LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: LAS VEGAS
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 27 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 7 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, SEPT. 15 (NBCSN/PRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 NAPA Filters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
7th in standings
3 pole positions
8 top-five finishes
11 top-10 finishes
531 laps led
7 pole positions
41 top-five finishes
70 top-10 finishes
1,774 laps led
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
2 top-10 finishes
0 laps led
WELCOME TO THE PLAYOFFS: The 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs kick off this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Chase Elliott has made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons in his Cup Series career – he still remains the youngest driver to make his first playoff start (2016 – 20 years, 9 months, 21 days). Last season, he advanced all the way to the Round of 8 for the second consecutive season, and he finished only two positions away from advancing to the Championship 4. Elliott’s 10-race 2018 playoff run featured two wins, seven top-10s and 105 laps led. Those two wins are tied for the most among all drivers in the last eight playoff races run.
ELLIOTT AT PLAYOFF TRACKS: Elliott’s performance at playoff tracks is quite impressive. At the eight playoff tracks where he has already raced this season, the 23-year-old driver has one win (Talladega Superspeedway), four top-five finishes (tied for the most), two stage wins and an average finish of 7.88 – the best average of all drivers. He also garnered the most total points of all drivers (324) and the most stage points (87) at the eight tracks in the playoffs that the series has already visited in 2019. Last season, Elliott scored top-10 finishes in both of the tracks that the series has not yet visited this season (Charlotte road course and Homestead-Miami Speedway).
NAPA FILTERS: Last week, NAPA AUTO PARTS took to Instagram to reveal the No. 9 NAPA Filters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that Elliott will pilot this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Click here for more info. Along with the new No. 9 ride, NAPA has a special promotion currently available. Cars have three filters – oil, air and cabin air. Fans that replace all three with premium NAPA filters anytime until Sept. 30 can claim a $20 prepaid Visa gift card.
GUSTAFSON IN THE PLAYOFFS: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will make his 12th appearance in the Cup Series playoffs this season – the second-most of any crew chief, behind only Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chad Knaus. Gustafson has eight wins in the playoffs, which ranks as the second-most of active crew chiefs.
THE FIRST 26: So far this season, Elliott has collected two wins, three pole awards, eight top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and four stage wins. He has led a total of 531 laps. Four times this season, Elliott has captured or tied his best career finish at a track – Martinsville (second), Talladega (first), Watkins Glen (first) and Indianapolis (ninth).
LAST FIVE: In the last five events of the season (Watkins Glen, Michigan International Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway), Elliott is tied for the most top-10 finishes with four. He has the second-highest average finish of the last five races (8.6), behind only Denny Hamlin (8.2).
ELLIOTT’S VEGAS STATS: This weekend, Elliott is set to make his sixth NASCAR Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his previous five starts, he has collected one top-five finish and two top-10s. Elliott is currently tied with Martin Truex Jr. for the most stage top-10s at the Las Vegas track with eight. Earlier this season at the venue, he finished ninth – giving him and the No. 9 team their first top-10 finish of the season.
SEE ELLIOTT IN VEGAS: On Thursday, Sept. 12, Elliott and the other playoff drivers are scheduled to burn it down on Las Vegas Blvd. The NASCAR Burnout Blvd Driven by Goodyear event is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. local time. Fans are welcome to view the event all along the Las Vegas Strip, including the pre-event festivities outside the Planet Hollywood and the burnout location at Spring Mountain, just across from the Wynn Las Vegas. NBCSN will broadcast the event live beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
GIVE A HOOT: On Tuesday, Hooters revealed the No. 9 Hooters Give a Hoot Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that Elliott will pilot at Dover International Speedway in October. The special pink and white scheme will promote their Give a Hoot campaign that supports the fight against breast cancer. Give A Hoot fundraising in October benefits the V Foundation for Cancer Research, one of the nation’s leading cancer research funding organizations, as well as other local beneficiaries through the Kelly Jo Dowd Breast Cancer Research Fund.
