CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY (2.28-MILE ROVAL)
LOCATION: CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 29 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, SEPT. 29 (NBC/PRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
7th in standings
3 pole positions
9 top-five finishes
12 top-10 finishes
543 laps led
7 pole positions
42 top-five finishes
71 top-10 finishes
1,786 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
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 Friday, Sept. 27, at 3:30 p.m. local time in the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
WHITE FLAG ON ROUND OF 16: This weekend will set the field for the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Chase Elliott currently ranks seventh in the driver playoff rankings with a 37-point advantage over 13th place. This weekend, the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driver would clinch on points with 20 points and a win by a playoff driver outside the top 12. If Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman or Ryan Blaney win, he would clinch on points with 17 points. If Aric Almirola wins, he would clinch with 18 points. If William Byron wins, he would clinch with 19 points.
SPECIAL BRAVES KICKS: Elliott will have a special pair of Atlanta Braves shoes during the Charlotte road-course weekend to show his support for the baseball team as it heads into the Major League Baseball playoffs in October. The Braves currently lead the National League East by 7.5 games.
ROAD-COURSE WARRIOR: Elliott continues to prove his road-course prowess after collecting his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory at Watkins Glen International last season and then dominating the course this year to go back-to-back. The No. 9 driver remains the ninth-youngest first-time winner in the Cup Series (22 years, eight months and eight days) and the youngest road-course winner of all time. In 2018, he was one of only three drivers to finish inside the top 10 in all three road-course races (Sonoma Raceway, Watkins Glen International and the Charlotte “roval”). The Dawsonville, Georgia, native held the best average finish on road courses last season (3.67) and his 141 points collected on those tracks were 20 more than any other driver. He is also tied with teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most top-10 finishes in Stage 1 and Stage 2 on road courses since 2018 with eight.
ROAD-COURSE STATS: The No. 9 driver is set to make his 10th Cup Series start on a road course this weekend. In his previous nine starts on road courses, he has collected two wins (tied for the third-most wins by active drivers), three top-five finishes, five top-10s and a total of 144 laps led – 135 since the beginning of 2018 (the most of any driver). He has started inside the top five in each of the last six road course races, and his average starting position of 2.5 on road courses this season is the second-best of all drivers.
AT THE ‘ROVAL’ LAST YEAR: Last year at the “roval,” Elliott took the green flag from fourth. A late caution in the opening stage shuffled him back on the restart, but he managed to maintain a top-five position to finish Stage 1 in fifth. The No. 9 team pitted during the stage break, restarting Elliott 26th for Stage 2 after many competitors elected to stay out. The driver steadily gained positions throughout the second stage, advancing to sixth by the end of the segment. Similar to the first stage break, many competitors remained on the track and did not pit after the second stage while the No. 9 team elected to head to pit road. On fresh tires, Elliott quickly moved up to 13th. He raced inside the top 10 throughout multiple cautions in the final segment and ultimately took the checkered flag in sixth.
No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 21 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
12th in standings
4 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
10 top-10 finishes
187 laps led
4 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
14 top-10 finishes
248 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
0 laps led
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Sept. 27, at 2:30 p.m. local time in the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO: Heading into the first elimination race of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, driver William Byron has scored a seventh-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and a 24th-place result at Richmond Raceway in the first two races of the Round of 16. Despite an unfortunate finish at last weekend’s short-track race, Byron remains above the cut line, now in the 12th position, two points above Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman.
UNIFIRST RETURNS: This will be the second time in 2019 that Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have the UniFirst Corporation (NYSE: UNF) on board, featuring the company’s signature green and white colors. UniFirst will return one more time at Kansas Speedway in late October. In 2016, Unifirst and Hendrick Motorsports announced an eight-year partnership that runs through the 2023 NASCAR season. UniFirst is the official work-wear provider of Hendrick Motorsports, supplying work clothing and uniforms to the team and its sister company, Hendrick Automotive Group, which is the largest privately-held retail automotive organization in the United States.
