DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (2.5-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE ONE OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, FEB. 17 (FOX/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
4 pole positions
33 top-five finishes
59 top-10 finishes
1,243 laps led
3 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
61 laps led
KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE: In each of the last three seasons, Chase Elliott has won at least one race during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway – the longest active streak. In 2016, the 23-year-old driver won the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener. The following year, Elliott collected his first career Duel victory at Daytona in the first qualifying event of the evening. He continued the streak in 2018 by winning his second consecutive Duel. In addition to those victories, Elliott was in position to win the 2017 DAYTONA 500 before running out of fuel from the lead on Lap 198 of 200.
500 POLE WINNER: Elliott earned the DAYTONA 500 pole award as a rookie in 2016 and again in his 2017 sophomore season. No other driver under the age of 23 has won a single pole position for the DAYTONA 500. No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson earned the DAYTONA 500 pole with driver Jeff Gordon in 2015 and with Elliott in 2016 and 2017. He is tied with Waddell Wilson and Chase Elliott’s uncle, Ernie Elliott, for the most consecutive DAYTONA 500 poles by a crew chief. Wilson won three straight poles with drivers Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison and Benny Parsons from 1980-1982. Ernie Elliott accomplished the feat with Chase Elliott’s father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, from 1985-1987.
CHASE AND BILL: If Elliott wins the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17, he and his father would join Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the second father-son duo to win “The Great American Race” on the same date. Bill visited Victory Lane at Daytona on Feb. 17, 1985, after leading 136 laps and retaking the lead with six laps to go. The Earnhardts accomplished the feat on Feb. 15 of 1998 and 2004, respectively.
COULD THERE BE A REPEAT?: Heading into the 2019 season, Elliott looks to repeat the success of another young Hendrick Motorsports driver. In 1994, Gordon entered the season winless, but visited Victory Lane for the first time in May 1994 at Charlotte at the age of 22 years, 9 months and 25 days. Gordon went on to collect another win that year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and finished eighth in the driver point standings. He continued the momentum in 1995 with seven wins that propelled him to his first of four NASCAR Cup Series championships. As Elliott entered 2018 still chasing his first win, he found his way to Victory Lane for his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory in August at Watkins Glen International at the age of 22 years, 8 months and 8 days. He went on to finish last season with three wins and ranked sixth in the driver point standings. Elliott is one of eight drivers in the modern era to enter the season winless and earn at least three victories that year.
FLORIDA NATIVE: This weekend, Gustafson will return home to the “Birthplace of Speed.” Gustafson hails from Ormond Beach, Florida, just down the road from Daytona International Speedway. After graduating from Seabreeze High School, he enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to study mechanical engineering. He returns to Daytona for his 15th full-time season and fourth with Elliott.
GUSTAFSON AT DAYTONA: Though Gustafson has never won a points race at Daytona, he has collected two Duel wins (2017, 2018) with Elliott. The 43-year-old crew chief also has two runner-up finishes at the 2.5-mile oval with Kyle Busch in 2006 and 2007. The 2007 result with Busch and Jamie McMurray was the closest margin of victory ever in the July race at Daytona (0.005 seconds). Gustafson has also won the pole award at Daytona five times with three drivers (Elliott – 3, Gordon – 1, Martin – 1). He is tied with Leonard Wood and Wilson for the most DAYTONA 500 pole awards all-time for a crew chief with four.
NAPA AUTO PARTS ON BOARD FOR THE 500: NAPA AUTO PARTS will kick off the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season on the hood of Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 61st running of the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17. NAPA also served as the primary sponsor for Elliott’s first three career starts in “The Great American Race.”
USAC.25 GRAND MARSHAL: On Friday, Feb. 8, Elliott will serve as the honorary grand marshal for USAC.25 season opener at Daytona. The driver of the No. 9 complements the long and impressive list of USAC.25 honorary grand marshals from 2018, joining iconic and legendary names like Gordon (Daytona), Mario Andretti (Phoenix), Josef Newgarden (Texas), Arie Luyendyk (Indianapolis) and James Hinchcliffe (Pocono).
RADIO ROW VISIT: On Thursday, Jan. 31, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native visited Radio Row for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on behalf of Kelley Blue Book. Elliott’s 2019 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was revealed that morning before he made his rounds to multiple media outlets ahead of the big game.
