Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Atlanta

ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: HAMPTON, GEORGIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 10 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, JUNE 7 (FOX/PRN/SIRIUSXM)


​ ​ ​

Chase Elliott
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 24 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia


CarParts.com
American Muscle

2020 Season
3rd in standings
9 starts
1 win
1 pole position
4 top-five finishes
5 top-10 finishes
368 laps led

Career
158 starts
7 wins
9 pole positions
48 top-five finishes
79 top-10 finishes
2,212 laps led

Track Career
4 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
3 top-10 finishes
0 laps led

NINE IN: Nine races into the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, is third in the driver standings. He also ranks third in laps led (368) and has one win, four top-five finishes, five top-10s and one pole award (Phoenix in March). The Dawsonville, Georgia, native leads the field with the highest average running position for the season (7.74), and his five stage wins in 2020 are the most for any driver.

SINCE THE RETURN: Since NASCAR returned to action, Elliott has racked up some impressive stats. His 6.75 average running position leads all drivers in the five races since May 17. He has collected one win, three top-five finishes and led a total of 182 laps – leading laps in all but one of the five races.

SOUND THE SI-REEN: On Sunday, Elliott could become just the second Georgia-born driver to win a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS), joining his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, who won five times at the track.

GEORGIA ON MY MIND: In addition to Elliott hailing from Dawsonville, which is just 84 miles north of AMS, No. 9 team partners NAPA AUTO PARTS, Hooters and Kelley Blue Book have major presences in Atlanta. NAPA is Elliott’s primary sponsor this weekend, and Hooters will make its season debut next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Both are based in Atlanta. Cox Automotive, the parent company of team partner Kelley Blue Book, is also headquartered there. KBB was the No. 9’s primary sponsor for its May 28 victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

ELLIOTT IN THE PEACH STATE: Elliott has made starts at Atlanta in each of NASCAR’s top-three levels – four in the Cup Series, two in the Xfinity Series and one in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. Last season was the only time the 24-year-old driver finished outside the top 10 in the Cup Series (19th). Elliott currently holds a 10.5-average finish at Atlanta, the best among active drivers at the 1.5-mile track. He also has finished in the top five in all of his Xfinity Series and truck starts at Atlanta.

1.5-MILE TRACK STATS: Elliott will make his 49th start on a 1.5-mile track this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In his previous 48 races, he has led 564 laps and most recently scored his second 1.5-mile track win at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28. Along with two victories, Elliott has collected 17 top-five finishes – four of which are runner-up results – and 26 top-10s on 1.5-milers.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: In addition to his full-time duty driving the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in the Cup Series, Elliott will compete in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race in the No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet for GMS Racing on Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He most recently piloted the No. 24 Silverado on May 26 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he ended the night in victory lane. The performance made Elliott the 10th driver in history to win at least three races in each of NASCAR’s three national touring series.

DESI9N TO DRIVE: As part of the Chase Elliott Foundation’s fourth annual “DESI9N TO DRIVE” art collaboration with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, patient-designed racing shoes will be worn by Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman during the NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend. Elliott’s shoes were designed by 8-year-old Brooke Winokur and features a colorful outer space design including Mars, stars and astronauts. The shoes will be signed and put on the auction block staring June 5 at the NASCAR Foundation online auction site with proceeds benefiting the hospital’s summer camp program. In addition, the Chase Elliott Foundation will match the proceeds from the “DESI9N TO DRIVE” program and make a separate donation to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s COVID-19 fund that helps provide support, supplies and equipment for its most fragile patients and frontline workers.


​ ​ ​

William Byron
No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 22 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2020 Season
17th in standings
9 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
2 top-10 finishes
15 laps led

Career
81 starts
0 wins
5 pole positions
5 top-five finishes
19 top-10 finishes
309 laps led

Track Career
2 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
0 laps led

BRISTOL BATTLE: After starting 13th on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, William Byron experienced issues early in the 500-lap race that forced to him to the rear of the field on three different occasions. Each time, the third-year driver powered his way through the pack, finding himself within the top-five running order with almost 100 laps to go. Fighting the handling of his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE as the laps continued to wind down, Byron crossed the finish line in the eighth position for his best NASCAR Cup Series finish at the 0.533-mile short track and best finish so far in the 2020 season.

