HMS Previews The First Data 500 At Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY (0.526-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: RIDGEWAY, VIRGINIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 33 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, OCT. 28 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

Chase Elliott
No. 9 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2018 Season

  • 4th in points
  • 32 starts
  • 3 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 11 top-five finishes
  • 18 top-10 finishes
  • 309 laps led

Career

  • 109 starts
  • 3 wins
  • 4 pole positions
  • 33 top-five finishes
  • 56 top-10 finishes
  • 1,227 laps led

Track Career 

  • 6 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 143 laps led
Chase Elliott will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Oct 27, at 8:15 a.m. local time in the media center at Martinsville Speedway.

LET’S GO: On Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Chase Elliott and the No. 9 Mountain Dew team captured their third victory of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season. Although a Diet Mountain Dew / Dark Knight Rises car won with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2012, it marked the first win for a Mountain Dew primary paint scheme since October 1982 with Darrell Waltrip. Since the Watkins Glen race weekend at the beginning of August, Elliott has won three times – the first three wins of his NASCAR Cup Series career – and earned eight top-10s, six of which were top-five finishes. The No. 9 team is on quite a run, advancing to the Round of 8 in the Cup Series playoffs – one step closer to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

THREE WINS: At 22 years, 10 months, 23 days old on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Elliott became the second-youngest driver to earn three wins, 11 top-two results and 33 top-five finishes – Kyle Busch ranks first in all three categories. Alan Gustafson was the crew chief for both Elliott and Busch’s first three wins. Elliott is the youngest driver in Cup Series history to reach 56 top-10s. With Elliott’s three wins all coming in the 2018 season, he has set new track records at Watkins Glen, Dover and Kansas for being the youngest NASCAR Cup Series winner at each.

#DI9: This weekend at Martinsville Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 begins. Since the start of the playoffs in 2017, Elliott has earned six top-two finishes, tied for the most with Busch and Martin Truex Jr. This season alone, the driver of the No. 9 has already collected three top-five results in the playoffs – tied for the most with Truex and Joey Logano – and is currently the only driver to win more than one race in the playoffs. With only a nine-race span between his first and third win, Elliott joins the ranks of Tony Stewart (seven races) and Bobby Labonte (nine races) – both of whom are NASCAR Cup Series champions – for the fewest number of starts between their first three wins in the modern era (1972-present).

ROUND OF 8: Bring on the Round of 8, which consists of Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, and ISM Raceway. Elliott’s top-10 percentage on the next three tracks combined is 62.5 percent, the best of all playoff drivers. His top-five percentage for the Round of 8 tracks combined is 31.25 percent, ranking him second among the playoff drivers (Busch is ranked first at 44.16 percent). Elliott has led laps at all three tracks for a total of 292 laps (Martinsville – 143, Texas – 9, ISM – 140). He finished in the top 11 in each of the three races on the tracks in the Round of 8 earlier this season.

THE LAST 11: In the last 11 races, Elliott has earned six top-five finishes, which is the most among all drivers during that span. He also secured eight top-10 finishes and three wins, both tied for the most.

MARTINSVILLE SUCCESS: Elliott finished inside the top 10 in two of the last three races at Martinsville Speedway. In the one race he finished outside of the top 10 – the playoff race at the track last season – he led 123 laps and was spun from the lead with three laps to go, ultimately finishing 27th. Elliott is currently on a streak of three straight top-five finishes on short tracks, marking the longest active streak in the Cup Series. He has earned four top-10s on short tracks in 2018, tied for the second-highest total behind Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick’s five. No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson has won twice at Martinsville.

SUNENERGY1 RETURNS: For the fourth and final time this season, SunEnergy1, one of the world’s largest privately held solar energy companies, will adorn the hood of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The SunEnergy1 team was most recently on the No. 9 Chevy at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval,” where Elliott finished sixth and advanced to the Round of 12 in the playoffs. The Mooresville, North Carolina, company also served as the primary sponsor for Elliott’s first career NASCAR Cup Series victory at Watkins Glen in August.

