Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Martinsville

by Official Release On Tue, Mar. 20, 2018

MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY (0.526-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: RIDGEWAY, VIRGINIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE SIX OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, MARCH 25 (FS1/MRN/SIRIUSXM)


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Chase Elliott
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 22 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2018 Season
21st in standings
5 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
2 top-10 finishes
4 laps led

Career
82 starts
0 wins
3 pole positions
23 top-five finishes
40 top-10 finishes
922 laps led

Track Career
5 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
1 top-10 finish
143 laps led

Chase Elliott will be available to members of the media on Saturday, March 24, at 9 a.m. local time at the Martinsville Speedway media center.

NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1: NAPA AUTO PARTS will return to the hood of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team for 26 NASCAR Cup Series races this season.

MARTINSVILLE STATS: Elliott is set to make his sixth start at Martinsville on Sunday. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native made his Cup Series debut at the 0.526-mile speedway in March 2015. Since his debut at the Virginia track, Elliott averages a starting position of 9.4. Last season at Martinsville, the 22-year-old driver collected a stage win and led 20 laps en route to a third-place result in March. The same weekend, Elliott also earned his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory after starting from the pole and leading 92 laps. In Elliott’s most recent Cup appearance at the track (October 2017), he led four different times for a total of 123 laps and ultimately finished 27th after being spun by a competitor while leading with less than five laps remaining.

CALIFORNIA REWIND: The No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team started 31st on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, but Elliott quickly moved through the pack and broke into the top 20 by Lap 12. The NAPA AUTO PARTS team continued to gain positions as Elliott climbed inside the top 10 with 12 laps remaining in the opening stage. At the conclusion of Stage 1, Elliott was scored 14th. During the stage break, the No. 9 pit crew gained five positions with quick work on pit road that moved Elliott back into the top 10 for the beginning of Stage 2. The driver was shuffled back on the restart to 18th, but with another quick stop he regained his position in the top 15. Over the course of the final run, Elliott slipped back several positions to 16th, where he’d ultimately end the race.

ELLIOTT AT MARTINSVILLE: On Sunday, March 25, Elliott will participate in a question-and-answer session at 11:30 a.m. local time on the pre-race stage at Martinsville Speedway.


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William Byron
No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 20 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2018 Season
20th in standings
5 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
16 laps led

Career
5 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
16 laps led

Track Career
0 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
0 laps led

WEST SUCCESS: In the final two races of NASCAR’s West Coast swing, William Byron recorded a pair of top-15 finishes – his best of the season so far. The NASCAR Cup Series rookie led laps at both ISM Raceway and Auto Club Speedway (ACS) – 15 laps at ISM and one lap at ACS. Byron also picked up his first stage point of the season when he finished 10th in Stage 2 at ACS last Sunday. The 20-year-old driver was the top-finishing rookie in both races. He has gained four positions in the overall driver point standings in the last two weeks as a result of the top-15s.

LIBERTY IS BACK…WITH AN UPDATED LOOK: Liberty University returns as the primary partner on the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for its second race of the season. The Liberty University colors were first featured on the car at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February. Liberty is the majority primary partner of the No. 24 team with 12 races in 2018. The No. 24 Liberty University paint scheme has been updated since its debut at Atlanta, with the number color changing from red to white in order to increase visibility. The white numbers will feature a red drop shadow, which is the reverse of the way the No. 24 originally appeared on the Liberty scheme. Liberty University, founded in 1971, is the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation and the largest university in Virginia. Located 81 miles northeast of Martinsville Speedway in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty offers more than 550 unique programs of study from the certificate to the doctoral level. More than 250 programs are offered online.

MARTINSVILLE BY THE NUMBERS: At the short track where Byron attended his first Cup race as a fan in 2006, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has two starts in the Camping World Truck Series, where he earned finishes of third and eighth. He has a chance to be included on the list of drivers who have finished in the top 10 in their first start at the 0.526-mile oval, joining Jeff Gordon, who finished eighth in his first start at the track in 1993. If Byron does earn a top-10, he would be only the second driver in the last 19 years to finish in the top 10 in his first start. Only four drivers have ever won at Martinsville in their first start, and it hasn’t been done since Morgan Shepherd accomplished the feat in 1981.