LIBERTY U RETURNS: Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will feature the traditional red and white flames of Liberty University on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Liberty University is in its sixth season of sponsoring the 22-year-old driver dating back to his time in the late model ranks. Liberty 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 communications, Byron is in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program.

THE ATL ARCHIVE: With two previous Cup starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Byron has a track-best finish of 17th from last spring’s race. Byron has two other NASCAR starts outside of the Cup Series at the 1.5-mile track, including his seventh-place finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series during the 2017 season, the third-highest of the Xfinity Series regulars. He also has one start at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series in 2016, where he was running second before losing an engine, leaving him with a 32nd-place finish.

KNAUS IS HOT AT HOT-LANTA: Calling the shots for 28 NASCAR Cup races at Atlanta, seven-time champion crew chief Chad Knaus has snagged the checkered flag five times, most recently back-to-back in 2015 and 2016. Out of those 28 races, Knaus’ cars have left the 1.5-mile oval with 14 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s. In fact, he has a knack for intermediate tracks in general, collecting 34 wins across his Cup Series crew chief career.

DESI9N TO DRIVE: This weekend, Byron will take part in the Chase Elliott Foundation’s “DESI9N TO DRIVE” shoe program. Benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s summer camp program, Byron and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates selected racing shoes designed by patients. Byron will sport 9-year-old Julia Hope Sears’ creation on his racing shoes that encompasses the theme of “Dream Big.” With a variety of colors present, Sears’ design includes stars throughout and the phrase “lights, camera, action.” After the event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the race-worn shoes will be signed by Byron and auctioned off online. In addition, the Chase Elliott Foundation will match the proceeds raised from the auction and make a separate donation to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s COVID-19 fund that helps provide support, supplies and equipment for its patients and frontline workers.


​ ​ ​

Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 44 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2020 Season
15th in standings
9 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
4 top-10 finishes
28 laps led

Career
660 starts
83 wins
36 pole positions
229 top-five finishes
368 top-10 finishes
18,862 laps led

Track Career
28 starts
5 wins
0 pole positions
14 top-five finishes
16 top-10 finishes
586 laps led

A JOHNSON-DANIELS’ BEST: Sunday’s third-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway marked the best result for Jimmie Johnson since July 7, 2019, at Daytona International Speedway. It was crew chief Cliff Daniels’ best finish to date since taking over the helm of the No. 48 Ally team in July 2019.

SO FAR, SO GOOD: In nine races this season, Johnson has the seventh-best running position (12.7) in the NASCAR Cup Series. A fast team always helps a fast driver, and the No. 48 Ally pit crew has clocked in with the seventh-best time for four-tire pit stops in 2020 with 14.2-second average.

DRIVERS, START YOUR ENGINES: Before the green flag drops Sunday, Johnson will have the chance to say “the most famous words in motor sports.” The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and five-time Atlanta winner will give the command for drivers to start their engines from the cockpit of his No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE to commemorate his final full-time season.

HOT-LANTA PERFORMANCE: Johnson has the third-best average finish of all active drivers at Atlanta of 12.0 over his 28 starts. The El Cajon, California, native is the proud owner of five wins there, most recently including back-to-back victories in 2015 and 2016.

1.5-MILE WIN PERCENTAGE: Johnson has the most all-time wins on 1.5-mile racetracks with 28, which is 11 more than former Hendrick Motorsports teammate and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. Johnson has won 14.7% of his 190 career starts on 1.5-mile tracks, which is the second-best percentage of all time. He trails only Fred Lorenzen, who won eight times in 38 starts (21.1%) on 1.5 milers.

BEST SHOES EVER: To support teammate Chase Elliott’s “DESI9N TO DRIVE” initiative, Johnson will don unique racing shoes this Sunday designed by 5-year-old Evelyn O’Dell. She created Johnson’s shoes with one thing in mind – her sister, Ellie. The design features a predominantly green and orange scheme with five hearts, representing Ellie’s five heart surgeries, and two butterflies – one for each sister. Evelyn’s hope is that her sister will be able to dream big and be happy. The shoes will be signed by Johnson and put on the auction block starting June 5 at the NASCAR Foundation online auction site with proceeds benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s summer camp program. In addition, the Chase Elliott Foundation will match the proceeds from “DESI9N TO DRIVE” and make a separate donation to the hospital’s COVID-19 fund that helps provide support, supplies and equipment for its most fragile patients and frontline workers.