SEE ELLIOTT AT MARTINSVILLE: On Sunday, Oct. 28, Elliott is scheduled to participate in a question-and-answer session at 11:45 a.m. local at the Martinsville Speedway pre-race experience on the frontstretch. For more information on the experience, click here. He will also appear at the Team Chevy Racing display at 12 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session

William Byron
No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2018 Season

  • 22nd in points
  • 32 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 61 laps led

Career

  • 32 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 61 laps led

Track Career 

  • 1 start
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
MARTINSVILLE BY THE NUMBERS: At the short track where William Byron attended his first NASCAR Cup Series race as a fan in 2006, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has two starts at Martinsville Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series, where he earned finishes of third and eighth and one start in the Cup Series. In the snow-delayed Cup race in the spring, Byron earned a 20th-place finish.

ALWAYS FINISHING: The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team has finished every race at the 0.526-mile paperclip – never earning a single DNF in 47 races with Jeff Gordon behind the wheel and four races with Chase Elliott. Byron kept that streak alive in the spring and he’ll certainly hope to continue it this weekend.

ROOKIE BATTLE: With four races remaining in the 2018 season, Byron continues to hold the lead in the battle for the NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year title. The driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 leads the rookie standings by 109 points over Bubba Wallace.

FINAL OUTING FOR THE LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CHEVY IN 2018: The blue and red Liberty University colors will adorn the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 15th and final time this season. Liberty is the majority primary partner of the No. 24 team with 15 races in 2018. Liberty University, founded in 1971, offers more than 550 unique programs of study from the certificate to the doctoral level. Byron, a junior majoring in business communications, currently takes online classes at Liberty, which offers more than 250 programs online.

BYRON RACE DAY APPEARANCE: As part of Martinsville Speedway’s pre-race experience, Byron will participate in a question-and-answer session on the frontstretch from 10:45 to 11 a.m. local time on Sunday. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

HOME TRACK FOR GRUBB: One of the winningest active crew chiefs in NASCAR with 23 Cup wins – one of which came at Martinsville Speedway – Darian Grubb is a well-respected talent in the garage, having earned a Cup Series championship with legendary driver Tony Stewart in 2011 and won races with some of the top drivers in the sport, including Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and Carl Edwards. A native of Floyd, Virginia, located 46 miles northwest of Martinsville Speedway, Grubb’s passion for racing began during his teenage years. While in high school, he joined his brother and a group of friends who worked on late model stock cars that competed at tracks throughout Virginia and the Carolinas. He began the old-fashioned way – hanging around the shop with his buddies on evenings and weekends to work on race cars. Grubb earned a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech in 1998 and worked with Volvo Trucks as a design engineer upon his graduation. However, he remained active in racing with his first stint as a crew chief coming in the former USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series, wherein 1998 he guided driver Jeff Agnew to the rookie of the year title and season championship. Grubb spent another year with Agnew in Pro Cup before leaving Volvo Trucks to pursue a full-time career in racing. His résumé – posted on the Internet – caught the eye of the storied Petty Enterprises team, which he joined in 2000. Grubb moved to Hendrick Motorsports in January 2003, serving as lead race engineer for the No. 48 Cup Series team from 2003-2006. He was interim crew chief during the first four races of its 2006 championship-winning campaign, leading driver Johnson to a pair of victories, including the prestigious Daytona 500. Grubb earned one win as crew chief for Casey Mears in 2007 before being named engineering manager for the Nos. 5 and 88 Hendrick Motorsports teams for 2008. In 2009, he moved into a crew chief role at Stewart-Haas Racing – winning a championship in 2011 with Stewart – and then joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012. In January 2016, Grubb returned to Hendrick Motorsports to oversee race car manufacturing as vehicle production director. He was promoted to director of competition systems in August 2017 and one month later appointed crew chief of the No. 5 team with driver Kasey Kahne for the final nine Cup Series playoff races of 2017. On Nov. 1, 2017, Hendrick Motorsports announced that in 2018 Grubb would lead the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team. Following the 2018 season, Grubb will be promoted to technical director, and seven-time champion crew chief Chad Knaus will step in to lead the No. 24 team.