No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 21 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
13th in standings
4 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
9 top-10 finishes
181 laps led
4 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
13 top-10 finishes
242 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
21 laps led
LOOKING BACK IN THE REAR-VIEW: Dating back to the end of June at Chicagoland Speedway, the last 10 races have been some of sophomore driver William Byron’s career best. In those races, he’s started from the pole once and collected three top-five finishes and five top-10s, resulting in an average finish of 11.9. In fact, all of his Cup Series top-five finishes and five of his 13 career Cup top-10s have come in the last 10 races leading into the 2019 playoffs.
PLAYOFF-BOUND: Solidifying his position in the Cup Series playoffs, Byron is the third-youngest driver in series history – at 21 years, 9 months, and 17 days – to make his first playoff start. In the 2019 playoffs, he is the youngest driver competing in the 16-driver field and became the ninth different driver that Hendrick Motorsports has taken into the playoffs, which leads all organizations in series history.
LIBERTY U RETURNS: For back-to-back weekends, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will carry Liberty University on board, this time for the first race of the playoffs at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Returning as a primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in 2019 for 12 races, Liberty University has a long history with the sophomore 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 driver. 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.
FEELING LUCKY: This weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway marks not only the first race of the Round of 16 in the playoffs but also Byron’s fourth start at the 1.5-mile track. This race will be a repeat trip for the Byron-Chad Knaus pairing after scoring a 16th-place finish at the venue in just their third start together as driver and crew chief earlier this year. During that spring race, the No. 24 driver led 21 laps – the fourth-most laps he’s led during his career in a Cup Series race. Aside from his starts in the Cup Series, Byron has two previous starts in the “City of Lights,” one in the Xfinity Series where he raced to a 14th-place finish, and one in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, qualifying 10th and ending the race with a fifth-place finish.
KNAUS’ POSTSEASON PROWESS: Gearing up for the start of the 2019 playoffs, Knaus is set to make his 16th appearance in the playoffs – the only Cup Series crew chief to make an appearance in every season of the playoffs’ existence. While it will be the veteran crew chief’s first time entering the 10-week stretch with Byron behind the wheel, Knaus is no stranger to playoff success, collecting 29 victories – the most of any crew chief by 20 wins – as well as seven championships, all coming with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.
INDY INSIGHT: Despite sustaining damage early on during last Sunday’s Brickyard 400, the No. 24 team made repairs and Byron went to work making up ground, finding himself back within the top-10 running order by the start of the second stage. Continuing to make progress on the handling of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Byron continued his march to the front before ultimately crossing the finish line in the fourth position – his third top-five finish of the 2019 season.
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 43 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
18th in standings
1 pole position
3 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
88 laps led
36 pole positions
227 top-five finishes
360 top-10 finishes
18,791 laps led
0 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
9 top-10 finishes
595 laps led
BRICKYARD HEARTBREAK: Jimmie Johnson had a strong run going at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday until he was involved in a multiple-car incident while running fifth, ending his day and the opportunity to earn a playoff berth. This year is the first NASCAR Cup Series playoffs since its inception in 2004 that Johnson will not be a contender.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME: Although the No. 48 driver will not be eligible for the Cup Series championship in the 2019 season, his track record for the final 10 races of the season speaks for itself. He has recorded 29 wins in the playoffs, more than any other driver, en route to his record-tying seven championships.
MILE-AND-A-HALF WINS: Johnson has more 1.5-mile track wins than any other driver with 28. He also has the most wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with four.
SPOILER ALERT: Of the last five wins in playoff races scored by a non-playoff driver, two of them were scored by Johnson. He recorded wins at Texas in both 2014 and 2015 in the closing races of the season while he was no longer eligible to become the series champion.
THE DALE JR. DOWNLOAD: On Monday, Johnson sat down with longtime friend and former teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. and recorded an episode of “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast. Episode 273: “Jimmie Johnson: I’m Not Done Yet” features the No. 48 driver and Earnhardt’s discussion about missing the playoffs for the first time, spandex, crashing off of a mountain and much more. Click here to listen.