ALWAYS FINISHING: The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team has finished every race at the 0.526-mile paperclip – never earning a single DNF in 47 races with Jeff Gordon behind the wheel and four races with Chase Elliott. That’s a streak that Byron certainly hopes to continue this weekend.

HOME TRACK FOR GRUBB: One of the winningest active crew chiefs in NASCAR with 23 Cup wins – one of which came at Martinsville Speedway – Darian Grubb is a well-respected talent in the garage, having earned a Cup Series championship with legendary driver Tony Stewart in 2011 and won races with some of the top drivers in the sport, including Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards. Grubb is a native of Floyd, Virginia, located 46 miles northwest of Martinsville Speedway, making this weekend’s venue his home track. His passion for racing began during his teenage years. While in high school, he joined his brother and a group of friends who worked on late model stock cars that competed at tracks throughout Virginia and the Carolinas. He began the old-fashioned way – hanging around the shop with his buddies on evenings and weekends to work on race cars. Grubb earned a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech in 1998.


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Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 42 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2018 Season
18th in standings
5 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
0 laps led

Career
584 starts
83 wins
35 pole positions
222 top-five finishes
342 top-10 finishes
18,663 laps led

Track Career
32 starts
9 wins
3 pole positions
19 top-five finishes
24 top-10 finishes
2,862 laps led

Jimmie Johnson will be available to members of the media on Saturday, March 24, at 9:15 a.m. local time at the Martinsville Speedway media center.

NO. 4 ON ESPN’S MOST DOMINANT ATHLETE LIST: This week ESPN The Magazine released its “The Dominant 20,” which the publication defined as “the most formidable, awe-inspiring and downright dominant athletes of the past two decades.” Jimmie Johnson represented NASCAR as he was ranked No. 4 just behind Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Peyton Manning, respectively. Click here to read the article.

TICK, TOCK: Johnson is the owner of nine famous grandfather clock trophies earned by winning at the paper-clip shaped oval. He is currently tied with former teammate Jeff Gordon for third-most wins all-time at the track. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has 15 victories at Martinsville, which is the most all-time.

WIN FOR THE AGES: The most recent win at Martinsville for Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros team came on Oct. 30, 2016 – and it was a memorable one. It secured Johnson’s spot in the Championship 4 playoff round to race for the series title. Johnson led 92 laps around Martinsville that day and three weeks later won the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway to claim his seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship.

MARTINSVILLE MASTER: Over a span of nine events at Martinsville Speedway from October 2005 through March 2010, Johnson did not finish outside of the top five. During that time he amassed five wins, including three races in a row. The streak of nine straight top-five finishes is second-best only to Gordon, who had 11 straight top-five finishes at the Ridgeway, Virginia, track. Johnson also has 24 top-10 finishes at the track, which is the most of any active driver. That included a streak of 17 consecutive top-10s, which is the second-highest number all-time at any track. Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty both had streaks of 18 consecutive top-10 finishes at North Wilkesboro. Three times Johnson won the fall race at Martinsville en route to a Cup series championship.

LAP LEADER CLUB: There are four tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit where Johnson has led more than 1,000 laps – Dover (3,105), Martinsville (2,862), Charlotte (1,930) and Texas (1,041). Johnson is currently sixth all-time in laps led at Martinsville, just 103 laps away from breaking into the top five ahead of Hall of Famer Richard Petty.

NEXT UP, 84: Johnson’s next trip to Victory Lane will be his 84th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series win. He secured his 83rd in June 2017 to tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list. An 84th win would tie Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth all-time. Johnson is currently 10 wins behind former teammate Jeff Gordon, who has 93 victories and is third on the list. Johnson has the most wins of all active drivers and No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus has the most wins of all active crew chiefs with 81.

BLUE BUNNY HELMET OF HOPE: Over the weekend in Fontana, California, Johnson announced that the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and Blue Bunny Ice Cream are partnering up to launch the 2018 Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope campaign. Five non-profit 501c3 organizations will be eligible to receive $25,000 grants through the program, totaling $125,000. The grants will be awarded in May. The program, which started in 2008, gives fans the chance to nominate their favorite education-based charities to receive a $25,000 grant, a Blue Bunny ice cream party and special recognition to Johnson’s race helmet. Since its inception, the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program has given over $1 million to 101 different charities. To nominate a charity click here.


