HMS Prepares For Championship Weekend At Homestead

Hendrick Motorsports / 5 24 48 88

HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 36 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, NOV. 18 (NBC/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

  • 5th in points
  • 35 starts
  • 3 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 11 top-five finishes
  • 20 top-10 finishes
  • 325 laps led

Career

  • 112 starts
  • 3 wins
  • 4 pole positions
  • 33 top-five finishes
  • 58 top-10 finishes
  • 1,243 laps led

Track Career 

  • 2 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 0 laps led
PHOENIX RECAP: For the second consecutive year, Chase Elliott went into the final race of the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs needing a win to guarantee his spot in the Championship 4. Elliott found himself in the lead on multiple occasions in the penultimate race of the year, challenging for Victory Lane in thrilling fashion. But a win eluded the third-year driver at ISM Raceway. He was collected in a multiple-car incident while running inside the top 10 with fewer than 50 laps remaining, and the resulting damage was enough to essentially take him out of contention and his bid to race for a title in the Championship 4 came to an end with a 23rd-place finish in the race.

2018 SEASON: With one race remaining, Elliott and the No. 9 team have had a strong performance during the 2018 season. The 22-year-old driver collected his first three career NASCAR Cup Series victories (Watkins Glen, Dover, Kansas) – two of which came during the Round of 12 in the playoffs – 11 top-five finishes, 20 top-10s and 325 laps led. The 22-year old has averaged a starting position of 11.0 and finishing position of 12.4 throughout 2018.

ELLIOTT AT 1.5-MILE TRACKS: Elliott is set to make his 34th 1.5-mile track start this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In the third-year driver’s previous 33 starts on tracks of the same length, he has led 245 laps and averaged a starting position of 13.8 and a finishing position of 14.0. Elliott has collected one win, 11 top-five finishes – two of which are runner-up results – and 18 top-10s. Over the last two visits to a 1.5-mile track (Texas and Kansas), Elliott has the best average finish of all drivers (3.5).

GUSTAFSON AT HOMESTEAD: This weekend, No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 14th race from atop the pit box at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In his previous 13 races at the venue, Gustafson has collected one win (2012 – Jeff Gordon), three top-five finishes, six top-10s and 220 laps led. The Florida native also started from the pole position in 2014 with Jeff Gordon.

LAST 16: In the last 16 races, Elliott has earned three wins, seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s, garnering an average finish of 10.0. The driver of the No. 9 Chevy also led 306 laps – an improvement over his 19 laps led in the first 19 races.

NAPA AUTO PARTS: NAPA AUTO PARTS will return as primary sponsor for Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team for the final race of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season. Earlier this season, it was announced that the Atlanta-based company extended its relationship with 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports with a new agreement that immediately expanded its majority sponsorship of driver Elliott and the No. 9 team for 26 races through the 2020 racing season.

William Byron
No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2018 Season

  • 23rd in points
  • 35 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 61 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 0 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
2018 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: With his top-10 performance at ISM Raceway last Sunday, William Byron clinched the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year title. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award will be presented to Byron at the Myers Brothers awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Nov. 28, 2018 – the day before his 21st birthday. This is his fourth rookie of the year title in as many years (2017 – NASCAR Xfinity Series, 2016 – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 2015 – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East). He joins Jeff Gordon (1993), Kyle Busch (2005) and Chase Elliott (2016) as the fourth Hendrick Motorsports driver to earn a rookie title. Byron is only the second driver – joining Erik Jones – to win all three NASCAR national series rookie of the year titles in consecutive years. He is also the third-youngest driver to earn the title, behind Joey Logano and Busch. With just one race remaining in the 2018 season, the 20-year-old has racked up four top-10 finishes and led 61 laps through 35 points races. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native will be paired up with seven-time champion crew chief Chad Knaus for the 2019 season, which will start with a test session in Fontana, California, in January.

HOMESTEAD PEDIGREE: Byron has a stout – albeit short – résumé at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In the Xfinity Series in 2017, he started sixth and finished third at the 1.5-mile track, securing the series championship in the process. In 2016, he started on the pole and won the Truck Series race, leading 31 laps.

GRUBB VICTORIES: No. 24 team crew chief Darian Grubb has scored two wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway, one of which came in November 2011 with Tony Stewart to cap off their championship season and the other was in 2013 with Denny Hamlin. This weekend will mark Grubb’s last race as crew chief for Byron before he assumes the role of technical director in 2019. While he’ll still travel to the racetrack each week, the promotion grants him an elevated role of overseeing the technical development of all four Hendrick Motorsports teams. Six recent crew chief-driver pairings have won in their last race together, including Grubb and Stewart in 2011, so that could bode well for Grubb and Byron this weekend.

HERTZ CLOSES OUT THE SEASON: The yellow No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 returns to the track this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale. As announced in May, the Hertz Corporation, one of the world’s largest vehicle rental companies, joined Hendrick Motorsports as a primary sponsor of Byron and his iconic No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team beginning in 2018. As part of the two-year agreement, Hertz will be primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in four points-paying Cup Series races in both 2018 and 2019 and an associate-level partner in all other events.

