BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY (0.533-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: BRISTOL, TENNESSEE
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE NINE OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, MAY 31 (FS1/PRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 24 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
3rd in standings
1 pole position
4 top-five finishes
5 top-10 finishes
280 laps led
9 pole positions
48 top-five finishes
79 top-10 finishes
2,124 laps led
1 pole position
3 top-five finishes
4 top-10 finishes
199 laps led
UNSTOPPABLE AT CHARLOTTE: Chase Elliott notched his seventh career NASCAR Cup Series win Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he led the final 28 laps on the oval and secured his fifth playoff berth in his fifth full-time season. The 24-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver became the fourth-youngest in history to record seven Cup victories, which have come on six different racetracks, and the fifth-youngest to record 15 NASCAR national series wins.
MILESTONE WIN: Elliott’s win Thursday night altered NASCAR’s record book. He became the eighth driver to win a Cup Series race for car owner Rick Hendrick on the Charlotte oval, making Hendrick Motorsports the first team in history to field eight different winners at one racetrack. The performance also marked Hendrick Motorsports’ 60th Cup victory at a 1.5-mile venue, extending the team’s all-time record. The Charlotte oval became the third track where Hendrick Motorsports has recorded at least 20 points-paying Cup wins, and the organization is now 10 away from tying Petty Enterprises’ all-time record of 268 victories.
TAKE A BOW: Elliott’s win capped off wild week in which he finished a disappointing second in Sunday’s 600-mile race on the Charlotte oval after leading 38 laps and then won Tuesday night’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at the track. His truck victory with GMS Racing made him the 10th driver in history to win at least three races in each of NASCAR’s three national touring series.
NINE’S A CHARM: On Sunday, Elliott will make his ninth NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol Motor Speedway in the ninth race of the 2020 season. In his first eight appearances at the 0.533-mile oval, the driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has collected three top-five finishes, four top-10s and one pole award (April 2019). He also ranks fourth in average finish (11.5) of drivers with more than six Bristol starts since 2014. In addition, Elliott has posted a top-10 finish in all five of his NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track.
OUT FRONT AT BRISTOL: In eight Cup-level starts at Bristol, Elliott has led 199 laps. It represents his fourth-highest total of laps led at any track behind only Dover International Speedway (294), Phoenix Raceway (249) and the Charlotte oval (224). Elliott has led laps in six of the eight races run thus far in 2020.
LAST TIME AROUND: In their most recent visit to Bristol in August 2019, Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team collected top-10 results in each stage and led a total of 33 laps en route to a fifth-place finish.
FIRST EIGHT: After eight Cup races in 2020, Elliott is third in the driver standings. He ranks third in laps led (280) and has collected four top-five finishes, five top-10s and one pole award (Phoenix in March). The Dawsonville, Georgia, native holds the third-highest average running position for the season (8.16), and his three stage wins in 2020 are one behind teammate Alex Bowman for the series lead.
BRISTOL KNOW HOW: Primary sponsor NAPA AUTO PARTS will once again be featured on Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The familiar blue, white and yellow scheme will be on track for 26 races in 2020. Earlier this year, it was announced that NAPA AUTO PARTS and Hendrick Motorsports will continue their partnership through 2022. Click here to read the full release.
GUSTAFSON HITS 30 AT BMS: On Sunday, No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 30th NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. In his previous 29 events atop the pit box for five different drivers (Elliott, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon) at the Tennessee track, he has collected nine top-five finishes, including a win and two runner-up results, and 799 laps led. The win came in 2007 with Busch.
BEHIND THE 9: Gustafson is trying his hand as a host in a new Hendrick Motorsports video series called “Behind the 9” in which he interviews each member of the No. 9 crew. Fans are able to learn about where they came from and the role they serve on the team, with each bringing a unique personality and skillset. Episodes are released every Tuesday on the Hendrick Motorsports Facebook page and YouTube channel. The most recent episode features gas man John Gianninoto.
No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 22 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
18th in standings
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
15 laps led
5 pole positions
5 top-five finishes
18 top-10 finishes
309 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
0 laps led
SHORT TRACK STATEMENT: When William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, hits the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, he will do so coming off his best-ever short track finish in the NASCAR Cup Series. Byron secured a career-best result on a short track with a runner-up performance in the October 2019 playoff race at Martinsville Speedway. He will tackle the series’ other half-mile track, Bristol, on Sunday.
