Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Bristol

BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY (0.533-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: BRISTOL, TENNESSEE
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 24 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 7:30 P.M. ET, SATURDAY, AUG. 17 (NBCSN/PRN/SIRIUSXM)

Chase Elliott
No. 9 Hooters Spirits Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23                       Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2019 Season
7th in standings
23 starts
2 wins
3 pole positions
7 top-five finishes
9 top-10 finishes
489 laps led


American Muscle

Career
136 starts
5 wins
7 pole positions
40 top-five finishes
68 top-10 finishes
1,732 laps led

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

HOOTERS SPIRITS: Last month, Hooters announced that Chase Elliott would pilot the No. 9 Hooters Spirits Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The scheme comes ahead of the Fall 2019 launch of Hooters’ premium line of spirits that will be available at Hooters restaurants and select retailers.

OUT FRONT AT BRISTOL: In Elliott’s previous seven starts at Bristol, he has led a total of 166 laps – the third-most laps he has led at any track.

‘LAST GREAT COLOSSEUM’ STATS: This weekend, Elliott will make his eighth NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol Motor Speedway. In his first seven starts at the 0.533-mile oval, he has collected two top-five finishes, three top-10s and one pole award (April 2019). In Elliott’s five NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, he earned one top-five finish and finished in the top 10 in all five events.

LAST TIME AT BRISTOL: After earning the pole position for the April event at Bristol Motor Speedway, Elliott and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team crossed the finish line in 11th despite being involved in multiple on-track incidents and losing power steering for the majority of the race.

GUSTAFSON AT BMS: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 29th Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway from atop the pit box this weekend. In his previous 28 races calling the shots for five different drivers (Elliott, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon) at the Bristol, Tennessee, track, Gustafson has collected eight top-five finishes – including a win in 2007 with Busch and two runner-up results – and 766 laps led.

SEE ELLIOTT: On Saturday, Aug. 17, at 3 p.m. local time, Elliott will participate in an exclusive question-and-answer session for fans that have purchased the Chase Elliott Ticket Package. He will also stop by the Team Chevy Stage at 4:55 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session. Fans can find the Team Chevy stage in the Fan Zone at Bristol Motor Speedway.

NASHVILLE: In July, Elliott headed to Nashville to promote the upcoming Bristol night race. He joined the Tennessee National Guard in a Black Hawk helicopter and met with members of the military before heading to Fairgrounds Speedway to give them and media members a ride around the track in the Bristol Motor Speedway pace car. Take a look at Elliott’s day here.

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
23 starts
0 wins
3 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
180 laps led

Career
59 starts
0 wins
3 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
12 top-10 finishes
241 laps led

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

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, August 16, at 4:10 p.m. local time in the Bristol Motor Speedway media center.

POINTS, POINTS, POINTS: Trying to secure his place in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, William Byron continues to pad his position above the cut-off line. After a solid run at Michigan International Speedway last weekend, the sophomore driver now sits 89 points above the cutoff line with three races left in the regular season. In fact, over the last 11 races, Byron has gained 104 points on the bubble, gaining points in all but two races in that span.

STAYING HOT IN THE SUMMER: Continuing his hot streak during the summer months, Byron isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon. In the last three races, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has started within the top three positions twice and has gone on to finish in the top 10 twice and in the top five once across those same three races. Also, in two of those three races, the driver of the No. 24 was ranked in the top eight in points earned. Byron has collected track-best finishes in seven of the last eight races, a stat he would like to continue this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

LIBERTY U RETURNS: For back-to-back weekends, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will carry Liberty University on board starting with last Sunday’s race at Michigan and again with the night race at Bristol Motor 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 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.

BATTLE AT BRISTOL: This weekend, Byron will make his fourth NASCAR Cup Series start and his seventh national series start at Bristol Motor Speedway. His best Cup race at the “Last Great Colosseum” came a few months ago this season, when the driver of the No. 24 qualified second, lining up alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott. Despite early damage, he was able to rally to a track-best finish of 16th. In the Xfinity Series, Byron’s best finish at the 0.533-mile concrete oval was a 12th-place effort in spring 2017. He collected a fourth-place finish in his lone Truck Series start at the venue, leading one lap in the process. In his K&N start at the track, Byron led 44 laps before coming up just shy of the win with a runner-up finish.