VISIT TO THE CHEVY STAGE: On Sunday, Feb. 17, Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage at Daytona International Speedway at 11 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.
No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 21 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
4 top-10 finishes
61 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
12 laps led
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: After rounding out his first season of NASCAR Cup Series competition by clinching 2018 rookie of the year honors, William Byron became just the second driver in history to win the award in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Cup Series in three consecutive seasons. He also became the third-youngest rookie of the year in Cup Series history at 20 years, 11 months and 20 days. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native joined Jeff Gordon (1993), Kyle Busch (2005) and Chase Elliott (2016), as the fourth driver to win rookie of the year with Hendrick Motorsports in Cup Series competition.
KNAUS’ KNOWLEDGE: Byron will hear a new voice on the other end of his radio for the 2019 season when seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Chad Knaus climbs atop the pit box for the No. 24 team. After calling the shots for 17 seasons with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, it was announced on Oct. 10, 2018, that the Rockford, Illinois, native would rejoin the team he started his racing career with as a tire changer – the No. 24. Ranked second-most all-time among crew chiefs with seven NASCAR Cup Series championships behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Inman (eight), Knaus is the only crew chief to win five consecutive championships, from 2006 through 2010, with the No. 48. Calling the shots for 35 Cup races at Daytona International Speedway, Knaus has captured the checkered flag twice, sweeping the 2013 season by visiting Victory Lane in the season opener and following it up with a win in the summer at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
YEAR TWO IN THE TWO FOUR: With his rookie season in the rear-view mirror, Byron has already turned his focus to his first goal of 2019 – capturing his first Cup Series win. With a year of experience under his belt and a new crew chief in Knaus on the pit box, all eyes will be on Byron and the No. 24 team when the Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 hits the track for the first time.
AXALTA IS BRINGING THE HEAT: Continuing its partnership with Byron and Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta Coating Systems will kick off the 2019 season onboard the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Daytona Speedweeks. Keeping history alive, Byron will sport the iconic Axalta flames that fans are accustomed to seeing from the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team. As a leading global company focused solely on coatings and providing customers with innovative, colorful, beautiful and sustainable solutions, Axalta Coating Systems is continuing its 27-year partnership with Hendrick Motorsports as a primary partner for both the Nos. 24 and 88 teams in 2019. The company sponsored Gordon and the No. 24 team for 23 years beginning in November 1992 before moving to the No. 88 team in 2016 and sharing primary sponsorship with the No. 24 starting in 2018. This year, Axalta will return as primary partner on the No. 24 Chevrolet for 13 races.
TWENTY-FOUR TO THE TOP: In three of the last four DAYTONA 500 races, the No. 24 has started from the pole position – in 2015 with Gordon and in consecutive seasons, 2016 and 2017, with Chase Elliott. Last year, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman captured the pole, but Byron hopes to return the No. 24 to the top spot when his Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 hits the track for Sunday’s qualifying session.
BACK AT THE BEACH: After making his Cup Series debut in last year’s DAYTONA 500, Byron had a long day after starting at the rear of the field in a backup car and fighting handling issues for the last half of the race due to body damage sustained in an earlier incident. He ultimately finished the race in the 23rd position. Byron returned to the 2.5-mile superspeedway in July, qualifying 18th and ultimately leading 12 laps before getting caught up in an incident, relinquishing him to 32nd-place finish. However, despite his limited superspeedway experience, Byron has one Daytona win on his racing resume. During his 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship campaign, Byron qualified third in the July Daytona race and found himself at the front of the field when it mattered most, leading 29 laps to score the victory, becoming the youngest driver with an Xfinity Series win at Daytona at 19 years, 7 months and 1 day. Aside from his two Xfinity starts at Daytona, Byron also has one Truck Series start and one ARCA Racing Series start at the venue to his credit.
BEACH BUMS: Kicking off the 2019 NASCAR season in the “Sunshine State,” three crew members on the No. 24 team will make their way back home for NASCAR’s Speedweeks. Longtime Hendrick Motorsports rear-tire changer Johnny Roberts hails from Titusville, Florida, just down the coast from Daytona Beach, where he spent most of his time surfing before making his way to North Carolina and eventually trying out for Hendrick Motorsports in 2010. New to the Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 24 team in 2019, engineer Brandon McSwain grew up approximately 100 miles from the “World Center of Racing” in Auburndale, Florida. Just a few miles down the road from where McSwain grew up, engine tuner Ben Proctor calls Lakeland, Florida, home.