TESTING AT CHARLOTTE: On Tuesday, Oct. 23, Byron participated in a one-day Goodyear tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedway with NASCAR’s 2019 rules package.

ICYMI, MARTINSVILLE VICTORY TOUR: Byron visited Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday, Oct. 10, spending time talking and interacting with local students, showing off his iRacing skills while helping some of the students as they tried to run a few laps at Martinsville on the iRacing simulators, and spending time with media members. Click here for a recap of his afternoon.

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

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 43                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2018 Season

  • 15th in points
  • 32 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 11 top-10 finishes
  • 29 laps led

Career

  • 611 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 224 top-five finishes
  • 352 top-10 finishes
  • 18,692 laps led

Track Career 

  • 33 starts
  • 9 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 19 top-five finishes
  • 24 top-10 finishes
  • 2,862 laps led
STAY TUNED: Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso left fans asking all kinds of questions after an interesting Twitter video was posted back in September. Monday morning, another video emerged. But what does it all mean? Stay tuned for more details and click here for the latest video.

LAST WIN AT MARTINSVILLE: Johnson’s most recent win at Martinsville came on Oct. 30, 2016. The win – his second of three in the playoffs that season –catapulted him into contention in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Johnson earned his record-tying seventh championship.

NINE CLOCKS: Johnson is responsible for nine of Hendrick Motorsports’ 24 wins at Martinsville. The total is tied with Jeff Gordon for the third-most at the track behind Richard Petty’s 15 and Darrell Waltrip’s 11. Martinsville is one of four tracks at which Johnson has earned at least seven wins. He has won three of the last 12 races at Martinsville and is currently on a streak of four consecutive top-10s on short tracks, tied for the second-longest active streak behind Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer’s six. His four top-10s on short tracks in 2018 are tied for the second-highest total behind Harvick and Bowyer’s five.

LAP LEADER: Johnson has led 2,862 laps around Martinsville Speedway, making him sixth on the all-time list. He is 103 laps away from eclipsing Petty to break into the top five of most laps led at the venue. NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough is the all-time Martinsville lap leader with 3,851 laps led.

IT’S A DATE: Experience goes a long way in the NASCAR Cup Series, and on the next three upcoming race dates, Oct. 28, Nov. 4 and Nov. 11, Johnson has a total of five wins throughout his career. On Oct. 28, he won at Atlanta in 2007 and Martinsville in 2012; on Nov. 4, the No. 48 team won at Texas in both 2007 and 2012; and on Nov. 11, Johnson crossed the finish line first at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix) in 2007.

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 Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list. An 84th win would tie Hall of Famers Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth all-time. Johnson is currently 10 wins behind former teammate Gordon, who has 93 victories and is third on the list. Johnson has the most wins of all active drivers and Knaus has the most wins of all active crew chiefs with 81.

Alex Bowman
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Driver Alex Bowman   Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 25                         Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2018 Season

  • 16th in points
  • 32 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 11 top-10 finishes
  • 68 laps led

Career

  • 113 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 14 top-10 finishes
  • 271 laps led

Track Career 

  • 5 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 0 laps led
KANSAS RECAP: Alex Bowman and the No. 88 team qualified 10th for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas last weekend. Bowman received right-side damage on Lap 3 after a competitor made contact with the wall and then the No. 88 machine. Spotter Kevin Hamlin relayed that the damage wasn’t severe and Bowman remained on track. The 25-year-old driver ended the first stage 14th and the Stage 2 in ninth. Bowman ran inside the top 10 for the majority of the 267-lap event and finished ninth, though the No. 88 team did not advance into the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs

BOWMAN AT MARTINSVILLE: Bowman has five previous starts at Martinsville Speedway in the Cup Series. Earlier this season, the No. 88 team started 16th and finished seventh. It marked Bowman’s first top-10 effort of the 2018 season.

