Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Chicagoland


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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

American Muscle

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

129 starts
4 wins
6 pole positions
39 top-five finishes
66 top-10 finishes
1,649 laps led

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

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to the media on Saturday, June 29, at 12 p.m. local time in the media center at Chicagoland Speedway.

CHICAGOLAND STATS: This weekend, Chase Elliott will make his fourth NASCAR Cup Series start at Chicagoland Speedway. In his previous three starts, he has garnered two top-five finishes and averaged a starting position of 8.3 and finishing position of 8.0. Elliott has led a total of 117 laps at the venue, ranking him third to teammate Jimmie Johnson (695 laps) for most laps led without a win at the track. Chicagoland is one of seven venues on the Cup circuit where the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has led at least 100 laps (117). He also has five NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, collecting a win in his first start at the speedway in July 2014. The driver has finished in the top-15 positions in each of his Xfinity starts to earn an average finishing position of 9.8 along with an average starting position of 7.8.

GUSTAFSON AT CHICAGOLAND: The No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 15th Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway from atop the pit box this weekend. In his previous 14 races calling the shots for five different drivers (Elliott, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon) at the Joliet, Illinois, track, Gustafson has collected five top-five finishes – including a win in 2009 with Martin and two runner-up results – and 403 laps led. In Gustafson’s previous six races at the track with Elliott and Gordon, he averages a starting position of 8.2 and finishing position of 7.7 and has accumulated 206 laps led.

1.5-MILE TRACK STATS: Elliott will make his 40th start on a 1.5-mile track this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. At 1.5-mile tracks, the driver has led 412 laps and averaged a starting position of 14.1 and finishing position of 13.2. So far this season, Elliott has earned the second-highest amount of points (185) on 1.5-mile tracks. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native scored his first 1.5-mile track win last October at Kansas Speedway. Along with that win, Elliott has collected 13 top-five finishes – two of which are runner-up results – and 22 top-10s on 1.5-mile tracks.

LAST SEVEN: The driver of the No. 9 Chevy currently holds the longest active streak in the Cup Series by leading laps in seven straight races. He has collected top-five finishes (Talladega – first; Dover – fifth; Kansas – fourth; Charlotte – fourth; Pocono – fourth) in five of the seven events. Elliott ranks second – tied with teammate Alex Bowman – for the most top-10 finishes (five) in the last seven races. Kyle Busch leads the rankings with six.

RED, WHITE AND BATTERIES: On Tuesday afternoon, Elliott’s patriotic scheme for the Fourth of July weekend at Daytona International Speedway was revealed. The No. 9 NAPA Batteries Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will promote Military Month. During the month of July, a portion of the proceeds from select products will go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

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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
14th in standings
16 starts
0 wins
3 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
4 top-10 finishes
171 laps led

52 starts
0 wins
3 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
232 laps led

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

SPEED IN SONOMA: Making his second career NASCAR Cup Series start at Sonoma Raceway this past Sunday, William Byron kicked off the weekend by qualifying a track-best second. When the green flag dropped for Sunday’s 90-lap race, Byron immediately took over the top spot and raced out to a substantial lead. With the No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 pacing the field for the first 21 laps, Byron picked up his first stage win of his Cup career as well as a valuable playoff point. From there, the No. 24 team played pit strategy to maximize their points accumulated, capturing a top-three finish in Stage 2. However, in the closing laps, the handling of Byron’s Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 went away, swinging to the tight side, resulting in a 19th-place finish.

BYRON TO THE FRONT OF THE STAGE: Byron’s front-row qualifying effort last weekend at Sonoma Raceway added to his impressive sophomore season run. The driver is tied for the most poles in 2019 with three but now leads all drivers this season with seven front-row starts. In fact, Byron has started within the top three positions in five of the last six races. He has led laps in the last six races, as well, which ranks him second to teammate Chase Elliott, who holds the longest active streak with seven. Byron has finished inside the top 10 in seven of the last eight stages, including his first stage win at Sonoma, and has gained 44 points on the current playoff bubble, putting him 14th in the point standings with 10 races left in the regular season.

LIBERTY RETURNS: Making its return this weekend, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet will sport the Liberty University colors for Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway. Returning as a primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in 2019 for 12 races, Liberty University has a long history with Byron starting back in 2014 in the late model ranks and is in 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 offer more than 600 degree programs from the certificate to 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, and he started his online classes on June 24.

CHICAGO CREDENTIALS: Making the trip to the Windy City for this weekend’s race, Byron will make his second career Cup Series start at Chicagoland Speedway. Currently, the sophomore driver has made one start at the 1.5-mile oval in each of NASCAR’s top three national series. In all three races, Byron has shown speed, qualifying in the top 10 each time, with his best effort of eighth coming in the Cup and Xfinity Series. However, various issues have hindered the young driver’s finishes. Last year, a tight-handling Chevy resulted in a 20th-place finish in the Cup race, while transmission issues in the 2017 Xfinity race relegated him to a 33rd-place result. In his Chicagoland debut in 2016, an on-track incident early on during the Truck Series race ended his day in the 30th position.