VISITING HERTZ: As part of Hertz’s 100-year anniversary celebration, Byron will make a visit to the company’s headquarters in Estero, Florida, on Thursday, Nov. 15, to spend time with Hertz employees. Hertz is also extending that celebration to its customers, giving them a chance to win big with a sweepstakes featuring a grand prize of a Hertz 100th Anniversary Edition Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and weekly prizes of $250 vouchers to use at Hertz+. There are multiple ways to enter the sweepstakes, including: rent and complete any car rental from Hertz during the sweepstakes period and receive one entry per rental; be a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards member to automatically receive 2 entries per rental during the sweepstakes period; or book and complete any activity on Hertz’ new experience platform, Hertz+, and automatically receive 2 entries into the sweepstakes. For more information, visit http://www.hertz.com/hertzplussweeps. Offer ends on Dec. 14, 2018.

Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Lowe’s Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2018 Season

  • 14th in points
  • 35 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 11 top-10 finishes
  • 40 laps led

Career

  • 614 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 224 top-five finishes
  • 352 top-10 finishes
  • 18,703 laps led

Track Career 

  • 17 starts
  • 1 win
  • 2 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 11 top-10 finishes
  • 102 laps led
‘CAN YOU WIN?’: The day Jimmie Johnson signed his contract shortly after his 26th birthday in 2001, he was asked by former Lowe’s CEO Robert Tillman, “Jimmie, can you win?” At that point, Johnson had only one win in the then-Busch Series, but his obvious response was, “Yes, I can.” It was a rookie campaign that began with a Daytona 500 pole – one of four pole positions Johnson earned that year – and featured six top-five finishes, 21 top-10s, 838 laps led and three wins. Johnson recently shared a video of his mindset about running his 2002 rookie paint scheme for the final ride of the Lowe’s era this Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

PARTNERSHIP FOR THE AGES: The partnership Lowe’s has enjoyed with Hendrick Motorsports has been one for the ages. As the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet takes its final spin at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson will reflect on the history he and Lowe’s have made together. It began with three races in 2001 at Charlotte, Atlanta and Homestead. Then, on Feb. 17, 2002, Johnson led the field at the Daytona 500 as a rookie pole-sitter for the “Great American Race.” Just nine races later, Johnson captured his first NASCAR Cup Series win at Auto Club Speedway and took Lowe’s to Victory Lane for just the second time in NASCAR Cup history. It would be the first of 83 wins for Johnson and Lowe’s. Four years later, on Nov. 19, 2006, Johnson was crowned a Cup Series champion with Lowe’s on the hood of his Chevrolet. A record-setting streak of five championships in a row would be enjoyed by Johnson and Lowe’s from 2006-2010. Finally, in 2016, with many wins and a sixth championship in between, Johnson matched NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty as the third driver to win seven championships – all with Lowe’s along for the ride.

LOWE’S IN VICTORY LANE: Johnson accumulated 83 wins with Lowe’s colors on his car – which is second all-time for a driver-sponsor combination. Former teammate Jeff Gordon had 87 wins with Axalta as his partner and Richard Petty had 60 wins with his iconic partner.

LAST RACE WITH KNAUS AT THE HELM: Another incredible pairing will come to an end this weekend, as No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus and Johnson will start their 602nd race together, their last as a crew chief-driver duo. Together, they are the longest active driver and crew chief pairing, with more starts than the second- and third-longest active pairings have combined. Johnson and Knaus have enjoyed 17 straight seasons together (2002-2018), accumulated 81 wins – the second-most all-time – and a record-tying seven championships. They are the only driver-crew chief pairing to make the playoffs every year since its inception (2004-2018). Knaus and Johnson’s joint résumé also includes: a Daytona 500 win, four Brickyard 400 wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, two Southern 500 wins at Darlington Raceway, four Charlotte Motor Speedway 600-mile wins and four NASCAR All-Star Race wins. Johnson and Knaus are the only driver-crew chief pairing with a four-race win streak in the last 20 years, a feat they accomplished in 2007.

HAVE PASSPORT, WILL TRAVEL: On Nov. 26, Johnson will swap rides with two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso on the road course at Bahrain International Circuit. The No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which was the backup car for Johnson’s performance at the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, has traveled overseas in a container. Click here to read about its journey.

ALONSO DROPS BY: In an unconventional press conference last weekend at ISM Raceway, Johnson and Alonso discussed their upcoming car-swap opportunity with the media. Johnson was in the media center and Alonso joined via Skype on a Microsoft Surface laptop from the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo, Brazil. Click here for more.

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 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 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2018 Season

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

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
BOWMAN IN MIAMI: Alex Bowman has three previous NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with his best finish of 16th coming in 2016. The Tucson, Arizona, native piloted the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet in the 2016 season finale for Hendrick Motorsports as a fill-in driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. That same year, Bowman drove the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in his first series start at the track. The driver was on his way to a top-10 finish when he was spun around coming to the checkered flag and scored with a 14th-place finish.