NOT DONE YET: The next time Johnson 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 all time. Johnson currently is 10 wins behind former teammate Gordon, who is third on the list with 93 victories. Johnson has the most wins of all active drivers with 83.

GOING HOME: Jackman Kyle Tudor, who hails from Augusta, Georgia, calls Atlanta Motor Speedway his home track. Tudor played football at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, as a linebacker and has been on the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet team for four seasons.


​ ​ ​

Alex Bowman
No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 27 Resides Concord, North Carolina

2020 Season
5th in standings
9 starts
1 win
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
2 top-10 finishes
369 laps led

Career
162 starts
2 wins
2 pole positions
12 top-five finishes
28 top-10 finishes
843 laps led

Track Career
4 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
0 laps led

LAST FIVE: Since the NASCAR season resumed on May 17, Alex Bowman has five starts at three different tracks. The Tucson, Arizona, native has an average starting position of 9.2 and an average finish of 21.4. Bowman has led 256 laps in the five events and had an average running position of 2.8 in the 400-mile event at Darlington Raceway.

2020 STATISTICS: The No. 88 Axalta pit crew is ranked third in the NASCAR Cup Series in average four-tire pit stop time this season. The team’s average stop is 13.97 seconds and is the best median among pit crews servicing a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Bowman is ranked fifth among drivers with the highest average running position in 2020 at 10.37. He also is second with the most stage wins this season. He has won four stages while teammate Chase Elliott has captured five. Bowman is also second in the most laps led in 2020 with 369.

ATL BOUND: Bowman has four previous Atlanta Motor Speedway starts in the NASCAR Cup Series. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet’s best finish of 15th came in last year’s event at the 1.5-mile facility. He made one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, in 2013, when he qualified 18th. In 2017, Bowman ran in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, where he finished sixth after qualifying fifth.

1.5-MILE STATS: Since getting his start in the Cup Series in 2014, Bowman has run 52 races on 1.5-mile tracks. In those races, the driver has one win (Chicago in 2019), three top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and 404 laps led. He is one of 11 Hendrick Motorsports drivers to capture a win on a 1.5-mile racetrack.

IVES IN ATLANTA: On Sunday, crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the sixth time at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the No. 88 team. The Bark River, Michigan, native has two top-five finishes at the track, which include a runner-up result with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016. Ives also has two career starts as a crew chief in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the 1.5-mile facility. In 2014, his team won the pole for the 195-lap event and led 36 laps en route to a fifth-place finish. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team with driver Jimmie Johnson. During that time, he was a part of two wins and one pole award at Atlanta.

AXALTA ON BOARD: Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway marks the second event of the 2020 season in which the Axalta colors will adorn Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. The leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings and Hendrick Motorsports announced an extension earlier this year that will take their partnership through the 2027 season. Read more here.

NEW KICKS: During this weekend’s event at Atlanta, Bowman will sport some very special shoes. The Chase Elliott Foundation is supporting the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta through the “DESI9N TO DRIVE” shoe program. Designed by 14-year-old Justin Mingo, the shoes will be autographed by Bowman and auctioned off by the Chase Elliott Foundation starting June 5. Proceeds will go to the foundation to benefit the hospital’s summer camp program. In addition, the Chase Elliott Foundation will match the proceeds raised from the auction and make a separate donation to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s COVID-19 fund that helps provide support, supplies and equipment for its patients and frontline workers. Visit the auction page here.


​ ​ ​

Hendrick Motorsports

ATL SUCCESS: The 1.5-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of 15 racetracks where Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams or is tied for the lead in total NASCAR Cup Series points victories. The organization has a record 14 wins there with six drivers, including victories by three different drivers in four of the last nine races since 2011. No other organization has won more than two Atlanta races in that timeframe.