HISTORY REPEATING: With finishes of 18th, 23rd, 16th and 21st in four career Bristol starts, Byron might seem like a longshot winner on Sunday – but he doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon drove the No. 24 Chevrolet to finishes of 17th, 20th, 22nd and 32nd in his first four Bristol races. In his fifth start there, the NASCAR Hall of Famer started second, led 205 laps and went to victory lane.
THE KN-OLOSSEUM: Set to call the shots for his 37th NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway and third with driver Byron, No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus brings a hefty notebook to the venue known as “The Last Great Colosseum.” The seven-time champion crew chief has two pole awards and two wins in his Bristol career with the most recent victory coming in April 2017 with Jimmie Johnson. Knaus has 12 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s to his credit at the notoriously challenging short track.
BRISTOL FLAMES: When the NASCAR Cup Series stops at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will again feature the iconic Axalta flames. In 2020, Axalta is the 22-race majority partner of the No. 24 team. The company’s relationship with Hendrick Motorsports was recently extended, taking one of the most enduring partnerships in sports through 2027.
TENNESSEE HOME: Chris Burkey, the pit crew coach for the Nos. 9 and 24 teams, hails from Greeneville, Tennessee, which is only 47 miles southwest of Bristol Motor Speedway. Burkey played football for North Carolina-based Wingate University where he eventually started a college football coaching career that spanned 1992 to 2005 and included tenures at East Tennessee State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2005, he joined the NFL’s Miami Dolphins as a scout under head coach Nick Saban. Looking for a new challenge, Burkey transitioned to NASCAR in 2009 when he was hired as a developmental pit crew coach for Hendrick Motorsports. In 2014, he was named head coach for the Nos. 5 and 24 teams.
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 44 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
16th in standings
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
3 top-10 finishes
28 laps led
36 pole positions
228 top-five finishes
367 top-10 finishes
18,862 laps led
2 pole positions
12 top-five finishes
21 top-10 finishes
914 laps led
RECENT BRISTOL BRILLIANCE: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, has turned in strong performances as of late at Bristol Motor Speedway. Among drivers to compete at Bristol since 2014, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has the best average finish (9.33) at the 0.533-mile venue. He has recorded only one finish outside the top 10 since April 2017 (six races) at the Tennessee short track.
THE KEY TO TENNESSEE: With two career victories, Johnson knows what it takes to prevail at Bristol. In April 2017, he led 81 laps after starting 11th en route to his most recent win there – and the 82nd of his storied NASCAR Cup Series career. The El Cajon, California, native has led 914 career laps at the half-mile venue where he has one pole award, 12 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s.
LONG RESUMÉ ON SHORT TRACKS: Johnson, 44, owns 14 career short-track wins, which is the second-most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers, and has earned multiple victories on all three active short tracks on the circuit: Martinsville (9), Richmond (3) and Bristol (2).
CLT IN THE REARVIEW: Johnson’s 919.5 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway were filled with ups and downs. A second-place finish in Sunday’s 600-mile event was disqualified due to a technical failure. On Thursday night, he drove from a last-place starting position to finish 11th in his final points race on the Charlotte oval.
ON THIS DATE: Johnson has won the last two Cup Series races held on May 31. Both victories came at Dover International Speedway – in 2009 and 2015.
JJF’S HELMET OF HOPE: Now in its 13th year, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation’s Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program assists non-profits that directly support K-12 public education. In 2020, non-profits that provide services to school-age students who have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are also eligible to be nominated. Until 3 p.m. ET on Friday, June 5, individuals 18 and older can nominate qualified organizations to receive a $25,000 grant, a Blue Bunny Ice Cream party and their logo featured on Johnson’s helmet during a 2020 NASCAR Cup Series race. A total of five organizations will be selected as 2020 Helmet of Hope grant recipients. Since the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program launched in 2008, more than $1.3 million has been awarded to 121 charities. Visit helmetofhope.org to nominate a charity.
No. 88 ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 27 Resides Concord, North Carolina
4th in standings
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
2 top-10 finishes
369 laps led
2 pole positions
12 top-five finishes
28 top-10 finishes
843 laps led
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
2 top-10 finishes
0 laps led
LEADIN’ LAPS: Prior to 2020, the most laps Alex Bowman led in a single season was 200, which he accomplished in 2016 (10 races) and 2019 (36 races). In eight events this year, the driver of the No. 88 ChevyGoods.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has led 369 combined laps, including 164 on Sunday and 51 on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. If he leads another 106 laps in 2020, Bowman will surpass his number of laps led in all previous years combined since he entered the NASCAR Cup Series (2014-2019). In the four events since NASCAR’s return to racing, the Tucson, Arizona, native leads all drivers in most laps led (256) and has the best average running position (8.11). He has the second-best average running position for the entire season.
