Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Kentucky

KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: SPARTA, KENTUCKY
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 17 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, JULY 12 (FS1/PRN RADIO/SIRIUSXM)

Chase Elliott
No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 24 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2020 Season
2nd in standings
16 starts
1 win
1 pole position
7 top-five finishes
9 top-10 finishes
451 laps led


CarParts.com
American Muscle

Career
165 starts
7 wins
9 pole positions
51 top-five finishes
83 top-10 finishes
2,295 laps led

Track Career
4 starts
0 win
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
1 top-10 finish
0 laps led

POWER PERFORMANCE: Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, continues to lead all NASCAR Cup Series drivers in average running position (7.74), stage wins (five) and stage points (166) this season. He has led the fourth-most laps (451) in the series and his 12 races led are second-most behind only Joey Logano (13).

SWEET 16: Through 16 races in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, Elliott is second in the driver standings, 85 points behind leader Kevin Harvick. Elliott has seven top-five finishes – the most he has collected through 16 races in a season, and his 451 laps led are also a career high at this point in the regular season.

1.5-MILE TRACK STATS: Elliott will make his 51st start on a 1.5-mile track on Sunday at Kentucky Speedway. In his previous 50 races, he has collected two wins, most recently at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28. Elliott has led 617 laps and garnered 18 top-five finishes – five of which are runner-up results – and 28 top-10s on this track length.

IN 2020: In the five 1.5-mile races in the 2020 season, Elliott has led the third-most laps (189) in the Cup Series. During his most recent visit to a 1.5-miler at Homestead-Miami Speedway on June 14, he raced inside the top five all night and led 27 laps before collecting a runner-up finish – his second of the year on 1.5-mile track. Elliott’s three top-five finishes, four top-10s and two stage wins on 1.5-milers are all second-most in the series this season.

KBB IS BACK: The navy and gold colors of Kelley Blue Book will return to the hood of Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for the final time this season at Kentucky. KBB is the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry. Each week, the company provides the most market-reflective values in the industry on its top-rated website, www.KBB.com.

WINNING WAYS: The Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE made its season debut during the Thursday night event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28. Elliott notched his seventh career NASCAR Cup Series win – and KBB’s first Cup victory – by leading the final 28 laps on the oval and securing his fifth playoff berth in his fifth full-time season.

BLUEGRASS STATS: Elliott is set to make his fifth Cup Series start at Kentucky Speedway on Sunday. In 2017, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native earned a personal-best finish of third at the track. He also has four Kentucky starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, averaging a starting position of 9.2 and finish of 8.2. The driver also has led 20 laps and collected a pair of top-five finishes there in the Xfinity Series.

BOX TO CHECK: So far this season, Elliott has led his first laps on three tracks where he had never led before in the NASCAR Cup Series: Atlanta, Homestead and Indianapolis. Kentucky Speedway is now the only track where Elliott has competed but not led a lap in Cup Series competition.

STRONG STOPS: Among the teams competing in the NASCAR Cup Series, the No. 9 pit crew ranks second in fastest average time for four-tire stops at 13.96 seconds through 16 races in 2020.

GAME TIME: The wait is over for NASCAR Heat 5. In May, it was announced that Elliott would grace the cover of the video game. This week, it will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via stream.

BEHIND THE 9: Crew chief Alan 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 engineer Dustin Shoulders.


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

2020 Season
14th in standings
16 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
5 top-10 finishes
41 laps led

Career
88 starts
0 wins
5 pole positions
5 top-five finishes
22 top-10 finishes
335 laps led

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

THE LAST FIVE: Despite misfortune Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, William Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team are optimistic their recent surge of momentum will continue. In his last five starts, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has racked up two top-10 results, including a season-best finish of seventh at Pocono Raceway. With an average finish of 12.67 in the last five races, Byron ranks sixth overall in the Cup Series.

EYES ON THE PLAYOFFS: Looking to lock himself into the playoffs for the second time in his three-year NASCAR Cup Series career, Byron is 14th in the standings with two playoff points to his name. While a win in one of the upcoming points-paying races would automatically secure his position in the fight for the championship, Byron is currently 48 points above the playoff cutline heading into the Kentucky Speedway weekend.

