Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Pocono

POCONO RACEWAY (2.5-MILE TRIANGLE)
LOCATION: LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 21 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, JULY 28 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)


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Chase Elliott
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

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2019 Season
8th in standings
20 starts
1 win
2 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
7 top-10 finishes
409 laps led

Career
133 starts
4 wins
6 pole positions
39 top-five finishes
66 top-10 finishes
1,652 laps led

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

KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE: As the NASCAR Cup Series returns to Pocono Raceway, Chase Elliott currently holds a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes at the “Tricky Triangle,” his second-longest active streak at a track behind only Michigan (six-race streak). Elliott’s six top-10s at Pocono tie his results at Michigan and Dover for the most total top-10s he has at any track.

‘TRICKY TRIANGLE’ STATS: Elliott is set to make his eighth start at Pocono in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend. In his first seven starts at the Pennsylvania track, the 23-year-old driver has collected two top-five finishes. His 10.86 average finish there is the sixth-best all-time. In June, he tied his track-best finish of fourth.

NAPA AUTO PARTS RETURNS: The familiar blue, white and yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme will grace the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Pocono Raceway. The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 9 team for a total of 26 NASCAR Cup Series races this year.

NO STRANGER TO POCONO: Besides his seven starts in the Cup Series at Pocono, last season, Elliott made his Pocono NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in the No. 23 Chevrolet, starting 10th and collecting a runner-up finish in the 100-lap event. He has also made two ARCA Series starts Pocono. In his first visit to the track in June 2013, the driver started 32nd and went on to lead 21 laps before collecting his first career ARCA win.

ENGINE, ENGINE NO. 9: This weekend, Elliott could become the third driver to win at Pocono with the No. 9 car number. The No. 9 is currently tied for third for the most wins at the track with six. Elliott’s father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, garnered five of those wins and Kasey Kahne collected the most recent win with the No. 9 in June 2008.

GUSTAFSON AT THE ‘TRICKY TRIANGLE’: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 30th Pocono race from atop the pit box this weekend. In his previous 29 starts at the 2.5-mile triangle with five different drivers (Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Casey Mears and Kyle Busch), Gustafson has collected two wins – with Gordon in June 2011 and August 2012 – and seven top-five finishes along with 17 top-10s.

HOME SWEET HOME: As the Cup Series returns to Pocono for the second time this season, there are four members of the No. 9 team that call the Keystone State home – car chief Josh Kirk (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania), engineer Matt Barndt (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), primary truck driver Dave Ott (St. Marys, Pennsylvania) and co-truck driver Heath Edler (Williamsport, Pennsylvania).


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William Byron
No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 21 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2019 Season
12th in standings
20 starts
0 wins
3 pole positions
1 top-five finish
6 top-10 finishes
180 laps led

Career
56 starts
0 wins
3 pole positions
1 top-five finish
10 top-10 finishes
241 laps led

Track Career
3 starts
0 wins
1 pole position
0 top-five finishes
2 top-10 finishes
35 laps led

PLAYOFF HUNT CONTINUES: With another solid race under his belt, William Byron once again gained points toward his mission of locking into the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. After New Hampshire, the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is now 61 points above the cutoff in 12th place, the best position of his Cup career so far. In fact, over the last eight races, he has gained 76 points on the bubble spot.

TIED FOR SECOND: Byron is one of three Cup Series drivers who have finished second in a race in 2019 but have yet to capture the checkered flag. He is also ranked third among the Cup field for most laps led (180) without a win.

PREVIEWING POCONO: In advance of his fourth Cup Series start at Pocono Raceway, Byron is optimistic for what the weekend will hold. Earlier this year, he collected his second pole award of the season at the “Tricky Triangle” before going on to lead 25 laps and earning a ninth-place finish. After three-career starts, Byron is ranked seventh for the best average finish all-time (11.0) at the 2.5-mile speedway. With two top-10 finishes, Pocono is statistically one of his best tracks in the Cup Series. He also has a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory at Pocono, that he won in 2016 after leading 44 of 60 laps.

LIBERTY U RETURNS: For back-to-back weekends, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet will sport the Liberty University colors. Returning as a primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in 2019 for 12 races, Liberty University has a long history with the driver starting back in 2014 in the late model ranks and is in the midst of its fifth season of sponsoring the 21-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina, native. Liberty University has been Training Champions for Christ since it was founded in 1971. Located in the mountains of Central Virginia, Liberty is a liberal arts institution with 17 colleges and schools that offers more than 600 degree programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, on campus and online. Working on an undergraduate degree in business communication, Byron is now in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program.

