Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: NASCAR All-Star Race

by Official Release On Wed, May. 16, 2018

CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
EVENT: NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE
TUNE IN: 8 P.M. ET, SATURDAY, MAY 19 (FS1/PRN/SIRIUSXM)


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Chase Elliott
No. 9 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 22 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2018 Season
15th in standings
12 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
5 top-10 finishes
8 laps led

Career
89 starts
0 wins
3 pole positions
25 top-five finishes
43 top-10 finishes
926 laps led

All-Star Career
2 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
2 top-10 finishes
0 laps led

SUNENERGY1 DEBUTS AT CHARLOTTE: For the first time in the 2018 season, SunEnergy1, one of the world’s largest privately held solar energy companies, will adorn the hood of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. This weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series Open race will be the first of four races that SunEnergy1 will serve as the primary sponsor for Chase Elliott.

ALL-STAR HUNT: Elliott will attempt to qualify for his third NASCAR All-Star Race by first competing in the Open on Saturday. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native can lock his way into the main event by winning Stage 1, Stage 2 or Stage 3 or by capturing the fan vote.

PREVIOUS OPEN RACES: Last season, Elliott participated in his third career Open but narrowly missed out on racing his way into the main event. Still, thanks to Elliott’s loyal fan base, the 22-year-old driver has advanced to the All-Star Race in each of the past two seasons after being chosen as the fan vote winner.

MEET THE NO. 9 PIT CREW: The No. 9 pit crew consists of rear-tire changer Chad Avrit, 35, from El Centro, California, who is the owner of Swell Board Shop on Lake Norman and Burn Boot Camp in Marietta, Georgia; jackman/tire carrier Jared Erspamer, 32, from Omaha, Nebraska, who attended Northwest Missouri State University and was introduced to racing by his college football coach; fueler, John Gianninoto, 29, from Tucson, Arizona, who played football for UNLV and was named Academic All-MWC team (2007, 2009) and served as captain in 2010; front-tire changer Nick O’Dell, 34, from Springfield, Illinois, who is a 16-year veteran in the sport; tire carrier/jackman, T.J. Semke, 25, from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, who was a defensive lineman for three years at the University of Kansas, earning Academic All-Big 12 Second Team Honors in two of the three years he played for the Jayhawks.

GET YOUR VOTES IN: There’s still time! The All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway is less than a week away and Elliott is among 20 drivers who are not yet locked into the event. In both 2016 and 2017, Elliott was voted into the all-star field by the fans. This year, fans have the same opportunity to get their favorite driver into the ranks to compete for a chance to win the $1 million All-Star Race purse by voting once a day at www.nascar.com/fanvote. Votes shared via Facebook or Twitter will count double toward a driver’s total. Voting is now open and will close at 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, May 18.

NASCAR OPEN AUTOGRAPH SESSION: Elliott is scheduled to participate in the NASCAR Cup Series Open driver autograph session on Saturday, May 19 beginning at 2:30 p.m. local time at the Pit Road Pre-Race Party.


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

2018 Season
19th in standings
12 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
31 laps led

Career
12 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
31 laps led

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

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media during a special presentation on Friday, May 18, at 3:30 p.m. local time in the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center.

NO. 24 TEAM WELCOMES HERTZ: On Wednesday, Hendrick Motorsports announced a new partner for William Byron and the No. 24 team. The Hertz Corporation, one of the world’s largest vehicle rental companies, has joined 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports as a primary sponsor of Byron and his iconic No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team beginning in 2018. As part of the two-year agreement, Hertz will be primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in four points-paying Cup Series races in both 2018 and 2019 and an associate-level partner in all other events. Additionally, Hertz will sponsor Byron for the upcoming NASCAR All-Star Race weekend events at the driver’s hometown track of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

HERTZ SCHEME: The yellow and black No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will debut this weekend as Byron attempts to race his way into the All-Star Race on Saturday night. The Hertz Corporation operates three leading rental car brands – Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty – each dedicated to supporting travelers with top-rated vehicles and exceptional customer service. Hertz offers an array of products and services, including the award-winning Gold Plus Rewards® loyalty program, which provides a fast and seamless rental experience, as well as Ultimate Choice®, which allows customers at more than 55 top U.S. airports to choose the car that is right for them. Hertz also has a large and diverse fleet featuring a mix of vehicles from the company’s Adrenaline, Dream Car, Green Traveler and Prestige collections. Click here to see the Hertz scheme.

VOTE FOR BYRON: As a Cup rookie, Byron isn’t locked into the All-Star Race … yet. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has three chances to race his way in from the Open qualifying race by winning one of the three stages, and another opportunity by receiving the fan vote. Fans can vote once per day and votes shared via Facebook or Twitter count double, making sharing on social media a key component. Fans can vote for Byron at NASCAR.com/fanvote until 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, May 18. The winner will be announced immediately following the conclusion of the Open qualifying race on Saturday, May 19.

