MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (2-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACES 21 AND 22 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 4 P.M. ET, SATURDAY, AUG. 8 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
4:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, AUG. 9 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 24 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
5th in standings
1 pole position
7 top-five finishes
10 top-10 finishes
460 laps led
9 pole positions
51 top-five finishes
84 top-10 finishes
2,304 laps led
0 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
7 top-10 finishes
67 laps led
TWO RACES, TWO PARTNERS: NAPA AUTO PARTS will serve as Chase Elliott’s primary sponsor for Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway. For Sunday’s 312-lap event at the 2-mile track, the green and black Mountain Dew colors will return to the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.
DO THE DEW: On Monday, Hendrick Motorsports showcased the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE that Elliott will pilot on Sunday at Michigan via the Hendrick Motorsports Twitter account. For a look at the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevy, click here.
MICHIGAN STATS: Elliott currently holds the best average finish (7.63) of all drivers with more than two starts at Michigan. He has finished inside the top 10 in seven of his eight career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the 2-mile oval – no other driver has more top-10 results in the last eight races at the track. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has also collected three top-five finishes at Michigan, all of which were runner-up results.
RUNNER-UP FINISHERS: Elliott is in good company as one of four drivers with the most runner-up finishes at Michigan before their first win at the track. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon also earned three second-place results before capturing his first win at the Irish Hills oval (1998), and both Martin Truex Jr. and NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte have three runner-up results without a win at Michigan.
2020 PERFORMANCE: This year, Elliott has seven top-five finishes – the most he has collected through 20 races in a season – and 10 top-10s. He has the second-most stage wins (five), and his 460 laps led are a career high at this point in the year. Elliott has garnered the third-most stage points (182) and is currently fifth in the driver standings, 143 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
TOP-10 TRACK: As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for a weekend doubleheader, Elliott currently holds seven top-10 finishes at the 2-mile venue, which tie his results at Pocono for the most total top-10s he has at any track.
GUSTAFSON AT MICHIGAN: In his 16th season as a crew chief, Alan Gustafson is set to call his 31st and 32nd races from atop the pit box this weekend at Michigan. In his previous 30 starts at the venue with five different drivers (Elliott, Gordon, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Casey Mears), Gustafson has collected two wins – with Martin in June 2009 and Gordon in August 2014 when he started from the pole position. The No. 9 team crew chief has garnered five top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and 293 laps led at the track.
PIT STOP POWER: The No. 9 team owns the second-best average time for four-tire stops at 13.94 seconds through 20 races in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. The team is comprised of jackman T.J. Semke, gasman John Gianninoto, tire carrier Jared Erspamer, and tire changers Chad Avrit and Nick O’Dell.
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: Gustafson will celebrate his 45th birthday on Wednesday, Aug. 5. The last two seasons, on Aug. 5, 2018, and Aug. 4, 2019, the crew chief celebrated his birthday by going to victory lane at Watkins Glen International. Gustafson grew up just down the road from historic Daytona International Speedway, where he got his start in racing turning wrenches on the go-karts of a childhood friend, Casey Yunick. Yunick is the grandson of legendary car builder and mechanic Smokey Yunick.
No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 22 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
14th in standings
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
72 laps led
5 pole positions
5 top-five finishes
23 top-10 finishes
366 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
2 laps led
GAINING GROUND: With only six races left in the regular season, William Byron is looking to lock himself into the playoffs for the second time in his three-year NASCAR Cup Series career. Gaining 17 points on the playoff bubble over the last three races, the driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE went from two points below the cutoff line to now 15 points above it in 16th.