DAYTONA DUELS: Byron will make his second start in the Daytona Duel qualifying races on Thursday, Feb. 14. In last year’s Duel, Byron started from the third position but was ultimately collected in a mid-race incident, relegating him to an 18th-place finish and a backup car for the 60th running of the DAYTONA 500.
TV TUNE-IN: National Geographic’s “Explorer” is in its 11th season of delving deep into untold stories from across the world, with host Phil Keoghan taking viewers into the ultimate mission of discovery. In 2018, Keoghan joined Byron and the No. 24 team to delve into the science of a race car. Make sure to tune in Monday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. ET to see what the “Explorer” group learned from their time with Byron and Hendrick Motorsports.
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 43 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
35 pole positions
224 top-five finishes
352 top-10 finishes
18,703 laps led
2 pole positions
11 top-five finishes
14 top-10 finishes
299 laps led
NEW SEASON, NEW LOOK: Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has a brand new look for the 2019 season. After the team’s full-season partnership with Ally Financial was announced in October, Johnson took to the streets of New York City on Jan. 11 to unveil the long-awaited paint scheme live on “Good Morning America.” Click here for the unveil.
MEENDERING AT THE HELM: New crew chief Kevin Meendering is leading Johnson and the No. 48 Ally team in 2019. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native rejoined Hendrick Motorsports after the 2018 season and has spent the offseason preparing for the DAYTONA 500 and chasing Johnson’s eighth championship. Other new additions to the No. 48 team this season are engineer Adam Wall, interior mechanic Matt Philpott, secondary truck driver Jeff Neuendorf and tire specialist Will Poirierr.
THE SKINNY ON ALLY: Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) is a leading digital financial services company with assets of $173.1 billion as of Sept. 30, 2018. As a client-centric company with passionate customer service and innovative financial solutions, Ally is relentlessly focused on “Doing it Right” and being a trusted financial partner for its consumer, commercial, and corporate customers. Ally’s award-winning online bank (Ally Bank, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender) offers mortgage-lending services and a variety of deposit and other banking products, including CDs, online savings, money market and checking accounts, and IRA products. Ally also promotes the Ally CashBack Credit Card. Additionally, Ally offers securities brokerage and investment advisory services through Ally Invest. Ally remains one of the largest full-service auto finance operations in the country with a complementary auto-focused insurance business, which together serve approximately 18,000 dealer customers and millions of auto consumers. Ally’s robust corporate finance business offers capital for equity sponsors and middle-market companies. They are a digital leader in financial services and are committed to “Do It Right” by their customers. For more information, visit Ally.com.
TWO-TIME DAYTONA CHAMP: With two “Great American Race” victories, Johnson is the only multi-time DAYTONA 500 winner expected to compete in this year’s event. The last time there was just one multi-time winner in the DAYTONA 500 field was 1993 (Bill Elliott).
COMPANY MAN: With the addition of Meendering, all four Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs are “home grown” after starting their careers with the team and working their way up. Meendering began in 1999 as an intern in the chassis shop while he was still in high school. Once he graduated, Meendering became a full-time employee and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. In 2009, he became the assistant engineer of the No. 24 team of Jeff Gordon under the direction of former crew chief Steve Letarte. Like Meendering, Letarte began working at Hendrick Motorsports in his teen years and was promoted through the ranks. Meendering followed Letarte to the No. 88 team of Dale Earnhardt Jr. until he was selected as a NASCAR Xfinity Series crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports with veteran driver Elliott Sadler in 2016.
LONE CLASH WIN: Johnson has one win in The Clash exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway, which came in 2005 when the race format was reserved for Cup Series pole position winners who qualified from the previous season.
TWO POLES: As a rookie in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2002, Johnson found success right out of the gate. He scored the pole position in his very first attempt at the DAYTONA 500 with a qualifying lap of 185.831 mph. His second pole for “The Great American Race” came in 2008. Johnson has also earned three second-place starts for the race – in 2005, 2010 and 2015.