CHARLOTTEAN: In two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Byron earned finishes of 14th and 16th. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Byron earned the pole and finished 10th at Charlotte. He began his racing career in Charlotte when his father took Byron to visit the U.S. Legend Cars International headquarters in Harrisburg, North Carolina, in the summer of 2012 to learn about a way to begin racing. Byron began competing in the U.S. Legend Young Lion Division in 2013, a year in which he won nearly half of the 69 legend car events he raced across the United States. All totaled, he earned 33 victories en route to the 2013 U.S. Legend Young Lions National Championship and the 2013 Thursday Thunder Young Lions championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway. After enjoying success in legend cars, Byron was ready to move up to full-size cars in 2014 and he hasn’t looked back.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: This weekend marks Byron’s first attempt to make the All-Star Race. The two youngest winners of the Open drove for Hendrick Motorsports – Jeff Gordon in 1994 at age 22, and Brian Vickers in 2005 at age 21. Byron, 20, could add his name to that list on Saturday night. Two drivers won the All-Star Race as rookies – Ryan Newman in 2002 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2005. Rookie-of-the-year standings leader Byron is also in good company with drivers who won the event before their first points-paying win, a feat both Newman and Michael Waltrip accomplished.

AXALTA ANNOUNCEMENT: Byron will join Jeff Gordon and renowned motor sports artist Sam Bass to make an exciting announcement on Friday, May 18, at 3:30 p.m. local time in the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center. Media credentials will be required to attend the special presentation.

NO. 24 PIT CREW: The five athletes serving on the No. 24 over-the-wall pit crew are front-tire changer Austin Dickey, 27, from Ashtabula, Ohio, who is a seven-year veteran at Hendrick Motorsports; tire carrier/jackman Eric Ludwig, 31, from Burlington, North Carolina, who played football for Elon University; jackman/tire carrier Scott Riddle, 29, from Ramseur, North Carolina, who played both football and baseball at Elon; rear-tire changer Johnny Roberts, 29, from Titusville, Florida, whose background is surfing; and fueler Landon Walker, 29, from North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, who played football at Clemson University.

HOME TRACK: In addition to Charlotte Motor Speedway serving as the home track for Byron, who was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, several other members of the No. 24 team claim the track as their home base, including race engineer Michael Oxendine, who hails from Lumberton; engineer Matt Piercy, from Conover; and three members of the pit crew – Ludwig, Riddle and Walker.

AUTOGRAPH SIGNING: Byron will be signing autographs for fans as part of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s all-star pre-race activities on Saturday, May 19, at 3 p.m. local time. Charlotte Motor Speedway will distribute 100 wristbands for each half-hour session at 2 p.m. at the Trackside Live stage on pit road. Wristbands are first-come, first-serve. Fans must have a pre-race pit pass to access the stage and obtain a wristband for autographs at Saturday’s session. For more information about the autograph sessions, click here.


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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
12th in standings
12 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
4 top-10 finishes
0 laps led

Career
591 starts
83 wins
35 pole positions
223 top-five finishes
345 top-10 finishes
18,663 laps led

All-Star Career
16 starts
4 wins
1 pole positions
9 top-five finishes
10 top-10 finishes
237 laps led

FOUR ALL-STAR WINS: Jimmie Johnson has won the All-Star Race a record four times, which is more than any other driver. His first win came in 2003 when the race was called “The Winston.” Johnson then took home the win in 2006 and went back-to-back in 2012 and 2013. Johnson also has eight points-paying wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the most of all drivers.

WINNING WAYS: Johnson is one of seven drivers to have accomplished the feat of winning the All-Star Race and going on to win the 600-mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway the following weekend. Johnson won the 2003 All-Star Race and backed it up with his first win in the 600 the very next weekend.

GOOD COMPANY: There are only five drivers who have ever won the All-Star Race and the NASCAR Cup Series championship in the same year: Johnson (2013, 2006), former teammate Jeff Gordon (2001, 1997, 1995), and NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt (1993, 1990, 1987), Rusty Wallace (1989) and Darrell Waltrip (1985).

PIT CREW SPOTLIGHT: The No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet pit crew is always essential to the success of the team, but this weekend at the All-Star Race, the crew’s performance is crucial to a good starting position. The team will make a four-tire pit stop during qualifying on Friday evening to help set the field for the all-star event. Members of the No. 48 crew include: tire changer Calvin Teague, 32, from Taylorsville, North Carolina, who was a baseball pitcher at Appalachian State University; longtime gasman Brandon Harder, 34, an Oak Harbor, Ohio, native, is the only pit crew member who works in the race shop; tire carrier Allen Stallings, 28, from Manteo, North Carolina, is a former linebacker who broke every major tackle record in Greensboro College football history; tire changer Tanner Andrews, 27, from North Aurora, Illinois, was an award-winning Greco-Roman wrestler at Northern Michigan University who competed at the U.S. Open four times; and jackman Kyle Tudor, 27, hails from Augusta, Georgia, and formerly played linebacker at East Carolina University.