RECORD BREAKERS: In addition to earning the most Cup Series wins at Atlanta, Hendrick Motorsports is the track’s record-holder in runner-up finishes (16), top-fives (59) and top-10s (90). Its drivers have led more than 3,000 laps there – the second-most in history. Hendrick Motorsports also holds the all-time record for combined wins at 1.5-mile facilities with 60.

TAKING THE STAGE: All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers rank in the top 11 in NASCAR Cup Series stage points earned in 2020. Alex Bowman is first (110) with Chase Elliott third (107), William Byron eighth (53) and Jimmie Johnson 11th (43; tied with Denny Hamlin). Through nine races this season, Hendrick Motorsports has won 10 of 19 stages. Elliott leads all drivers with five stage victories with Bowman in second at four. Byron has one stage win this season at Darlington Raceway. Hendrick Motorsports captured eight stage victories in all of 2019 (36 races).

PACING THE FIELD: Through nine NASCAR Cup Series events in 2020, the Chevrolet Camaros of Hendrick Motorsports have led 780 laps – or 30% of all laps raced – which is the most of all organizations. Team Penske is second (689), Joe Gibbs Racing third (481) and Stewart-Haas Racing fourth (478). The fewest laps led by Hendrick Motorsports in a 2020 race is 28 at Darlington Raceway on May 20.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 258 race victories, 226 pole positions, 1,079 top-five finishes and 1,852 top-10s in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 69,500 laps since 1984. Including 2020, the organization has won at least one race in 35 consecutive seasons, the longest-ever streak. Hendrick Motorsports is 10 wins away from tying Petty Enterprises’ all-time Cup Series record of 268.


​ ​ ​

QUOTABLE /
Chase Elliott on the challenges of Atlanta Motor Speedway:
“The track hasn’t changed a ton these past few years. It has a lot of wear to it, a lot of character and a lot of bumps. There is a fine line of getting your car right. I’m excited about that. As a team we’ve had a lot of dialogue in trying to get our NAPA Chevy dialed in without having any practice, which is tough. I have a lot of confidence in my guys being able to get us close and giving us enough adjustability to where if we do miss it, one way or the other we can work on it throughout the race. I’m just looking forward to the race, obviously it’s my home track and any time you go to your home track you want to do good.”

William Byron on Atlanta:
“Atlanta is a tough track. You have to take care of the right front tire there, or the right rear, whichever one seems to be wearing out the most. I think any time you get a chance to pass a car and get ahead of them you need to take it, but it’s a fine line of how hard do you push it versus taking care of your tires so you’re there in the end. You just really need to manage your equipment the best you can to have a shot. It’s a long 500-mile race and it’s physical. You have to do the best job you can to keep yourself mentally and physically in contention.”

Jimmie Johnson on his final race at Atlanta as a full-time NASCAR driver:
“I don’t know what to feel or think – I guess I would say this: If I had the chance to come back and race again on this track, I would take it. This is a fun, fun racetrack with so much character. Sadly, I know at some point they are going to have to pave it, which in my opinion will just change everything. I just love racing there. From what I understand historically, the ‘old’ Atlanta was the best track ever. The shape of the oval, the progressive banking, and then they made the D-oval.”

Johnson on Atlanta memories:
“So many memories of Atlanta. The weekend after the tragic plane crash our team suffered and winning that race (in 2004 was one of the most emotional wins or experiences I’ve ever had. It was one of my most special wins. This will be different without my fans there. I feel for my fans and our sport’s fans, and I am glad that we will still be on TV, so I plan to just drive my heart out and put on the best performance I possibly can.”

Alex Bowman on being optimistic going to Atlanta:
“Atlanta should be a good track for our team. Our 1.5-mile program is really good right now and I feel confident that we can continue that momentum from Charlotte. This track is one where you have a lot of options. It’s worn out and you can move around a lot, which gives drivers a lot of choices. Everyone appreciates options, so this weekend should be a good one.”

Bowman’s thoughts on his special shoes for a good cause in Atlanta:
“I have some new shoes this weekend for Sunday’s race. It is always special in Atlanta when we support the Chase Elliott Foundation and their “DESI9N TO DRIVE” program. Justin Mingo, 14 years old, designed some awesome blue shoes with red flames. Hopefully we can get Justin’s shoe design to victory lane.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here