Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Darlington

DARLINGTON RACEWAY (1.366-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 25 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 6 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, SEPT. 1 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

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

2019 Season
7th in standings
24 starts
2 wins
3 pole positions
8 top-five finishes
10 top-10 finishes
522 laps led

Career
137 starts
5 wins
7 pole positions
41 top-five finishes
69 top-10 finishes
1,765 laps led


American Muscle

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

NAPA THROWBACK: In June, the No. 9 team unveiled the throwback scheme via social media that will hit the track at Darlington Raceway this weekend. The ride mirrors the fourth-ever NASCAR Cup Series car of Chase Elliott’s father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott. Bill Elliott drove it while racing for his father, George Elliott, in the 1981 season. That year, Bill Elliott captured his first Cup Series pole at Darlington and earned seven top-10 finishes. Click here for more information and to view images of the car.

THIS RACE LAST YEAR: Last season, Chase Elliott and the NAPA team raced inside the top 10 for the majority of the Southern 500 en route to a fifth-place finish – a career-best finish at Darlington.

‘TOO TOUGH TO TAME’ STATS: This weekend, Elliott will make his fifth NASCAR Cup Series start at Darlington Raceway. In his previous four starts at the 1.366-mile track, he has one top-five finish and two top-10s. The driver also has three starts at the South Carolina track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He won during his first Xfinity Series start in 2014 – one of only four drivers to win at Darlington in their first-ever start at the track.

TWO TO GO IN REGULAR SEASON: With only two races remaining in the 2019 Cup Series regular season, Elliott has garnered two wins (Talladega Superspeedway and Watkins Glen International), eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has led a total of 522 laps and collected three pole awards – already his most in a single season – and has won four stages.

BRISTOL REWIND: Elliott and the No. 9 Hooters Spirits team rolled off sixth for the Bristol night race two weekends ago. The 23-year-old driver raced inside the top six for the majority of the night and led 33 laps before finishing fifth.

AWESOME AUGUST: Elliott and the No. 9 team rebounded this month after a difficult July. In the three races in August (Watkins Glen International, Michigan International Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway), the driver is tied for the most wins with one. He has collected two top-five finishes, tied for the second-most, and his three top-10s tie him for the most this month. Elliott has also led the second-highest amount of laps (113) and his 5.0 average finish is the second-highest average for August.

William Byron
No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard/City Chevrolet Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron   Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 21                         Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2019 Season
12th in standings
24 starts
0 wins
3 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
180 laps led

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

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

LOOKING BACK AT THE LAST EIGHT: With the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series regular season winding down,  William Byron has continued to show major improvements during his sophomore campaign. Since the Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway in late June, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has finished second once (Daytona International Speedway in July) and has collected two top-five finishes and four top-10s. His average finish during that span of eight races is 11.75, helping him to gain 46 points on the playoff cutoff line.

MAGIC PLAYOFF NUMBERS: With only two races left in the 2019 regular season, Byron has potential to lock himself into his first Cup Series playoffs after this weekend’s race at Darlington Raceway. While a race win would automatically ensure his spot, the sophomore driver has a couple of other options to secure his place in the Cup Series championship hunt. Currently 75 points above the bubble spot, as long as Byron collects 50 points during the race he’ll be officially locked in. If it’s a repeat winner or someone already within the top 16, Byron needs to collect only 38 points once the checkered flag waves Sunday night in order to lock in a playoff berth.

THROWBACK FIT FOR TOM CRUISE: This weekend at Darlington Raceway, Byron will drop the hammer when the green flag waves, piloting a No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard/City Chevrolet Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that can’t be missed. Sporting neon green and yellow on board the car, he will channel his inner Tom Cruise, paying homage to his character Cole Trickle from the movie “Days of Thunder.” With Hendrick Autoguard, the premier vehicle protection program available at all Hendrick Automotive Group dealerships, serving as the primary partner for the No. 24 team during Darlington Raceway’s “Throwback Weekend,” it was a natural fit for the “Days of Thunder”-inspired scheme that was unveiled early this month and puts City Chevrolet back on the racetrack. While the movie draws heavy inspiration from Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and his operation during the 1980s, there are some modern-day similarities that can be drawn between the current pairing of crew chief Chad Knaus and his young driver. In fact, Trickle recorded his first victory at Darlington Speedway, a feat Byron would like to accomplish Sunday night.

