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. 8 (NBC/IMS/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
8th in standings
3 pole positions
8 top-five finishes
10 top-10 finishes
531 laps led
7 pole positions
41 top-five finishes
69 top-10 finishes
1,774 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finish
0 top-10 finishes
0 laps led
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 9:45 a.m. local time in the media center at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
WHITE FLAG ON THE REGULAR SEASON: Chase Elliott has garnered some impressive stats through the first 25 races of the 2019 season. His April win at Talladega Superspeedway secured his spot in this season’s playoffs. The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has collected two wins, three pole awards, eight top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and a total of 531 laps led this season. Although he ranks eighth in the NASCAR driver point standings, Elliott is currently ranked seventh in the playoff standings as the series heads into the regular-season finale this weekend.
NAPA KNOW HOW: The familiar blue, white and yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme will grace the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 9 team for a total of 26 NASCAR Cup Series races this year.
GUSTAFSON AT INDY: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 15th NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor 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 and Jeff Gordon) at the Speedway, Indiana, track, Gustafson has collected five top-five finishes – including a win in 2015 with Gordon and one runner-up result, eight top-10 finishes and 137 laps led.
NO STRANGER TO INDY: In addition to Elliott’s four NASCAR Cup Series starts at Indianapolis, he has three starts at the 2.5-mile speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, collecting one top-five finish and two top-10s.
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 Saturday, Sept. 7, Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage at 12:30 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.
NAPA FILTERS REVEALED: Today, NAPA AUTO PARTS took to Instagram to reveal the No. 9 NAPA Filters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that Elliott will pilot next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Click here for more info.
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
2 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
180 laps led
4 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
12 top-10 finishes
241 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
3 laps led
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 9:45 a.m. local time in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center.
MAKING HISTORY: Capturing his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series pole this past weekend at Darlington Raceway – all of which have come in the 2019 season – William Byron joined elite company. Not only is he the youngest driver to earn the Cup Series pole at Darlington, but he is now one of three drivers to start from the pole position for the Daytona 500, the Charlotte 600 and the Southern 500 in the same year, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Fireball Roberts (1962) and Bill Elliott (1985). No driver has ever won the pole for all four “crown jewel” races in one season, but the 21-year old driver can rewrite history if he is able to capture the top spot in qualifying this weekend for the Brickyard 400.
SOPHOMORE SUCCESS: In 2019, Byron has exceeded his totals in virtually every category from his 2018 rookie of the year campaign. Last season, he totaled four top-10 finishes and 61 laps led. So far this year, he has doubled his top-10s with eight and nearly tripled his laps led with 180. In addition, he has secured four pole positions and two top-five results compared to zero last year.
PLAYOFF TICKET PUNCHED: While there is still one race left in the 2019 Cup Series regular season, the No. 24 team has already locked itself into the 16-driver Cup Series playoffs field. Building his points gap over the bubble position dating back to the race at Kansas Speedway in May, Byron earned enough points in last Sunday’s race at Darlington to clinch his position. From 15 points below the cutoff line at Kansas, he is currently 66 point above it following last weekend. It is the first time the sophomore driver will be a part of the playoffs, and he became the ninth different driver that Hendrick Motorsports has taken into the playoffs, leading all organizations in series history.
LIBERTY U RETURNS: Kicking off a three-week stretch, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will carry Liberty University on board this weekend at Indianapolis 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.
INDY INSIGHT: Making his second Cup Series start in the illustrious Brickyard 400, Byron is optimistic about the No. 24 team’s chances at a track where he’s had past success. While his lone Cup start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last season was hindered by weather washing out all practice and qualifying, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native started the race 22nd and raced within the top 10 for parts of the race, even leading laps due to pit strategy. However, with varying strategies in the closing laps, Byron crossed the stripe in the 22nd position. In 2017, Byron made his first trip to Indianapolis in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While battling for a championship, Byron became the youngest driver to win a major race at the historic track at 19 years, 7 months and 23 days. He’s not only the youngest driver to win a NASCAR race at the 2.5-mile track, but is the third-youngest winner in any series, behind two Indy Car Light Series drivers. Byron would love to kiss the bricks again this weekend, adding to the already lengthy legacy the No. 24 team has at Indy. The team has five wins in the Brickyard 400, all with Jeff Gordon, dating back to the inaugural race in 1994.
KNAUS KNOWS INDY: Returning to Indianapolis for the 18th time as a Cup Series crew chief, Chad Knaus leads all crew chiefs for Brickyard 400 wins with four. Those four wins with Jimmie Johnson included trips to Victory Lane in three of four seasons from 2006-2009. His last win at the 2.5-mile oval came in 2012. Knaus has also visited Victory Lane at Indy one other time as a member of Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 team in 1994 during the inaugural running of the Brickyard 400.
