NASCAR Cup Series Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Indianapolis

Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Indianapolis

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INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY (2.5-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: SPEEDWAY, INDIANA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 26 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, SEPT. 9 (NBCSN/IMS/SIRIUSXM)


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

2018 Season
11th in points
25 starts
1 win
1 pole position
8 top-five finishes
14 top-10 finishes
220 laps led

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

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

IN 2018, SO FAR: Chase Elliott has garnered some impressive stats through the first 25 races of the 2018 season. The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 won his first career NASCAR Cup Series race in August at Watkins Glen – clinching his spot in the playoffs in the process – and has collected eight top-five finishes and 14 top-10s. He has led a total of 220 laps and averages a starting position of 11.2 and finishing position of 12.2. Seven times this season, Elliott has captured his best career finish at a track – Watkins Glen (first), Richmond (second), Bristol (third), Talladega (third), Sonoma (fourth), New Hampshire (fifth), and Darlington (fifth). Elliott currently ranks seventh in the playoff standings as the series heads into the regular-season finale this weekend.

KEEPING THE STREAK ALIVE: Elliott continues to keep his top-10 streak alive as the Cup Series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 22-year-old driver has finished inside the top 10 in each of the last six races (New Hampshire, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol, and Darlington), tying his longest career top-10 streak, which came during his rookie season and spanned six races from Talladega (May) to Michigan (June).

LAST SIX: During his six-race top-10 streak, Elliott has led 201 laps after leading just 19 laps through the previous 19 races. He has also improved his average finish to 5.0 during that span compared to 14.42 during the first 19 races of the season. His four top-five finishes in the past six races match his total from the first 19 races.

ELLIOTT’S FAVORITE STREET: This month, Elliott is featured in the September issue of Delta Sky Magazine as part of its “My Favorite Street” feature. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native discussed his favorite street and places to visit in Costa Rica.

DARLINGTON REWIND: Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team raced inside the top 10 for the majority of the evening in the Southern 500 last weekend at Darlington Raceway en route to a fifth-place finish – a career best finish at the 1.366-mile track.

HOME SWEET HOME: No. 9 team engineer Tom Gray hails from Indianapolis. Gray attended Purdue University and majored in mechanical engineering technology.

SEE ELLIOTT AT INDY: On Sunday, Sept. 9, Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage at 11:30 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.

DOUBLE DUTY: In addition to his full-time duty piloting the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the Cup Series, Elliott will once again compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race driving the No. 23 Chevrolet for GMS Racing on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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
25 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
3 top-10 finishes
53 laps led

Career
25 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
3 top-10 finishes
53 laps led

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

WIN TO GET IN: Going into the final race of the regular season for the NASCAR Cup Series, rookie William Byron will need to win this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to qualify for the 16-driver playoffs. While a tall order, Byron’s stats show that it’s certainly not an impossible feat for the 20-year-old. In the midst of his championship-winning NASCAR Xfinity Series season last year, Byron became the youngest driver to win a major race at the historic track at a precise age of 19 years, 7 months and 23 days. He’s the youngest to win a NASCAR race at the 2.5-mile track, and the third-youngest winner in any series, behind two Indy Car Light Series drivers. Kissing the bricks at Indy last July marked Byron’s third of four Xfinity wins in 2017. Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 24 team have a solid history at Indy as well, with Jeff Gordon becoming the youngest winner of the Brickyard 400 in 1994 – which was also the inaugural Brickyard 400 – when he was 23. Gordon has five Cup wins at Indy in the No. 24 Chevrolet, more than any other Cup driver and car number. Hendrick Motorsports won three of the last six races at Indianapolis with three different drivers, with Kasey Kahne bringing home the victory in 2017. Hendrick Motorsports drivers have also led the most laps in four of the last seven races at Indy.

ROOKIE BATTLE: In addition to trying to fight his way into the playoffs, Byron is also involved in a two-way battle for the Cup Series rookie of the year honors. With three top-10s and 53 laps led so far this season, the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 leads the rookie standings by 87 points over Bubba Wallace.

ROOKIES AT INDY: Speaking of rookies, Indianapolis hasn’t been unfavorable to them over the years. While the best finish for a Cup Series rookie is second (Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007), six rookies have scored top-five finishes at the Brickyard, a stat that bodes well for Byron, especially since he’s already run – and won – at the track in the Xfinity Series.

LIBERTY U: At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the blue and red Liberty University colors will adorn the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 13th time this season. Liberty is the majority primary partner of the No. 24 team with 15 races in 2018, with the final two races as primary scheduled for Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway. 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 appear at the Team Chevy Stage in the infield of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 10:45 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.

GOING HOME: No. 24 team front-end mechanic Ty Sipes hails from Bloomfield, Indiana, which is located approximately one hour and 45 minutes southwest of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Growing up, Sipes gained experience at local racetracks working on USAC Series cars. He earned his mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University in 2012, and even worked as a mechanic with Kahne’s World of Outlaws sprint car team before joining Hendrick Motorsports during the latter part of the 2014 season.