KEVIN IS A ‘500’ WINNER, TOO: Crew chief Meendering also has a DAYTONA 500 win under his belt, as he was the lead engineer for Earnhardt’s 2014 victory in “The Great American Race.” That day, Earnhardt led 54 of the 200 laps to take home the highly coveted Harley J. Earl trophy.
FOLLOW THE LEADER: New to the sport of NASCAR, Ally will be active on social media in support of its sponsorship of Johnson and the No. 48 team. Fans can follow along and engage in the conversation on Twitter (@allyracing), Instagram (@allyracing) and Facebook (/AllyRacing) for behind-the-scenes content and up-to-date news.
HALF-MARATHON: Before Johnson runs the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet in qualifying and The Clash on Sunday, Feb. 10, he will run 13.1 miles in sneakers as he is entered in the Daytona Beach Half-Marathon. Johnson is hoping to break the 1:25 mark on the course that starts on the track at Daytona International Speedway, heads out to the beach then back toward the racetrack. The last time Johnson competed in the Daytona Half, he finished in 1:28:16, which was in 2014. His personal best in a half-marathon came on Dec. 12, 2015, when he ran a 1:27 in the Huntersville (North Carolina) Half-Marathon.
CHAMPIONS RIDE: The NASCAR cycling community is strong. On Thursday, Feb. 14, Johnson, along with other drivers, crew members and personalities in the cycling community will participate in the annual Champions Ride for Bicycle Safety. The event, aimed at creating awareness for road cycling safety is a 45-mile ride beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET from Gatorade Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway. Media interested in covering should contact Amy Walsh Stock.
DUEL PERFORMANCE: Johnson has two wins in the Duel qualifying races, which will take place on Thursday, Feb. 14. He went to Victory Lane in 2010 after edging Kevin Harvick by only 0.006 seconds. Johnson also won a Duel in 2015, which went into overtime and ended under a green-white-checkered flag finish. Last year in the season-opening qualifier race, Johnson made contact with the wall with 14 laps to go and was forced to a backup car for the DAYTONA 500.
HAVE CAR, WILL WIN: Johnson is on the verge of 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.
OFFSEASON NOTE OF INTEREST: In December, Johnson and his 8-year-old daughter Genevieve participated in the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s Ajax Cup ski race event. It was Johnson’s fourth time competing in the Ajax Cup.
TEAM CHEVY STAGE: Johnson will make a public appearance at the Team Chevy stage at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 10:35 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.
VEGAS TEST: Johnson, Meendering and the No. 48 team participated in a two-day test session Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the 2019 rules package took to the 1.5-mile track for the first time.
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 25 Resides Mooresville, North Carolina
2 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
14 top-10 finishes
274 laps led
1 pole position
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
14 laps led
Alex Bowman will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 9:45 a.m. ET in the Daytona International Speedway media center.
NATIONWIDE ON BOARD FOR SPEEDWEEKS: The primary blue-and-white colors of Nationwide will be featured on the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in 20 NASCAR Cup Series events in 2019. Nationwide will adorn the hood of Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet machine throughout Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, for both The Clash on Feb. 10 and the DAYTONA 500 on Feb. 17. Last August, Hendrick Motorsports and Nationwide extended their primary partnership with Bowman and the No. 88 team for an additional two years beginning in 2019.
REIGNING POLE WINNER: Last February, the No. 88 Nationwide team and Bowman put the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on the pole for the 60th running of the DAYTONA 500. Bowman posted a lap time of 46.002 seconds – 0.13 seconds faster than the outside pole sitter. The 25-year-old became the third-youngest pole winner in DAYTONA 500 history.
DAYTONA 500 REWIND: After leading the field to green in the 2018 DAYTONA 500, Bowman went on to lead a total of 13 laps throughout the event. The driver lost the lead on the first lap but regained his position up front on Lap 15. Bowman finished Stage 1 in the second position, earning valuable stage points. No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives told Bowman to remain cautious in Stage 2 and the No. 88 machine finished 14th at the conclusion of the stage. With two laps remaining in the event, Bowman got caught up in a multiple-car incident that sent the race into overtime, where he finished 17th.