CHEVY STAGE: Byron will make an appearance at the Team Chevy stage in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 10 a.m. ET for a question-and-answer session.
HOME SWEET 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 Kasey Kahne’s World of Outlaws sprint car team before joining Hendrick Motorsports during the latter part of the 2014 season.
DISHING ON DARLINGTON: Starting from the front row for the ninth time in the 2019 season, Byron ran in the top five early on last weekend at Darlington and showed speed throughout the race despite having to make up track position after an early issue on pit road. Making his way back inside the top five, Byron was poised to come home with a solid finish with an average running position of 10.43 before getting collected in a late-race incident. Suffering damage to the nose of his No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard/City Chevrolet Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Byron was able to continue and crossed the finish line in the 21st position, collecting enough points to lock himself into the 2019 playoffs.
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
84 laps led
36 pole positions
227 top-five finishes
360 top-10 finishes
18,787 laps led
0 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
7 top-10 finishes
302 laps led
BRICKYARD WINNER: Jimmie Johnson is a four-time winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 scored wins at the historic Brickyard in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012. The only Cup Series driver to have scored five wins is NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon, who won the 400-mile event in 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2014.
NOT A LOCK: For only the second time in his career since NASCAR implemented a playoff format for the final 10 races (2004-2019), Johnson is not locked into playoff contention entering the final race of the regular season. The only driver to have made the playoffs in every year of its existence, he enters the 26th race of the year 18th in the point standings, 18 points below the cut line.
PERFORMANCE AT INDIANAPOLIS: In the 17 starts for the No. 48 driver at the Brickyard, he has racked up some impressive stats. In addition to his four victories, Johnson has one runner-up result, six top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He has led 302 laps and has an average finish of 15.41 at the iconic 2.5-mile facility.
MODERN CROWN JEWELS: The Brickyard 400 is considered one of NASCAR’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 to have accomplished the feat.
SEPTEMBER SUCCESS: The seven-time Cup Series champion 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.
Q&A WITH JJ: Johnson will visit the Team Chevy stage in the infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 9:25 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session with fans.
UNLUCKY AT DARLINGTON: Johnson had a fast No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 last weekend at Darlington Raceway. He qualified sixth and earned some valuable stage points by finishing Stages 1 and 2 in second and seventh, respectively. During the final stage on Lap 275, the driver was involved in a multiple-car incident, which caused significant damage to the Ally Throwback Chevrolet. The team repaired the car and Johnson was able to get back out on the track. Through a cycle of green-flag pit stops, he was scored the leader from Laps 324-327 and then lost a lap to the leaders once he returned to the track following a trip to pit road. The team ended up 16th at the checkered flag. Johnson’s average running position was 7.23 for the event – much better than the end result showed.
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 26 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
11th 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
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 Indianapolis 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 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course to round out the month of September.
BOWMAN AT THE BRICKYARD: Bowman has three previous starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 machine qualified 15th last season at the track and finished 33rd after the team suffered right-side damage from an incident on Lap 65. The Tucson, Arizona, native has two starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the historic track, where he finished inside the top 17 in both events.
25 RACES IN: There are 11 races to go in the 2019 season and the No. 88 driver has had a record year thus far. In 2018, Bowman had three top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He completed 97.3 percent of the total laps and led 71 markers. In the last 25 races in 2019, Bowman has one win (Chicagoland Speedway), four top-five finishes and seven top-10s. Since Daytona this season, the 26-year-old driver has led 182 laps and completed 98.1 percent of the total laps run. In 2018, the driver or the No. 88 machine’s average start was 13.1 and his average finish was 17.0. Since the start of the 2019 season, Bowman’s average start is 13.5 and his average finish is 13.9.
LOOKING AHEAD TO PLAYOFFS: This weekend’s event in Indianapolis marks the final race of the regular season in the NASCAR Cup Series. Of the 10 tracks that make up the playoffs, Bowman has a runner-up finish at three (Dover International Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway) this season. Last year, Bowman finished the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course event in the fourth position after starting third. The final race of the first round of the playoffs will be held at the Charlotte “roval” later this month.
IVES IN INDY: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots four times at Indianapolis with three different drivers. The Bark River, Michigan, native earned his best finish of 13th with Jeff Gordon back in 2016 at the 2.5-mile oval. Ives has two starts in the Xfinity Series at the Brickyard, which includes one top-15 finish after Chase Elliott finished 12th in 2014 after starting fifth. As a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006-12, Ives was a part of four wins at the track.