CLOSE TO HOME: Chris Burkey, the pit crew coach for the Nos. 9 and 24 teams, hails from Greeneville, Tennessee, which is only 47 miles southwest of Bristol Motor Speedway. Burkey has an extensive background in coaching, getting his start in football. He played football for Wingate University, where he eventually started his coaching career. Burkey coached college football from 1992 to 2005 for Wingate, East Tennessee and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2005, he joined the NFL’s Miami Dolphins as a scout. Looking for a new challenge, Burkey made the transition from football to NASCAR when he was hired as a developmental pit crew coach for Hendrick Motorsports in 2009. He moved up to the head coach position for the former Nos. 5 and 24 teams in 2014.

CHEVY STAGE: Byron will make an appearance at the Team Chevy stage at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 4:15 p.m. local time. Fans can visit the Chevy stage in the Fan Zone to see the question-and-answer session with Byron.

MICHIGAN MOMENTS: Starting off last weekend at Michigan International Speedway by qualifying a track-best third, Byron fought a loose No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 throughout the majority of the first stage of the race but was still able to collect top-five stage points. Still fighting handling issues during Stage 2, No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus utilized pit strategy to help the sophomore driver finish the stage in eighth and set him up to make it to the end of the race with one more pit stop. As the laps began to wind down and most of the field was close on fuel, Byron took advantage of the situation to work his way within the top 10 running order. At the 10-to-go mark, Knaus told Byron to begin saving fuel, as well. Running out of fuel as he took the checkered flag, Byron picked up a track-best eighth-place finish, his eighth top-10 result of the 2019 season. He has now doubled his top-10 total from his Rookie of the Year campaign, when he collected four top-10s in 2018.

RECORD-SETTING POSSIBILITY: Two of the three youngest drivers to claim a victory at Bristol have driven for Hendrick Motorsports. If Byron were to win the race this weekend, it would not only be his first Cup Series victory but would solidify him as the youngest driver to win at the track.

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

2019 Season
18th in standings
23 starts
0 wins
1 pole position
3 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
81 laps led

Career
638 starts
83 wins
36 pole positions
227 top-five finishes
360 top-10 finishes
18,784 laps led

Track Career
35 starts
2 wins
1 pole position
12 top-five finishes
21 top-10 finishes
914 laps led

FINISHING AT BRISTOL: Jimmie Johnson has turned in three straight top-10 performances at Bristol Motor Speedway, which is tied for the longest active streak at the track. Among drivers to compete in each of the last 11 Bristol races, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has the best average finish at the 0.533-mile venue since 2014 (8.45).

STAGE RACING PERFORMANCE: Since the implementation of stage racing at Bristol, Johnson has fared very well. Out of 15 stages, the the 43-year-old driver has scored a top-five finish in seven of them and a top-10 finish in all but two. He has finished all 15 stages inside the top 15, with a lowest stage result of 14th.

BABY DANIELS WATCH CONTINUES: No. 48 team crew chief Cliff Daniels and wife Shannon are expecting their first child any day now. In the event Baby Daniels makes his or her way into the world over the weekend while the No. 48 team is on track at Bristol Motor Speedway, the plan would be for Daniels to return to Charlotte, North Carolina, to be present for the baby’s arrival. In that case, Hendrick Motorsports technical director Darian Grubb would call the race for the No. 48 Ally team. Grubb is no stranger to the pit box, or Victory Lane, as a crew chief, having won a NASCAR Cup Series championship with NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart. He has 23 wins in his career, including a Daytona 500 win with Johnson as an interim crew chief subbing for Chad Knaus.

LAST BRISTOL WIN: The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 scored his last win at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 24, 2017. It was the seven-time champion’s 82nd career win, and he led 81 laps after starting 11th. Johnson has led 914 laps at Bristol in his career and claims 14 total short-track wins, which is the second-most among active drivers.

JIMMIE, BIG & RICH: On behalf of partner Ally, Johnson will introduce multi-platinum country-music super duo Big & Rich on Thursday night in the Earhart Campground at Bristol Motor Speedway at 9 p.m. local time for a concert after the Truck Series race. Visit BristolMotorSpeedway.com for more details.

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 BMS this weekend. Follow @AllyRacing on Twitter for exact locations and updates.

ACTIVE IRONMEN: Johnson is tied with fellow competitor Ryan Newman for the longest active streak of consecutive races started with 635 straight. That ties the two drivers for seventh all-time in that category. Jeff Gordon owns the all-time streak with 797 consecutive races started.