NO TRICKING KNAUS: Making his 37th start as a Cup Series crew chief at the “Tricky Triangle,” Chad Knaus leads active Hendrick Motorsports’ crew chiefs in best finishes at Pocono Raceway. With three wins at the 2.5-mile triangular track with driver Jimmie Johnson, the crew chief swept both races in 2004 and then captured the win again from the pole in the spring of 2013. Earlier this season, the seven-time champion crew chief called the shots for Byron during their first trip together to Pocono Raceway, collecting their second pole award of the season, leading 25 laps and scoring a ninth-place finish.

NEW HAMPSHIRE NOTES: Last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Byron was forced to start at the tail end of the field due to utilizing a backup car from an incident in practice. He fought his way through the field and found himself vying for a top-10 finish in the last half of the race. After experiencing handling issues, the driver of the No. 24 closed out the race with a personal-best finish of 12th at the track and representing the highest-finishing Chevy.


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Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 43 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2019 Season
17th in standings
20 starts
0 wins
1 pole position
3 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
78 laps led

Career
635 starts
83 wins
36 pole positions
227 top-five finishes
360 top-10 finishes
18,781 laps led

Track Career
35 starts
3 wins
3 pole positions
11 top-five finishes
20 top-10 finishes
740 laps led

START ME UP: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, has a history of qualifying inside the top 10 at Pocono Raceway, where he has an average starting position of 11.0. In his 35 career races there, he has taken the green flag inside the top 10 a total of 20 times. Eight of his top-10 starts have been on the front row including three pole positions.

THREE-TIME TRIANGLE WINNER: Johnson is the proud winner of three Cup races at Pocono. The seven-time series champion swept back-to-back events there in the summer of 2004 and won again in 2013. He has finished in the top five 11 times and has 20 top-10 finishes.

MOST RECENT WIN AT POCONO: Johnson’s last win at the “Tricky Triangle” was June 9, 2013, when the El Cajon, California, native dominated the 400-mile event by leading 128 of 160 laps.

STREET CRED AT POCONO: Kevin Meendering, who will make his second Pocono start as Johnson’s crew chief this weekend, finished in the top 10 in all three Xfinity Series races with JR Motorsports at the “Tricky Triangle” and was also the lead engineer of the No. 88 team for the Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s “sweep” of both Pocono races in 2014 with former crew chief Steve Letarte.

FAN FESTS: Johnson will attend the Pocono Raceway Fan Fest on Friday evening, July 26, at 7:30 p.m. local time at the Pocono Infield’s Block Party Stage. For more info click here.

RACE DAY Q&A: Johnson will appear Sunday morning, July 29, at 11:45 a.m. local time at the Fan Fair stage for a question-and-answer session. The stage will be located between gates nine and 10 at Pocono.


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Alex Bowman
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 26 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2019 Season
10th in standings
20 starts
1 win
0 pole positions
4 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
182 laps led

Career
137 starts
1 win
2 pole positions
7 top-five finishes
20 top-10 finishes
456 laps led

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

ON BOWMAN’S SIDE: The primary blue-and-white colors of Nationwide will adorn the hood of Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet for this Sunday’s event at Pocono Raceway. As the No. 88 team’s majority partner, Nationwide will be featured in 20 NASCAR Cup Series events in 2019. After this weekend’s race, the sponsor will be back on board the No. 88 machine at Bristol Motor Speedway in August.

‘TRICKY TRIANGLE’ STATS: Bowman is set to make his eighth career Cup Series start at Pocono Raceway this weekend. The Tucson, Arizona, native earned his best start (10th) and best finish (third) at the track last July. The driver also has one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the Pennsylvania track, starting and finishing 10th in 2016. He made two “Trick Triangle” starts in the ARCA Series back in 2012, when he finished third in both events.

2019 AT A GLANCE: Bowman and the No. 88 Nationwide team sit 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 20 events in 2019. This season, the 26-year-old driver has one win (Chicagoland Speedway), four top-five finishes and six top-10s. Since the April event at Talladega Superspeedway, he has led more than 180 laps.

POCONO CREDENTIALS: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 10th time at Pocono Raceway this weekend. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s resumé includes three top-five finishes. Ives’ best result at the track came back in 2016 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished runner-up in the 160-lap event. Last year at the Pennsylvania track, he led Bowman to the driver’s best finish of the 2018 season, taking the checkered flag in third at the July race. Before moving to the No. 88 team, the crew chief was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team between 2006 and 2012. During that time, the team captured 11 top-10 finishes and one pole award at the track.

