TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY (2.66-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: TALLADEGA, ALABAMA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 31 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, Oct. 13 (NBC/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 NAPA NightVision Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
11th in standings
3 pole positions
10 top-five finishes
13 top-10 finishes
578 laps led
7 pole positions
43 top-five finishes
72 top-10 finishes
1,821 laps led
1 pole position
3 top-five finishes
3 top-10 finishes
107 laps led
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA NightVision Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Oct. 11, at 11:45 a.m. local time in the media center at Talladega Superspeedway.
NAPA NIGHTVISION: On Monday, NAPA AUTO PARTS revealed the No. 9 NAPA NightVision Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that Chase Elliott will pilot this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. For more images and to see Elliott’s firesuit, click here. The paint scheme features NAPA’s October promotion, which allows customers to save up to $30 when they purchase both NAPA NightVision Premium Headlamps and a pair of Trico Titan Wipers.
ROUND OF 12: This weekend marks race two of three in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 12. Last weekend at Dover International Speedway, Elliott and the No. 9 team’s day ended early in Stage 1 after a mechanical issue proved to be terminal. The driver of the No. 9 currently sits 11th in the playoff standings, seven points below the cut line. Elliott has won at both of the remaining Round of 12 tracks in the last year (Talladega – April 2019; Kansas – October 2018). Both Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway are two tracks where Elliott has collected three top-five finishes in his career, behind only Dover, where he has six top-five finishes.
LAST TIME AT ‘DEGA: In the spring at Talladega Superspeedway, Elliott brought home his first win in 2019 and fourth career Cup Series victory. En route to the Talladega victory, the 23-year-old driver collected his first stage win of the season and led a total of 45 laps in the 188-lap event. In total, Elliott garnered 57 points during the May event, the most of any driver.
LOOKING TO REBOUND: After finishing 38th at Dover last weekend, Elliott and the No. 9 team are looking to rebound and re-enter the top eight in the playoff standings to advance to next round. The last time the driver of the No. 9 Chevy finished 38th was at Pocono in July. The next week, he took home the checkered flag at Watkins Glen. Each of Elliott’s last four wins came after he finished outside the top 10 in the previous race.
PIT CREW PROWESS: Among the teams competing in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, the No. 9 pit crew leads the field. Through 30 races in 2019, the team owns the best average time for four-tire stops at 14.128 seconds.
MAKING STRIDES AGAINST BREAST CANCER: On Saturday, Oct. 12, at 7:30 a.m. local time, Elliott will participate in Chevrolet’s American Cancer Society Event at Talladega Superspeedway. To support the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program, Elliott and fellow Team Chevy driver Ty Dillon will drive breast cancer survivors around the 2.66-mile speedway in pink Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 pace cars.
ELLIOTT AT ‘DEGA: On Sunday, Oct. 13, Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage at 10:05 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.
No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 21 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
8th in standings
5 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
11 top-10 finishes
211 laps led
5 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
15 top-10 finishes
272 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
19 laps led
ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO: The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 12 kicked off last weekend at Dover International Speedway, and William Byron and the No. 24 team left the track with a 13th-place finish. The 21-year-old driver currently finds himself eighth in the driver point standings, sitting on the playoff cut line tied with ninth place in his first playoff appearance. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native will have two more chances to lock himself into the Round of 8, starting with Talladega Superspeedway this weekend and Kansas Speedway the following weekend. While a win would allow him to automatically advance, he has the opportunity to grab a spot based on points depending on how the next two races play out.
AT IT AGAIN WITH AXALTA: For the second consecutive weekend, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the final superspeedway race of the season at Talladega. In three superspeedway races so far in 2019, Byron has had Axalta on board twice. The first time was the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, where he became the second-youngest pole winner for the Daytona 500 and led 44 laps with an opportunity for a possible win before a late-race incident. He also ran a special patriotic version of the iconic Axalta flames at Daytona in July, where once again Byron was positioned for a possible race win, but weather shortened the race, leaving Byron in the runner-up position. After this weekend, Axalta Coating Systems will have two more races on the No. 24 car in 2019, both coming in November at Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
‘DEGA DETAILS: Making his fourth NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, Byron is looking to change his luck at the 2.66-mile track. In his previous three Cup races, Byron has had solid runs, including leading a total of 19 laps, but has a track-best finish of 20th due to the unpredictability of superspeedway racing. Aside from those three Cup races, Byron has one NASCAR Xfinity Series start as well one NASCAR Truck Series start at Talladega.
