MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY (0.526-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: RIDGEWAY, VIRGINIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 33 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, OCT. 27 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
6th in standings
4 pole positions
11 top-five finishes
15 top-10 finishes
601 laps led
8 pole positions
44 top-five finishes
74 top-10 finishes
1,844 laps led
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
4 top-10 finishes
192 laps led
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 10:45 a.m. local time in the media center at Martinsville Speedway.
WELCOME TO THE ROUND OF 8: In a double-overtime race at Kansas Speedway, Chase Elliott continued his top-10 streak at the 1.5-mile track when he crossed the finish line in second and raced his way into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 8. After starting the round with an early exit at Dover, the No. 9 team was able to rebound at both Talladega and Kansas. Elliott currently holds an active streak of two races in which he has led laps, tied with five other competitors for the second spot behind only teammate William Byron, who has led laps in four straight races.
MOUNTAIN DEW RETURNS: Last week, the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was showcased via Hendrick Motorsports social channels. The memorable green and black scheme will return this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The popular colors graced Elliott’s Chevrolet last season at Kansas Speedway in the fall when the No. 9 team ended its day with a win in the NASCAR playoffs Round of 12.
‘PAPERCLIP’ STATS: Elliott looks to continue his three-race top-10 streak at Martinsville Speedway as he makes his ninth NASCAR Cup Series start at the track this weekend. He has finished inside the top 10 in four of his last five visits to the track. During the most recent visit to Martinsville in March, he raced inside the top five for much of the 500-lap race and led a total of 49 laps en route to a second-place finish. During that visit, he earned the most points (51) of the drivers in the Round of 8 of the playoffs.
SHORT-TRACK STATS: This weekend, Elliott will make his 26th short-track start (Richmond, Bristol and Martinsville). In the Dawsonville, Georgia, native’s previous 25 short-track starts, he has collected seven top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and 425 laps led.
GUSTAFSON’S ‘PAPERCLIP’ STATS: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 30th race from atop the pit box at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. In his previous 29 starts at the track, Gustafson has two wins, 12 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s. Both wins at the 0.526-mile oval came with Jeff Gordon (2013 and 2015). The 2015 win clinched Gustafson and Gordon into Championship 4 for the season finale.
PIT CREW PROWESS: Among the teams competing in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, the No. 9 pit crew ranks second for the best average time for four-tire stops at 14.029 seconds through 32 races in 2019.
No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 21 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
10th in standings
5 pole positions
4 top-five finishes
12 top-10 finishes
225 laps led
5 pole positions
4 top-five finishes
16 top-10 finishes
286 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
0 laps led
SOPHOMORE SEASON SUCCESS: While William Byron’s first NASCAR Cup Series playoff run may have come to an end after last weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway, the sophomore driver has nothing to hang his head over with four races remaining in the 2019 season. Aside from advancing to the Round of 12 in his first Cup Series playoff appearance, Byron has won five pole awards in 2019, tied for the series lead, with two coming in the last eight races. In the last seven races, the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has finished in the top 10 four times, including two top-five finishes. All four of Byron’s career Cup Series top-five finishes have come in the last 15 races.
LEADING THE FIELD: The 21-year-old driver has led laps in six of the last seven races, including the last four consecutive events. That marks the longest active streak for consecutive races led (four) over six other Cup Series drivers, including Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who is tied for second with two consecutive races with laps led.
LIBERTY RETURNS: This weekend will mark the last race of the 2019 season that Liberty University will be on board Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. After returning as a primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in 2019 for 12 races, Liberty University announced last month that they have extended their partnership with Byron and Hendrick Motorsports for 12 races through the 2021 Cup Series season. 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.
MARTINSVILLE MINUTES: Since attending his first Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in 2006 as a fan, Byron has since moved through the NASCAR ranks and is now poised to make his sixth start at the “paperclip,” his fourth in the Cup Series. In those previous three Cup Series starts at the 0.526-mile track, Byron has a best starting position of 11th, which came in last year’s fall race. However, luck hasn’t always been on the Charlotte, North Carolina, native’s side, with a best finish of 20th in the 2018 spring race. Byron has two other Martinsville starts, both coming in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2016, when he qualified seventh for both events and raced to a third-place finish in the spring and an eighth-place result in the fall.
KNAUS’ KNACK FOR MARTINSVILLE: Calling the shots on top of the pit box for the 39th time at Martinsville Speedway, No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus is ready to add another grandfather clock to his collection after this weekend’s race at the “paperclip.” Collecting nine wins already, the second-highest amount at one track in his career (11 wins at Dover), his most recent win at the Virginia short track came in the fall of 2016.
