Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Auto Club 400

AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY (TWO-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: FONTANA, CALIFORNIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE FIVE OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, MARCH 18 (FOX/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

Chase Elliott
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 22                       Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2018 Season

  • 16th in standings
  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 4 laps led

Career

  • 81 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 23 top-five finishes
  • 40 top-10 finishes
  • 922 laps led

Track Career 

  • 2 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 5 laps led
NAPA AUTO PARTS BACK AGAIN: NAPA AUTO PARTS will be back as the primary sponsor of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Auto Club Speedway (ACS). The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team for 26 NASCAR Cup Series races this year. Most recently, Elliott piloted the familiar blue, white and yellow scheme at ISM Raceway, where he finished third.

TWO-MILE PROWESS: This weekend, the 22-year-old driver is set to make his third NASCAR Cup Series start at ACS and his seventh overall Cup start at a two-mile track. In Elliott’s Cup and Xfinity Series career (10 combined starts), he has never finished outside the top 10 on a two-mile speedway (ACS and Michigan International Speedway). In his two previous Cup starts at ACS, Elliott has finished sixth (2016) and 10th (2017) from an average starting position of 10.5.

ISM RACEWAY REWIND: The No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team had a consistent day at ISM Raceway resulting in a third-place finish. The finish moves Elliott to 16th in the driver point standings as the Cup Series heads to ACS.

HOME FOR THE WEEKEND: No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS rear-tire changer Chad Avrit will compete this weekend at his home track of ACS. Avrit grew up in El Centro, California, and was an avid surfer before moving to Mooresville, North Carolina, to pursue a career in motor sports. In addition to his position at Hendrick Motorsports, the California native is also the successful owner of two small businesses – Swell Board Shop and a Burn Boot Camp location.

William Byron
No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Driver William Byron   Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 20                         Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2018 Season

  • 21st in standings
  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 15 laps led

Career

  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 15 laps led

Track Career 

  • 0 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
YOUNG LEADER: In Sunday’s race at ISM Raceway, Byron earned his best Cup finish to date and was the top-finishing rookie, taking the checkered flag in 12th after starting 11th. The 20-year-old driver led for the first time in his young Cup Series career when he paced the field for 15 laps during the final segment of the 312-lap race. Byron became the third-youngest driver in Cup history to lead 15 or more laps (after Joey Logano and Kyle Busch), the second-youngest driver (behind Busch) to lead a race at ISM Raceway and the eighth-youngest driver ever to lead a lap. Four of the youngest eight drivers to lead a Cup race did it while driving for Hendrick Motorsports.

CALI STATS: Byron has only a single start at Auto Club Speedway, but he seemed to have no trouble figuring out how to get around the two-mile, D-shaped oval. In last year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race, he started sixth and earned a fifth-place finish. He led a lap during the race and was the top-finishing Xfinity Series regular. In the Cup Series, there have been two drivers to earn their first wins at the track – Jimmie Johnson (April 2002) and Kyle Busch (September 2005) – and both accomplished the feat as rookies while driving for Hendrick Motorsports.

GRUBB KNOWS BEST: Teams led by No. 24 team crew chief Darian Grubb have won two pole positions at the two-mile Fontana, California, track, the most of any current Hendrick Motorsports crew chief. Grubb has also earned a victory at the speedway, which came in 2010 with Tony Stewart behind the wheel.

AXALTA FOR THREE: Axalta Coating Systems will be featured as the primary partner of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team for the third week in a row. It is the fourth of 10 races where Axalta’s bright colors will be highlighted on the No. 24 Chevy this season.

YOUTH AUTOGRAPH SESSION: Byron will sign autographs as part of a NASCAR youth autograph session Saturday at 11:15 a.m. local time at Lefty’s Kids Club in the midway of the Fontana, California, track.

JG VIP EXPERIENCE: Byron will participate in the 2018 Jeff Gordon #24Ever VIP Experience this weekend. The experience gives fans the opportunity to meet two drivers of the No. 24 Chevrolet – Byron and Gordon – and includes a meet-and-greet, an autograph and a photo along with a behind-the-scenes garage tour and an exclusive gift. The experience is available at eight future races including Texas Motor Speedway (sold out) and Bristol Motor Speedway. Spots are extremely limited and this is the final year the package will be available. Visit www.jeffgordonvip.com for more information or to purchase a spot.

WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD: As NASCAR continues its western tour, Byron will stay out on the left coast this week to participate in several media opportunities in the Hollywood area. Follow his journey by checking out his Instagram story and catch him on “NASCAR Race Hub” on Tuesday, March 13, at 7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. Stay tuned to the Hendrick Motorsports team channels for air dates and times for other shows on which Byron will appear, including Sunday’s pre-race show on FOX, a video on BuzzFeedBlue – one of BuzzFeed’s YouTube channels – and the television show “The American Athlete.”

Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 42                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2018 Season

  • 26th in standings
  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led

Career

  • 583 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 222 top-five finishes
  • 341 top-10 finishes
  • 18,663 laps led

Track Career 

  • 23 starts
  • 6 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 13 top-five finishes
  • 16 top-10 finishes
  • 980 laps led
Jimmie Johnson will be available to members of the media on Friday, March 16, at 10:30 a.m. local time at the Auto Club Speedway media center.

PUTTING THE ‘ALL’ IN ALL-TIME: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, leads drivers in almost every category at Auto Club Speedway. In 23 starts at the track, Johnson is the all-time leader in wins (six), runner-up results (five), top-five finishes (12), top-10s (16), laps led (980), average finish (7.13) and lead lap-finishes (23).

ABOVE AVERAGE: Johnson’s average finish of 7.13 at Fontana is his personal best at any racetrack on the Cup Series circuit. It is followed by Martinsville (7.69), Texas (8.76), Dover (9.06) and Chicagoland (9.38).

1,000 LAPS LED CLUB: There are four tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit where Johnson has led more than 1,000 laps – Dover (3,105), Martinsville (2,862), Charlotte (1,930) and Texas (1,041). Johnson is just 20 laps shy of adding ACS to that list.

‘SUPER’ WIN: Johnson’s last win at ACS came on March 20, 2016, in the Lowe’s “Superman” Chevrolet. Johnson started 19th, led 25 laps and asked for his “red cape” as he crossed the stripe for his sixth career win at the track. Later that season he scored his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship.

CALIFORNIA KID: Johnson grew up roughly 116 miles south of the Fontana, California, speedway in El Cajon, California, just outside of San Diego. Johnson started racing mini-motorcycles up and down the West Coast at age four. He graduated from Granite Hills High School in 1993, where he was a varsity water polo player.

FIRST-TIME WINNER AT FONTANA: The only drivers to ever win their first race as rookies at ACS drove for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson scored his first win in just his 13th career start on April 28, 2002, at the track. Former teammate Kyle Busch was the other driver who scored his first win during his rookie season at the venue in 2005.

NEXT UP, 84: Johnson’s next trip to Victory Lane will be his 84th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series win. He secured his 83rd in June 2017 to tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list. An 84th win would tie Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth all-time. Johnson is currently 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 and No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus has the most wins of all active crew chiefs with 81.

TEAM JJF AND SAN DIEGO: Johnson and wife Chandra started the Jimmie Johnson Foundation in 2006. To date, more than $11 million has been contributed to various organizations. The foundation currently focuses on funding K-12 public education, primarily through the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Champions Grant program. Many past Champions Grants have been awarded to schools located in the El Cajon/San Diego area. The Johnsons also have worked closely with the San Diego Habitat for Humanity chapter and partner Lowe’s to build eight homes for residents on Foundation Lane in El Cajon.

Alex Bowman
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Driver Alex Bowman   Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 24                         Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2018 Season

  • 17th in standings
  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 13 laps led

Career

  • 85 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 216 laps led

Track Career 

  • 2 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 1 lap led
TRACK STATS: Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Hendrick Motorsports, has two previous NASCAR Cup Series starts in Fontana, California, with his best finish of 22nd coming back in 2014. The 24-year-old driver competed in one NASCAR Xfinity Series event at the speedway in 2013, when he finished 12th after qualifying sixth.

NATIONWIDE CAMARO ZL1: For the fourth time this season, Nationwide will serve as the primary partner aboard the No. 88 Camaro ZL1 this weekend at ACS. Last weekend, Bowman brought home a 13th-place finish after qualifying fourth. Nationwide has been the primary sponsor on the No. 88 machine on two previous occasions at the Fontana, California, track, with one sixth-place finish and one 11th-place finish courtesy of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

IVES AT FONTANA: Crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots three times for the No. 88 team at ACS. The crew chief’s resume at the two-mile speedway in the Cup Series includes one top-10 finish with Earnhardt back in 2015 when he finished sixth. The Michigan native has two starts atop the box in the Xfinity Series at the venue, where he has one top-five finish and two top-10s.

HOME TRACK REWIND: Bowman and the No. 88 Nationwide team qualified fourth for Sunday’s race at ISM Raceway and brought home a 13th-place finish at the venue outside Phoenix. It was the Tucson, Arizona, native’s second consecutive top-15 finish in a NASCAR Cup Series race at the track.