SHORT-TRACK STATS: So far in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has collected 11 top-10 finishes on short tracks. Bowman has contributed three top-10 finishes to that number. Earlier this season, the No. 88 team finished seventh at Martinsville and went on to finish fifth at Bristol in the spring. At the second event in Bristol, Bowman crossed the line eighth.

IVES AT MARTINSVILLE: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots seven times at the 0.526-mile speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series. Ives’ drivers have accumulated one top-five finish and three top-10s at the track. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth in 2015 after starting 22nd. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer on the No. 48 team. During that time, he was part of three pole awards, six wins and 11 top-five finishes at Martinsville.

NATIONWIDE ON BOARD: The Nationwide colors will be back on board the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Martinsville. It will be the final primary weekend for Nationwide this season. In August, Nationwide extended its partnership with Hendrick Motorsports with a new two-year agreement that will increase its majority sponsorship of Bowman and the No. 88 team. In 2019, the blue and white colors will adorn the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 during 20 NASCAR Cup Series events.

WHERE’S BOWMAN: The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide machine will be at the Team Chevy Racing stage on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 11:20 a.m. local time. Bowman will participate in a question-and-answer session and sign autographs for fans.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MARTINSVILLE: At Martinsville, Hendrick Motorsports has team records for wins (24), top-five finishes (78), top-10s (124) and laps led (9,241). The 24 wins are the most by any team at any track all-time, ahead of Junior Johnson and Associates’ 21 wins at Bristol. Hendrick Motorsports’ 20 wins at Dover International Speedway and 19 wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway are third and fourth all-time, respectively.

FIRSTS AT MARTINSVILLE: The paperclip has been the site of many first-time achievements for Hendrick Motorsports, including the organization’s first NASCAR Cup Series win in 1984 with driver Geoff Bodine. That race also marked the first laps led by the then-one-car team. Darrell Waltrip earned his first of nine wins for Hendrick Motorsports at the Virginia track in the September 1989 race and Chase Elliott made his first career NASCAR Cup Series start for the organization on March 29, 2015.

DOMINANCE ON DISPLAY: Starting with its first win at the track in April 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has won 35 percent of the races at Martinsville (24 of 69). It has won at least one race there in 19 of the 35 seasons since and gone on a three-race win streak at the track on four different occasions. The organization has swept the top two finishing positions five times and had at least one car finish in the top 10 in 61 of 69 races since April 1984. Hendrick Motorsports’ 9,241 laps led at Martinsville make for 27 percent of the total laps led (34,395) at the track since the April 1984 win. The organization has won at least one race at Martinsville in five of the last six seasons.

FIVE MAKE 24: The organization’s 24 wins at Martinsville have come courtesy of five different drivers: Jimmie Johnson (nine), Jeff Gordon (nine), Waltrip (four), Bodine and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The five different winners are tied with Junior Johnson and Associates for the most at Martinsville. Hendrick Motorsports is the only team to have multiple drivers with at least six wins at a single track. With a win this weekend, Martinsville could become the 10th different track where Hendrick Motorsports has won with at least six different drivers.

SHORT-TRACK PROWESS: Hendrick Motorsports leads all active teams in short-track wins all-time with 50, 15 more than the next closest team, Joe Gibbs Racing.

PLAYOFF PROWESS: The 2018 season marks the 13th consecutive season in which Hendrick Motorsports has sent at least two drivers into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, the most of all organizations. Hendrick Motorsports has placed at least three drivers in the playoffs in 11 different seasons, also the most of all teams. The organization has accumulated 43 wins during the playoffs, the most all-time. A Hendrick Motorsports driver has made the Championship 4 in two of the four seasons in the current format, and won the championship in seven of the 14 seasons with a playoff system. Chase Elliott, Johnson and Alex Bowman qualified for this year’s playoffs. However, Johnson’s 2018 championship run was cut short after he was eliminated following the Charlotte race and Bowman was eliminated following the Kansas cutoff race. Elliott’s most recent victories at Dover and Kansas automatically advanced the driver to the Round of 8, which begins Sunday at Martinsville.