BLUEGRASS STATE BOUND: Sunday’s race will mark Byron’s third Cup Series start at Kentucky Speedway. With a best finish of 18th, Byron’s results don’t accurately depict the speed he has displayed at the 1.5-mile track. Last year, the driver was running within the top five for the first half of the race. However, during a restart in the final stage, Byron was called for a penalty, forcing him down pit road and off the lead lap before crossing the finish line in 18th.

KENTUCKY CONQUER: In his lone NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start at Kentucky Speedway in 2016, Byron qualified in the third position, led 70 laps and collected the victory. He became the first winner on the newly repaved and reconfigured track.

KNAUS NEEDS KENTUCKY: Kentucky Speedway is one of only four active NASCAR Cup Series racetracks where crew chief Chad Knaus has yet to claim a victory. Despite calling nine races at the 1.5-mile venue, third place (2011) is the closest Knaus has come to taking home a checkered flag. With eight of those nine starts coming with driver Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, the veteran crew chief has one pole (2012), one top-five finish and five top-10s. His most recent showing at Kentucky came with Byron and the No. 24 team last season when Knaus put the then-sophomore driver in contention for the win. However, a late-race restart penalty left the duo with an 18th-place finish.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, KNAUS: For the second time in 2020, Knaus will transition from crew chief of the No. 24 Camaro ZL1 1LE to television analyst when he joins Adam Alexander and Clint Bowyer in the FOX Sports booth Thursday for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway. The broadcast is scheduled for July 9 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.

AXALTA ON BOARD: Byron will look to bring the heat to the track Sunday afternoon in both speed and appearance. When the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team unloads at Kentucky Speedway, the Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will have the iconic flames back on board. Axalta is the 22-race majority partner of the No. 24 team for the 2020 season. The company’s relationship with Hendrick Motorsports was extended in February of this year, taking one of the most enduring partnerships in sports through 2027.

INDY IN THE REARVIEW: Starting 18th in the Brickyard 400, Byron worked through traffic to ultimately win Stage 1 of Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – his second stage win of 2020. While pit strategy cycled him outside the top-10 running order for the start of Stage 2, Byron regained the lead halfway through the stage. However, after lining up for a restart just before the halfway point, he experienced a flat left-front tire almost immediately upon taking the green, forcing him to pit road for damage repair. The Liberty University team was able to repair the damage, but Byron was multiple laps down, resulting in a 27th-place finish.

ALL-STAR RACE VOTING: For the first time in Cup Series history, the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race will be held on the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway, and Byron is looking to lock himself in. Last year, the driver of the No. 24 battled his way into the main event by winning the first stage of the Open qualifying race in a stellar last-corner pass. However, if Byron isn’t able to lock himself in to the All-Star Race before July 15 by winning a points-paying Cup Series event, he will have three chances during the Open qualifier by winning one of the stages or by receiving the fan vote. Currently Byron is ranked fourth in the voting with only a few days left. Fans can place their vote once per day, with votes shared on social media counting double, at NASCAR.com/fanvote until 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 14. The winner of the fan vote will be announced immediately following the conclusion of the Open qualifying race on Wednesday, July 15.


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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
15 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
99 laps led

Career
666 starts
83 wins
36 pole positions
229 top-five finishes
370 top-10 finishes
18,933 laps led

Track Career
9 starts
0 wins
1 pole position
1 top-five finish
5 top-10 finishes
206 laps led

Jimmie Johnson will be available to members of the media via video conference on Friday, July 10 at 9:30 a.m. ET. Details will be available at NASCARMedia.com.

IRON MAN: Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson has quietly been one of the most durable competitors in NASCAR history. Before missing Sunday’s race at Indianapolis due to a positive COVID-19 test, the 44-year-old driver had 663 consecutive Cup Series starts – the fifth-longest streak ever. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon holds the all-time record with 797 straight starts, followed by iron men Ricky Rudd, Bobby Labonte and Rusty Wallace. Johnson has been cleared to race this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

STATS, STATS, STATS: In nine starts at Kentucky, Johnson has one pole position (2012), one top-five finish and five top-10s. The El Cajon, California, native has led 206 laps at the 1.5-mile track, including 182 in 2013 when he started third and finished ninth.