MTJF STEERING WHEEL: Throughout the month of September, Byron will run the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation steering wheel center pad in his No. 24 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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Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 42 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2018 Season
14th in points
25 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
29 laps led

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

Track Career
16 starts
4 wins
1 pole position
6 top-five finishes
7 top-10 finishes
302 laps led

Jimmie Johnson will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 9:30 a.m. local time in the media center at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

BRICKYARD PROWESS: Jimmie Johnson finds himself in good company when it comes to wins at the prestigious Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon has the most wins at the Brickyard with five. Michael Schumacher of the Formula 1 racing series has five as well. Johnson has four in the NASCAR Cup Series, while open-wheel drivers A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser all have four Indianapolis 500 wins in the IndyCar Series. Open-wheel racer Will Power also has four wins at Indianapolis, with one coming in the Indianapolis 500 and three in the IndyCar Grand Prix.

WILD LAST TIME AT INDIANAPOLIS: The 2017 Brickyard 400 was a wild race that saw a record 14 cautions. With one lap to go in the 160-lap event, Johnson was battling for the lead with teammate Kasey Kahne and competitor Brad Keselowski when the drivers went into a turn three-wide. Johnson ran out of room and his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet was involved in an incident that saw him finish 27th. Kahne held on to win in double overtime.

CROWN JEWEL EVENT WINS: Johnson also finds himself among an all-star cast of NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers who have won races considered the “Crown Jewel” events in the Cup Series – the Daytona 500, Charlotte 600, Brickyard 400 and Southern 500. Johnson has a total of 12 wins in those events, which is the second-most behind only Gordon’s 17. He is one of just four drivers to win in each of the current four “Crown Jewels.”

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Johnson is currently 14th in the playoff standings. If there is a new winner this weekend from outside the 16-driver playoff grid, Johnson would guarantee a playoff spot by earning 37 points. If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola or Alex Bowman), Johnson would clinch on points, regardless of finish.

WELCOME, BABY KNAUS: No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus and his wife Brooke welcomed their son, Kipling “Kip” Wolfgang Knaus, into the world on Aug. 28 at 5:40 p.m.

CREW CHIEF OF THE BRICKYARD: As a crew chief, Knaus has four wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Johnson, more than any other crew chief in the sport. Although Gordon has the most driver wins with five, he accomplished the feat with three different crew chiefs – Ray Evernham (two), Robbie Loomis (two) and Alan Gustafson (one) over the course of his storied career.

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.

CHEVY STAGE: Johnson will appear at the Team Chevy Stage in the infield of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 10:55 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.

MTJF STEERING WHEEL: Throughout the month of September, Johnson will run the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation steering wheel center pad in his No. 48 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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Alex Bowman
No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 25 Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2018 Season
15th in points
25 starts
0 wins
1 pole position
2 top-five finishes
9 top-10 finishes
67 laps led

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

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

Alex Bowman will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 9:15 a.m. local time in the media center at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

BY THE NUMBERS: The No. 88 is no stranger to Victory Lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The iconic car number is tied for fourth on the list of most wins by number at Indianapolis, with two wins total. If Alex Bowman were to capture the victory this weekend, the No. 88 would be tied for third on that list.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS: Bowman continues to hold a lead over the 17th playoff position following last weekend’s event at Darlington Raceway after holding off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the past six races. Going into Darlington, the team had a 79-point lead over Stenhouse, but after a 23rd-place finish last weekend, Bowman now holds a 68-point lead. If there is a repeat winner on Sunday, or a win by Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola or Jimmie Johnson, Bowman would clinch a playoff spot on points regardless of his own finish. If there is a new winner this Sunday from outside the current top 16 drivers, Bowman would need to outpoint the 15th position by 20 points in order to secure a playoff spot.

BOWMAN AT IMS: Bowman has two previous NASCAR Cup Series starts at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition, he ran two NASCAR Xfinity Series events at the track, starting 38th and finishing 15th in 2013 and starting 15th and finishing 17th in 2015. The 25-year-old driver also piloted the wheel-force car for Hendrick Motorsports in a 2017 test at the speedway.

IVES AT INDIANAPOLIS: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots three times at the Indiana-based track with two different drivers. Ives earned an 13th-place finish with Jeff Gordon in 2016. The Michigan native has two starts as a crew chief at the track in the Xfinity Series, which includes one top-15 finish after Chase Elliott finished 12th in 2014. Ives’ drivers had an average start 10.5 and an average finish of 15.5 in the series. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer on the No. 48 team and was a part of four Cup Series wins at the famed track with the team.