TUNE IN, JJ LOOKS BACK: Johnson recently sat down with “NASCAR Race Hub” to film commentary for the “All-Star Special,” which will air on Thursday, May 17, at 6 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. Johnson recalls how young his No. 48 Lowe’s team was when he first won the $1 million prize and how that night changed his career.

ASSAULT ON MT. MITCHELL: On Monday morning, Johnson and friends from the NASCAR garage cycling community participated in the “Assault on Mt. Mitchell.” The 102.7-mile event began in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and journeyed to Mt. Mitchell’s summit, which is the highest in the eastern United States. It was Johnson’s third time participating in the ride and he completed the event in 6:03:21, placing him 58th overall out of 850 cyclists.

CHARLOTTE VIP: This season, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has created the Jimmie Johnson VIP Experience. The package gives fans the opportunity to meet the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in a one-on-one setting. The experience includes a meet-and-greet, an autograph and a photo with Johnson, along with a behind-the-scenes garage tour and an amazing exclusive gift. The experience will generally take place on the Friday morning before the Cup Series race event scheduled for that weekend. For more information: https://jimmiejohnsonvip.com/.

JJ SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS TRACKSIDE: Johnson will be signing autographs for fans as part of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s all-star weekend Friday, May 18, at 5 p.m. local time. Charlotte Motor Speedway will distribute 100 wristbands for the 30-minute session. For more information about the autograph sessions, click here.


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Alex Bowman
No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 25 Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2018 Season
14th in standings
12 starts
0 wins
1 pole position
1 top-five finish
3 top-10 finishes
65 laps led

Career
93 starts
0 wins
2 pole positions
1 top-five finish
6 top-10 finishes
268 laps led

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

AXALTA ON BOARD: For the third time this season, the Axalta colors will adorn the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the All-Star Race. Last weekend, Alex Bowman ran the No. 88 Axalta Camaro ZL1 at Kansas Speedway, finishing 14th after suffering damage to the right-front fender with 31 laps remaining. Axalta will be the primary partner on the No. 88 machine during 15 NASCAR Cup Series events this season.

BOWMAN IN OPEN: Bowman has not yet taken the green flag in the All-Star Race, but has two starts in the Open qualifying event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 25-year-old posted his best start and finish in the Open in 2014 when he started and finished 13th. Bowman made his second appearance in the Open in 2015, finishing 27th following electrical issues. Charlotte Motor Speedway was the site of Bowman’s first NASCAR national series win after he crossed the line first in the fall NASCAR Xfinity Series race last year.

IVES’ ALL-STAR EXPERIENCE: Crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots three times for the No. 88 team at the all-star event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The crew chief’s résumé for the event includes one top-five finish and two top-10s. The Bark River, Michigan, native was the race engineer for the No. 48 team between 2006 and 2012. The team won the All-Star Race twice during that time frame and started from the pole in 2009.

MEET THE NO. 88 PIT CREW: The No. 88 Axalta pit crew includes tire carrier Rowdy Harrell, 28, from Moundville, Alabama, who was on the University of Alabama football team for four years and won three NCAA national championships under head coach Nick Saban; fueler Jacob Conley, 28, from Omaha, Nebraska, who attended Doane University and started all four years on the football team as the offensive right tackle; jackman/tire carrier Dustin Lineback, 29, from Greensboro, North Carolina, who was a linebacker for East Carolina University from 2007 until 2011; front-tire changer Scott Brzozowski, 38, from Sterling Heights, Michigan, who had never watched a NASCAR race until he joined the sport and was on the No. 24 over-the-wall crew before switching over to the No. 88 in 2015; and rear-tire changer Devin DelRicco, 27, from Malboro, Maryland, who played center field in baseball at St. Mary’s Ryken and has the nickname “Rocket.”

BOWMAN OUT TO SEA: Continuing the tradition of saluting America’s military with “Mission 600,” Bowman and members of the No. 88 pit crew will head to the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Wrightsville Beach on Thursday, May 17. Bowman and the No. 88 team members will participate in a search-and-rescue training experience on the water and will visit with Coast Guard men and women. Weather permitting, Bowman and Nationwide will unveil the paint scheme that the team will run next weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 600-mile race on May 27.

MEET ALEX: Bowman will participate in the NASCAR Cup Series Open driver autograph session on Saturday, May 19 from 3 to 3:30 p.m. ET. This session will take place at the Pit Road Pre-Race Party.