NATIONWIDE’S PAWS AND RACING PROMOTION: For the second year, Nationwide is offering one lucky pet owner an opportunity to get his or her pet’s picture on the No. 88 Nationwide Camaro ZL1 for the Sept. 22 race in Richmond. Last year, more than 25,000 pet owners participated in the promotion. From now until April 30, pet owners and NASCAR fans can go to www.pawsandracing.com to submit a photo of their pet. At the end of the promotion, one lucky photo will be selected to win a VIP race experience including hot passes, race tickets and a meet-and-greet with Bowman and Earnhardt.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT FONTANA: At Auto Club Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, five pole positions, 32 top-five finishes and 50 top-10s. Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers in wins, top-fives, top-10s and laps led at the track. Johnson most recently won for the organization at the venue in the March 2016 race.

THREE FOR 10: The organization’s 10 wins in Fontana, California, are spread among three drivers, with Johnson accounting for six. Jeff Gordon claimed three victories at the track and Kyle Busch recorded one.

ONE-TWO AT FONTANA: Hendrick Motorsports is the only NASCAR Cup Series team to sweep the top-two finishing positions at Fontana. The organization achieved the feat three times: 1997 with Gordon and Terry Labonte, 2004 with Gordon and Johnson, and 2009 with Johnson and Gordon.

ALL-TIME AT FONTANA: The organization owns the most all-time records at Fontana, including wins (10), poles (tied for most with five), runner-up finishes (11), top-five finishes (32) and laps led (2,001).

WEST COAST STRENGTH: Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams in West Coast victories – including California, Nevada and Arizona – with a total of 34, 11 more than the next closest team, Roush Fenway Racing. Johnson and former teammate Jeff Gordon – both of whom hail from California – lead all drivers for most wins on West Coast tracks with 15 and 11, respectively.

250 ON THE HORIZON: The next points-paying win by a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will be the organization’s milestone 250th in NASCAR Cup Series competition. With 268 Cup victories, only Petty Enterprises has more. Junior Johnson and Associates is third all-time at 153 wins, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing with 148 and Roush Fenway Racing with 137.

16 MAKES 249: Sixteen different drivers have contributed to Hendrick Motorsports’ total of 249 points-paying Cup wins. Only the Wood Brothers team, which has sent 19 different drivers to Victory Lane, has more. Junior Johnson and Associates won with 13 different drivers.

FIRST-TIME WINNERS: If Elliott, Byron or Bowman wins in Fontana, it will mark the ninth time a driver has recorded his first career Cup Series win while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing share the all-time record, having each sent eight first-time winners to Victory Lane in Cup Series competition.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 214 pole positions, 1,030 top-five finishes and 1,742 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 67,285 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

Chase Elliott on the trip out west:
“I enjoy the West Coast swing. It’s a good time of the year to do it. It’s a good time to get away from the East Coast with bad weather and things a lot of times we have going on around here. I enjoy going out west. It’s kind of fun, we get to spend a little time in Colorado while we are there, which is nice. I enjoy it and they are three fun tracks, ending on what I think is probably the best of the three. I’m excited to get back to California, excited to get to all of them, but definitely, end it on a high note there.”

Elliott on Fontana:
“It’s just such a fun place. It reminds me a lot of Atlanta in some ways. It looks way different, but just the surface is old and worn out. The lines are very sensitive and you can move your car a foot or two up or down the racetrack and find a massive amount of grip that isn’t there two or three feet away from that, which is pretty cool. That is what makes the difference.”

William Byron on Fontana:
“Fontana is one of those places that is a big mixture between somewhere like Michigan and a mile-and-a-half. It’s really wide, which is similar to Atlanta, and you can run wherever. On the first five laps after a restart, there’s a lot of grip and then it goes away quick and you’re just kind of hanging on for the rest of the run. You can get such big runs and make your car work in so many different places that it’s a blast. Coming back through the field, if you have to, feels easy if you have a good car. It’s fun to use the apron in (Turns) 3 and 4 and be able to get below the line, almost be touching the grass, and then be all the way against the wall in (Turns) 1 and 2 and making speed there. It’s just a fun racetrack for a driver, and you feel like you can make a difference.”

Jimmie Johnson on Fontana:
“Yes, we have had a lot of success at California and our expectations are really high. We went to Atlanta having a ton of past success and had a tough day. We are chipping away every week and finding speed. Last week wasn’t the result we wanted, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Huge props to my Lowe’s for Pros team. You never forget the site of your first win, I love going ‘home’ and seeing familiar faces.”

Alex Bowman on Fontana:
“I like going and racing in Fontana. Auto Club is a lot of fun. You can run from the bottom, really from the apron, all the way to the wall. It’s a unique racetrack and it always fun to go to.”

Bowman on the multiple lanes at Fontana:
“Yeah, you really have just got to see where your Camaro ZL1 goes. I feel like if you try to dial in for one lane then it is not even going to work in the race, it’s going to be better in another lane anyway. Just have to run where the other guys aren’t.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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