkered flag restart by .614 of a second. It was the second week in a row Elliott finished second to Larson.

After it was over, Elliott was insistent that he wouldn’t have raced Larson any different, teammate or not.

“No, I think it’s really more the individual than it is what team you drive for whether or not you get along,” Elliott said. “Kyle and I have always raced each other with a lot of respect ever since we started racing against each other.

“Yeah, all was good. It was fun.”

Looking at the bigger picture, Sunday was Elliott’s second consecutive second place finish. With the regular season past the halfway point in the regular season Elliott hopes his team is finding its rhythm and will be able to compete with Larson moving forward.

“I hope so. We were solid today,” he said. “Just not good enough at the right times.

“But, yeah, no, I feel good about our group. We have a solid group. We just have to put it all together and execute when it counts most.”

One thing that Elliott and his team won’t do moving forward is try to gain an advantage over his teammate by keeping any sort of secrets from them.

“Everything is kind of an open book,” he said. “It has been since I’ve been here. We just have to continue to push. I don’t think anything really changes there.”

His second-place finish Sunday was his best effort at Sonoma.

“Definitely the best I’ve ever been here, I feel like, at Sonoma, in particular,” Elliott said. “I’m pleased with that. I wish we could have gotten another spot, but we’ll try again.”


Greg Engle