Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Richmond

RICHMOND RACEWAY (0.75-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: RICHMOND, VIRGINIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 28 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 7:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, SEPT. 22 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)


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

2018 Season
14th in points
27 starts
1 win
1 pole position
8 top-five finishes
14 top-10 finishes
220 laps led

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Career
104 starts
1 win
4 pole positions
30 top-five finishes
52 top-10 finishes
1,138 laps led

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

Chase Elliott will be available to members of the media on Friday, Sept. 21, at 9:30 a.m. local time in the media center at Richmond Raceway.

HOOTERS RETURNS: This weekend at Richmond Raceway, the orange and white Hooters paint scheme will adorn the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. A casual dining establishment with a deep history in NASCAR, the Atlanta-based company was a two-race primary sponsor of the No. 9 team this season with Richmond being its final race of 2018. Chase Elliott also piloted the No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Daytona in July, when the team captured the pole. Elliott was involved in a multi-car incident at Daytona and the resulting damage ended the team’s day with a 34th-place finish.

SHORT TRACKS: Elliott has made 20 short-track (Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond) starts in his NASCAR Cup Series career. In those starts, the 22-year-old driver has collected seven top-10 finishes, four of which were top-fives, and led 271 laps. Elliott averages a starting position of 10.75 and finishing position of 13.4. In Elliott’s most recent two short-track starts (Bristol in August and Richmond in April), he collected top-three finishes in both and led 112 laps.

GUSTAFSON AT RICHMOND: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 27th NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond from atop the pit box this weekend. In Gustafson’s previous 26 starts with five different drivers (Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Elliott), he has accumulated 11 top-five finishes – five being runner-up results – 15 top-10s and 532 laps led at the track. The only crew chief with more second-place finishes at the 0.75-mile track is Dale Inman, who has 10.

LAST TIME AT RICHMOND: During the last visit to Richmond in April, Elliott started on the outside pole and ran inside the top five for much of Stage 1 until tire fall-off saw him begin to slip back a few spots. He managed to maintain a top-10 position, finishing the first stage in seventh. The 22-year-old driver continued to race inside the top 10 for the majority of the second stage as well until he radioed to his team that he was battling the handling of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, reporting he might have used up the tires too quickly. Elliott fell to 15th before the green-checkered flag waved at the end of Stage 2. He began the final segment in ninth and continued to push inside the top 10 for the remainder of the race. With the help of a few great restarts by Elliott and quick stops by the No. 9 crew, the team collected a runner-up finish.

VEGAS REWIND: The driver of the No. 9 Chevy earned stage points in the first two stages of the first race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. On Lap 213, Elliott was running inside the top 10 when he was involved in a multi-car accident. The resulting damage to the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 cut the team’s day short. Elliott was credited with a 36th-place finish.

MTJF STEERING WHEEL: Throughout the month of September, Elliott will run the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation steering wheel center pad in his No. 9 machine. September is Ovarian and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The foundation is raising awareness and funding for the diseases through the steering wheel program.


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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
22nd in points
27 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
3 top-10 finishes
56 laps led

Career
27 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
3 top-10 finishes
56 laps led

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

RETURNING TO RICHMOND: In the spring race, William Byron narrowly missed the top 10 at Richmond Raceway while having what might have been his best race in the NASCAR Cup Series up to that point. The rookie spent 84 laps inside the top five and 263 laps inside the top 10 – both the most of his season thus far – and recorded his best average running position of the season (8.65). He earned valuable points in the first two stages, finishing fourth in Stage 1 (tied for his second-best Stage 1 finish) and fifth in Stage 2 (his best Stage 2 finish), marking the only race this year in which he has finished in the top five in both of the first two stages. Byron restarted eighth with six laps remaining in the scheduled distance, but as a caution flag waved to send the race to overtime, he was bumped into the wall by a competitor. He stayed on the track to maintain his eighth-place position for the restart but fell to 12th before the checkered flag waved. Richmond could be just what Byron and the No. 24 Liberty University team need to get the momentum going back in the right direction as they look to rebound from a DNF last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

RICHMOND STATS: Prior to his 12th-place result in the Cup race in April, Byron made three previous starts at Richmond Raceway. He had two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the 0.75-mile track in 2017, earning a best finish of seventh. He also raced there in the regional NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2015, winning the pole and finishing sixth.