MEET BOWMAN: On Saturday, Sept. 7, Bowman will visit the Team Chevy display in the infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 10:15 a.m. local time. The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Camaro ZL1 will answer fan questions and sign autographs.
BOWMAN’S RUN AT DARLINGTON: Bowman qualified 16th for the 367-lap event at Darlington Raceway last Sunday evening. After a lengthy rain delay, the field finally took the green flag around 10 p.m. local time. Bowman fought tight conditions through the majority of Stage 1 making two pit stops for trackbar and wedge adjustments. During the second stage, the 26-year-old driver reported that his Axalta Throwback Chevy was lacking rotation and front turn. The team found itself inside the top 10 for the majority of the final 167 laps but were forced to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop on Lap 349 after making contact with the outside wall and cutting a right-rear tire. The No. 88 team finished the event in the 18th position.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT INDY: At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports owns a variety of NASCAR Cup Series records in the Brickyard 400. The organization’s 10 wins are the most by five, its 26 top-five finishes are the most by four, its 40 top-10s are the most by six and its 1,025 laps led are the most by 328. Hendrick Motorsports owns five Brickyard 400 poles, which is tied for the most all-time with Joe Gibbs Racing.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AT THE BRICKYARD: Hendrick Motorsports has never gone more than three races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway without a trip to Victory Lane. That streak began with the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, which was won by Jeff Gordon, the youngest driver ever to win at Indy. The organization has won three of the last seven races at the Speedway, Indiana, track, and those victories have come via three different drivers, which is tied for the most at the venue. A Hendrick Motorsports driver has led laps in four of the last eight Brickyard 400s.
DOUBLE-DIGIT WINS: Indianapolis is one of 13 tracks where Hendrick Motorsports has claimed 10 or more wins. That list is led by the organization’s 24 wins at Martinsville Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has the best win percentage at Indianapolis (minimum 10 races), winning 10 of the 25 Cup Series events there – 40 percent of the races run. That’s the second-highest win percentage of all time by a team at a single track, behind only Petty Enterprises’ 50 percent at Maryville and South Boston.
PLAYOFF POSITIONING: Hendrick Motorsports currently has three drivers locked into the playoffs, which is tied for the second-most among all organizations. Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman clinched their way via wins, and William Byron secured his spot on points via his performance at Darlington last weekend. Jimmie Johnson has a chance to race his way in this weekend, as he is just 18 points below the cut line. Including this year, Hendrick Motorsports has sent at least three drivers to the playoffs in 12 seasons, the most all-time.
PILING UP POLE POSITIONS: After securing just two poles in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed eight poles this year with 11 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 977 laps up front with 11 races remaining.
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.
Chase Elliott on racing at Indianapolis:
“Our number one goal is to get better at Indy and run better more consistently. That’s the main goal. It’s such a special place that we want to run well. You want to run well everywhere you go, but especially at Indy.”
William Byron on racing at Indianapolis:
“I think this year’s package is going to do really well at Indy. It was good in the Xfinity Series when we ran there and we had good passing throughout the race. I think it will be a better race than Pocono was because of the short chute you have in between Turns 1 and 2 that give you the opportunity to really get a run on somebody. I think it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Depending on the weather and how hot it is, I think will play a role, too, on the outcome of Sunday’s race.”
Jimmie Johnson on one final race to make the playoffs:
“Our Ally team displayed a tremendous effort in Darlington. We have a great thing going right now on our team – everyone is pulling in the right direction. There is some pressure to go out and win this weekend, but that is what we do every weekend. We go to a track with the intention to contend for wins. If I look back over the first half of the season, I see a lot of races where we gave away a few points. It’s kind of unfair to put all the pressure on one race in Indy, but that is where we are right now. It’s a great track to win at. We know what we have to do this weekend.”
Alex Bowman on preparing for the playoffs:
“I think consistency is the key improvement we need. We go to a lot of places where we are really strong and there are a lot of good tracks for us in the playoffs, but at the same time, we are very hit-and-miss here lately. 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. I think a lot of it is building momentum these two weeks after the off weekend, which was a really good reset for us. At the same time, we are working super hard on our Vegas stuff, really focused on that and getting it going.”
Bowman on racing at Indianapolis:
“I’m excited to go to Indianapolis. We might actually get to practice this year, so that’d be nice. Every time I’ve been there, something has happened. So, I just want to have a good, solid race there. I feel like I still don’t have a good hang of that place and I’m still learning every time I go there.”