COMING FOR KENTUCKY: Of the 83 wins Johnson has accumulated over his career, none have come at Kentucky Speedway. Along with Chicagoland Speedway and Watkins Glen International, it is one of just three NASCAR Cup Series tracks where the driver has yet to visit victory lane. Johnson’s best Kentucky finish of third came in 2011.

PIT ROAD SPEED: The No. 48 crew has been electric on pit road this season. It ranks seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series with an average four-tire stop time of 14.19 seconds. The team is coached by Jon Carvin and consists of veteran gasman Brandon Harder, tire carrier Allan Stallings, jackman Kyle Tudor and tire changers Calvin Teague and Donnie Tasser.


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

2020 Season
8th in standings
16 starts
1 win
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
5 top-10 finishes
381 laps led

Career
169 starts
2 wins
2 pole positions
12 top-five finishes
31 top-10 finishes
855 laps led

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

WELCOME BACK, CINCINNATI: In September 2019, Hendrick Motorsports announced a 10-year agreement with leading machine tool manufacturer Cincinnati Inc. As the Official Metal Fabrication and Additive Equipment Provider of Hendrick Motorsports, the Ohio-based company serves as primary sponsor of Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in two events this season, including Sunday at Kentucky Speedway. Click here to see the No. 88 paint scheme for this weekend’s race.

LAST GO AROUND: The last time the Cincinnati colors adorned the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was March 1 when Bowman claimed the victory at Auto Club Speedway. The 27-year-old driver won Stage 1 and led 110 laps in a dominant performance that clinched a 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoff spot.

BOWMAN AT KENTUCKY: Bowman is set to make his fifth NASCAR Cup Series start at Kentucky Speedway this weekend. Last season, the Tucson, Arizona, native finished inside the top 20 after crossing the line 17th. He also has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the venue, completing 98.9% of the total laps run with an average start of 13.0 and average finishing position of 13.3. In those three starts, the driver has one top-five finish and two top-10s.

2020 VISION: Over the last 16 NASCAR Cup Series races, Bowman has the sixth-best average running position at 11.77. The 27-year-old driver has led 381 laps this season, which is the fifth-highest total in the series. Bowman and the No. 88 team have also been better than their finishes in 2020 with an average running position of 11.77 and average finish of 16.75 — a difference of five spots on the racetrack. In addition, the No. 88 pit crew has an average four-tire pit stop of 14.24 seconds, which is ninth-best among teams this season.

STAGE ENDS: Bowman has four stage wins in 2020, which is tied for second overall in the NASCAR Cup Series. He has also captured 142 stage points in 2020, which ranks fifth on the list of drivers with stage points this season.

THROUGH 16: After 16 events in 2020, Bowman currently sits eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings and is seventh in the playoff standings. The sixth-year driver has one win (Auto Club Speedway), two top-five finishes and five top-10s.

IVES’ STATS: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the sixth time at Kentucky Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s resumé includes two top-15 finishes and four laps led at the track. During the 2013 and 2014 seasons, Ives was a crew chief at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His drivers led 20 laps at the 1.5-mile track and had an average start of 10.8 and an average finish of 14.5. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer on the No. 48 team with Jimmie Johnson. During that time, the team had one pole win, one top-five and two top-10 finishes.

GOOD DISCOUNTS: During the month of July, No. 88 team sponsor ChevyGoods.com is providing discounts on all accessories, including Adam’s Polishes, NOCO and Truck Hero. Customers can receive 10% off MSRP with purchases of $100-$249 (offer code “GET10”), 15% off with purchases of $250-$499 (code “GET15”), and 20% off with purchases of more than $500 (code “GET20”).


