PHOENIX RACEWAY (1-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: AVONDALE, ARIZONA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE FOUR OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, MARCH 8 (FOX/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 24 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
6th in standings
0 pole positions
1 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
93 laps led
8 pole positions
45 top-five finishes
75 top-10 finishes
1,937 laps led
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
4 top-10 finishes
156 laps led
UNIFIRST JOINS THE TEAM: This weekend, UniFirst Corporation (NYSE: UNF), a North American leader in providing customized work uniform programs, corporate attire and facility service products, will serve as the primary sponsor on the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. This will be the first of three races (Phoenix, All-Star Race, Las Vegas) that UniFirst will be the primary partner and have its updated green corporate logo adorning the No. 9 Chevrolet. In 2016, Unifirst and Hendrick Motorsports announced an eight-year partnership. UniFirst will continue to serve as the Official Workwear Provider of Hendrick Motorsports, supplying work clothing and uniforms to the team and sister company Hendrick Automotive Group, the largest privately held retail automotive organization in the United States.
THREE RACES IN: Three races are in the books for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. As the series heads to Phoenix, Chase Elliott already has started to record some impressive stats. He has led a total of 93 laps, the second most behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman (113). Elliott holds an 8.8 average running position from the first three events, the fifth highest, and he has collected 41 total stage points so far in 2020, the third most of any driver. Elliott also is tied with teammate Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Blaney for the most stage top-10s (six).
PHOENIX STATS: This Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, Elliott will make his ninth NASCAR Cup Series start at the 1-mile oval. In his previous eight starts, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has led a total of 156 laps. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has collected two top-five finishes, four top-10 finishes and won two stages at the Avondale, Arizona, track.
GUSTAFSON AT PHOENIX RACEWAY: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 31st Cup Series race at Phoenix from atop the pit box this weekend. In his previous 30 races calling the shots for five different drivers at the 1-mile oval, he’s collected three wins, nine top-five results – two of which were runner-up finishes – 19 top 10s and 587 laps led. Gustafson’s three wins were with three different drivers (Kyle Busch – 2005, Mark Martin – 2009, Jeff Gordon – 2011). As the crew chief, he worked with the oldest winner ever (Martin – 50 years, 3 months, 9 days) and the youngest winner ever (Busch – 20 years, 6 months, 11 days) at Phoenix Raceway.
COMING HOME: No. 9 team fueler John Gianninoto, who grew up in Tucson, Arizona, will compete in front of his hometown crowd at Phoenix Raceway. Gianninoto graduated with honors from Catalina Foothills High School and went on to sign as an offensive lineman for UNLV in 2006, earning his first letter in 2007 and becoming a team captain in 2010. Gianninoto participated in the Carolina Panthers’ 2012 training camp before signing with Hendrick Motorsports in September 2012. In 2018, he set a brand-new Guinness World Record with Sunoco for the most vehicles refueled by an individual in one hour (148).
VISIT TO THE CHEVY STAGE: On Sunday, March 8, Elliott will visit the Team Chevy stage at Phoenix Raceway at 9:45 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.
No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 22 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
20th in standings
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finish
1 lap led
5 pole positions
5 top-five finishes
17 top-10 finishes
295 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finishes
15 laps led
STACKING STAGE POINTS: While the results may not reflect the speed William Byron has shown in the first three races of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, another statistic does – stage points collected. Through the early part of the year, Byron has collected 22 stage points so far, ranking him eighth in comparison to the rest of the Cup Series field.
FIGHTING THROUGH FONTANA: Qualifying 21st for Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, Byron fought an extremely loose No. 24 Axalta Tribute Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE from the start. Trying to make gains during the entirety of the 200-lap event, Byron found himself inside the top 10 and working for a position inside the top five during Stage 2. However, the handling woes hindered Byron from maintaining the track position. The driver of the No. 24 continued to battle throughout the remainder of the race before coming home with a 15th-place finish at the two-mile oval.
HERTZ IS HERE: Making its return to the No. 24 in 2020, the Hertz Corporation, one of the world’s largest vehicle rental companies, will kick off its third Cup Series season with Byron this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. The eye-catching yellow Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will be unloaded for this Sunday’s race and will be back on three more tracks for in the NASCAR playoffs – Talladega Superspeedway, the Charlotte ROVAL and Kansas Speedway.
VENTURING TO THE VALLEY OF THE SUN: Heading to a track where he has found success in every level of national NASCAR competition, Byron will return to Phoenix Raceway for the fifth time in his Cup career. Across his four Cup Series starts at the 1-mile oval, Byron has a track-best finish of ninth (fall of 2018) with 15 laps led. The 22-year-old driver also has two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix on his resume, both coming in 2017, where he started on the front row and finished in the top four in both races, including a win that November. With that victory, Byron also became the youngest winner ever at Phoenix Raceway in the Xfinity Series at 19 years, 11 months and 13 days. In 2016, Byron was behind the wheel for the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Series race at the 1-mile oval, where he led for 112 laps and was in the hunt to make the final four of the playoffs before an engine failure ended his night early.