SEE THE 24 FOR $24: For this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway, Liberty University and the track teamed up to offer fans the opportunity to attend Sunday’s race for $24 to cheer on the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The ticket offer includes one ticket for the Cup Series race, a pre-race experience pass with access to a question-and-answer session with Byron Sunday morning as well as free parking. For more information or to purchase the Liberty University ticket offer, click here.
Q&A WITH BYRON: Fans will have the opportunity to join Byron for a question-and-answer session this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The session is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 27, at 11:45 a.m. ET on the front stretch of the track. For access, fans can either purchase a pre-race experience pass or receive one through the Liberty University ticket package for this weekend’s race.
KEEPING UP WITH KANSAS: Looking to advance on to the next round of the playoffs last weekend, Byron methodically worked his way through the field at Kansas Speedway from the 25th starting position and found himself within the top 10 halfway through Stage 1. While pit strategy played a factor in track position, Byron raced his way into the top five and maintained that position for the remainder of the race. With two green-white-checkered flag attempts to end the race in overtime, Byron ultimately crossed the finish line with his fourth top-five finish in 2019 and a Cup Series track-best finish of fifth. Unfortunately, his strong run at Kansas Speedway wasn’t quite enough to help him advance on to the Round of 8.
WELCOME BACK HERTZ: On Wednesday, it was announced that Hertz has extended its partnership with Byron and the No. 24 team through 2021. In conjunction with the announcement, Byron helped Hertz unveil his new 2020 paint scheme that he will debut next month at ISM Raceway. The paint scheme reflects the inverse of the custom Hertz-Hendrick Motorsports Camaros that are being release to rental markets in the coming months. After the announcement, media members were then given the opportunity to ride shotgun with Byron in the Camaro ZL1 or to get behind the wheel themselves and put down their best lap time in the Camaro SS. For a closer look at the 2020 paint scheme, click here.
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 – 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
17th in standings
1 pole position
3 top-five finishes
12 top-10 finishes
91 laps led
36 pole positions
227 top-five finishes
364 top-10 finishes
18,794 laps led
3 pole positions
19 top-five finishes
24 top-10 finishes
2,862 laps led
KANSAS REWIND: Jimmie Johnson clicked off another top-10 finish last weekend at Kansas Speedway. The No. 48 team started 12th and finished Stage 1 in 15th before Johnson hit the wall during Stage 2, causing the team to lose a lap due to an unscheduled pit stop. No. 48 team crew chief Cliff Daniels utilized a wave around to get back on the lead lap, and with fewer than 10 laps remaining in the race, Johnson had advanced to third. On two overtime restarts, he was shuffled to 10th place before the checkered flag waved.
COUNTING CLOCKS: Johnson has seen plenty of success over the course of his 35 starts at Martinsville Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has nine wins to his name, which is tied for the third-most all-time at the track. He has an average finish of 8.5, which leads all active drivers, and the series-best driver rating at the paperclip-shaped oval. Johnson’s 2,862 laps led since his Martinsville Cup Series debut in 2002 are the most among active drivers and the fifth-most all-time at the track.
LAST WIN: Johnson’s last win at Martinsville was Oct. 30, 2016. It was the win he needed to lock him into the Championship 4 round in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Johnson led 92 laps that day, which gave him his ninth grandfather clock trophy on the way to his record-tying seventh Cup championship title at the end of the season. The victory at the “paperclip” tied him with former teammate Jeff Gordon for the third-most wins at the track.
LAST FIVE: Johnson has scored four top-10 finishes in the last five races. The last time Johnson had a streak of this kind was the fall of 2017. His last five finishes include 10th at Richmond, ninth at the Charlotte road course, eighth at Dover, 38th at Talladega and 10th at Kansas.
BID NOW: A number of Johnson’s teammates and competitors wore a specially designed Jimmie Johnson Foundation visor strip on their respective helmets for the event last weekend at Kansas Speedway. The visors are now available for fans to bid on through Oct. 25 at noon ET to raise funds for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation programs that support K-12 public education. To bid, click here.
PINK ACCENTS: This will be the final weekend that Johnson will wear pink Alpinestars driving gloves and an Ally Racing hat with pink accents to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
HOME STATE: Daniels will return to his home state of Virginia this weekend as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief. Daniels, 33, hails from Smithfield, Virginia, which is approximately 215 miles east of Martinsville. Daniels has been an integral part of Hendrick Motorsports since 2015 and was named crew chief for Johnson and the No. 48 team on July 29.