CONSISTENCY COUNTS: In the last 10 races going back to Martinsville Speedway in June, Byron has eight top-15 finishes. That ranks him fourth overall among Cup Series drivers in that same span. In that stretch of races, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has four top-10 finishes and paced the field for 53 laps, including a stage win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
MICHIGAN MINUTES: With six NASCAR national series starts at Michigan International Speedway under his belt, Byron will add two more to his résumé on Saturday and Sunday. Of those six races, four came at the Cup level where he has a track-best starting position of third and finish of eighth – both in the August event last season. Byron also has one Xfinity Series start at the 2-mile oval in June of 2017, where he qualified fourth and ended the race in the runner-up position. He also has one Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start where he started third and finished fourth in the August 2016 event
AXALTA DOUBLE: Making its return to the track this weekend, Axalta’s iconic flames will be back onboard Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for both Saturday and Sunday’s race in the Michigan doubleheader. 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.
No. 48 Ally Fueling Futures Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 44 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
17th in standings
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
99 laps led
36 pole positions
229 top-five finishes
370 top-10 finishes
18,933 laps led
1 pole position
5 top-five finishes
13 top-10 finishes
700 laps led
HOME TURF: Michigan International Speedway is near and dear to the full-season primary sponsor of Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team. Ally Financial is based in Detroit, roughly 78 miles east of the track. Ally Detroit Center, formerly One Detroit Center, is a skyscraper located in the downtown area overlooking the Detroit Financial District. The 43-story tower is the tallest office building in the city and the second-tallest building in the state.
MICHIGAN OVER THE YEARS: Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Fueling Futures Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, has had some highs and lows at Michigan. Over the years, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has led 700 laps at the 2-mile track located in the Irish Hills. After a few near misses, Johnson scored his first and only win at Michigan on June 15, 2014, leading 39 laps en route to the ever-elusive checkered flag. Last year, he tagged the wall while running 10th and ended up 34th.
ALLY FUELING FUTURES WITH JJF: This weekend at Michigan International Speedway, the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will feature a special paint scheme to recognize the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and Ally Fueling Futures. The Fueling Futures program, a collaboration between Ally Financial and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation, debuted in 2019 as a way to introduce teens and young adults to science and technology careers in motor sports. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the program will go virtual in 2020 and feature a social media content series on the Ally Racing social media channels. They will present interviews with eight different employees at Hendrick Motorsports discussing their different career paths. Ally is planning to host a virtual Fueling Futures event for students in Charlotte, North Carolina, area school systems this fall as part of this program. Additionally, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation remains committed to helping K-12 public schools across the country to address their most critical needs. To learn more about the Foundation, visit jimmiejohnsonfoundation.org.
HONORING JJ: Johnson’s legacy will be honored by Michigan International Speedway this weekend. The nature trail that exists in the Graves Family Campground will permanently be renamed the “Jimmie Johnson Nature Trail.” The area is one of the main campgrounds on track property and where family camping takes place. During non-race time, Adrian College uses the trail for many of its youth-based programs. Johnson, a father of two and an avid runner and mountain biker, will take a photo this weekend with track president Rick Brenner to document the dedication.
MICHIGANDER: Brandon Harder, longtime fueler for the No. 48 Ally team, calls Michigan International Speedway his home track. Harder attended Bowling Green State University and grew up in Oak Harbor, Ohio, roughly 90 miles down the road. He has been a member of the No. 48 team since 2009 and has four championships on his racing résumé with Johnson – 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2016.
BUSY IN THE PITS: The No. 48 Ally crew ranks ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series with an average four-tire stop time of 14.24 seconds. The team is coached by Jon Carvin and consists of veteran fueler Harder, tire carrier Allan Stallings, jackman Kyle Tudor, and tire changers Calvin Teague and Donnie Tasser.
AIMING HIGH: On average, Johnson and the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet team are running better than they are finishing in 2020. Johnson’s average running position of 13.49 is 3.88 positions better than his average finish of 17.37.
No. 88 ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 27 Resides Concord, North Carolina
11th in standings
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
387 laps led
2 pole positions
12 top-five finishes
32 top-10 finishes
861 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
2 top-10 finishes
0 laps led
MICHIGAN PERFORMANCE: Alex Bowman will make his 10th and 11th NASCAR Cup Series starts at Michigan International Speedway this weekend. Last season, the 27-year-old driver finished 10th in both events at the facility. The Tucson, Arizona, native has four starts there in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with one pole (2016), one top-five finish and three top-15s. In 2015, Bowman made one start at the 2-mile track in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and finished 11th after 100 laps. The driver of the No. 88 ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE competed in the ARCA Menards Series at Michigan in 2012, starting third and leading 12 laps to finish second.