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Alex Bowman
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 24 Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2018 Season
16th in standings
5 starts
0 wins
1 pole position
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
13 laps led

Career
86 starts
0 wins
2 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
3 top-10 finishes
216 laps led

Track Career
4 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
0 laps led

NATIONWIDE CAMARO ZL1: The Nationwide blue-and-white paint scheme will once again be on board the No. 88 Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Nationwide has been the primary on the No. 88 Chevrolet four times at the 0.526-mile track, with their best finish of fourth coming back in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last weekend, Alex Bowman wheeled the Nationwide machine to a 13th-place finish after starting the race at the tail-end of the field.

IVES AT MARTINSVILLE: Crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots six times for the No. 88 team in Martinsville, with two different drivers. The crew chief’s resume at the track in the Cup Series includes one top-five finish and two top-10s. Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought home a fourth-place finish for the team back in 2015 and Jeff Gordon crossed the line sixth while subbing in for Earnhardt in 2016. Ives earned six wins at Martinsville as a race engineer with the No. 48 team from 2006-12.

BOWMAN AT MARTINSVILLE: Although this weekend will mark Bowman’s first start at Martinsville Speedway with Hendrick Motorsports, he is no stranger to the 0.526-mile oval. Bowman has four previous NASCAR Cup Series starts at the track, with his best finish of 22nd coming back in 2015.

CALIFORNIA REWIND: The No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team started at the rear of the field this past weekend at Auto Club Speedway after the team made an engine change following final practice on Saturday. Bowman gained 15 positions within the first five laps of the 400-mile event, battling throughout the event to bring home a 13th-place finish.

NATIONWIDE’S PAWS AND RACING PROMOTION: For the second year, Nationwide is offering one lucky pet owner an opportunity to get his or her pet’s picture on the No. 88 Nationwide Camaro ZL1 for the Sept. 22 race in Richmond. Last year, more than 25,000 pet owners participated in the promotion. From now until April 30, pet owners and NASCAR fans can go to www.pawsandracing.com to submit a photo of their pet. At the end of the promotion, one lucky photo will be selected to win a VIP race experience including hot passes, race tickets and a meet-and-greet with Bowman and Earnhardt.


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Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MARTINSVILLE: At Martinsville, Hendrick Motorsports has team records for wins (24), top-five finishes (78), top-10s (122) and laps led (9,241). The 24 wins are the most by any team at any track all-time, ahead of Junior Johnson and Associates’ 21 wins at Bristol. Hendrick Motorsports’ 19 wins at Charlotte and Dover are tied for third-most all-time.

FIRSTS AT MARTINSVILLE: ‘The Paperclip’ has been the site of many first-time achievements for Hendrick Motorsports, including the organization’s first NASCAR Cup Series win in 1984 with driver Geoff Bodine. That race also marked the first laps led by the then-one-car team. Waltrip earned his first of nine wins for Hendrick Motorsports at the Virginia track in the September 1989 race and Chase Elliott made his first career NASCAR Cup Series start for the organization on March 29, 2015.

DOMINANCE ON DISPLAY: Starting with its first win at the track in April 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has won 35 percent of the races at Martinsville (24 of 68). It has won at least one race there in 19 of the 34 seasons in that span and gone on a three-race win streak at the track on four different occasions. The organization has swept the top two finishing positions five times and had at least one car finish in the top 10 in 61 of 68 races since April 1984 – including 46 of the past 47 races. Hendrick Motorsports’ 9,241 laps led at Martinsville make for 27 percent of the total laps led (33,895) at the track during that span. The organization has won at least one race at Martinsville in five of the last six seasons.

FIVE MAKE 24: The organization’s 24 wins at Martinsville have come courtesy of five different drivers: Jimmie Johnson (nine), Jeff Gordon (nine), Darrell Waltrip (four), Bodine and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports is the only team to have multiple drivers with at least six wins at a single track. With a win this weekend, Martinsville could become the ninth different track where Hendrick Motorsports has won with at least six different drivers.