KNAUS’ PHOENIX PROWESS: For the 35th time as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief, Chad Knaus will sit atop the pit box at Phoenix Raceway. With four wins at the 1-mile oval, all coming with the Jimmie Johnson, Knaus ranks second among active Cup crew chiefs, just one behind the top spot. He also has three pole awards at Phoenix Raceway with the No. 48 team.
HOMETOWN HYPE: Coming up on the final stop of the West Coast swing, one member on the No. 24 Axalta team will be heading to familiar territory. Michael “Too Tall” Madill, the rear suspension mechanic for the No. 24 team, hails from Glendale, Arizona, approximately 30 minutes from Phoenix Raceway. At the age of 16, he made the move to North Carolina to begin his career in NASCAR. Now 31, Madill is embarking on his 12th season in the sport and his third with the No. 24 crew.
HERTZ ULTIMATE RIDE SWEEPSTAKES WINNER: After Hertz rolled out its Hertz-Hendrick Motorsports custom 2020 Camaros last year, fans were able to enter for a chance to win their own limited-edition Camaro SS. Last week, five finalists won an exclusive driving experience with Byron at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with one of the finalist leaving the event with a signature Hertz yellow and black Camaro SS with custom wheels, interior badging and full performance upgrades outfitted by Hendrick Motorsports. To learn more about the winner and see more from the event, click here.
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
5th in standings
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
2 top-10 finishes
13 laps led
36 pole positions
228 top-five finishes
366 top-10 finishes
18,847 laps led
3 pole positions
15 top-five finishes
21 top-10 finishes
994 laps led
WHAT A WEEKEND: Jimmie Johnson’s final trip to Auto Club Speedway as a full-time driver was a weekend full of joyful moments for the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. In addition to his career victories at the track illustrated through various murals throughout the complex, street signs bearing his name and his family waving the green flag for the event, Johnson was gifted a nostalgic Moto-3 helmet from speedway president Dave Allen, which brought back some great memories for the driver of the No. 48.
STELLAR SHOWING: Johnson had a great weekend at Auto Club Speedway on the track, as well. He qualified second, finished in the top 10 in both stages and ended the race in seventh. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet’s average running position of 3.6 was the third best of all drivers and his best in a race since he won at Charlotte in October 2016. Johnson powered to the lead three times, his most in a single race since Daytona in July 2018. He has earned 42 stage points this season, which is second best of all his competitors by one point. Johnson is tied with teammate Chase Elliott for most stage top-10 finishes in 2020 with six.
ANOTHER RECORD RUN: In addition to his second top-10 finish of the season, Johnson accomplished another feat which will be added to his racing resume. The driver of the No. 48 finished on the lead lap and completed every single lap at Auto Club Speedway throughout his 26 starts at the 2-mile track. The only other drivers to accomplish this in their careers are NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart at Indianapolis in 18 starts; Martin Truex, Jr. (14 starts); Darrell Waltrip (14 starts) and Carl Edwards (12 starts) all at Watkins Glen International. Johnson’s 26 consecutive lead-lap finishes are the most of all time.
FOCUS ON PHOENIX: Johnson is the proud owner of four wins at Phoenix Raceway. He has three pole positions, the most recent from 2015. Johnson has led 994 laps around the track in the desert and has an average finish of 10.3. In 33 starts, the 44-year-old driver has amassed 15 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes.
NOT DONE YET: There are some huge milestones on the horizon for Johnson. The next time he crosses the finish line first, he will have scored his 84th points-paying Cup Series win to tie Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth of all time. Johnson currently is 10 wins behind former teammate Jeff Gordon, who has 93 victories and is third on the list. Johnson has the most wins of all active drivers with 83.
No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 26 Resides Concord, North Carolina
3rd in standings
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
1 top-10 finish
113 laps led
2 pole positions
11 top-five finishes
27 top-10 finishes
587 laps led
1 pole position
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
194 laps led
Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, will be in the media center at Phoenix Raceway on Friday, March 6, at 12:30 p.m. local time.
WINNER, WINNER: Last Sunday, Alex Bowman and the No. 88 team claimed the victory at Auto Club Speedway after leading 110 of the 200 total laps. The 26-year-old driver won the first stage in a dominating fashion and took second in Stage 2. With over a five-second gap between Bowman and the second-place competitor, Bowman brought home his second NASCAR Cup Series win and his first at the 2-mile speedway.
AXALTA ON BOARD: This weekend marks the first event of the 2020 season in which the Axalta colors will adorn Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. The leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings will be on board this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, which is Bowman’s home track. Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports announced their partnership extension last month, which will go through the 2027 season. Read more here.
WELCOME HOME: Bowman, a Tucson, Arizona, native, has nine starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway. His best finish of sixth came in the 2016 event when the No. 88 team started from the pole position and led a race-high 194 laps. Bowman’s average running position during that event was 1.9 and he spent 272 laps running inside the top two. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has six starts at the 1-mile track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Bowman’s best qualifying effort of fifth came in 2014 and 2017. In the fall event in 2017, Bowman claimed his best finish of eighth. In 2011, Bowman ran the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event at Phoenix Raceway, where he started ninth and led 23 laps en route to a second-place finish.