No. 88 Llumar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 26 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
12th in standings
0 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
10 top-10 finishes
189 laps led
2 pole positions
10 top-five finishes
24 top-10 finishes
463 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
0 laps led
WELCOME BACK, LLUMAR: Eastman Performance Films, LLC joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2018 as a primary sponsor of Alex Bowman and the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 through 2020. The sponsorship features the LLumar brand of window film and paint protection film on board Alex Bowman’s Chevy. The brand will be featured on Bowman’s ride this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. In October 2018, LLumar unveiled the new paint scheme for this season at SEMA in Las Vegas and it can be seen here.
BOWMAN AT MARTINSVILLE: The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet will make his eighth start in the Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. Bowman has one top-10 finish at the Virginia short track, which came back in the spring of 2018 when the team finished seventh. Earlier this year, the 26-year-old driver finished 14th after the team battled a loose handling vehicle during the event.
150 STARTS: Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway marks Bowman’s 150th NASCAR Cup Series start. In the last 149 starts, Bowman has one win (Chicago, 2019), 10 top-five results and 24 top-10s. The 26-year-old has two pole wins, which include leading the field to green in the 2018 Daytona 500. Since piloting the No. 88 machine for Hendrick Motorsports, the driver has led 460 laps. In the last two seasons, Bowman has qualified for the Cup Series playoffs and has advanced to the Round of 12 both years. There have been nine drivers to capture a victory in their 150th start, and Bowman looks to move that number to 10 this weekend. To commemorate Bowman’s milestone start, the team will carry a special decal honoring this accomplishment. Read more and check out the decal here.
IVES STATS: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 10th time for the No. 88 team at Martinsville this weekend. The Michigan native has one top-five finish and three top-10s at the track, with a best finish of fourth coming in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of six wins, three pole awards and 12 top-10 finishes at Martinsville.
KANSAS RECAP: Bowman and the No. 88 team qualified 16th for the event at Kansas Speedway last weekend. On Lap 9 of the 277-lap event, Bowman’s machine made contact with a competitor, causing left rear damage to the No. 88 Chevrolet. The driver then began battling a loose handling car and at the conclusion of Stage 1, the team crossed the line 26th. Ives made big adjustments throughout the next stage and Bowman was able to advance 11 positions to finish Stage 2 in 15th. The No. 88 team continued to make adjustments and tighten up the handling. At the end of the event, Bowman crossed the line 11th. Unfortunately, it was not enough for the Tucson, Arizona, native to advance to the Round of 8.
WIN COMING?: Back in 2014, Earnhardt was driving the No. 88 at Martinsville and captured the victory after being eliminated from the playoffs the week prior. The win was also his first at the 0.526-mile track. Could Bowman follow suit and capture the win this weekend? The current driver of the No. 88 Chevy was eliminated from the playoffs last week and a trip to Victory Lane this weekend would be his first at Martinsville.
CLOSE TO HOME: Two members of the No. 88 team call Martinsville Speedway their home track. Engine tuner Stephen Raynor and front-end mechanic Cale Johnson grew up not far from the Virginia venue. Raynor was raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which is approximately 50 miles away from Martinsville, and Johnson grew up in Belews Creek, North Carolina, about 35 miles away from the track.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MARTINSVILLE: At Martinsville Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports owns 24 wins, the most all-time by any team on a single track. The organization has also earned its most top-five finishes (79) and laps led (9,290) at Martinsville, and its 126 top-10s there are tied for its most at a single track. It is one of 15 venues where Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams in NASCAR Cup Series wins.
DOMINANCE ON DISPLAY: Starting with its first win at the track in April 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has won 34 percent of the races at Martinsville (24 of 71). It has won at least one race at Martinsville Speedway in 19 of the 36 seasons since and gone on a three-race win streak at the track on four different occasions. The organization has swept the top two finishing positions five times and had at least one car finish in the top 10 in 64 of 71 races since April 1984.
FIVE MAKE 24: The organization’s 24 wins at Martinsville have come courtesy of five different drivers: Jimmie Johnson (nine), Jeff Gordon (nine), Darrell Waltrip (four), Geoff Bodine and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The five different winners are tied with Junior Johnson and Associates for the most at Martinsville. This weekend, it could become the 10th different track where Hendrick Motorsports has won with at least six different drivers.