KNAUS’ KNACK: With a skill for superspeedway racing, crew chief Chad Knaus is set to call his 38th NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega when the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 hits the track this weekend. While Byron and Knaus’ first showing together at Talladega didn’t yield the results they would have liked, Knaus has had previous success at the Alabama track. Racking up six pole awards at superspeedway including a streak of four in a row in his first four races as a Cup crew chief, Knaus also has two wins at the venue.
CLOSE TO HOME: Hailing from Pensacola, Florida, No. 24 team spotter Tab Boyd claims Talladega as his home track. Growing up a few hours away from the superspeedway, Boyd has more than 20 years of experience in NASCAR, holding various roles including an Xfinity Series tire changer and mechanical and fabrication positions before ultimately ending up in the spotter’s stand. When Boyd has time outside of the NASCAR schedule, he is usually still at the racetrack behind the steering wheel of his Street Stock in the Street Stock Mid-Atlantic Series.
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 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 HMS. In conjunction with the program rollout, customers can celebrate the debut of the limited-edition Camaros by participating in The Hertz Ultimate Ride Sweepstakes – which runs 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
17th in standings
1 pole position
3 top-five finishes
11 top-10 finishes
89 laps led
36 pole positions
227 top-five finishes
363 top-10 finishes
18,792 laps led
1 pole position
7 top-five finishes
13 top-10 finishes
470 laps led
ANOTHER TOP-10: Jimmie Johnson notched his third consecutive top-10 finish last weekend at Dover International Speedway. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion qualified 11th and remained in the top 10 the majority of the race en route to an eighth-place result. The three-race top-10 streak is his longest since he had a four-race top-10 streak in the fall of 2016.
LAST FOUR: Johnson and crew chief Cliff Daniels gained some momentum throughout the month of September and into October. The No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team has improved its finishing position each week. The last four race finishes include 11th at Las Vegas, 10th at Richmond, ninth at the Charlotte road course and eighth at Dover. The driver has an average finish of 9.5 in the first round of the playoffs, which is the sixth-best in the series, though he is not eligible for a NASCAR championship this season.
CHEVY STAGE: Johnson will appear for a question-and-answer session at the Team Chevy display in the midway at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday at 9:45 a.m. local time.
‘DEGA WINS: Hendrick Motorsports has 13 wins at the storied 2.66-mile superspeedway in Talladega. Of those 13, Johnson is the proud owner of two first-place trophies. His last win at Talladega was in 2011. Last year in this race, Johnson earned a seventh-place finish. Over his 35 starts, he has led 470 laps at the Alabama racetrack.
SUPER ‘SPEED’ WAYS: The No. 48 superspeedway program has been stout from a performance standpoint in 2019, as Johnson recorded a win in the season-opening “Clash” event at Daytona. He secured a ninth-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a third-place finish at Daytona in July. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy was involved in an on-track incident where the car suffered damage early on during the spring event at Talladega and he finished 33rd.
PINK ACCENTS: To promote awareness for October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Johnson will don pink Alpinestars driving gloves and an Ally Racing hat with pink accents.
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 the driver with 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.
No. 88 Nationwide Amazon Echo Auto Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 26 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
7th in standings
0 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
10 top-10 finishes
182 laps led
2 pole positions
9 top-five finishes
24 top-10 finishes
456 laps led
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
2 top-10 finishes
33 laps led
Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Amazon Echo Auto Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Oct. 11, at 2:30 p.m. local time in the media center at Talladega Superspeedway.
ON BOWMAN’S SIDE: Nationwide will adorn the hood of Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. This weekend’s ride will feature a special scheme to promote the newly released Amazon Echo Auto device. Nationwide is introducing three new features to its skills for Alexa, including a new driver checklist, Nationwide roadside assistance and information regarding road conditions. The Columbus, Ohio-based insurance and financial services company is giving away one million Echo Auto devices to qualifying new and existing Nationwide auto insurance policyholders in select states. Those qualified customers can visit nationwide.com/echoauto to claim their free device. Check out how easy it is for Bowman to listen to his Talladega playlist using the Echo Auto here.
