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Chase Elliott ready to 'check the box' at Sonoma

Chase Elliott has accomplished many things in his Cup Series career, including winning a championship. However, there is an unchecked item on his to-do list this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

The Georgia native is winless at the California road course in seven Cup starts. He has three top-five finishes and five top-10s. His best finish is second behind Kyle Larson in 2021.

"Yeah, I would love to check the box, for sure," Elliott said Saturday at Sonoma. "I feel like we've been close to getting a road course win with this car a couple of times, so it'd be cool to get over that hump and get one."

Sonoma is the outlier on Elliott's resume. He has won at several other road courses, including one that only made two appearances on the Cup schedule. Elliott won the inaugural Cup race at the Daytona Road Course in 2020.

Look at the other road courses on the NASCAR schedule. Elliott has won twice at Watkins Glen. He has won once at Circuit of the Americas and once at Road America. He has also won twice at the Charlotte Roval.

One notable thing about these seven road course wins -- the third-most in Cup history -- is that they were all with the Gen 6 car. Elliott's last road course win was in 2021 before NASCAR teams moved to the Next Gen cars.

It's not that Elliott has fallen out of contention on road courses since moving to the new cars. He has finished top 10 in both Sonoma races with the Next Gen car. Elliott has finished fifth or better in Next Gen races at Chicago, Indianapolis, Sonoma, Road America, and Circuit of the Americas.

The main thing disrupting Elliott from winning another road course race was the time it took him to make a significant adjustment.

"I just think the way that I got away with driving the old car, this thing (the Next Gen), it won't accept that," Elliott said during an appearance on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s podcast in March. "So you gotta be willing to get outside your comfort zone.

"I felt some of those things were recognized there at the end of last year. The final couple of weeks was me trying to adjust myself and understand that better. ... And this year has been me full-blown trying to transition into a different realm of driving racecars. I've really enjoyed the challenge because it has pushed me outside of how I want to do things."

Sunday's race at Sonoma provides Elliott with another opportunity to showcase his transition to the new car and potentially secure his eighth career road course win. This would put him in a tie with Tony Stewart for the second-most all-time.

Elliott will be in a solid position to pursue this goal. He qualified fourth at Sonoma, and he will be able to either flip the stages to pursue the win or stay out and maximize his possible stage points.

Though the track remains a bit of a question mark considering it underwent an offseason repave. It's faster, and there are several spots with patches on the racing surface. Many of the drivers, Elliott included, may not be fully comfortable until they have completed several laps as they try to figure out the repaved surface.

"I would like to think we can go out there and have a shot to win," Elliott said, per Hendrick Motorsports. "It's basically a new track for all of us except for the three drivers that got to test. It's going to take a little time."