DIGGIN’ DARLINGTON: Returning to “The Lady in Black” for the second time in his Cup career and the third time overall, Byron is looking to capitalize on his previously strong showings at Darlington Raceway. Last year, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native qualified 10th and ran within the top 10 for most of the race until under 50 laps remaining when engine issues ended his day early. Prior to last year’s showing, the 21-year-old driver raced at the 1.366-mile track in 2017 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, starting sixth and crossing the finish line in fifth, the highest finishing Xfinity Series regular.

TIED FOR SECOND: Byron is one of five 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. However, six drivers have scored their first Cup win at Darlington, and Sunday the No. 24 driver hopes to add his name to the list.

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE OF MIND: While No. 24 team fueler Landon Walker hails from North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, he has significant ties to the southernmost Carolina state, having played football at Clemson University. Walker, a former offensive tackle, earned a scholarship to Clemson in 2007 after being named an All-American offensive lineman in his hometown at East Wilkes High School. While playing at Clemson, Walker recorded 3,131 snaps with 49 starts at tackle through four seasons at the university. In 2011, he was named team captain, the same season Clemson went on to win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. The college football standout was then recruited by Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 and earned a position as the starting fueler for the No. 5 team in 2015.

MEET BYRON: Byron will visit the Hendrick Motorsports-JR Motorsports souvenir hauler in the Darlington Fan Zone on Sunday, Sept. 1, at 2:50 p.m. local time. Fans can purchase Byron gear and special throwback merchandise for the driver to autograph.

OFF-WEEK FUN: Enjoying the final off-week of the 2019 Cup season, Byron was able to get a little rest and relaxation with family before jumping back into the final stretch of 12 races. Checking a couple of items off of his bucket list, he and his family traveled overseas, taking in everything that France and Scotland have to offer. To see more from Byron’s trip and how his Hendrick Motorsports teammates spent their time off, click here.

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

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

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

Track Career
20 starts
3 wins
0 pole positions
9 top-five finishes
12 top-10 finishes
551 laps led

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Aug. 30, at 3:35 p.m. local time in the Darlington Raceway media center.

THROWBACK REVEALED: This week, Ally Racing revealed the long-awaited No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Jimmie Johnson will pilot this weekend at Darlington Raceway. Johnson, a native of El Cajon, California, earned his racing stripes on the desert dirt. As his career progressed he raced trucks and buggies in off-road stadiums and desert races. Click here for more.

HISTORY OF ‘BUTCH’: Johnson’s truck, “Butch,” which the paint scheme for Darlington has been modeled after, was a 1990 Chevy Thunder Sportside built for SCORE International Class 8 pickup, a category of off-road racing vehicles built from full-sized two- or four-wheel drive utility or SUV vehicles. Driver Larry Ragland nicknamed the truck “Butch” and raced it to nine Class 8 wins, seven overall wins (including the Baja 1000 in both class and overall), two SCORE Heavy Metal championships and two SCORE Class 8 championships from 1991 to 1994. Ragland and “Butch” turned heads at the 1991 San Felipe 250 by traveling the 250-mile distance with an average speed of 61.44 mph, the fastest overall race speed ever recorded at that time.

JOHNSON AND ‘BUTCH’: Johnson joined the Nelson and Nelson Racing team in 1993 to compete in the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG) Stadium Racing Truck division when he was 20 years old. In his first race, the Parker 400, he captured the Class 8 win and took third overall. He and “Butch” then flew 86 feet over the “Laughlin Leap” to win the $7,500 added prize for the longest jump over the man-made obstacle built in full view of spectators. In the final race of the year, the famed Baja 1000, which was a 1,146-mile trek from Tijuana to La Paz in Mexico, Johnson crashed just before the sun came up and was rescued by course workers the next day. At 20 years of age, he was the youngest driver to compete in the Baja 1000 Trophy Truck division.

FOR THE FANS: Fans will be able to get a first-hand look at “Butch” as the Trophy Truck will be on display at the midway at Darlington Raceway alongside the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 show car this weekend. The No. 48 driver’s younger brother, Jarit, will also pilot the truck on Saturday evening for Darlington’s annual parade. Artist David Arrigo will be on-site painting a commemorative piece that highlights Johnson’s truck and the paint scheme on the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the weekend. Additionally, airbrush artists, a special hero card and other premium giveaways will be available in the midway for fans to enjoy.