GET YOUR VOTES IN: Voting for the 2018 National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award, presented by Hooters, officially opened in September, but there’s still time to cast your votes. Fans can vote for a single driver once per day through Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 12 p.m. ET. Votes shared on Facebook or Twitter count double. All four Hendrick Motorsports teammates are in the running for the honor. The 2018 NMPA Most Popular Driver winner will be announced as part of the NASCAR Cup Series Awards on Thursday, Nov. 29, in Las Vegas. It will be broadcast on NBCSN, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

POSTSEASON PLAYERS: Bowman became the eighth different driver that Hendrick Motorsports has taken to the playoffs, the most of all organizations in Cup Series history. He joins Elliott, Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch on the list.

FIRST-TIME WINNERS: With Elliott earning his first three Cup Series wins at Watkins Glen, Dover, and Kansas, Hendrick Motorsports now holds the record for the most first-time Cup Series winners with nine. If William Byron or Bowman wins at Martinsville, it will extend the record to the 10th time a driver has recorded his first career Cup Series win while driving for Hendrick Motorsports.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 252 race victories, 215 pole positions, 1,045 top-five finishes and 1,783 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 67,000 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

Chase Elliott on having added pressure as the playoffs continue:
“I think that needs to be the mindset, for sure. I think every week has to be pressure-packed. You have to keep the pressure on yourselves. If you were to make it to Homestead, you have to pretty much win Homestead. I think you have to have that mentality every week. The points game is nice, I guess, to play. Really, you just need to care about winning. If you’re trying to win, putting yourself in position to win, that’s way more important than just barely trying to squeak through. Having the ability to win, do it weekly, putting yourselves in those positions week by week is the most important thing. If we can do that these next three weeks, I think we can give ourselves a chance.”

No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson on whether his past playoff runs can aid him over the next four weeks:
“Well, I’d like to think so. I’d hope so. Certainly, from my perspective it does. There’s no replacement for experience. When I was young, it was like, ‘Experience? What does that do for you?’ You go through things and you realize it’s a big deal. I’ve lost my fair share, I’ve won my fair share. As you go through that, you kind of know what works and doesn’t work. You can help apply it, use that to your advantage.”

William Byron on racing at Martinsville:
“I love Martinsville. It’s an awesome track. It’s challenging, but I feel like it’s a place I look forward to. I’ve raced there for four or five years now, and it’s just a lot of fun. I enjoy going there and I kind of know what I need in the car there, so that will be fun. You have to have the right things in the car, but the way you race is put in the drivers’ hands.”

Jimmie Johnson on his success at Martinsville:
“I’ve had a lot of success at Martinsville and I think it’s because for a long time, once you hit on a certain setup, it worked for an extended period of time. For some reason I excel at these unique, quirky tracks like Martinsville. There is a lot of history there for me, our team, and it’s where (Hendrick Motorsports owner) Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and this organization got their first win. So, it’s special for multiple reasons and as a driver I always want to do well there. I look forward to it – it’s like going back in time to the roots of the sport.”

Alex Bowman on what makes Martinsville hard to get around:
“It can just be really frustrating. You have to be pretty perfect there to have a good day. Really hard to pass and manage tires and make the right choices throughout the race. It’s just hard to have a completely solid day there.”

Bowman on going back to Martinsville after the spring race:
“It’s a good place for me. I tend to qualify really poorly at Martinsville and race really well, so I’m all good if qualifying gets rained out again, but we will just have to wait and see.”

Bowman on the NASCAR playoffs:
“You know what, I ran four races last year. I was basically on the couch every weekend. So, to start the year with the pole for the Daytona 500 and then to make the Round of 12, well, I can’t really complain. This No. 88 team has worked hard all season and it is really starting to show with our finishes. We aren’t done yet. I won’t be completely satisfied until we have the car in Victory Lane. We are definitely on our way, we just have to continue putting some good races together and executing the way we know how.”

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

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