FIRST WIN: A win next weekend in the DAYTONA 500 would be Bowman’s first win in the NASCAR Cup Series in his 117 career starts. Each of the last five DAYTONA 500s held on February 17 were won by drivers getting their first DAYTONA 500 win. Bowman would be the sixth different driver for Hendrick Motorsports to win the prestigious event, which would set a new NASCAR Cup Series record.
CLASH HISTORY: Following a pole win at ISM Raceway in 2016 while driving the No. 88 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, Bowman entered the 2017 Clash with Nationwide onboard. Bowman started eighth in the 75-lap event. The driver soldiered through intense racing to bring home a third-place finish. The Tucson, Arizona, native will compete in the 2019 Clash event following his DAYTONA 500 pole win last season.
DUELING: Bowman will make his fourth start in the Duel qualifying races on Thursday, Feb. 14. The driver of the Nationwide machine ran the Duel event in 2014, 2015 and 2018. Last season, Bowman started from the lead in Duel No. 1 after capturing the DAYTONA 500 pole and kept his Camaro ZL1 clean and finished 14th after 63 laps.
PLATE TRACK SUCCESS: Ives has earned two of his three points-paying Cup wins at plate tracks. In 2015, he visited Victory Lane twice with Dale Earnhardt Jr., once at Daytona and once at Talladega. Ives won a Duel at Daytona in 2015 and 2016 with Earnhardt and has three Cup plate pole awards, including two at Daytona. In 2013, Ives called the shots for Regan Smith in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and led the driver to a win at Talladega. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer on the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. During that time, he was part of one win (2006), one pole award (2008) and one runner-up finish (2009) at Daytona International Speedway.
INSTAGRAM TAKEOVER: Be sure to follow Daytona International Speedway (@disupdates) on Instagram on February 13 for a behind-the-scenes look at DAYTONA 500 Media Day courtesy of Bowman.
CHEVY STAGE: Bowman will visit the Team Chevy Stage at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 17, from 10:45 to 11:00 a.m. local time for a fan question-and-answer session. Fans will have the chance to meet Bowman and get their Hendrick Motorsports gear signed by the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 before the DAYTONA 500.
2018 IN THE REAR VIEW: In his first full-time season with Hendrick Motorsports last year, Bowman had his most successful year to date. The young driver led 71 laps throughout 36 events and captured three top-five results. Bowman accumulated 11 top-10 finishes in 2018 and posted an average start of 13.1 and an average finish of 17.0. The driver captured a career-best finish of third at Pocono Raceway in late July. He made it to the Round of 12 in his first Cup Series playoffs appearance in his career.
Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman will be available to members of the media at DAYTONA 500 Media Day on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Daytona International Speedway.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT DAYTONA: Hendrick Motorsports has earned eight DAYTONA 500 wins with five different drivers – tied with Wood Brothers Racing for the most different drivers for one team – including three by Jeff Gordon and two by Jimmie Johnson. The organization’s first DAYTONA 500 victory came with driver Geoffrey Bodine in 1986, with Darrell Waltrip (1989) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014) also posting wins for Hendrick Motorsports. A victory for the organization Feb. 17 would tie Petty Enterprises for the most DAYTONA 500 wins all-time with nine. Hendrick Motorsports leads organizations in nearly every category in “The Great American Race,” including starts (116), poles (12), top-five finishes (28), top-10s (46) and laps led (1,222).
SPEEDWEEKS STREAK: Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one race during Daytona Speedweeks in each of the last six years, which marks the longest active streak in the NASCAR Cup Series. In 2013 and 2014, the organization captured back-to-back DAYTONA 500s. In 2015, Hendrick Motorsports drivers won both Duel races, and one Duel win has been earned in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Hendrick Motorsports is the only repeat DAYTONA 500-winning organization in the last nine runnings of “The Great American Race.”
DAYTONA 500 POLES: Hendrick Motorsports holds the all-time record for most DAYTONA 500 pole positions with 12. Richard Childress Racing is second with six poles, followed by Ranier Racing and Yates Racing with five. A Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has won the pole in seven of the last 11 DAYTONA 500 races, including the last four, which is tied for the longest streak all-time. The organization has won 20 percent of the DAYTONA 500 poles all-time and has won the pole in 34 percent of the DAYTONA 500s in which it has competed. If the organization were to capture the DAYTONA 500 pole this weekend, it would mark Chevrolet’s milestone 700th NASCAR Cup Series pole.