EYES ON THE POINTS: Since the 600-mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, Bowman and the No. 88 Nationwide team have captured 225 points, which is the fifth-most earned in that span in the Cup Series. He is currently ninth on the list of drivers who have earned the most stage points since that May 26 race, collecting 47 extra points.

WHERE’S ALEX: Bowman will attend the Pocono Raceway Fan Fest on Friday evening, July 26, at 6 p.m. local time at the Pocono Infield’s Block Party Stage. He and driver Corey LaJoie will compete against each other in three fun activities with race fans. For more info click here.

HOMETOWN TRACK: Jason Seitzinger, shock engineer for the No. 88 team, grew up in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, which is located about 70 miles from Pocono Raceway. His first job was at Penske Racing Shocks in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he worked inside the parts room. Seitzinger has been with Hendrick Motorsports for 17 years.


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Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT POCONO: Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with 17 wins at Pocono Raceway, with the four most recent coming as season sweeps in 2013 (Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne) and 2014 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.). In addition, the organization is the all-time leader in each of the following categories at Pocono: pole positions (13), top-five finishes (69), top-10 finishes (125) and laps led (3,277). Hendrick Motorsports has also earned at least two top-10s in each of the past 26 visits to Pocono Raceway. There have been three of the team’s drivers in the top 10 in 17 of those races.

‘TRICKY TRIANGLE’ STREAKS: The record for the most consecutive victories at Pocono Raceway is claimed by Hendrick Motorsports. The organization posted a five-race win streak that began with Jeff Gordon in August 2012 victory and ended with Earnhardt in August 2014. The first four of the five straight races were won by four different Hendrick Motorsports drivers, a feat that has been accomplished on just one other occasion — by Carl Keikhafer Racing at Martinsville Speedway from 1955-1956.

POCONO PROWESS: Hendrick Motorsports’ 17 NASCAR Cup Series victories at Pocono have been delivered by seven different drivers, which is tied for the most different winners at a track by a team. The organization’s wins have come via Gordon (six), Johnson (three), Tim Richmond (three), Earnhardt (two), Geoff Bodine, Terry Labonte and Kahne. Gordon has claimed the most Hendrick Motorsports victories at the track with six.

PLAYOFF POSITIONING: All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are in the conversation to make the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at the end of the regular season. Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman have essentially locked in their spots by finding Victory Lane and rank eighth and 10th, respectively, in the standings. William Byron is currently 12th, with Jimmie Johnson 17th, just 17 points off the cutoff line.


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QUOTABLE /
Chase Elliott on last visit to Pocono:
“This past visit wasn’t our best performance there, but hopefully we can improve upon that. I felt like we were just in the right place at the right time to capitalize on the last restart and get a top five. We’ve had some better cars there and some better days overall, but it all has to go your way and you will take what you get.”

William Byron on Pocono:
“We had a really good car at Pocono Raceway earlier this year and I felt like we were really close. We just didn’t have the winning strategy, we went more for the stage points last race. I think this time, going back, we’ll be able to control our race a little bit differently. I was honestly a couple moves away from getting a better finish last time so I’m really optimistic for this weekend. Hopefully we can build off what we did there in June.”

Byron on tricky turns at the “Tricky Triangle”:
“Turn two isn’t as big of a deal as it was before now with this package. I would say you still have to get off turn three really well. That’s kind of the name of the game there. But when we went there with this package in June, turn one was the biggest importance in making sure the splitter was right through there and you could get through the bumps well. That’s probably the biggest difference now than in the past – figuring out turn one.”

Jimmie Johnson on Pocono:
“Pocono is a great family-run track that really puts their heart and soul into the racetrack – they try to make it the best experience for fans and competitors. There are a lot of reasons I really like going up to the Pocono, for a few reasons people may not think about. We’ve enjoyed three wins there, I like the outdoors and the area. The racing there is very challenging, I think with the traction compound this weekend its going to make it even more interesting, and I think if the stars align, we can put on a heck of a show.”

Alex Bowman on Pocono:
“I think Pocono is one of my favorite places to go. We typically are really fast there. We had a top-five run going earlier this year before we lost fourth gear there toward the end. It is an interesting racetrack. There is a big compromise in all three corners there. Trying to keep the car from being loose into Turn 3, but still turning off of Turn 3 is super key with how long that straightaway is. It is a very technical place.”

Bowman on his expectations this weekend:
“This is a really tough place to pass. Hopefully we can qualify pretty good and we won’t have to worry about passing too many cars. Pocono is really a one-groove track and it doesn’t widen out as much as we may want it to sometimes.”

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