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
23 starts
1 win
0 pole positions
4 top-five finishes
7 top-10 finishes
182 laps led

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

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

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 Saturday night’s event at Bristol Motor Speedway. 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 Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September for the regular-season finale.

BOWMAN’S BRISTOL PERFORMANCE: The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy has seven previous NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol. His best finish at the 0.533-mile speedway in Tennessee came in 2018 when he brought home a fifth-place finish after 500 laps in the spring. The Tucson, Arizona, native has two starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the track. In the series, he earned one top-15 finish (2013) at the track.

GET YOUR MERCH: Bowman will make an appearance at the Hendrick Motorsports/JR Motorsports merchandise trailer at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. local time. Be sure to stop by and purchase your No. 88 gear and get an autograph.

IVES AT ‘THE WORLD’S FASTEST HALF MILE’: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will make his 10th NASCAR Cup Series start atop the pit box at Bristol Motor Speedway. In his nine previous starts, he has two top-five finishes and four top-10s. Ives’ best finish of second came back in 2016 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel. In 2013 and 2014, Ives was a crew chief at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and claimed one top-five finish and three top-10s at Bristol. Ives’ drivers led 59 laps in the series at the 0.533-mile track and completed 99.7 percent of the total laps run. As a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006-12, he was a part of one win, two pole awards and eight top-10 finishes at Bristol.

TEAM CHEVY APPEARANCE: On Saturday, Aug. 17, Bowman will visit the Team Chevy stage in the Fan Zone at Bristol Motor Speedway at 4:40 p.m. local time.

MICHIGAN REWIND: Last weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series visited Michigan International Speedway. Bowman and the No. 88 team qualified fourth for the 200-lap event. In a race full of fuel mileage strategy, the team knew that it would come down to track position and smart calls from the box. Bowman finished Stage 1 in the eighth position, earning the team valuable stage points. Starting Stage 2 in fourth, the driver was able to stay inside the top-five until 15 laps to go in the stage, when the team elected to make a green-flag pit stop. When an untimely caution was shown just a few laps later, Bowman ultimately ended Stage 2 in the 19th position. Starting the final stage in the 13th position, he was able to gain three positions to finish the event in 10th. This finish marked the seventh time this season that the No. 88 team has finished inside the top 10.

GOOD GUYS CRUISIN’ TO MIAMI: Nationwide is giving one lucky fan the chance to win the ultimate fan experience for two at the final Cup Series race of the 2019 season. Upload a photo of you and your ride for a chance to win an amazing weekend in Miami. The winner will receive airfare, hotel accommodations, weekend hot passes, a meet and greet with Bowman and Earnhardt and more. Click here to learn more.

Hendrick Motorsports

BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY STATS: Hendrick Motorsports owns 11 wins at Bristol Motor Speedway, and its 12 pole positions at the 0.533-mile track are the most of active organizations. Chase Elliott most recently added to that total by capturing the pole earlier this season at Bristol in April. In addition, the organization has earned 58 top-five finishes, 105 top-10s and 5,901 laps led at the track since 1984.

RECENT SUCCESS: Since the start of the 2018 season, the organization has competed well in its 12 starts at Bristol. In that span, Hendrick Motorsports drivers have earned three top-five finishes, which is tied for the second-most among all teams. The organization’s six top-10s in that time are the second-most, its 150 laps led are the fifth-most and its average finish of 13.17 is the fourth-best.

SIX MAKE 11: At Bristol, Hendrick Motorsports has won eight times in the spring race and three times in the summer event. Those 11 wins have come courtesy of six different drivers – Jeff Gordon (five), Jimmie Johnson (two), Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne.

SHORT TRACK STARS: Hendrick Motorsports leads all active teams at short tracks, claiming the most wins (50), poles (51), top-five finishes (221), top-10s (377) and laps led (20,851).

ON THIS DATE: The last NASCAR Cup Series race to be held on Aug. 17 was run at Michigan International Speedway in 2014. In the 400-mile event, Hendrick Motorsports had all four drivers lead laps, combining to lead 95 of 200 laps throughout the race. The organization collected the win and three top-10 finishes – Gordon took home the victory with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in fifth and Johnson in ninth.