ROOKIE BATTLE: With just nine races remaining in the 2018 season, Byron continues to hold the lead in the battle for the NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year title. The driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 leads the rookie standings by 107 points over Bubba Wallace. Speaking of rookies, Richmond Raceway has been notoriously tough on them, as they have only finished in the top five 15 times at the Virginia short track even with two races per year. On the bright side, Kyle Busch earned top-five finishes in both of his rookie season starts at Richmond in 2005 while driving for Hendrick Motorsports, and Hendrick Motorsports drivers have combined for 10 wins at the track.

LIBERTY U: At Richmond Raceway, the blue and red Liberty University colors will adorn the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 14th time this season. Liberty is the majority primary partner of the No. 24 team with 15 races in 2018, with the university’s final race as primary scheduled for Martinsville Speedway in October. Liberty University, founded in 1971, offers more than 550 unique programs of study from the certificate to the doctoral level. Byron, a junior majoring in business communications, currently takes online classes at Liberty, which offers more than 250 programs online.

CHEVY STAGE: Byron will visit the Team Chevy Stage in the Richmond Raceway midway area on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session before the race.

HOME TRACK: Keith Eads, tire specialist on the No. 24 Liberty University Chevy, grew up in Arlington, Virginia, about two hours north of Richmond Raceway. Eads, who is in his ninth year at Hendrick Motorsports, recalls visiting the track as a child with his father for his first Cup race.


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Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 43 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2018 Season
13th in points
27 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
29 laps led

Career
606 starts
83 wins
35 pole positions
224 top-five finishes
349 top-10 finishes
18,692 laps led

Track Career
33 starts
3 wins
2 pole positions
7 top-five finishes
14 top-10 finishes
461 laps led

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Jimmie Johnson showed some spark last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and was running in the top 10 when contact with a competitor caused a tire to blow, sending Johnson into the wall in the closing laps of the event. Johnson was able to salvage a 22nd-place finish and is now 13th in the playoff point standings with two races remaining in the Round of 16.

SHORT-TRACK PERFORMANCE: Earlier this year, Johnson scored his best finish of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway in April with a third-place finish. Over the course of the four races run on short tracks this season, Johnson has finished in the top 10 three times. Last time at Richmond in April, Johnson started 17th and finished sixth.

SHORT-TRACK WINS: Johnson has earned 14 total wins on short tracks throughout his storied career. He is tied with Kyle Busch for the most wins on short tracks of all active drivers. Johnson has a total of 11 wins at half-mile tracks – Bristol Motor Speedway (two) and Martinsville Speedway (nine) – and three wins at the 0.75-mile track of Richmond. His last win at Richmond came in September 2008.

48 PIT CREW XFINITY REGULAR-SEASON CHAMPS: Members of the No. 48 pit crew were part of the No. 7 JR Motorsports team of Justin Allgaier, who wrapped up the regular season championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Members of the over-the-wall group that pit the No. 7 car include fueler Brandon Harder, tire changer Calvin Teague, jackman Kyle Tudor, tire changer Tanner Andrews and tire carrier Allen Stallings. Allgaier has five wins this season to date.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JIMMIE: Johnson celebrated his 43rd birthday on Monday, Sept. 17.

TESTING, TESTING: Johnson and the No. 48 team participated in a two-day Goodyear tire test session at Richmond Raceway last month in preparation for this weekend’s event.

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 Gordon, who has 93 victories and is third on the list. Johnson has the most wins of all active drivers and Knaus has the most wins of all active crew chiefs with 81.