‘ROVAL’ READY: Just like the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series field, Byron will be making his second start at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s “roval” this weekend. However, this year’s race will have a new reconfiguration with the backstretch chicane. Last year, the No. 24 driver had a solid, top-10 day at the 2.28-mile course, until a flat tire mired him deep in the field before a late-race incident ended his day early. Despite the results not reflecting the day he was having, the sophomore driver is still optimistic about this weekend. In two road-course races this season, Byron has the highest average starting position in the field (2.0) after starting on the front row at both Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International. Byron has shown strength on the road courses in 2019, including capturing his first Cup Series stage win at Sonoma.
TIED FOR SECOND: Byron is one of four Cup Series drivers who have finished second in a race in 2019 but have yet to capture the checkered flag. He is ranked third among the Cup field for most laps led (187) without a win.
HOME SWEET HOME: Cutting his teeth in the racing world in Charlotte, North Carolina, Byron is one of only a handful of drivers who was born and raised in the “Home of NASCAR.” After visiting U.S. Legend Cars International headquarters in Harrisburg, North Carolina, with his father in 2012, Byron found himself behind the wheel for the first time the following year competing in the Young Lion Division. Winning 33 of the 69 legend car events, in 2013 Byron went on to lock up the U.S. Legend Young Lions national championship and the Thursday Thunder Young Lion championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Progressing to the Legend Car Pro Division the next season, Byron also signed with JR Motorsports developmental program at the same time. From that point on, Byron hasn’t slowed down at all as he climbed the racing ranks before ultimately making it to the top level of NASCAR as a Cup Series rookie in 2018.
HOME TRACK FEEL: In addition to Charlotte Motor Speedway being the home track of Byron, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, a handful of members of the No. 24 team also claim it as their home track including engineer Matt Piercy, from Conover, North Carolina, and interior specialist Jacob Bowman, from Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. Two members of the No. 24 pit crew also call North Carolina home: jackman Eric Ludwig, from Burlington, and fueler Landon Walker, from North Wilkesboro.
CHECKING THE BOXES: This weekend’s race at the “roval” marks the final track of four where No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus has yet to claim a victory on the current NASCAR Cup Series schedule. While it is only the second race at the 2.28-mile track, Knaus came close to capturing the win in the inaugural event last season with Jimmie Johnson, but a next-to-last-corner move for the win by the No. 48 resulted in a spin, ultimately leaving the team with an eighth-place finish.
HERTZ ULTIMATE RIDE SWEEPSTAKES: In conjunction with Hendrick Motorsports, Hertz is introducing a new “pace car” to its fleet with a limited-edition custom 2020 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and 2020 Camaro SS. Available to be reserved beginning mid-October 2019, customers have the opportunity to rent the custom Camaros fashioned in the signature Hertz yellow and black color scheme with custom wheels, interior badging and full performance upgrades outfitted by Hendrick Motorsports. In conjunction with the program roll out, customers can celebrate the debut of the limited-edition Camaros by participating in The Hertz Ultimate Ride Sweepstakes – beginning Sept. 18, through Nov. 15, 2019 – for a chance to win a 2020 Hertz-Hendrick Motorsports Camaro SS. Five finalists will also win an exclusive driving experience in Charlotte. Click here for more information on the Hertz-Hendrick custom Camaro program.
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 44 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
18th in standings
1 pole position
3 top-five finishes
9 top-10 finishes
88 laps led
36 pole positions
227 top-five finishes
361 top-10 finishes
18,791 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
0 laps led
THE SPIN FOR THE WIN: Last year’s finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s “roval” was one for the highlight reels. Jimmie Johnson was challenging Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap of the race for the lead. He came off Turn 4 to make the pass but ended up tagging Truex and causing both cars to spin on the front stretch. The third-place car took the win and Johnson was eliminated from playoff contention despite an eighth-place finish.
ROAD COURSE STAGE POINTS: Since 2018, Johnson has eight top-10 stage finishes on road courses, which is second-most in the Cup Series during that span. Last year at the “roval” at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the No. 48 driver finished sixth then second in the first two stages before bringing it home eighth at the checkered flag.
HELMET SWAP STORIES: The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has been documenting his history in the sport via a video series titled “The Archives,” which lives on his social media feeds. This week’s release was a story about driver Tony Kanaan, and his helmet swap with “one of the funniest guys in Indy Car.” The videos can be viewed on Johnson’s Twitter feed.