TOP-10S: Bowman is one of five drivers who had top-10 finishes in both Michigan events last season with a pair of 10th-place finishes. Four of the next five events are at venues where he has two or more consecutive top-10 results: Michigan, Dover, the Charlotte Roval, the Charlotte oval, Kansas and Bristol.
ALL IN THE NUMBERS: So far in the 2020 season, the No. 88 team has captured four stage wins, tied for the third-most among drivers. Bowman has earned 156 stage points this year, which ranks sixth on the list of drivers with the most stage points earned. The No. 88 pit crew has the seventh-best average four-tire stop this season at 14.14 seconds.
IVES HEADS HOME: Bark River, Michigan, native Greg Ives will make his 11th and 12th NASCAR Cup Series starts this weekend at his home track. In his 10 previous races calling the shots at Michigan International Speedway, the No. 88 crew chief has one top-five finish and four top-10s. Ives’ best finish of second came in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel. In 2013, he was a crew chief at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and captured the victory in the spring event with driver Regan Smith. Ives’ drivers have led 20 laps in the Xfinity Series at the 2-mile track and have an average finish of 3.5. In addition, he was a race engineer for the No. 48 team and driver Jimmie Johnson between 2006 and 2012. During that time, the team captured six top-10 finishes and started from the second position on three occasions.
HOMETOWN TRACK: Three members of the No. 88 team have ties to the state of Michigan. Ives grew up in Bark River, which is approximately 443 miles from MIS, and earned a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Technological University. Hauler driver Andy “Squiggs” Quillan grew up in Belding, about two hours from the 2-mile oval. Quillan has always been a NASCAR fan and attended his first race at his home track in 2001. Front-tire changer Scott Brzozowski grew up just outside Detroit in Sterling Heights. He started out as a member of the No. 24 over-the-wall crew before switching to the No. 88 team in 2015.
DOUBLE THE GOODS: The No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will hit the track this weekend at Michigan with ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes on board as the primary sponsor. The black and yellow paint scheme features Adam’s Polishes, which 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.
BRAND NEW DEALS: During the month of August, No. 88 team sponsor ChevyGoods.com is providing discounts on all accessories, including Adam’s Polishes, NOCO and Truck Hero. Customers can receive 15% off all accessories on their site through the end of the month by using code CHEVYGOODS.
BOWTIES THAT BIND: Since Rick Hendrick opened the doors in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has posted 258 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series wins and a record 12 championships – all with Chevrolet race cars. The team has earned 49% of the Detroit-based manufacturer’s 523 Cup victories in that span (1984-present) and 33% of Chevy’s 789 all-time wins in NASCAR’s top series.
FITS LIKE A MITTEN: Michigan International Speedway has been a successful venue for Hendrick Motorsports, which holds the track records for NASCAR Cup Series pole positions, runner-up finishes, top-10s and laps led. The team has eight wins there, tied for fourth all-time, and its 52 top-five results rank second.
THE VICTORS: Hendrick Motorsports’ eight Cup Series wins at Michigan have come via five different drivers, led by Jeff Gordon’s three and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s two. Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd have each scored one MIS victory for the organization.
EIGHT, NINE, WIN: This weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader at Michigan falls on a pair of winning dates for Hendrick Motorsports. On Aug. 8, 2004, Gordon and the No. 24 team won the fourth of his five career races at Indianapolis after leading a Brickyard 400-record 124 laps in the first-ever Cup race to end in overtime. Gordon went to victory lane at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 9, 1998, which was his seventh of 13 wins in a season that ended with the driver’s third of four championships.
STAT SHEET: Since its inception in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has earned 258 race victories and holds the all-time records for championships (12), pole positions (226), top-five finishes (1,082), top-10s (1,867) and laps led (69,907) in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. 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.
