Chase’s Sonoma Notes

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

Age: 26 (Nov. 28, 1995)

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

Standings: 1st

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

COTA CATCH-UP: In the first road course race of the year for the NASCAR Cup Series at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), Chase Elliott qualified 12th and drove to a fourth-place finish after a caution-filled final stage that sent the race into overtime. It was the first of his three top-five finishes this season.

SONOMA REWIND: Last season at Sonoma Raceway, Elliott started second and finished inside the top-10 in each stage, leading 13 total laps en route to a runner-up finish behind teammate Kyle Larson. In his five career Cup Series starts at the track, he has two top-five finishes and three top-10s with 16 laps led. Sonoma is one of only two road courses (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course is the other) on the current Cup Series schedule he has yet to win on.

2021 ROAD COURSE RECAP: Last season, Elliott earned two wins (COTA and Road America), two runner-up finishes and five top-five finishes across seven starts on road courses. The Hendrick Motorsports driver earned two stage wins and led 102 laps on that track type.

ROAD COURSE KING: Elliott has proven his road-racing prowess, leading all active drivers with seven wins on road courses. He’s also third on the overall list of drivers with road course victories, trailing only NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine) and Tony Stewart (eight). Elliott has victories across five different road courses, the most in series history.

IN GOOD COMPANY: In 20 Cup Series starts on road courses, Elliott has an average finish of 7.7, with seven wins, 12 top-five finishes and 14 top-10s. His average finish is not only the best among active drivers, but third all-time among drivers with five or more starts, behind NASCAR legends Fireball Roberts and Buck Baker.

POINTS LEADER: Despite two tough results in a row for Elliott and the No. 9 team, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native continues to hold the Cup Series points lead by nine markers over Kyle Busch. Elliott has been atop the standings for 11 consecutive weeks.

FIRST WIN: Elliott’s first career Cup Series win occurred on a road course. He conquered Watkins Glen International in 2018 after starting the race from the third position and leading 52 of 90 laps en route to the victory.

AG’S ROAD COURSE PERFORMANCE: This Sunday at Sonoma, No. 9 crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 42nd road course race from atop the pit box. In those starts, he’s led his team to seven wins – a series-high among active crew chiefs – 15 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s.

NEARING 100,000: Hendrick Motorsports needs to lead 98 miles in the NASCAR Cup Series to cross 100,000 miles led in the sport’s top series. Ahead of Sunday’s race, the organization has led 99,902.90 miles at the Cup level. Crossing the 100K milestone would be achieved by leading 50 laps at the 1.99-mile layout at Sonoma Raceway. Through 15 points-paying races in 2022, the four-car team has led 1,445.43 miles.

AT YOUR SIRVIS: Beginning this weekend at Sonoma, SirviS will appear on the B-post on all Hendrick Motorsports race cars. In 2020, Acronis, a global leader in cyber protection, partnered with Hendrick Motorsports to form a multi-year marketing and technology relationship. SirviS recently joined the Acronis’ #TeamUp program.

ROAD WARRIORS: Throughout its history, Hendrick Motorsports has 25 wins on road courses in the Cup Series. Since the organization’s inaugural season in 1984, the squad has won 29% of all races on Cup Series road courses (25 of 86). The two closest teams in this statistic have combined for only 21 wins.

COUNTING ‘EM UP: The 25 road course wins have come from seven different drivers – most for any team in the Cup ranks. Jeff Gordon leads the way for the team with nine victories (which are also the most among all drivers) followed by Chase Elliott with seven. Tim Richmond and Kyle Larson are tied for third on the list with three wins apiece. Geoff Bodine, Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Rudd each tallied one victory.

READY FOR THE ROAD: In addition to road course wins, Hendrick Motorsports stands at the top of the board on road courses in the following stats: Poles (21), top-five finishes (76), top-10s (132), laps led (2,020) and stage wins (12).

SAVORING SONOMA: Wine country has been the sight of much success for Hendrick Motorsports over the years. Much like its overall road course success, the team leads the way in wins (seven), poles (nine), runner-up finishes (seven), top-fives (33), top-10s (57) and laps led (749) at the California facility. Gordon’s five wins at Sonoma are the most at the track, while Johnson and Larson each have one win here for the Rick Hendrick-owned company.

FROM WINE COUNTRY TO TITLE TOWN: The Sonoma race winner has gone on to win the championship five times in Cup Series history. Three of those instances involved Hendrick Motorsports drivers: Gordon (1998), Johnson (2010) and Larson (2021). Tony Stewart (2005) and Kyle Busch (2015) were the others to achieve this feat.

SWEEP SENSATIONS: In the era of stage racing, there have been two times – both by Hendrick Motorsports – when one driver swept every road course stage and won the race. Elliott was the first to do so in his 2019 win at Watkins Glen International. Larson also accomplished this with his victory last season at Sonoma.

WEST COAST WINS: The four-car organization out of Concord, North Carolina, has won seven of the last 12 races contested on the West Coast. Larson has four of those wins, while Alex Bowman has two and Elliott has one. Both Larson (Auto Club Speedway) and Bowman (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) earned wins on the western swing earlier this season. In total, Hendrick Motorsports has 41 wins on the West Coast – the most of any organization.

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Sonoma: “Sonoma (Raceway) has been a place that has been a pretty big challenge for me in the past. Last season, I felt like it was the best I’ve ever been there. We were pretty good late in the race and I was really proud of that effort by our NAPA team. With having one road course race down with this new car and having some learnings from COTA (Circuit of The Americas), I’m hopeful that we can put together another strong run like we did last year.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparing for the second road course race of the season: “Heading into the first road course race of the year at COTA (Circuit of The Americas), we didn’t really know what to expect. There are so many new things with this car, so many unknowns. We didn’t really get the chance to test on a road course before the season started. Chase (Elliott) had the opportunity to drive the car at Charlotte (ROVAL), but we weren’t there because we were in the middle of the playoffs. So, it was a steep learning curve for our team at COTA and I think going through that experience was good. It certainly helped us moving forward. We’ve still got to learn some things, but now I think can start working our way down the list of unknowns that we need to figure out. Hopefully, we have a better run than we did in COTA and be able to go off that for the remainder of the road courses this season.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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