VOTING IS CLOSING SOON: Voting will close Friday evening for the Fan Vote to get into this weekend’s all-star event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Cup Series will race under the lights for the 2018 All-Star Race on May 19. In order to join the main event, Bowman – who is not yet eligible – must win a stage in the Open qualifying race or he can be voted in by the fans. From now until May 18, fans can vote once per day here for Bowman to join the All-Star Race. The fan vote winner will be announced on race day.


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Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT THE ALL-STAR RACE: Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with eight wins, 37 top-five finishes, 58 top-10s and 711 laps led in the All-Star Race. Most recently, Jimmie Johnson won the 2013 event after leading 10 laps to earn a record fourth all-star victory. Johnson is eligible for this year’s All-Star Race, with Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman currently vying for a spot in the race through the Open and fan voting.

STAR POWER: Three drivers have earned the prestigious all-star checkered flag for Hendrick Motorsports, including Johnson (four), Jeff Gordon (three) and Terry Labonte, with Johnson’s four all-star victories leading all drivers. Gordon and Johnson are also two of seven drivers who took the checkered flag in both the All-Star Race and the Charlotte 600 in the same year: Gordon in 1997 and Johnson in 2003.

BUT FIRST, THE OPEN: Hendrick Motorsports also leads all teams in Open wins with four, courtesy of four drivers: Gordon, Ricky Craven, Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Vickers and Gordon were the two youngest drivers to ever win the Open at the ages of 21 and 22, respectively.

VOTED BY THE FANS: Two Hendrick Motorsports drivers have advanced to the All-Star Race through the fan vote: Earnhardt in 2011 and Elliott in both 2016 and 2017.

1.5-MILE WINNERS: All-time, Hendrick Motorsports owns 57 wins on 1.5-mile tracks. That is the most of any organization, ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing’s 43 wins, Roush Fenway Racing’s 41 wins and Team Penske’s 22 wins.

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 151 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.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 214 pole positions, 1,034 top-five finishes and 1,753 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 67,000 laps since 1984.


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QUOTABLE /
Chase Elliott on the all-star rules package:
“I’m all for trying something different. They saw it as an opportunity to try in a racing circumstance, which is the way we need to be trying things. Going out running by yourself with a new package is not going to teach you a whole lot. I think us being in a racing environment with a new set of rules will show whether it’s a good direction or not.”

Elliott on participating in the All-Star Race:
“I have enjoyed racing it the past couple of years. Also, very fortunate for the fan vote the past couple of seasons to get us into it. Very appreciative of that, but I would love to race my way in by winning one of the stages and not have to be up for a vote.”

William Byron on the All-Star Race:
“I’m looking forward to the all-star weekend. I can’t wait to race at Charlotte with all the excitement that comes around it. I really enjoy every track we go to in May. I think Charlotte will be different this time with restrictor plates and the aero package, but hopefully what I learned with that aero package last year at Indy (in Xfinity) will apply. I feel like maybe I’ll have a little bit of the upper hand just knowing what my car needs to do because I think a lot of guys may be up in the air on what to do with their cars (with the new package). Hopefully, that applies and we can get one of those spots in the All-Star Race. Then, it will be like playing with house money at that point. To get in the All-Star Race would be awesome.”

Jimmie Johnson on the All-Star Race:
“The All-Star Race is fun – high energy – and the pit crews are a big part of the show. There is a lot of money on the line to win and so there will be some chaos. This rules package should mix it up a bit – it’s going to be interesting.”

Chad Knaus on the all-star rules package:
“This is going to be a very unique weekend, for sure. These are the things I honestly enjoy. I like to go into an event with a lot of unknowns as it’s always fun to find or hit on something that maybe another team had not. The lack of horsepower and increase in downforce on the Lowe’s for Pros Chevy Camaro will make it fairly easy to handle, especially by themselves. Once in the draft I really don’t know what is going to happen – I think that is the biggest unknown for everyone right now. I think the drivers will be able to hold the cars wide open.

“The downside is we usually use this race to help us figure out where we are at for the 600-mile event there – and that is not the case this weekend. But the All-Star Race is about fun, the pit crews are highlighted with qualifying and the rules package will make for a good show.”

Alex Bowman on getting into the All-Star Race:
“Win or race your way in, that is the way to do it for me. It would cool to be in it. Obviously, it would be really neat, we will just have to wait and see.”

Bowman on the all-star rules package:
“It is definitely going to be interesting and something different. It’s cool that NASCAR is trying to constantly make the racing better. We will just have to wait and see.”

Bowman on whether the All-Star Race is the right place to try the package:
“Absolutely, I think it gives you two samples between the Open and the All-Star Race. That is a place that typically gets pretty spread out, so we will see what it does for the racing.”

** 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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