HEADING HOME: This weekend, No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus will have extra motivation when he climbs on top of the pit box for Sunday’s race. The veteran crew chief hails from Rockford, Illinois, which is approximately 111 miles away from the Chicago-based track. Before cutting his teeth in NASCAR, Knaus was the crew chief for his dad at nearby Rockford Speedway, where they won multiple track championships together. However, in 17 Cup races at the 1.5-mile oval, Knaus has yet to capture a win at his hometown track. Coming close on multiple occasions, Knaus has three runner-up finishes as well as seven top five finishes and 11 top-10s. Chicagoland Speedway is one of four tracks left on the Cup Series schedule where Knaus has yet to visit Victory Lane.

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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
16 starts
0 wins
1 pole position
1 top-five finish
6 top-10 finishes
68 laps led

631 starts
83 wins
36 pole positions
225 top-five finishes
358 top-10 finishes
18,771 laps led

Track Career
17 starts
0 wins
2 pole positions
7 top-five finishes
11 top-10 finishes
695 laps led

1.5-MILE FINISHES IN 2019: Since the beginning of the 2019 season, Jimmie Johnson, crew chief Kevin Meendering and the No. 48 team have made some gains on 1.5-mile tracks. They recorded a 24th-place finish at Atlanta and a 19th-place finish at Las Vegas, but shortly after came a pole and fifth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway and a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway. Johnson then finished eighth at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. His three straight top-10 finishes at 1.5-mile tracks is the longest active streak in the Cup Series.

SO CLOSE AT CHICAGO: The 695 laps Johnson has the led around Chicagoland Speedway are the most all-time of any driver in NASCAR Cup Series history at the venue. Johnson has also won two pole positions, the most of any driver at the track, but has yet to find Victory Lane. Three of Johnson’s seven top-five finishes at Chicagoland have been runner-up results – the closest was July 12, 2008, when he was edged out by competitor Kyle Busch in a wild finish where the margin of victory was a mere 0.159 seconds. His most recent runner-up finish at the track came in 2012 when he started from the pole position and led 172 laps.

ONE OF FOUR: Chicagoland is one of just four tracks on the Cup Series circuit where Johnson has not scored one of his 83 career wins. The other tracks are Watkins Glen, Kentucky and the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.

LONE XFINITY WIN: Though a Cup Series win has eluded Johnson so far at Chicagoland, he did record his only win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in the inaugural event at the 1.5-mile track in 2001.

CHICAGOLAND TIES: Adam Wall, an engineer on the No. 48 team, is a native of Teutopolis, Illinois, but moved to North Carolina after high school and went to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to pursue his NASCAR engineering dreams. Tanner Andrews, front-tire changer for the No. 48 team, hails from North Aurora, Illinois, and graduated from Northern Michigan University with a degree in criminal justice. He was a four-year Greco-Roman wrestling standout and trained at the United States Olympic Education Center. Andrews was recognized as one of two recipients of the 2012 Jacob Curby Memorial Award, which is presented annually to a wrestler from each of USA Wrestling’s Olympic Training Centers for displaying strong personal character and commitment. He was a 2011 University Nationals champion at 70 kilograms and also won a bronze medal at the 2011 Dave Schultz Memorial International Championship. Andrews wrestled at the U.S. Open four times and placed fourth in his final tournament.

SONOMA RECAP: Johnson and the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet team had a strong car for 20-lap runs at Sonoma, but the last run of the day was 28 laps. Johnson’s car became so tight he lost the grip on the front tires and slid from fifth to 12th in the closing eight laps, just missing a top-10 finish.

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

2019 Season
10th in standings
16 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
5 top-10 finishes
94 laps led

133 starts
0 wins
2 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
19 top-10 finishes
368 laps led

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

AXALTA ON BOARD: This weekend marks the seventh of 12 events in which the Axalta colors will adorn Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Last year, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Axalta signed a four-year contract extension that will take the partnership through 2022. The leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings unveiled a new Axalta Racing website last year that includes plenty of behind-the-scenes content, photos, and videos. Check out Bowman’s page here.

BOWMAN IN CHICAGO: Bowman is set to make his fifth start at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday. The Tucson, Arizona, native has two top-10 finishes at the 1.5-mile track. In 2016, Bowman piloted the No. 88 machine to six laps led after qualifying 17th. In his last appearance at the track, the driver had a qualifying position of 15th and took the checkered flag in 10th to earn his second top-10 finish at the Illinois venue. The 26-year-old driver has made three starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the track, earning an average start of 13.0 and an average finish of 19.7. Back in 2012, the driver made his first and only start in the ARCA Series at Chicagoland, finishing eighth after 100 laps.