2020 STATS: In the first three races this season, Bowman has earned 33 stage points, which is the sixth-most points earned so far this season by a driver. The No. 88 team has earned five top-10 finishes in stages this year and Bowman has led the most laps in 2020 with 113. He has one win (Fontana, California) this season and is locked in the NASCAR playoffs.
IVES IN PHOENIX: For the 11th time in his crew chief career in the NASCAR Cup Series, Greg Ives will call the shots for the No. 88 team this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. The Michigan native claimed the victory in the 2015 fall event at the track with Dale Earnhardt Jr. after leading 22 laps. Ives led Bowman to a pole win at the track in 2016 and the No. 88 Chevrolet led 194 laps en route to a sixth-place finish. Ives has four starts at the venue as a crew chief in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with a best finish of fourth place coming in 2013 with driver Regan Smith. From 2006-12, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of four wins, one pole award and 11 top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway.
WHERE’S BOWMAN: The driver of the No. 88 machine will visit the Hendrick Motorsports/JR Motorsports merchandise trailer at Phoenix on Sunday, March 8 at 9:15 a.m. local time to sign autographs for fans.
CHEVY STAGE: Bowman will visit the Team Chevrolet stage on Saturday, March 7 at 11:40 a.m. local time at Phoenix Raceway. Fans can stop by for a question-and-answer session and get autographs.
LAP LEADERS: Hendrick Motorsports has led the most laps in the first three races so far this season with 220. Alex Bowman has led for 113 of those laps, while Chase Elliott has led for 93 laps. They are the top-two lap leaders this season. It also marks the most laps led through three races for Hendrick Motorsports since 2015, when the organization led with 300. That year, the team won nine times and led for a total of 1,176 laps. Overall, Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with a total of 2,653 laps led in the history of the track.
DOMINANCE IN PHOENIX: Out of the last 30 races at Phoenix Raceway, the organization has the most wins with nine, leading the next-closest team by three victories. Hendrick Motorsports also has the most poles of all time (10), wins of all time (10), second-place finishes (nine) top-five finishes (47) and top-10 finishes (84). Jimmie Johnson has the most wins at this track of all time with four.
WIN STREAK ALIVE AND WELL: With Bowman’s win in Fontana, California, last Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports is tied with Petty Enterprises for the most seasons with a victory with 36. Bowman’s win also marks the 35th season in a row that Hendrick Motorsports has won a race, which is the longest streak of all time.
CRUSHING THE STAGES: Hendrick Motorsports has won four stages in the first three races of the season, leading the next-closest teams by three. The organization is the only team to win a Stage 1 in 2020 and is the only team to win a stage in each race this year. Elliott leads all drivers with the most stage wins with three, while Alex Bowman earned the Stage 1 win at Auto Club Speedway.
LUCKY MARCH: Bowman’s victory pushes Hendrick Motorsports to the all-time leader in wins during the month of March with 23. Surprisingly, that’s only their fourth-best month. The team has 35 total wins in June, 33 in September and 32 in October. The 88 team’s win on March 1 also makes the first of the month Hendrick Motorsports’ most winningnest date with 13.
Chase Elliott on testing the waters at Phoenix Raceway:
“Phoenix is a great race track — a good place for myself and the No. 9 team to start our partnership with UniFirst. Hopefully we can go, have a good run and learn something for later in season since the championship race is now at Phoenix.”
William Byron on the dynamic changing with the start/finish line in the new location:
“Oh for sure, if you’re further back you’re still in the corner when the field goes green, so it makes it tough to get through the gears without spinning the tires. If you’re up front, it’s kind of the same thing, as well. Being the leader on the restart has a pretty good advantage because they’re able to time it. I think it’s about being in the right spot when you get into Turn One especially with the traction compound on the track. It’s tough because it gives you a different grip sensation in each lane.”
Jimmie Johnson on the tributes from his hometown track:
“There was a lot going on in California. I’m incredibly honored and the whole weekend was full of good vibes. We are heading in the right direction and I feel like we have the right people in the right places, so lots of credit goes to Cliff Daniels and the way he leads this No. 48 team. I wanted to win so bad at my home track and, considering the past few seasons we have had, I have to say we were disappointed with a seventh-place finish – the No. 48 Ally Chevy was just so tight. I can’t help it, I’m a competitor at heart and I’m here to win races. Every week I just can’t wait to strap into these cars and I’m excited about the way we are trending right now.”
Alex Bowman on his win at Auto Club Speedway:
“Bringing home the win in the third race of the season is a great way to start the year. Greg (Ives) and the guys brought a hot rod last week and it showed from the start of the first practice. This team has worked extremely hard over the offseason and it is great that it is showing so early in the season. Win No. 1 with Hendrick Motorsports was great, but the second win is even better!”
On prepping at Phoenix with it be the site of the championship race:
“I think it’s important, but at the same time, last year it was the second-to-last race, so it was still really important. It’s easy to say one place is more important than another, but we go 100% every week and there really isn’t a non-important race. I’m looking forward to getting there. We struggled there last year, so hopefully we’ve improved on that quite a bit.”