PRETTY IN PINK: To commemorate October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Johnson will don pink Alpinestars driving gloves and an Ally Racing hat with pink accents. Last week the driver participated in the Paint the Wall Pink event at Charlotte Motor Speedway to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month and paint the track’s infield pit wall pink.
MILESTONES ON THE HORIZON: Johnson has the most wins of all active drivers, and his 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. The No. 48 driver is currently 10 wins behind former teammate Jeff Gordon, who has 93 victories and is third on the list.
FUELING FUTURES: In partnership with Ally’s Fueling Futures program, Johnson and other professionals from Hendrick Motorsports hosted approximately 60 students from Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Cabarrus County schools at the Hendrick Motorsports campus to discuss career “pit stops” to learn about engineering, marketing, automotive tech, computer science and personal finance. They explored both university and certificate degree career paths while touring team facilities and shops on campus and were exposed to the broad range of behind-the-scenes jobs essential to professional sports operations and related fields. Click here for more information.
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 26 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
13th in standings
0 pole positions
4 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
182 laps led
2 pole positions
7 top-five finishes
22 top-10 finishes
456 laps led
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
1 top-10 finish
0 laps led
Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Sept. 27, at 2:45 p.m. local time in the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
ON BOWMAN’S SIDE: Nationwide will adorn the hood of Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This weekend’s ride will feature a special scheme to promote retirement plans. Nationwide is helping Americans get ready for and enjoy retirement by asking people to share what their “real-tirement” goal looks like by using the hashtag #REALtirement on social media. Nationwide is sending the winner on a trip to Miami to meet Bowman and watch the season-finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
BOWMAN GOES LEFT AND RIGHT AT CLT: The driver of the No. 88 machine will make his second start at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval” this weekend. Last season, Bowman qualified third and crossed the line fourth after 109 laps during the event. The Tucson, Arizona, native has seven starts at the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval and has two top-10 finishes in his last two events at the track.
LOOKING AT POINTS: Following last weekend’s event at Richmond Raceway, where the No. 88 team finished 24th, Bowman now sits 13th in the playoff points grid just two points out of the top 12. The Round of 12 will be set following Sunday’s race at the Charlotte road course. In 2018, Bowman gained 71 points between the events at Richmond and the “roval,” sending him to the Round of 12, and this year the No. 88 team is hoping history will repeat itself.
ROAD-COURSE STATS: In his last five starts at road courses with Hendrick Motorsports, Bowman has scored stage points in six of the 10 total stages. The driver’s lowest finish in those last five road-course starts still has him in the top 15 with three 14th-place results.
IVES ON ROAD COURSES: Bark River, Michigan, native Greg Ives will make his second start at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course on top of the No. 88 pit box as crew chief this Sunday. He led Bowman and the No. 88 team to a fourth-place finish at the “roval” last season after qualifying third for the event. Ives has 11 starts as a crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series on road-course tracks with Hendrick Motorsports. In those 11 starts, he has one top-five finish and four top-10s.
IN-CAR CAMERA: This weekend, Bowman will carry the Nationwide foot camera in his Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. During Sunday’s race, fans will be able to see the footwork that goes into racing at a road course.
MEET BOWMAN: On Sunday, Sept. 29, the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide machine will be at the Team Chevy display at 11:30 a.m. local time at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Bowman will take fan questions and sign autographs while at the display.
HOMETOWN TRACK: Three members of the No. 88 team call Charlotte Motor Speedway their home track. Scott Denton, backup hauler driver for the No. 88 team, grew up in Belmont, North Carolina, and attended his first NASCAR race at the 1.5-mile track back in 1988. No. 88 team jackman Dustin Lineback grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, and went to East Carolina University from 2007 until 2011. While at ECU, Lineback played football for the Pirates while receiving his Bachelor of Science degree. Learn more about Lineback here. Underneath mechanic for the No. 88 team Cole Timm calls Charlotte his home track. Timm went to Lake Norman High School and attended his first race at the 1.5-mile venue in 2005 when he was six years old. The 20-year-old not only works on race cars, but also is a racer himself. He has run 21 races in the CARS Super Late Model Tour Series, capturing two wins, 12 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT CHARLOTTE’S ROAD COURSE: There has been just one race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, which made its debut last season. Hendrick Motorsports captured one top-five finish and three top-10s in the event. Those three top-10s tied with Stewart-Haas Racing for the most by any team in the race. The organization also had three drivers start in the top six at the “roval” in 2018.