SEPTEMBER SUCCESS: As the NASCAR schedule enters the fall months, the seven-time champion has a history of success in the month of September. September is one of three months in which Johnson has earned 10 wins, trailing only the month of October, when he has won 14 total races. He has also won 10 races in the month of November.
ALLY SWAG(GER): Ally brand ambassadors will help fans get their “Ally Swag(ger)” on once again this weekend. Fans at the track will have the opportunity to update their Team 48 gear with the Ally colors if they find brand ambassadors in the campgrounds at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. Follow @AllyRacing on Twitter for exact locations and updates.
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 26 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
9th in standings
0 pole positions
4 top-five finishes
7 top-10 finishes
182 laps led
2 pole positions
7 top-five finishes
21 top-10 finishes
456 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
0 laps led
YOU VOTED: Last month, fans had the chance to choose which Nationwide paint scheme the No. 88 team would run this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After 30,000 votes, the fans chose Kyle Sykes’ design as the winning scheme. In addition to Sunday’s race, the scheme can be seen during the NASCAR Burnout Blvd Driven by Goodyear event on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
ON BOWMAN’S SIDE: The primary blue-and-white colors of Nationwide will adorn the hood of Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for this Sunday’s event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, albeit with a new fan-designed look. 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 Richmond Raceway next week and at Charlotte Motor Speedway to close out September.
SECOND TIME’S A CHARM: After last weekend’s event at Indianapolis, the regular season is now complete. Bowman locked the No. 88 team into the playoffs after his win at Chicagoland Speedway in June. It marks the second year in a row that the Tucson, Arizona, native has clinched a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. So far this season, Bowman has captured one win, four top-five finishes and seven top-10s. The No. 88 team has led 182 laps since April and has completed 98.2 percent of the total laps completed.
TAKE THE LEAD: The No. 88 team has a great record on 1.5-mile tracks this season. Bowman has led 159 laps on tracks that length in 2019 and is third on the list of drivers leading over 100 laps thus far. Bowman led 63 laps at Kansas Speedway, eight laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway and 88 laps en route to his win at Chicagoland Speedway.
BOWMAN AT LAS VEGAS: The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has five previous starts in the Cup Series at Las Vegas. The driver’s best qualifying effort of ninth came in the fall race in 2018 and his best finish of 11th came earlier this season at the speedway. In his lone start at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2013, Bowman finished eighth after qualifying 18th for the 200-lap event.
YOUNG GUNS: Bowman is one of the five youngest drivers to make the playoffs this season. Bowman is the oldest of the young guns at 26 years old, with teammate William Byron coming in as the youngest at 21 years old.
1.5-MILE TRACK SUCCESS: Bowman captured his first career win in NASCAR at the 1.5-mile track in Charlotte in 2017 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His first Cup Series victory came at 1.5-mile Chicagoland earlier this season after leading 88 laps. The driver is one of four at Hendrick Motorsports to capture his first career Cup Series victory at a track that length. In the last four races on 1.5-mile tracks, Bowman has one win, one second-place finish (Kansas) and one seventh-place finish (Charlotte).
VEGAS STATS FOR IVES: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots six times at Las Vegas with two different drivers. The Bark River, Michigan, native earned his best finish of fourth with Dale Earnhardt Jr. back in 2015 at the track. The crew chief has one active win in the playoffs with Earnhardt in 2015 at ISM Raceway. Ives has two starts in the Xfinity Series at Las Vegas, which include one top-five with Chase Elliott in 2014 and one top-10 with Regan Smith in 2013. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of three wins and four top-five finishes at Las Vegas.
BOWMAN’S RUN AT THE BRICKYARD: Bowman qualified 13th for the 400-mile event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday. Early into the race, the driver of the No. 88 machine relayed that his car was running well. By Lap 11, he had made his way into the top 10. After a two-tire stop under caution before the stage ended, Bowman reported his car was too tight. Stage 1 ended under yellow and the 26-year-old driver crossed the line ninth, earning valuable stage points. The team was handed a speeding penalty after pitting during the Lap 88 caution and Bowman finished Stage 2 in 22nd. The driver advanced one position by the end of the 160-lap race and finished 21st.