DOVER RECAP: Last weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series raced at the Dover International Speedway for the first race in the Round of 12 of the playoffs. Bowman qualified 12th for the event behind teammate Jimmie Johnson in 11th. Shortly after taking the green flag, the 26-year-old driver entered the top 10, where he remained for the majority of the 400-mile race. Finishing sixth in both Stages 1 and 2, Bowman earned valuable stage points that will come in handy next week in the Round of 12 finale event an Kansas Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 machine had his sights set up front and took over third place on Lap 351. He maintained that position through the remainder of the event to come home third. His two consecutive top-five finishes are tied for the longest active streak.
PLAYOFF STANDINGS: Following his third-place finish at Dover on Sunday, Bowman now sits seventh in the playoff standings. The No. 88 team is currently 17 points above the cut line going into the second race in the Round of 12 this weekend in Talladega Superspeedway. Earlier this year the Tucson, Arizona, native earned 53 points at the 2.66-mile superspeedway after finishing second to teammate Chase Elliott. It marked the second-most points scored by any driver in the event. In the spring, only four of the 12 playoff drivers finished inside the top 10. So far in the 2019 playoffs, Bowman has an average finish of 8.5, which ranks fifth-best. Only two drivers have finished inside the top five at both the Charlotte road course and Dover, and Bowman is one of them.
BOWMAN STATS AT ‘DEGA: The driver of the No. 88 machine will make his ninth career Cup Series start at Talladega on Sunday. Bowman’s best finish of second at the track came earlier this year after the team qualified ninth and led seven laps. In the fall of 2018, Bowman started the event in the seventh position and finished 33rd after a late-race incident. He has led 33 laps at the superspeedway and owns two top-10 finishes. Back in 2013, Bowman made one start at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and finished 13th after rolling off 14th. He made one start in the ARCA Series at the track in 2012 and finished 32nd.
IVES IN ALABAMA: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 10th time for the No. 88 team at Talladega this weekend. The Bark River, Michigan, native has one win at the track with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015 after leading 67 laps in addition to two top-five finishes and four top-10 results. Ives’ drivers have qualified well at the venue with an average starting position of 6.8. In 2017, the crew chief’s team started on the pole and led seven laps en route to a seventh-place finish. In total, Ives’ drivers have led 168 laps and have completed 92.5 percent of the total laps run in nine events. The crew chief’s resume also includes a win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the superspeedway with Regan Smith in 2013. Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006 until 2012. During that time, he was a part of two wins, two pole awards and seven top-10 finishes at Talladega.
HOME-TRACK FEELS: No. 88 team tire carrier Rowdy Harrell returns to his home state of Alabama this weekend when the NASCAR Cup Series visits Talladega Superspeedway. Harrell grew up in the small town of Moundville, Alabama, which is near Tuscaloosa. He played middle linebacker for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide under coach Nick Saban and was part of three NCAA national championship wins with the team in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT TALLADEGA: Hendrick Motorsports has a history of record-breaking performances at Talladega Superspeedway. The organization owns the all-time record at the track in each of the following categories: wins (13), poles (12), runner-up results (14), top-five finishes (58), top-10s (87) and laps led (2,809).
SEVEN MAKE 13: Hendrick Motorsports’ 13 Talladega wins are accounted for by seven different drivers, which tie for the organization’s most at a single track. Jeff Gordon owns the most wins with six, Jimmie Johnson captured two, and Brian Vickers, Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ken Schrader and Terry Labonte won one apiece.
THE LAST FIVE: All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers have earned three top-10 finishes in the past five races. During that span, the organization has amassed one win, one pole, one runner-up result, five top-five finishes, 12 top-10s, 83 laps led and an average finish of 12.35. The 12 top-10s are the most of all multi-car teams in the last five races.
SUPERSPEEDWAY SUCCESS: Hendrick Motorsports holds the record for the most superspeedway wins all-time with 27 and also holds the record for the most pole positions at superspeedways with 32. In each of the last two superspeedway races, the organization has held two of the top-three finishing positions. That includes Elliott and Alex Bowman finishing one-two at Talladega and William Byron and Johnson finishing two-three at Daytona.
PLAYOFF WINNERS: Hendrick Motorsports has won at least once in 15 of the 16 seasons of the playoffs, with the 2017 campaign as the only outlier.