A DATE TO REMEMBER: In the last four NASCAR Cup Series races run on Sept. 29, a Hendrick Motorsports driver found Victory Lane in three of them. Jeff Gordon won at North Wilkesboro in 1996 and Kansas in 2002, then Jimmie Johnson won at Dover in 2013.
ROAD-COURSE SUCCESS: Since the start of 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has won two of the five races on road courses, and won four of the 10 stages in those races. In that span, it has led 157 laps – the most of all teams – and swept the front row in the most recent road-course qualifying at Watkins Glen with Elliott in first and William Byron in second.
TEAL AND GOLD STEERING WHEEL: September is both Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers will be among the competitors participating in the Drive for Teal and Gold Steering Wheel campaign. The program supports the awareness and battle against both diseases. After the race, the steering wheels will be autographed and then auctioned off by the NASCAR Foundation to benefit the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation.
POSTSEASON POSITIONING: Hendrick Motorsports currently has three drivers competing in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, marking a series-best 12th season in which the organization has sent at least three to the playoffs. It is also the 14th consecutive year that Hendrick Motorsports has at least two drivers in the playoffs, which is also the most of all organizations. Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman are the first-, second- and fifth-youngest drivers competing in this season’s playoffs. Hendrick Motorsports owns 43 wins in the playoffs, which is an all-time record.
PLAYOFF DRIVERS: Byron became the ninth-different driver Hendrick Motorsports has taken to the playoffs, the most of all organizations in series history. He joins a list that includes Elliott, Bowman, Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin.
PILING UP POLE POSITIONS: After securing just two poles in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed eight poles this year with eight 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.
1,000 ON THE DOT: In 2019, Hendrick Motorsports has more than doubled its total of laps led from a season ago. Last year, the organization’s drivers tallied 497 laps led. Now, the 2019 total has been brought to 1,000 laps up-front with eight races remaining in the season.
ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 255 race victories, 223 pole positions, 1,064 top-five finishes and 1,826 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 68,700 laps since 1984.
Chase Elliott on the changes to the “roval” this year:
“With the course changing from last year, I think it’s going to make us all slow down a bit more just from how it looks to me. I think we will have to slow down heading into the new chicane and treat it like a corner. We are just gonna get there and give it a shot and try to be solid.”
William Byron on what he learned from from the “roval” last year:
“It was a really intense race. I think it will probably come down to a late-race restart. Last year’s race I think even had a fuel mileage aspect to it until the final few laps and everyone had really old tires and no grip whatsoever. You try to prepare for that any way you can, and you try to judge the grip level coming to those restarts late in the race. Otherwise, you have to do your best to stay out of trouble early, but also know you can overcome issues at a place like that.”
Byron on road-course races:
“Sonoma is probably the closest track that we race at to the ‘roval,’ just with the atmosphere plus it has really slow, tight corners. Turns 7 and 8 at Sonoma are similar to the ‘roval’ as well, but Watkins Glen has characteristics that we’ll see this weekend with the front chicane.”
Jimmie Johnson on what he learned at the “roval” last year:
“I learned to not wreck coming to the checkers (laughs) from last year. Seriously though, we had a good car in Sonoma and in Watkins Glen and great notes to lean on, so I am really looking forward to redeeming myself this race. We were so close last year, I believe we will be in the mix.”
No. 48 team crew chief Cliff Daniels on racing at the “roval” this weekend:
“There are good notes to pull from for this race. We definitely have a shot to go out and win this thing. We were one turn away from winning it last year. Even though there are changes in the rules package and the chicane on the course, it’s pretty incredible to watch Jimmie (Johnson) go out there and acclimate to any changes thrown his way. We have a great opportunity on the ‘roval,’ we just need to go out there and execute.”
Alex Bowman on racing at the “roval” this weekend:
“This is an interesting and busy week. The ‘roval’ is kind of awkward, but we finished decent there last year. We really need a good weekend on-track. We are so close to the Round of 12 cut-off line, so we definitely need to focus on getting as many points as we can this weekend. Last week didn’t go the way we needed it to, so we are definitely going back to the books and hoping to unload strong in Charlotte on Friday.”