FIRSTS AT MARTINSVILLE: The “paperclip” has been the site of many first-time achievements for Hendrick Motorsports, including the organization’s first NASCAR Cup Series win in 1984 with Bodine. That race also marked the first laps led by the then-one-car team. Waltrip earned his first of nine wins for Hendrick Motorsports at the Virginia track in the September 1989 race and Chase Elliott made his first career Cup Series start for the organization on March 29, 2015, at the venue. It is also the track where William Byron attended his first Cup Series race as a fan in 2006.
SHORT-TRACK PROWESS: Hendrick Motorsports leads all active teams in short-track wins all-time with 50, 11 more than the next closest team, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ten different Hendrick Motorsports drivers have contributed to those 50 short-track wins, one shy of the record for most different winners on a short track held by Junior Johnson and Associates.
SPECIAL DATE: Hendrick Motorsports won both of the last two Cup Series races held on Oct. 27, the date of this weekend’s Martinsville race. Gordon won at Martinsville on Oct. 27, 2013, and at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Oct. 27, 2003.
PILING UP POLE POSITIONS: After securing just two poles in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed 10 pole positions this year, the most of all teams in 2019 with four races remaining in the season. It’s the fourth-highest total the organization has earned in a single season, tied with the 1995 campaign. Hendrick Motorsports’ record for poles came in 1986 with 16, followed by 12 in 2007 and 2009, and 11 in 2008 and 2012.
SWEEPING UP: This year, Hendrick Motorsports has tied its most-ever front-row sweeps in a single season with seven. In fact, the seven front-row sweeps are tied for the most in a single season in the modern era with the organization’s seven in 1986.
SUCCESS IN THE LAST SEVEN: Over the last seven races this season, Hendrick Motorsports’ 16 top-10 finishes are the most of all teams, and its two poles and two runner-up results are tied for the most. At least one of the organization’s drivers has finished in the top 10 in each of the last seven races, with two drivers finishing inside the top 10 in five of seven. The organization has also led laps in eight of the last nine races.
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.
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. After last weekend’s race at Kansas, the 2019 total has been brought to 1,106 laps up front with four races remaining in the season.
ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 256 race victories, 225 pole positions, 1,069 top-five finishes and 1,836 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 68,800 laps since 1984.
Chase Elliott on racing at Martinsville:
“Martinsville has been hit-or-miss for us. We ran good there in the spring, ran bad there last fall. I feel like we have had really good runs there and bad runs there. I haven’t really done anything different; we just need to really do our homework this week and just really focus on it.”
Elliott on advancing to the Championship 4:
“I think our best shot at the next round is to win. I don’t know how many points those guys have but between, they have to have a bunch of points, right? A win would be the greatest way to move on and assure you a spot a Homestead.”
William Byron on racing at Martinsville:
“I was watching the fall Martinsville race back from 2017 and 2018. Last year’s race was relatively calm but the year before, that race was absolutely crazy. There was a lot of action, and as a fan it was fun to watch. I think it will be more like that this year with very close racing and tempers on edge. There’s really only one way to get around that place and that’s right on the curb. You just try to keep it stuck to the curb all day and hopefully that pays off.”
Jimmie Johnson on a top-10 finish at Kansas:
“We battled all day and it paid off. From a lap down with damage to being in the mix for a top-five on those crazy restarts at the end. Our team recovered nicely and now we are focused on improving on that this weekend at one of my favorite tracks, Martinsville.”
Alex Bowman on short tracks:
“I feel like we still have some work to do on our short-track program. We went to Richmond earlier this year trying to get a car that turned better in the center and it did. The car lacked forward drive, which made it to where it didn’t have a good balance. I think we know what we need to change going into this weekend’s race in Martinsville. Having the best compromise between turn and drive at a place like Martinsville is going to be key.”
Bowman on not advancing to the Round of 8:
“Not advancing in the playoffs last weekend was definitely disappointing. We have four more chances to get a win this season and we are not stopping now. We are going back to the books and plan to capitalize during these next few weeks.”
Bowman on his 150th NASCAR Cup Series start:
“Making my 150th Cup Series start this weekend is pretty special. I have had a lot of ups and downs in my career, but so thankful that it led me to Hendrick Motorsports. Working alongside my 88 team and all of the amazing people back on the Hendrick Motorsports campus is an honor. I am very happy to be making this milestone start with (Hendrick Motorsports owner) Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and his organization.”