THREE OR MORE TOP-10s: In the 2019 season, there have been five races in which at least three Hendrick Motorsports cars finished in the top 10. That ranks as the second-most this season behind Joe Gibbs Racing. Hendrick Motorsports accomplished the feat at Dover International Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, Chicagoland Speedway in June and, most recently, Michigan International Speedway last weekend.

PLAYOFF POSITIONING: Three Hendrick Motorsports drivers are currently in position to make the 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at the end of the regular season. That ties the organization for the second-most drivers in playoff contention. Elliott and Alex Bowman have essentially locked in their spots by finding Victory Lane and rank seventh and 10th, respectively, in the point standings. William Byron is currently 12th, with Johnson just 12 points shy of the cut-off line in 18th.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 255 race victories, 222 pole positions, 1,061 top-five finishes and 1,819 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 68,600 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE /
Chase Elliott on the track surface at Bristol and PJ1:
“It has some more grip than the regular asphalt or concrete, or so it seems. I feel like the amount they’ve been putting on it at Bristol has been really nice. I guess there was a rumor going around that they weren’t going to put it down this time. I’m not sure if that’s the case or not. But, I think it would be a big mistake if they didn’t. In my opinion, the top is already the preferred lane. And I think it will continue to be the preferred lane. It was even with the grippy stuff down. So, I think it gives the bottom a little bit bigger chance for the majority of the race, at least. And then the top tends to prevail, as momentum will, I guess, over time. Yeah, I think it was good. I thought what they’ve been doing there was pretty nice.”

Elliott on his confidence going into Bristol:
“I always look forward to going to Bristol. It’s a cool place. I was able to get a pole there at the beginning of the year, which was nice. We’ve had some hit-or-miss runs there. It’s been kind of odd. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a lot of consistency. I thought we had an OK car there in the spring. We’re just trying to build on that. I always look forward to that race. It’s a really fun week and always a great event to watch, for sure, and to be a part of it is pretty cool, too.”

William Byron on the night race at Bristol:
“I try not to focus on it too much. It’s a really exciting race as a fan but as a driver it’s a stressful race. You really have to manage yourself and your car for all 500 laps. You can’t put yourself in a position to take yourself out of contention early on because it’s so hard to recover. You try to treat it like any other race but it’s a cool one to win if you can.”

Byron on PJ1 helping at Bristol compared to other tracks: “I feel like the PJ1 probably has the biggest impact at Bristol of all the races we have on the schedule in terms of the grip level of the bottom versus the top. It takes a long time for those two lanes to neutral out and equal in speed. The bottom is always faster for the initial laps, but it takes that progression for when you get about 10 laps into a run and then the top lane is the fastest way to go. It just depends on how much width they give the bottom when they treat it. If they give the bottom lane a wide width, then it tends to stay dominate longer and the progression is slower.”

Jimmie Johnson on heading into Bristol:
“My team did a great job preparing that car last week at Michigan. Even torn up we were passing cars. I got aggressive early and got into the fence – it was on me. We are focused forward and our eyes are on Bristol. (No. 48 team crew chief) Cliff (Daniels) has done a great job the past few weeks, the pit crew has been spot on and our performance at Bristol has been where it needs to be. Anything can happen at Bristol and it happens fast. The energy at this track is intense. I can’t wait.”

No. 48 team crew chief Cliff Daniels on Bristol:
“With the Bristol night race, there’s so much energy in the air. The high level of intensity at the track is so unique and so cool. What’s interesting is that if you look at the last four to five years for the 48 we’ve actually had decent success at Bristol relative to top-fives and we had that win a couple years ago. So, Jimmie (Johnson) gets around that place so well and he loves going there and loves the intensity of the racing and the action. Our team loves it. It’s a really fast-paced weekend the way practice and qualifying and race prep goes. It’s a really high-energy situation all around and I think we excel in those situations. Knowing how fired up Jimmie is right now, Bristol is going to be a blast.”

Bowman on Bristol Motor Speedway:
“I think Bristol is a track where you can carry over what you learned in previous events. It is a strong racetrack for the No. 88 team. Bristol is one of those tracks where it can be a great place if you have good track position. We need a good points weekend and a good finish to get us ready for the playoffs.”

Bowman on the upcoming off-weekend:
“It is always nice to take a weekend off and regroup. This No. 88 team works hard each and every weekend and definitely deserve a weekend off with their family and friends. We regroup on these off-weeks and figure out what we need to do better or more of in the weeks ahead to get ready for the playoffs.”


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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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