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Hendrick Motorsports

THE GIFT OF WINNING: There’s one birthday present Rick Hendrick has never received: a NASCAR Cup Series victory. Sunday’s race at Kentucky Speedway falls on the car owner’s 71st birthday and will mark just the third time the circuit has ever competed on July 12. Jimmie Johnson scored a runner-up finish at Chicagoland Speedway in 2008, representing Hendrick Motorsports’ best-ever result on the date. Born July 12, 1949, in Warrenton, North Carolina, Hendrick was raised on a tobacco farm in Palmer Springs, Virginia. Today, he is the owner of 12-time Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports and the chairman and CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group, the largest privately held operator of car dealerships in the United States. Hendrick holds nearly every major statistical record for a NASCAR team owner and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017.

BRING KENTUCKY HOME: Kentucky Speedway is the only active NASCAR Cup Series track where Hendrick Motorsports has not won. Since the 1.5-mile venue began hosting Cup races in 2011, the team has finished in every position from second through 15th at least once.

LEADING THE WAY: In 2020, no one has led more laps on 1.5-mile tracks than Hendrick Motorsports. The team has led 421 laps on 1.5-milers this season, which is 57 more than second-place Stewart-Haas Racing.

ALL-TIME NUMBERS: Since its inception in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has 12 championships, 258 race victories, 226 pole positions, 1,082 top-five finishes and 1,864 top-10s in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 69,861 laps, which is the all-time record. 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 record of 268.


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QUOTABLE /
Driver Chase Elliott on Kentucky:
“We are really looking forward to Kentucky, as always, and really just looking forward to getting back to the track. The best way to fix a tough finish is to go try again. Hopefully it goes well. I think we’ve been running well — we just haven’t had some of the finishes we had hoped for. Our performance has been there, and we just have to clean up a few areas. I think we can put ourselves in a good spot. We are moving on from Indy and ready to go race the Kelley Blue Book Chevy at Kentucky.”

Driver William Byron on Kentucky’s surface:
“Kentucky’s surface has just continued to age. I think it has gotten really gray there really fast. I know that the type of asphalt that they used is different than what they used until the later part of 2010 when repaving tracks. The asphalt has a lot of grip like Michigan does, but Michigan hasn’t seemed to age as fast as Kentucky has. It’s also a slick track but in a weird way. It’s not coarse like Atlanta. It’s smooth but slick at the same time. It’s a tough track to get a hold of, and that’s a challenge we face every time we go there. It makes for interesting racing.”

Byron on having competition cautions instead of practice:
“I think the competition cautions in these races have helped some guys for sure. For us on the No. 24 team, though, we haven’t necessarily needed them at most tracks. We’ve shown up extremely prepared from a team aspect and a driver aspect. I can only really think of one race that I wanted that competition caution, and that was Atlanta. Otherwise, I’ve been happy with how our speed has been at the beginning of the race. Kentucky may be a different story since the surface is so hard to pinpoint ahead of time, but I’m confident in the car my team will have prepared.”

Driver Jimmie Johnson on Kentucky:
“Even with all the laps I have made at Kentucky Speedway and the success I’ve had on 1.5-mile tracks, Kentucky has always seemed to be a challenge for me. It’s rough and bumpy. Going into Turn 1 you are climbing up a hill and then you descend all the way to Turn 3. Of course, I am beyond excited to be back in the car this weekend and with my team so I’m embracing the opportunity and am more determined than ever to check this one off the list.”

Driver Alex Bowman on getting back to a 1.5-mile track:
“I am ready to get back to a mile-and-a-half track this weekend, especially after the last few weeks. These are the tracks where we are typically pretty good. We haven’t had the finishes to show recently at mile-and-a-half venues, but we have brought extremely strong Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LEs each week. The last time Cincinnati was on the car, we put it in victory lane. I know we will bring a fast car this weekend and can hopefully go two in a row with Cincinnati.”

Crew chief Greg Ives on running at Kentucky:
“We are going back to a mile-and-a-half track and somewhere where we have really good speed. Kentucky hasn’t been favorable to me and my history at the track. The last few times we have run here, we have strategized well and run well but we haven’t ended up with the finish we deserve there. If we can just finish where we run, that is a lot better than wrecking or losing a tire there and not finishing where we need to be. We have a good package for a mile and a half tracks, so hopefully we can take that and the stuff we have learned from other tracks here lately and get a solid finish at the end of the day.”

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.

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