AXALTA IS BACK: Axalta is back on board the No. 88 Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which will feature Church Brothers, a collision repair business located around the Indianapolis area. Back in 2016, Axalta was the primary sponsor on the No. 88 for the first time at the Indiana-based track when Gordon was behind the wheel. Gordon led the No. 88 team to a 13th-place finish after starting 21st.

MEET BOWMAN: Fans can meet Bowman on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 12:30 p.m. ET at the Chevrolet display located in the infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT INDIANAPOLIS: Hendrick Motorsports has won 42 percent of all NASCAR Cup Series races run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Its 10 Brickyard 400 wins are the most all-time, with Jeff Gordon’s five wins the most all-time by a driver and Jimmie Johnson’s four ranking second among Cup Series drivers. The organization has also earned 26 top-five finishes, 40 top-10 finishes and 1,022 laps led, all of which are the most all-time. Its five pole positions at the track are tied with Joe Gibbs Racing for the most all-time. Kasey Kahne most recently won for the organization at the track in the July 23, 2017, event.

BRICKYARD 400 SUCCESS: Hendrick Motorsports’ win percentage of 41.67 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (10 of 24 races) is the fifth-best by a team at a single track all-time. The mark is the best win percentage at an active track by a team. The organization has never gone more than three races at Indianapolis without a win. Hendrick Motorsports has won three of the last six races at the track with three different drivers, and one of its drivers has led the most laps in four of the last seven races at Indianapolis. The organization won the inaugural race at the track (Gordon in 1994) and the most recent event at the track (Kahne in 2017). Its 10 wins at the venue match the combined Indianapolis wins of all 19 other organizations competing in the Cup Series in 2018. Hendrick Motorsports’ 10 wins have come via three different drivers, which is tied for the most different drivers to visit Victory Lane for one organization at Indianapolis.

DOUBLE DIGITS: Following Kahne’s Indianapolis victory last season, the track joined the list of 13 active NASCAR Cup Series venues where Hendrick Motorsports has earned double digit wins: Martinsville (24), Charlotte (19), Dover (19), Pocono (17), Darlington (14), Daytona (14), Atlanta (14), Talladega (12), Bristol (11), Fontana (10), Phoenix (10), Richmond (10) and Indianapolis (10). Hendrick Motorsports has nine wins at two different tracks: New Hampshire and Texas.

PLAYOFF POSITIONING: Chase Elliott secured his 2018 NASCAR playoff berth with his win at Watkins Glen, and two of his teammates are currently in position to join him: Johnson and Alex Bowman. The three teammates in playoff position are tied for the second-most among all teams in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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 Indianapolis, 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 Indianapolis:
“I think it will be really similar to what it’s been there in the past. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the best track for me. I think that we can go up there and make the most of it and try to get a little better than what we have been in the past. That is the ultimate goal and we will see where we stack up this go around.”

William Byron on his history at Indy and competing there in a Cup car:
“It was a really awesome weekend last year. Winning at Indy is something that’s really cool, and it was one of my best memories from last year. I enjoy the track – it’s a cool place and a really special racetrack. The track’s really narrow, really fast and it’s kind of a mix between a Michigan or a Pocono as well. It’s hard to prepare for it because we only go to one track-type like Indy each year, but it’s an exciting race and it’s also the cutoff for playoffs, so the strategy and trying to go for a win will be pretty exciting.”

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Indianapolis:
“Last year’s race at the Brickyard was pretty exciting – a final lap, three-wide battle for the win. It was a good show for the fans. This race is a big one to win. Our cars have had a lot of speed lately even though the results haven’t been there. There really is no quit in me or this team and I think our cars are capable of running in the top five every week. We just need to focus on minimizing mistakes.”

Alex Bowman on what makes Indianapolis unique:
“It’s kind of like Loudon in that it’s just awkward in a stock car. It’s four corners that are obviously very separated. There is not a lot of grip, there is no room for error, it’s super flat. It is just hard to make speed. It’s not necessarily hard to drive, it’s just hard to make speed. We were pretty fast there last year in the wheel-force test, so that gives me a little confidence because I struggled there a little bit in the past. Just really looking forward to getting there, and again, I haven’t been there in a couple of years racing but being there in a Hendrick Motorsports car, it should be fun.”

Bowman on the difference between racing in July versus September:
“Hopefully, it will just allow for a little more mechanical grip in the car with the temperatures down a little bit. It’s Indy though, so it will still be crazy hot, but I just think that track will put on probably a better show with more mechanical grip in the cars and being able to have a little more grip through the tires and not being so aero-dependent on a hot, slick racetrack.”

Bowman on the final race before the playoffs:
“Obviously, the playoffs are on everyone’s mind this week. Aside from last weekend in Darlington, we have been pretty consistent, and we have had a pretty good cushion on the No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.). As a team, we just need to unload at Indy and continue to make gains. As a driver, I need to make sure that we don’t get into any bad situations on track and keep it clean. I am confident in this team and our chances of making the playoffs this weekend.”

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