TAKING THE STAGE: Bowman leads the NASCAR Cup Series in stage wins this season. He won his first career stage earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway, where he earned his first victory of 2020. On Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he won the first two of four stages and finished second in the third, capturing two valuable playoff points. On Thursday night at Charlotte, he won the race’s second stage, giving him a league-leading four in 2020. He is currently ranked fourth in NASCAR’s projected playoff standings.
BOWMAN AT BRISTOL: Bowman has eight previous NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway with two top-10 results. His best performance at the half-mile Tennessee venue came in 2018 when he brought home a fifth-place finish after 500 laps in the spring race.
IVES’ EXPERIENCE: On Sunday, No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will call his 11th Cup Series race at Bristol. In 10 previous events, he has two top-five finishes and four top-10s with a best finish of second in 2016 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. In 2013 and 2014, Ives was a NASCAR Xfinity Series crew chief at JR Motorsports where his drivers led 59 laps and claimed one top-five finish and three top-10s in four races. As an engineer for driver Jimmie Johnson from 2006-2010, he was part of one win, two pole awards and eight top-10 finishes at Bristol.
BOWMAN LOOKS TO POLISH OFF BRISTOL: Sunday’s Cup Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway will mark the first time associate partner Adam’s Polishes will be featured on the No. 88 ChevyGoods.com Chevrolet in 2020. Adam’s Polishes produces high quality products for auto detailing enthusiasts. In January, Hendrick Motorsports announced its partnership with ChevyGoods.com, which includes primary sponsorship of Bowman for 26 events. Associate brands that will be featured throughout 2020 are Adam’s Polishes, NOCO and Truck Hero.
DEALS ON DEALS: During the month of May, customers can visit ChevyGoods.com and receive 20% off any Adam’s Polishes product with the code “CHEVYGOODS.” In addition to the discount, customers can use code “FREESHIP” to unlock free ground shipping on all Chevy accessories on the site.
THE OTHER SIDE OF BOWMAN: Last week, Motorsport.com released its latest diary piece from Bowman. The driver of the No. 88 Camaro talks about inking a one-year extension with Hendrick Motorsports, his performance at Darlington and what it means to run a special scheme at Charlotte. He also answered some fan questions. Read it by clicking here.
TEN TO GO: Thanks to Chase Elliott’s win Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports is now within striking distance of one of NASCAR’s most hallowed records. It was the 258th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory for car owner Rick Hendrick, putting his organization 10 away from tying Petty Enterprises’ all-time team mark of 268. Elliott is one of 18 different drivers who have won for Hendrick Motorsports since its first season in 1984. Car owner Hendrick holds the all-time records for Cup Series championships (12), pole positions (226), top-five finishes (1,078), and top-10s (1,850).
BACK TO FORM: Through eight NASCAR Cup Series events in 2020, Hendrick Motorsports has led 692 laps – or 33% of all laps raced – which is the most of all organizations. Team Penske is second (512), Stewart-Haas Racing third (478) and Joe Gibbs Racing fourth (250). The fewest laps led by Hendrick Motorsports in a 2020 race is 28 at Darlington Raceway on May 20.
STAGING A COMEBACK: Hendrick Motorsports has won eight of 17 stages through eight NASCAR Cup Series races in 2020. The organization won eight stages in all of 2019 (36 races).
ABOVE AVERAGE: On May 24, NASCAR ran the longest race in its history with a 607.5-mile overtime event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. At the end of the 405-lap marathon, the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers occupied second through fifth in average running position with Alex Bowman at 3.93, Elliott at 6.87, William Byron at 6.95 and Jimmie Johnson at 7.18. Martin Truex Jr. had the race’s best average running position at 2.76.
BLISTERING BRISTOL: Hendrick Motorsports has won 11 times at Bristol Motor Speedway with a record six different drivers. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon earned five victories there, while Johnson has two on his long resumé. Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne have each earned one Bristol win for car owner Hendrick. Waltrip was the organization’s first winner at the half-mile track in 1989.
LAPPING THE FIELD: Hendrick Motorsports has led nearly 6,000 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, the most among active NASCAR Cup Series teams. The organization’s 5,935 laps led rank second all-time to Junior Johnson and Associates, which led more than 8,000 circuits at the half-mile track.
MAKING A POINT: Two Hendrick Motorsports drivers are in the top four in the NASCAR Cup Series standings after eight races in 2020. Elliott ranks third followed by Bowman in fourth. Bowman’s four stage wins lead the series, while Elliott ranks second with three. They each have already secured 2020 playoff berths by recording a victory this season.
ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 258 race victories, 226 pole positions, 1,078 top-five finishes and 1,850 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 69,500 laps since 1984. With Bowman’s victory at Auto Club Speedway, the organization has won at least one race in 35 consecutive seasons, the longest all-time streak.
Driver Chase Elliott on his NASCAR Cup Series win at Charlotte:
“We battled hard and finally got our car good enough there at the end. I’m not sure that we had it exactly perfect, but the guys did a great job making good adjustments and good pit stops there to put us in a position, and I think the race going long played into our favor as compared to what Kevin (Harvick) had to work with. Just had some good fortune and things went our way. Just appreciate all our partners for sticking with us. Finally good to get a Kelley Blue Book win. That’s our first win together, so hopefully many more.”
Elliott on how he feels physically after three races in five days:
“I feel really good. I feel like I tried to stay biking and doing things throughout those two months off, and honestly coming back and going back to Darlington where it was hot and then coming into the 600, it kind of just threw us back right to the wolves, and I think that was really a good thing just to really get some hot races and some long races in right off the bat and just jump right to it. I feel good, and I’m certainly tired, it’s been a long week, but I’m going to rest these next couple days and get ready for Bristol. I am looking forward to going and hopefully having a good run.”
Crew chief Alan Gustafson on Hendrick Motorsports working through COVID-19 challenges:
“It’s not been easy. We’ve had to work through split shifts and social distance circumstances and all types of the things that everybody has had to go through with COVID, and it’s been tough. That’s something I’m really proud of, not only Hendrick Motorsports but certainly the (No.) 9 guys – there’s a group of guys on the (No.) 9 team that typically go on the road, and ultimately they can’t go on the road anymore based on the roster, so those are the guys who are working tirelessly at the shop to prepare these cars, so everybody back there is doing an amazing job, and to bring cars like this to the track is a true testament to their ability, and I’m really proud of that and super proud of everybody at (Hendrick Motorsports). We’ve all stuck together. We’ve all fought through it. We’ve not had the years we wanted the last three or four and we’ve stuck together and kept fighting and kept fighting, and now I think we’re getting to a position where we can contend.”
Gustafson on the challenges of Bristol:
“I love Bristol. It’s a great track. It’s a lot of fun. But it’s got its own unique challenges, and it’s got its own unique circumstances. I don’t really feel like there’s much from any of the tracks that we’ve raced that’s going to correlate to Bristol. It’s its own animal. I’m excited to get there and race it, and the dynamic of the track changing and rubber and the grip compound and no practice and all that’s going to be – it’s going to be significant there. That’ll be a pressure cooker. It’ll be fun.”
Driver William Byron on the challenges of racing Bristol without practice and qualifying:
“The race at Bristol will probably bring the biggest unknowns during all of this with it being a short track, fast and a rhythm track. I had good runs going last year; we just needed some luck. I also had success there in iRacing during the time off so hopefully some of those trends and knowledge of the track will carry over. You need to be good at running the top groove there – it is really important. You also need to be patient when running the bottom and running in the PJ1 (track compound). It’s a dynamic track for that reason and you always have to be on your toes for sure. Hopefully we can get a good starting spot there and run up front to avoid some of that.”
Driver Jimmie Johnson on the challenges of competing on a green racetrack at Bristol:
“Bristol is going to be very complicated. In my opinion, the biggest issue is going to be the green racetrack. When that track is green and has no rubber on it, it is very low on grip. With the traction compound on the bottom lane, it needs traffic to work it in. So to show up cold turkey with the setup required to be competitive for the first stage is going to be way different than the setup you will need to win the race. It’s going to be a tough challenge on the teams. Pit road is going to be important, and minimal adjustments during a pit stop are key since we are short-manned over the wall. In order to raise the track bar, change the wedge or pull a spring rubber, it takes so long, and unfortunately we will probably need adjustments like that as the race wears on. From a technical standpoint, this race is going to be the most difficult so far. The car will have to have some adjustability built in.”
Driver Alex Bowman on Bristol Motor Speedway:
“Bristol is strong track for us, but you have to have good track position. It’s tough to bounce back if you get down on track position, but this No. 88 team is great at figuring out exactly what we need here. We have had some decent finishes here in the past, so I know that we can do that again on Sunday.”
Crew chief Greg Ives on Bristol:
“Bristol is a strong track for the (No.) 88 team. We have had our struggles with the flatter short track, but that does not include Bristol. We hope to continue to build our momentum this Sunday and execute all race long.”