Driver Chase Elliott on doubleheader at Michigan:
“To me, shorter races just mean that track position is just going to be that much more important, especially positioning yourself for that last stint. It seems like a lot of these races over the past couple of months have really been determined by your position during that final strategy call when you pit to get to the end of the race, ultimately, and how you want to play that card. All of that starts at the beginning of the day, how you start your strategy then eventually will stretch out and sometimes dictate what you do for the last pit stop. In a short race I think all those things are really going to matter, making the right decisions and hopefully having the cautions fall your way.”
Elliott on the importance of track position:
“If you are locked in at the beginning of the final 10 (races), I think there are a lot of guys that have a shot. I think we certainly have a shot if we are on our A-game. I don’t think we have been on our A-game these past three, four or five weeks, but I think if we can get to running like we were the first half of the year or leading up to that point, I think we will be able to run with whoever. These past few weeks, I definitely think we have some work to do to put ourselves back in that position again. The good and bad thing about the playoffs is it is all recent history and what have you done lately. If you are having success and hitting on something right there in those final 10 races, it’s just all about getting hot at the right time if you have been hit or miss. The big-time goal is to just be consistent all year and win races throughout the year. In my eyes, I think if you can rack up four or five wins you are going to put yourself in a really good position to advance through the rounds. Winning in each of the rounds obviously trumps that, but I would rather be consistent all year, if you can do that. So that’s goal number one right now, but if we can’t do that and we are still hit or miss, we just want to get hot at the right time. There’s still time for us to get consistent and rack up wins before the playoffs start and that’s where our head is at currently.”
Driver William Byron on the doubleheader at Michigan:
“What’s good with two races this weekend in Michigan, and doubleheader weekends in general, is that you can make big changes and get big results on the second day of racing. I really like that about the doubleheader aspect. You don’t have to wait until we go back to the same track later in the year. You can make changes to your car and strategy overnight if you need to and try it all again the next day. It’s a great opportunity to improve before you move your mindset on to the next track.”
Byron on the speed drivers experience at Michigan:
“You definitely do feel the high speeds at Michigan. The straightaways are long and you’re right up against the wall. It’s got the shape of Daytona but Michigan is a lot flatter of a track. I think the flatness makes it feel like you’re going fast on corner entry, especially with the lateral load and being right on the edge on entry to the corner. I feel like that’s what creates the sensation of so much speed at Michigan.”
Driver Jimmie Johnson on the doubleheader weekend:
“Physically, the doubleheader won’t be too bad as a driver. The track doesn’t physically challenge us so much in the car, but from the team side and the crews, this schedule is brutal. We had a similar schedule in Pocono, so we learned a lot from that weekend and will go into Michigan more prepared than we were before.”
On the Jimmie Johnson Nature trail dedication:
“Fitness is high priority to me and to have this trail in my name means a lot. Fans for generations to come will be able to enjoy ‘Pure Michigan’ and experience the racetrack at the same time. I have always loved the area, fishing close by with my girls and cycling on Saturdays during race weekends. I am very thankful to the folks at Michigan for this thoughtful honor.”
Driver Alex Bowman on his feelings about Michigan:
“I enjoy going to Michigan each year. I feel like we have had some strong finishes at the track and we really need to have a good weekend. We finished inside the top-10 in both events last year and had some solid runs. Michigan is a fun track and I think that this No. 88 team has really figured something out there. If we could bring home the Michigan Heritage Trophy to Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet, that would be big. We are in the backyard of so many manufacturers, so being able to capture that for Chevy would definitely be special.”
Crew chief Greg Ives on the importance of winning at Michigan:
“We race to win trophies every week, but the Irish Hills of Michigan International Speedway pose the battleground for the manufacturers. Michigan was the first NASCAR track I went to as a kid and with this being my home track, I look forward to capturing the Michigan Heritage Trophy not only for the No. 88 team and Hendrick Motorsports, but also for our partner in Chevrolet.”