PLAYOFF POSITIONING: Hendrick Motorsports currently has three drivers competing in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, marking a series-best 12th season in which the organization has sent at least three to the playoffs. It is also the 14th consecutive year that Hendrick Motorsports has at least two drivers in the playoffs, which is also the most of all organizations. William Byron, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are the first-, second- and fifth-youngest drivers competing in this season’s playoffs.
CROWNING A CHAMPION: Hendrick Motorsports is no stranger to winning championships. In seven of the 15 seasons with a playoff system, the organization has won the race. In addition, a driver for the organization has made the Championship 4 in two of the five seasons with the elimination format. Hendrick Motorsports owns 43 wins in the playoffs, which is just one win shy of doubling the second-most wins of 22 by Joe Gibbs Racing, and accounts for 29 percent of the playoff races run.
PLAYOFF DRIVERS: Byron became the ninth different driver Hendrick Motorsports has taken to the playoffs, the most of all organizations in series history. He joins a list that includes Elliott, Bowman, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin.
LEADING ON 1.5-MILERS: The playoffs commence at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this season, a 1.5-mile track. At venues that length in 2019, Hendrick Motorsports owns the third-most laps led with 432, trailing only Joe Gibbs Racing’s 465 and Stewart-Haas Racing’s 551.
PILING UP POLE POSITIONS: After securing just two poles in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed eight poles this year with 10 races remaining in the season. It’s the sixth-highest total the organization has earned in a single season, tied with the 1998 campaign. Hendrick Motorsports’ record for poles came in 1986 with 16, followed by 12 in 2007 and 2009, 11 in 2008 and 2012, 10 in 1995, and nine in 1996 and 2004.
LEADING THE WAY: In 2019, Hendrick Motorsports has nearly doubled its total of laps led from a season ago. Last season, the organization’s drivers tallied 497 laps led, while this year they have already totaled 982 laps up front with 10 races remaining.
ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 255 race victories, 223 pole positions, 1,063 top-five finishes and 1,822 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 68,700 laps since 1984.
Chase Elliott on his Las Vegas expectations:
“Just hopefully having a nice, smooth, uneventful race at Las Vegas would be good. These past couple of weeks have been wild with just a lot of stuff happening. So, we just need to get out there and I have confidence that we can have good cars. We’ve just got to get going in find a little consistency and just get things started off, uneventfully, would be great.”
Elliott on tracks he is looking forward to:
“The next one, really. I think you have to have the ability to win all of them, or the majority of them, to have a shot at Homestead. We just need to have that mindset going in. This first round is going to be tough. Richmond and Charlotte haven’t been our best two racetracks, so it’s important for us to not overlook it and put some emphasis on the first round and not just think we’re going to breeze right through.”
William Byron on Las Vegas:
“I think this weekend’s race will be a good one for us. This is the second time I’ll be going to Las Vegas Motor Speedway with (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and this group on the 24 team. We had an OK showing in the spring race for just our third race as a team and I definitely think we have improved since then as a group. We’ll just approach this weekend like it’s any other weekend, though. You don’t want to change anything up because that’s when mistakes happen. We had an almost flawless race last weekend at Indy, so if we can execute like that again for this race, it should be a good result.”
Jimmie Johnson on the rest of the season:
“Ten races to go and we are as determined as ever.”
Alex Bowman on his playoffs outlook:
“I think consistency is the key improvement that we are going to need. We go to a lot of places that we are really strong at and there are a lot of good tracks for us in the playoffs. At the same time, we are hit-and-miss sometimes. We have a lot of work to do, I think, but the tracks that suit us can be very good. Starting at a place like Vegas, going back to Kansas and Dover, we are going to a lot of tracks that are good for us, so we should be really strong.”
Bowman on the intermediate program:
“I think our intermediate program is our best program, other than our superspeedway program. Our cars are extraordinary every time we go to a superspeedway. But our 1.5-mile program is our strongest program right now. We have had some pretty good success on these tracks this year and I am really looking forward to getting back to Vegas and Kansas.”