PAINTING THE WALL PINK: Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Johnson will join breast cancer survivors and members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month by painting Charlotte Motor Speedway’s pit wall pink on Thursday, Sept. 20, at 10:30 a.m. ET. Fans can watch live on Facebook.com/BlueCrossNC to celebrate breast cancer survivors at the fifth annual “Paint The Wall Pink” event. Johnson will also be available to the media at 11 a.m. ET.


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

2018 Season
12th in points
27 starts
0 wins
1 pole position
2 top-five finishes
9 top-10 finishes
67 laps led

Career
108 starts
0 wins
2 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
12 top-10 finishes
270 laps led

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

MOVING UP: Following last weekend’s run in Las Vegas, the No. 88 team now holds the 12th spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings. Alex Bowman is now 59 markers behind the leader – and six points above the cutoff line – with two races (Richmond and Charlotte) remaining in the Round of 16.

SHORT-TRACK STATS: In four short-track events this season, Bowman has captured three top-10 finishes. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet captured his first top-five finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in the spring. Bowman also finished seventh at Martinsville Speedway and eighth in Bristol’s second event this season.

BOWMAN AT RICHMOND: Bowman will make his sixth NASCAR Cup Series start at Richmond Raceway this weekend. The 25-year-old driver finished 18th at the 0.75-mile Virginia-based track earlier this season after qualifying 11th in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Bowman has also completed three NASCAR Xfinity Series events at Richmond. In 2016, the driver narrowly missed the pole, qualifying second, and brought home a ninth-place finish. The Arizona native has one start at the track in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and brought home a fifth-place finish.

IVES AT RICHMOND: Crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots six times at Richmond Raceway for the No. 88 team. The Michigan native has one top-five finish with Dale Earnhardt Jr., which he earned in 2015. The crew chief’s résumé at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series includes four top-five finishes, including two runner-up finishes in 2014 with Chase Elliott. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer on the No. 48 team and was a part of three Cup Series wins with the team at the track.

NATIONWIDE PET: Just over one month ago, Nationwide extended its partnership with Hendrick Motorsports with a new two-year agreement that will increase its majority sponsorship of Bowman and the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team to 20 races per season beginning in 2019. Earlier this year, Nationwide held a promotion in which fans could submit a photo of their pet and have the opportunity to get their pet’s picture on the No. 88 machine at Richmond Raceway. Over 26,000 pet photos were submitted to the Paws and Racing promotion and one lucky winner was chosen. Winston, the bulldog, will be featured on Bowman’s Chevrolet this weekend. Meet Winston here.

TEAM CHEVY: On Friday, Sept. 21, Bowman will take over the Team Chevy Instagram account. For a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life of the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, be sure to follow Team Chevy here. In addition to his Team Chevy takeover, Bowman will also visit the Team Chevy display on Friday at 3:30 p.m. local time.

MTJF STEERING WHEEL: Throughout the month of September, Bowman will run the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation steering wheel center pad in his No. 88 machine. September is Ovarian and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The foundation is raising awareness and funding for the diseases through the steering wheel program.


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Hendrick Motorsports

PLAYOFF PROWESS: The 2018 season marks the 13th consecutive season in which Hendrick Motorsports has sent at least two drivers into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, the most of all organizations. Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman will participate in this year’s event. Hendrick Motorsports has placed at least three drivers in the playoffs in 11 different seasons, also the most of all teams. The organization has accumulated 41 wins during the playoffs – winning 29 percent of all playoff races – the most all-time. A Hendrick Motorsports driver has made the Championship 4 in two of the four seasons in the current format, and won the championship in seven of the 14 seasons with a playoff system.

POSTSEASON PLAYERS: Bowman became the eighth different driver that Hendrick Motorsports has taken to the playoffs, the most of all organizations in Cup Series history. He joins Elliott, Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch on the list.

