Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson says not yet having won on a road course is an "irritation" that he hopes to clear soon as he starts Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race from the front row at Infineon Raceway.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver's 50 career wins have all been achieved on ovals, and both Sonoma and Watkins Glen remain among the six tracks where he has yet to win a race.
Johnson has twice competed in Grand-Am this year with former series champion Gainsco/Bob Stallings, at Daytona and Watkins Glen, in an effort to improve his road course driving technique.
He hopes that experience and a number of tests he has undertaken this year can put him closer to his goal of ticking a road course win off his list. However, he says he will not jeopardize a good result on Sunday in pursuit of that aim.
"Everybody knows how much I have focused on it and how badly I want to win on a road course, especially here," said Johnson. "It's time. We're here. I'm excited. I've run two [Grand-Am Daytona Prototype] races this year to get more experience.
"We've been testing and doing everything I can to be a better road course driver and to get our cars better and working with [crew chief] Chad [Knaus] and the engineers and talking road course racing.
"So we'll see what happens. I feel really good about it. I'm not going to let my desire to go out and try to win this race become too intense."
The Sprint Cup calendar only allows Johnson a couple of chances every year to win on a road course, with a second non-oval race taking place at Watkins Glen in August, a track where Johnson qualified on pole last year.
Although a victory at Sonoma would not be on a par with his Brickyard 400 or Daytona 500 wins, Johnson says winning on a road course would allow him to put an end to a personal frustration of his, as he believes he is more than capable of mastering any kind of track.
A few days ago the 34-year-old proved his talent and versatility once again by winning on the dirt in a charity event organized by Sprint Cup colleague Tony Stewart, where he competed against many of his current NASCAR rivals.
"This is just an irritation," says Johnson. "I know I can do this. I get in other road course cars and I'm plenty fast and competitive. I've run good at times in the Cup car on road courses, so I know I have it in me. I just need to figure out how to do it over the course of 90 laps. So it's more of an irritation.
"Sure, it would be good for my resume, but it's not like I feel there's a void or something major missing."
Johnson's best career result at Sonoma came last year when he crossed the finish line in fourth place.