ANGEL PATCH SIGNIFICANCE: For Johnson, the throwback paint scheme is not the only piece of significance riding along with him this weekend. His firesuit matches the look of his threads from 1995, and it has a small feature on it that holds a special a place in his heart – an angel patch that replicates the one his grandmother sewed on his firesuits as he came through the racing ranks. Click here for more.

CROWN JEWELS: The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway is considered one of the sport’s “crown jewel” races. Johnson is one of only four drivers in NASCAR history to have won all four – the Daytona 500, the Charlotte 600, the Brickyard 400 and the Southern 500. He joins the ranks of fellow competitor Kevin Harvick as well as NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt.

WHAT BUBBLE?: With two races left in the regular season, Johnson finds himself in 18th place, 26 points behind the bubble in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff hunt. But, he has found success at both Darlington and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the remaining two races before the 10-race playoffs begin. He has three wins at the historic “Lady in Black,” the most of all active drivers, and four at Indianapolis.

SEPTEMBER SUCCESS: The driver of the No. 48 has a history of success in the month of September. September is one of three months in which he has earned 10 wins, trailing only the month of October, when he has won 14 total races.

200TH WIN FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS: Johnson most recently won at the track “Too Tough To Tame” in 2012, and in the process, he captured Hendrick Motorsports’ historic 200th NASCAR Cup Series victory. Starting the May 12, 2012, event in second, the driver led 134 of the 368 laps in the race, including the final 44 en route to the milestone victory. It was his first win of 2012, one of two years in which his first trip to Victory Lane in a season came at Darlington.

RESTED AND RELAXED: Since the start of 2010, Johnson is tied with Kyle Busch for the most wins captured immediately following an off-week. The 43-year-old driver owns five such victories.

Q&A WITH JJ: Johnson will visit the Ally Racing display in the midway on Sunday, Sept. 1, at 2:35 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session with fans.

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, August 30, at 3 p.m. local time in the media center at Darlington Raceway.

CELEBRATING TIM RICHMOND: Back in June, Alex Bowman and Hendrick Motorsports partner Axalta unveiled the No. 88 Axalta throwback paint scheme that will run this weekend at the track labeled “Too Tough to Tame.” The Tucson, Arizona, native has been outspoken about being a fan of the late Tim Richmond and has always wanted to drive a throwback of Richmond’s most iconic scheme, the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy from 1986 and 1987. The red and gold colors will be featured on the No. 88 Chevrolet this weekend and can be seen in this video.

RICHMOND WAS GREAT AT DARLINGTON: Richmond piloted the No. 25 red and gold paint scheme for Hendrick Motorsports in all of the driver’s 37 starts with the team. The late driver’s first trip to Victory Lane came back in 1986 at Pocono Raceway in his 13th start with the organization. He gave Hendrick Motorsports its first victory at Darlington Raceway after starting from the pole in 1986. Richmond led 186 laps that day en route to the win. It was the first of 11 the organization has earned at the short track.

AXALTA ON BOARD: This weekend marks the 11th of 12 events in which the Axalta logo will adorn Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this season. The leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings will be on board for Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway and again for their final race of 2019 at ISM Raceway. Axalta 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.

GET YOUR THROWBACK GEAR: Bowman will make an appearance at the Hendrick Motorsports-JR Motorsports merchandise trailer at Darlington Raceway on Sunday at 2 p.m. local time. Fans are invited to stop by, pick up No. 88 throwback gear and get an autograph. For every $75 spent on Bowman merchandise at the trailer, fans will receive a free No. 88 T-shirt.

BOWMAN’S RUN AT DARLINGTON: The driver of the No. 88 Axalta machine has three previous starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington. Bowman rolled off the grid fourth in last season’s event at the track “Too Tough to Tame.” The 26-year-old has one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the venue, where he started 13th and finished 17th.

IVES VS. ‘THE LADY IN BLACK’: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will make his fifth NASCAR Cup Series start calling the shots for the team at Darlington Raceway. In his four previous starts, he has one top-five start and one top-10 finish at the 1.366-mile track. Ives’ best finish of eighth came back in 2015 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 a win at Darlington with Chase Elliott in 2014 after rolling off second and leading 52 laps. The Michigan native also has a seventh-place finish at the venue with Regan Smith in 2013. As a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006-12, Ives was a part of one win (2012) and four top-five finishes at Darlington.