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT RICHMOND: At Richmond Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, 17 pole positions, 58 top-five finishes and 107 top-10s – the organization’s third-most top 10s at a single track. Johnson earned the three most recent wins for the organization at Richmond: a sweep in 2007 and another trip to Victory Lane in 2008. Since then, the organization has earned five runner-up results at the 0.75-mile oval, bringing its total to 18 second-place finishes at Richmond – the team’s most at any track.

RICHMOND 4,000: With just three laps led this weekend, Richmond Raceway would become the fifth track where Hendrick Motorsports has led 4,000 laps. The other four are Martinsville (9,241 laps led), Dover (6,678), Bristol (5,864) and Charlotte (5,037). The organization has led 3,997 laps at Richmond.

BIG ON SHORT TRACKS: Hendrick Motorsports leads all active teams at short tracks in wins (50), poles (50), top-five finishes (219), top-10s (372) and laps led (20,729). The organization has won at least one short-track race in each of the last five seasons and in 15 of the last 16 (all but 2011). Hendrick Motorsports has gone to Victory Lane at a short track in 27 different seasons.

2018 SHORT-TRACK STATS: In the four short-track races thus far in 2018, the organization holds the second-most top-10 finishes with nine – Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman all earning three apiece. Hendrick Motorsports has had at least two cars finish inside the top 10 in each short-track race of the season so far. Richmond ranks third on the list of tracks where the organization holds the most top-10 finishes with 107, behind only Martinsville (124) and Pocono (123) and leads all other tracks in most runner-up finishes with 19. Hendrick Motorsports drivers have earned runner-up finishes six times since the organization’s last Richmond win in September 2008, including Elliott’s second-place finish at the track this past April.

TEN-PLUS: Richmond Raceway is among the list of active NASCAR Cup Series tracks where Hendrick Motorsports has earned 10 or more wins. The organization’s 10 wins at the 0.75-mile track is tied for 10th on that list with Auto Club Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. A win this weekend would move Richmond into a tie with Bristol Motor Speedway, where Hendrick Motorsports has visited Victory Lane 11 times.

ON THIS DATE: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won two of the last three Cup Series races held on Sept. 22, including Johnson’s Sept. 22, 2002, win at Dover and Gordon’s Sept. 22, 1996, victory at Martinsville.

FIRST-TIME WINNERS: With Elliott earning his first Cup Series win at Watkins Glen, Hendrick Motorsports now holds the record for the most first-time Cup Series winners with nine. If William Byron or Bowman wins at Richmond, it will extend the record to the 10th time a driver has recorded his first career Cup Series win while driving for Hendrick Motorsports.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 250 race victories, 215 pole positions, 1,041 top-five finishes and 1,774 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 racing at Richmond:
“I don’t really think of Richmond as a short track. I think Bristol and Martinsville are kind of the only two short tracks on the schedule. Richmond is just a different place and I think that is what makes it so tough. It seems everyone knows how to drive the racetrack and it’s hard to be different. That may be what makes the racing pretty good there because it’s hard for people to be different and everyone is kind of choked into doing the same thing and you really have to be superior to show your strength.”

William Byron on racing at Richmond:
“Richmond really fits my style. The short tracks are fun for me – I really enjoy them. I feel like I can kind of maneuver the car and lean on a lot of techniques at a short track that you don’t use at the mile-and-a-half tracks. I really enjoy going to Richmond, which is kind of unique because I didn’t love it that much the first couple of times, but the last time around, it was a lot of fun. Now we have a notebook on that place, and can look back on what we did there the first time and what led to some success.”

Jimmie Johnson on moving on to Richmond:
“Historically Richmond hasn’t been one of my best tracks. We tested there last month and were able to learn some things. I wish we finished last week in the top five then we would have had a little more of a cushion heading into these next two races. We had a good run in the spring. I’m preparing, because I don’t want to be caught off-guard that I have to go in (to Charlotte) to win to survive and move on.”

Alex Bowman on his expectations at Richmond:
“Being the first round, I don’t think it will get too heated. It’s hard to say. I’m sure the race for the win will be close and be a tough race, but I don’t see any super crazy, heated stuff going on.”

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