1.5-MILE STATS: On 1.5-mile tracks this season, Bowman has two top-10 finishes and four top-15s. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy finished in the runner-up position at Kansas last month and finished seventh at Charlotte. The No. 88 team has an average finish of 10.6 and an average start of 13.8 on the track length so far this season.

TRENDING TOWARD TOP-10s: In his 133 starts in the NASCAR Cup Series, Bowman has 19 top-10 finishes. The 26-year-old has three top-10s at Kansas and two top-10 finishes at Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chicagoland and Talladega. The driver is tied for the second-longest active streak of top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks with two.

IVES STATS: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots four times at Chicagoland Speedway for Hendrick Motorsports. The Michigan native has two top-10 results at the track. Ives’ drivers have completed 99.9 percent of the total laps run during those four events.

PITCH TO WIN BIG: Small Business Week ran from May 5-11 and recognized small businesses everywhere. Nationwide and BlueVine are teaming up to give away up to $100,000 to one small business to help it grow. Until June 30, small-business owners can visit www.pitchtowinbig.com to enter for a chance to win funds to achieve their business goals. Nationwide and BlueVine will select the contest finalists, who will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Nationwide’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, to pitch business leaders during a live “Pitch to Win” event. The winning pitch will win the $100,000 prize, with second place receiving $20,000 and third place taking home $10,000.

EYES SET FOR THE GLEN: On Monday, June 17, Hendrick Motorsports partner Axalta Coating Systems, along with Bowman, announced a joint branding initiative with CARSTAR for the upcoming race at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 4. CARSTAR is North America’s premier network of independently owned and operated collision repair facilities. The CARSTAR logo will be featured on the television panel and roof of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Watkins Glen. In addition to the branding on the car, Bowman will also wear a special helmet designed through the “Accelerate the Cure” contest. Those affected by cystic fibrosis can design a helmet for Bowman in order to raise awareness for the disease. Those interested can visit the “Accelerate the Cure” website to submit an entry. The deadline to submit is July 5.

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Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT CHICAGO: At Chicagoland Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has two wins, four pole positions, 22 top-five finishes, and 34 top-10s. Mark Martin most recently visited Victory Lane for the organization at the track in 2009. Hendrick Motorsports has led laps in 17 of the 18 races run at Chicagoland and had at least one car finish in the top 10 in all but two of the 18 races.

PLAYOFF POSITIONING: Hendrick Motorsports has three drivers currently in playoff position, with Jimmie Johnson on the bubble ranked 17th, just one point behind the 16th-place driver. At the moment, positions 15 through 18 are separated by just 22 points while 16 through 18 are separated by five points.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has a total of 12 championships, 253 race victories, 221 pole positions, 1,055 top-five finishes and 1,809 top-10s in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 68,400 laps since 1984.

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Chase Elliott on what makes Chicagoland different from other 1.5-mile tracks:
“The age of the surface is the fun part about it. The last couple times we’ve been there we’ve been able to move around and stuff, which is cool. I hope that with this package we are still able to do that and I think if so, it will be a fun race.”

William Byron on Chicagoland:
“Chicago is really rough and probably the closest to Atlanta of the tracks we have raced at so far this year. I’m excited to see where we are now to where we were earlier in the year with this being a low-grip track. It’s always hot there, so we can count on that. The name of the game is always trying to stay hydrated for this type of race. With tire wear being a factor, we need to manage aggression level as well. With the way the car slides around there, you really have to manhandle the car. It’s more about managing your car and not putting yourself in a bad spot. I feel like it’s going to be a really interesting show there this weekend.”

Jimmie Johnson on 1.5-mile track performance:
“I know the finish last week didn’t show it, we did have way stronger car than the finish showed. Our 1.5-mile track performances have really improved over the last few races and I am excited to see how we have built on that for this weekend. Chicago is a race that we have shown so much strength in the past and just never have been able to finish the job. It’s been so frustrating to have led so many laps and just been so close and not taken the checkers.”

Alex Bowman on Chicago:
“Last year this No. 88 team brought a great car to the track. We unloaded pretty good and was really fast right off the truck. We missed it a little bit there for the race, but still got a nice top-10 out of the day. The last two 1.5-mile tracks that we have gone to this season, we have done the same thing. We unload pretty good and the guys just continue to make great changes throughout the weekend.”

Bowman on comparing Chicago to Kansas:
“Chicago and Kansas are both really similar, but they drive extremely different. Chicago is kind of bumpy compared to Kansas. They would be a lot similar if they paved the track.”

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.


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