SHORT-TRACK PROWESS: Hendrick Motorsports leads all active teams in short-track wins all-time with 50, 18 more than the next closest team, Joe Gibbs Racing.

250 ON THE HORIZON: The next points-paying win by a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will be the organization’s milestone 250th in NASCAR Cup Series competition. With 268 Cup victories, only Petty Enterprises has more. Junior Johnson and Associates is third all-time at 153 wins, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing with 148 and Roush Fenway Racing with 137.

16 MAKES 249: Sixteen different drivers have contributed to Hendrick Motorsports’ total of 249 points-paying Cup wins. Only the Wood Brothers team, which has sent 19 different drivers to Victory Lane, has more. Junior Johnson and Associates won with 13 different drivers.

FIRST-TIME WINNERS: If Elliott, Byron or Bowman wins in Fontana, it will mark the ninth time a driver has recorded his first career Cup Series win while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing share the all-time record, having each sent eight first-time winners to Victory Lane in Cup Series competition.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 214 pole positions, 1,030 top-five finishes and 1,743 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 67,285 laps since 1984.


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QUOTABLE /
Chase Elliott on racing at Martinsville:
“We’ve improved a lot from my first couple visits to Martinsville. In the past, the track has been pretty tough on me, but last season we were able to improve and be competitive. I’ve learned some things and hope to have a better outcome than last fall.”

Elliott on his off week plans:
“Going to head down to Key West with a few friends for the off week. I’ve never been before so I’m looking forward to it. Might get out and go fishing one day and just enjoy a nice, long weekend.”

William Byron on racing at Martinsville:
“Martinsville is always a tough place as a rookie. One of the keys to Martinsville is getting that balance between turn and drive off, like at any other short track. Consistency over the course of the run is really important and track position is really big, especially later in the race. You’ve got to be aggressive and treat it as you would any other short track. We’re glad to have Liberty (University) back on the car for this one since it’s their home state.”

Byron on the Martinsville atmosphere:
“I’ve had the hot dogs at Martinsville as a kid when I was going to races there, but not lately. I like the atmosphere there a lot – it’s a great racing environment with a lot of hard-core race fans.”

Darian Grubb on the No. 24 Liberty University Chevy’s number color change:
“We’re making the number change from the dark red to the white for the numbers for the Liberty University paint scheme. I really appreciate them for working with us on it, because we just noticed at the racetrack it was really tough to pick out the number. That color – the dark blue and the dark red with the asphalt and everything else – it’s just really tough to pick out that car in transition on the racetrack when you’re three- and four-wide. So, our spotter had asked for it and as we started talking about it, we said, well, this is our best option. So, we got with Liberty and they were gracious enough to let us swap that color. And it does, it pops a lot better on the racetrack now, so we’re hoping to make it perform up front.”

Jimmie Johnson on moving forward to Martinsville:
“We are chipping away and still working hard. The small victories we had last weekend are good signs we are moving in the right direction – we know there is still a lot of work to do. Last week’s solid performance moved us up in points a bit as well. I always look forward to racing at Martinsville, it suits our team’s style and it’s one of our favorite tracks – you feel like you have stepped back in time when you walk in there.”

Alex Bowman on racing at Martinsville:
“I definitely like Martinsville. It’s obviously a unique track, which makes for great racing. It’s flat and slow and has long straightaways, so it’s fun. I’ve run okay there in the past, but I am really excited to get there with this Nationwide team and see how we do. There is actually a place in my house that a Martinsville grandfather clock would literally fit perfectly. It’s like a grandfather clock cut-out that there is no grandfather clock in. Hopefully we can fill that empty space this weekend.”

Bowman on the Martinsville hot dogs
“I have eaten a lot of Martinsville hot dogs in the past. Too many hot dogs at that. It’s always a good idea to add every topping to your hot dog when you go to Martinsville, it’s tradition.”

Bowman on leaning on teammates
“I can definitely lean on Jimmie (Johnson) and we can lean on Jeff (Gordon) too. Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) won there (Martinsville Speedway) a couple of years ago and I can lean on him throughout the weekend too. It’s always good to be among such successful guys.”

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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