FRONT ROW GANG: Hendrick Motorsports has swept the top two starting spots in the DAYTONA 500 five times, which happened for the first time in 1989 with Ken Schrader and Waltrip starting first and second, respectively. Mark Martin, Earnhardt and Johnson went off one-two-three in 2010, and Earnhardt and Gordon started one-two in 2011. In the 2015 DAYTONA 500, three Hendrick Motorsports teammates once again started at the front of the pack – Gordon first, Johnson second and Earnhardt third.
DUELS STATS: Since 2008, Hendrick Motorsports has nine Daytona Duel victories, earning at least one each year since 2015, when Earnhardt and Johnson each led their respective fields to the checkered flag. The organization has won five of the last eight Duel races.
THE CLASH: Four different Hendrick Motorsports drivers have combined to win The Clash – the season-opening exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway – on six occasions: Schrader (1989, 1990), Gordon (1994, 1997), Johnson (2005) and Earnhardt (2008).
PLATE-TRACK PERFORMANCE: Seven different Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won a race on a restrictor-plate track, tied for the most all-time. That includes Gordon, who owns the most restrictor-plate wins all-time with 12. The organization leads all teams in starts, poles, wins, top-five finishes, top-10s and laps led on restrictor-plate tracks all-time. Hendrick Motorsports has earned 31 poles – the most of all teams by 17 – on restrictor-plate tracks. The organization has won the pole for 10 of the last 15 plate races with qualifying and has swept the front row in qualifying in four of the last eight restrictor-plate races.
FIRST-TIME WINNERS: With Elliott earning his first three Cup Series wins at Watkins Glen, Dover and Kansas in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports now holds the record for the most first-time Cup Series winners with nine. If William Byron or Alex Bowman wins at Daytona, 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, 252 race victories, 215 pole positions, 1,045 top-five finishes and 1,787 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 67,000 laps since 1984. Hendrick Motorsports won three times in 2018, extending its streak to 33 consecutive seasons with at least one win, the longest streak all-time.
Chase Elliott on The Clash and if he can take any notes from that to the DAYTONA 500:
“I think it’s definitely a good tune-up, especially for the guys that didn’t get selected to test throughout the offseason. You know, for me, I haven’t been back in the car since Homestead. It will be nice to get in a race and make sure everything looks right and feels right, and those cars are really similar to one another usually from The Clash to the 500. So, I’m sure there are things to learn. Obviously the distance is much shorter, but car-wise it will be a good start and a good look at things.”
No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson on the new rules package:
“It’s a significant change. Basically, every chassis we have we had to update to the EVS rules. All the aerodynamic configurations, the splitter, the spoiler and all things change. You basically start from scratch and kind of rebuild your fleet. We’ve done that the last couple of years with the body change, this year held some changes. A lot of labor that goes into that, a lot involved with that. We’re kind of knee-deep in that process now, so it will be a while. It’s not something that you get done during the offseason and you don’t just go to Daytona and hit the ground running. You’re constantly evolving and building, and we will be doing that for a while.”
William Byron on the start of the season:
“We didn’t get to test this offseason, so our first real test as a team and with the car will be when we unload for Daytona Speedweeks. I think it’s going to be less of a learning curve for us though, hopefully. We’ve really jelled as a team so far, and now the rookie stripes are off and I have a better idea of what to really expect, not just at Daytona but at a lot of the tracks. I feel like last year we weren’t sure what to expect going into Daytona. We made progress when we went back to Daytona in the summer. I was even able to lead some laps, which helps. At the same time, though, no matter how prepared you may be, it’s Daytona, and you can’t fully prepare for what may happen. It takes a little bit of luck to go along with it and being at the right place at the right time. Hopefully we have some of that go our way this year and start the year off on a high note. We have a full year with our equipment and we can start where we left off, which was pretty good at the end of the year. Who knows, it’s a new season and you never know what’s going to happen.”