POSTSEASON POSITIONING: The 2019 season marks a series-best 12th in which Hendrick Motorsports has sent at least three drivers to the playoffs. It is also the 14th consecutive year that the organization has at least two drivers in the playoffs, which is the most of all teams. Its three drivers still in the playoffs in the Round of 12 are tied for the most from a single team.
PILING UP POLE POSITIONS: After securing just two poles in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed nine poles this year with six races remaining in the season. It’s the fifth-highest total the organization has earned in a single season, tied with the 1996 and 2004 campaigns. Hendrick Motorsports’ record for poles came in 1986 with 16, followed by 12 in 2007 and 2009, 11 in 2008 and 2012 and 10 in 1995. Looking ahead to this weekend, 11 of the last 17 superspeedway poles (Daytona and Talladega) were won by Hendrick Motorsports drivers. The organization has swept the front row in eight of the last 17 superspeedway races with qualifying, including qualifying one-two-three-four for the 2019 Daytona 500.
LEADING LAPS: 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, after last weekend’s race at Dover, the 2019 total has been brought to 1,060 laps up front with six races remaining in the season.
ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 256 race victories, 224 pole positions, 1,067 top-five finishes and 1,832 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 68,700 laps since 1984.
Chase Elliott on Talladega strategy:
“We’ve talked about it some. It’s going to look real similar to what it did at Talladega in the spring and Daytona in the summer. We made a pretty conscious effort with our manufacturer of Chevrolet to try and do a better job of working together. It worked at Talladega. A lot of us crashed, but at least a Chevrolet still won the summer race at Daytona. Hopefully it works out. That’s the thing, we can put as much effort as we want or as little effort as we want, but it’s never going to guarantee that you aren’t going to crash or have a bad day there. I expect we’ll do our part on our end to try and make as good of a day as we can out of it, but no guarantees.”
Elliott on Talladega’s 50th anniversary:
“Obviously I haven’t been around for very many of the 50, but the racetrack has always kind of felt like a home race to me. It’s really as close as anywhere, it’s almost as close to going to Atlanta distance-wise. Any time you race close to home, it’s nice because you don’t have to go very far to go over there to the track, which is why I like it. Definitely the crowd makes you feel at home, too. They certainly made me feel like that in the spring. I look forward to getting back over there. If it goes good, it goes good. If it doesn’t, we’ll figure it out after that.”
William Byron on superspeedway racing:
“I’m not a huge fan of plate racing, but it is fun to show up at those tracks knowing you’re going to have an extremely fast car. This year especially, Hendrick Motorsports has had some of the best cars at superspeedway races, and we’ve shown that with good qualifying and good results especially at Daytona for the No. 24 team. We can lean on that once again this time. I just need to try stay disciplined with my teammates so we can stay at the front of the field and keep momentum going. It seems like lately you really have to work with your teammates to make up any ground through the field. As long as we can do that, and try our best to stay out of trouble, we should have a good chance at a good result.”
Jimmie Johnson on racing at Talladega:
“My take on Talladega is that you are at the mercy of everybody else’s luck 98 percent of the time. You just kind of put it in a different spot in your head and deal with it knowing you can’t control what might happen most of the time. It’s a great atmosphere for fans – a festival of sorts – but when it comes to racing, at the end of the day all you can do is hope you’re in that 2 percent of people that make it through the wrecks.”
Alex Bowman on approaching Talladega as a playoff driver:
“Honestly, it is probably just a little more stressful this go around. I feel like we’ve obviously done a good job as a company and Chevrolet to run well at these tracks. Our superspeedway cars are always really good, but we’re still at the mercy of everyone else. It is really just the unknown of what can happen on the track. We just have to be smart in a stressful environment. I think the easiest thing to do is stay out front all day. There isn’t really anywhere to hide, but you always have guys that try to run in the back and there is still a chance to get taken out anyway.”
Bowman on his new paint scheme:
“The paint scheme this weekend is pretty awesome. The Amazon Echo Auto device is such a cool product and it’s pretty cool that Nationwide is giving away one million of these devices to their policy holders. It was fun to shoot some of these videos with Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and Nationwide a few weeks ago. Definitely be on the lookout for more videos this week.”