KANSAS PAINT SCHEME UNVEIL WITH NATIONWIDE: Earlier today, Bowman and partner Nationwide unveiled the No. 88 Nationwide AgriBusiness Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 paint scheme that will run at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 20. The driver of the Nationwide machine revealed the scheme at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois. It aligns with a national sales contest that Nationwide is running internally in which the agent who sells the most farm policies will win a trip to see the car live in Kansas, as well as have his or her name on the car and have a cookout with Bowman and Earnhardt. Nationwide, which was founded by farmers in 1926, is the No. 1 farm insurer in the country.

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 by Aug. 30 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

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT DARLINGTON: In Hendrick Motorsports’ 179 starts at Darlington Raceway, the organization has claimed 14 wins, 45 top-five finishes, 75 top-10s, seven pole positions and 3,175 laps led at the 1.366-mile oval. Its 11 Southern 500 wins are the most all-time, led by Jeff Gordon’s six, which are the most by a driver. Five different drivers have won the Southern 500 for Hendrick Motorsports, which is tied for the record.

STRONG SHOWINGS AT THE SOUTHERN 500: Since 2003, Hendrick Motorsports has paced the way in the NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington. Its 21 top-five finishes and 31 top-10s at the South Carolina venue in that span are the most in the series, and its five wins and four runner-up results are tied for the most. The organization ranks third in laps led at the track since 2003 with 1,011.

SEPT. 1 SUCCESS FOR TEAM 24: The last two times the Southern 500 was held on Sept. 1 – the date it will be run this season – the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team captured the checkered flag. The first of those wins came in 1996, when Gordon started second and found Victory Lane for the third consecutive time at Darlington. The next time came in 2002, when the NASCAR Hall of Famer started third and led 125 laps to capture his fifth Southern 500 win.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 255 race victories, 222 pole positions, 1,062 top-five finishes and 1,820 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 68,700 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE /
Chase Elliott on his throwback scheme:
“It’s always a cool thing to be able to honor family or throw back to something within your own blood. I have enjoyed doing that the past couple years. I felt like it was another good opportunity to do so, kind of fits the NAPA colors, car looks good and hopefully it goes fast.”

Elliott on family throwbacks:
“NAPA has kind of given us some free rein on that, which is nice. Last year, especially, being able to honor my cousin, which was a cool deal. To be able to throw back to one of dad’s cars again will be fun. Look forward to getting to the track and seeing it in person.”

William Byron on his throwback scheme:
“I’m really excited about our throwback scheme this year. Obviously, the Cole Trickle throwback from ‘Days of Thunder’ is going to look really cool on track and under the lights. It fits us as a team as a whole really well especially with it being City Chevrolet and Hendrick Autoguard on board. It makes for a perfect fit. I’m definitely a fan of the movie and I’ve seen it a number of times. My dad actually just watched it for the first time a few weeks ago when I told him what we were doing. It’s a great movie and it’s really good for fans outside of the sport because it’s so encompassing of what NASCAR is about. It pretty much covers all the bases, so I feel like it’s a pretty good representation of what the sport is like.”

Byron on Darlington tire wear:
“It definitely chews up tires like Richmond and tracks like that, but it really comes down to car setup. You can manage your tires to a certain degree if you have clean air and out front or if you’re back in traffic and have a large gap on the guy in front of and behind you. If you’re pressing for a position, though, you’re always elbows up. My rule of thumb is trying not to make any big slides and trying to work the grip limit of the tire while not over taxing it. I was fortunate last year at Darlington that I never hit the wall in the race. We had a blown engine but we were running pretty well until then.”

Jimmie Johnson on Darlington:
“Darlington just has its own persona. The Southern 500 has always been a spectacle to see. The track is so difficult and gritty to drive, it can tear you up pretty easy. It’s a long night – and usually a hot one. The throwback theme is a great tribute to the personality and characteristics of Darlington, paying respect to the past. It’s always so much fun walking down pit road before the race. So many have just embraced the concept and go all-in. We know what we have to do and I am excited about the direction we have taken as a team.”

Alex Bowman on his Tim Richmond-throwback scheme:
“Running this Tim Richmond scheme is so amazing. These iconic Axalta colors look great on this Chevrolet and I can’t wait to get this car on track. We have had a week off to dig back into the notebooks and get ready for Darlington. We qualified well there last year, but didn’t get the result we needed. I know this No. 88 team can get the car dialed in and ready to go for Sunday. The last time Tim ran at Darlington for Hendrick Motorsports, he won, so maybe that will bring our team some luck this weekend.”


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