Byron on working with new No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus:
“I think it’s a great learning opportunity for me. His experience is really extensive but he has not been set in his ways. That’s what I’ve noticed with him, he’s open to new things and I feel like that’s important. His work ethic is really high as well. I would say that’s really the biggest thing I’ve taken away from him. I feel like I will try to apply that as best I can. I don’t have to worry about him doing his job or worry about what the team is doing.
“The difference will be the expertise and his knowledge. He is very motivated to do it and that’s really a great thing. We’ve got a lot of good, young people in our team, a lot of people who are ready to have a shot and win races. I’m looking forward to those things. I think the team is fresh and I think Chad’s expertise and knowledge will help us in the long term. So I’m really looking forward to work with him and the 24 team in 2019.”
Knaus on Byron and the 2019 season:
“I have a lot of respect for William. It’s amazing what he’s done in the short period of time that he’s been racing. It’s amazing to me. This is his first time in six seasons that he’s doing a repeat series. That is phenomenal. Think about that – nobody advances like that, so clearly he’s got a ton of talent and hopefully I can get him the product he needs and then extract more out of him.It’s definitely lit a fire back in me that I wouldn’t say died, but maybe helps transforms me into a more aggressive approach, which is definitely what we need.
“The goal is to win the Daytona 500, sit on the pole, win our 150 race, we’re the fastest in practice and lead every lap. That’s the goal. But the reality is it’s going to take a little time. My goal and our goal at Hendrick Motorsports is to have four teams that are capable of going out there and battling for wins and are in a position to battle for championships every single race and every single year. I feel that William has the ability to do that.”
Jimmie Johnson on the new rules package:
“With the rules change, we are all at ground zero. I think the cars will be closer together with a lot more passing. I think it will bring some real excitement, but it’s going to put the field on equal footing. Looking ahead, some tracks will showcase the rules package better than others, but all-in-all I don’t care what package is underneath the race car, I just want to win.”
Johnson on winning at Daytona:
“Daytona finishes are always exciting. You never really know if you are going to win until you can actually see the start-finish line. My first win in 2006, when I came out of Turn 3, I saw the push coming and it was behind me, I knew the environment and the way the lanes were, there was no way they were going to be able to pass me, and it was at that moment when the goosebumps hit. I was like, ‘I’m really going to win this thing.’ It’s a special feeling I’ll never forget.”
Johnson on working with No. 48 team crew chief Kevin Meendering:
“There is a lot of optimism and excitement on the No. 48 team right now. I am really looking forward to getting into race mode with Kevin at the track. He is a smart guy, has a different approach and it’s going to take some getting used to, but we have a great opportunity ahead of us. We’ve got a handful of new faces this year but all great guys – we’ve taken a lot of time this offseason to hang out and get to know each other in a casual setting. The communication is flowing. I can’t wait.”
Alex Bowman on racing at Daytona:
“Going to Daytona is like the first day of school for all of us. We get to see the progress we made during the offseason, which is exciting. We ran pretty decent in Daytona last season but got caught up in a wreck late in the February race. This Nationwide team has the playbook for this track and I am looking forward to doing even better this season with the progress that has been made.”
Bowman on Daytona qualifying:
“It was important for my Hendrick Motorsports team to start off strong in Daytona last season. We had the new Camaro ZL1 body and it was great putting that brand-new car for Chevrolet on the front row for the DAYTONA 500. Starting off a season strong helps set up your momentum so early in the year. This Nationwide team has done a lot of work in the offseason to make our plate-track program that much stronger. Hendrick Motorsports has a reputation for being pretty good on these tracks, so I am excited to see how we unload this weekend and how we qualify and race The Clash.”
No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives on racing at Daytona:
“DAYTONA 500 you always treat a little bit special. You have the two weeks being down there. You have The Clash, which you are able to make in based on your accolades from the year before. It’s kind of a race to go out there and just learn. We weren’t in it last year with Alex kind of coming back and I think it hurt us a little bit because track time is track time. You always want to get on-track. Like we were talking about, the DAYTONA 500, you treat it special. This year it’s kind of unique because it’s the only race of that rules package. It’s going to be different when you go to Talladega and Daytona in July. We were talking about it being a throw-away race and it almost kind of is. You kind of go down there to win it anyways. You don’t really worry about things afterwards, but typically if you are able to save that car you can buff on it and make it a little bit better for Talladega.”