IVES AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI: Greg Ives has called the shots three times as the No. 88 team crew chief at the Miami-based track. The Michigan native has also been atop the pit box for two events at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports. In 2014, Ives and driver Chase Elliott claimed the Xfinity Series championship and celebrated at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

2018 IN REVIEW: The 2018 season has been Bowman’s best career Cup Series season to date. The 25-year-old won the pole for the Daytona 500 this season, his second career pole – both of which came while driving with Hendrick Motorsports. The 25-year-old driver made the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the first time in his career and advanced to the Round of 12. Bowman had his best finish on a track at 18 venues so far in 2018. Until this season, the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had not finished inside the top five. This season, Bowman finished inside the top five on three occasions. Prior to 2018, Bowman had three top-10 finishes. Going into Homestead this weekend, the Arizona native has earned 11 top-10 finishes this season alone.

AXALTA ON BOARD: Bowman will be behind the wheel of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Homestead. Earlier this year, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Axalta would be back on board the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in 2019 for 12 events. The leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings signed a four-year contract extension that will take the sponsorship through 2022. Recently, Axalta unveiled a new Axalta Racing website with plenty of behind-the-scenes content, photos and videos. Check out Alex’s page here.

HOME TRACK REWIND: Last weekend, Bowman and the Axalta team qualified fifth on Friday evening for the 312-lap event at ISM Raceway. Early on in the race, the driver had his eyes set out front and finished Stage 1 in ninth. Through a series of cautions, the team finished Stage 2 in the 14th position. While Bowman was working his way back toward the front, his No. 88 Chevy was caught up in a multiple-car incident. The team pitted twice to fix heavy nose damage, but ultimately the engine expired due to high temperatures. Bowman was relegated to a 30th-place finish.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT HOMESTEAD: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have earned two wins, three pole positions, 14 top-five finishes and 29 top-10s at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The first win came courtesy of Jeff Gordon in 2012, when he led the final 13 laps of the race en route to Victory Lane. The organization’s most recent win at the Florida track came just last season as Jimmie Johnson clinched his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series title after he led the final three laps of the race. At least one Hendrick Motorsports driver has finished inside the top 10 at Homestead for 16 consecutive races, the longest streak all-time at the track.

SEASON IN REVIEW: With one NASCAR Cup Series race remaining in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed three wins – including the organization’s milestone 250th victory – two pole positions, 16 top-five finishes, and 46 top-10s. The three wins came at three different tracks – Watkins Glen, Dover, and Kansas, all courtesy of Chase Elliott. The organization extended its streak of winning at least one race per season to 33 years (1986-2018). Elliott, Johnson and Alex Bowman qualified for the series’ playoffs, with Johnson being eliminated following the Round of 16, Bowman following the Round of 12 and Elliott following the Round of 8 cutoff event last weekend at ISM Raceway. William Byron was named NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year.

1.5-MILE CHAMPS: Hendrick Motorsports has a NASCAR Cup Series record 58 total wins on 1.5-mile tracks, 13 more than the next closest team, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hendrick Motorsports has earned at least one win on a 1.5-mile track in a record 25 consecutive seasons. Elliott most recently extended that streak from 24 to 25 seasons with his Oct. 21 victory at Kansas, becoming the 10th different driver to win for the organization on a 1.5-mile track.

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. 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, Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch on the list.

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, and Elliott and Johnson are among the 10 highest vote-getters. 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.

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 Byron or Bowman wins at Homestead, 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 1,786 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 his 2018 NASCAR playoffs run coming to an end:
“You just have to make the most of opportunities and the whole year counts. Those guys (in the Championship 4) winning a lot of races throughout the season is what kept them away from a pressure-filled situation. All the bonus points they built up pretty much got them to Homestead. That’s the way the system’s meant to work. It pays to win. So, we’ll try to win some more next year.”

William Byron on racing at Homestead in an Xfinity car versus Cup car:
“I think the Cup car will be different in some ways, but I think the same characteristics and things apply. Running the fence will be similar there in the Cup car – I’m sure you’re going to hit it at some point in the race. You have to try to make sure you can run up there at the top and be competitive. It’s the last race of the year, so we’ll try to finish on a good note. Overall, it was fun being there last year – it was really exciting and just a cool feeling to win the championship, so it will be cool to go back there and remember some of those things.”

Jimmie Johnson on his final race with Lowe’s and No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus:
“Man, I want to win this year. I want to win with Lowe’s on the car and I want to win with (No. 48 team crew chief) Chad (Knaus). So, that’s our top priority. Seeing that (rookie) paint scheme is going to trigger emotions from myself and I’m sure our fans. So many good years with that paint scheme and victories and such. I think this weekend’s definitely going to be an emotional one.”

Johnson on Lowe’s:
“I’ll always be grateful to Lowe’s for taking a chance on me and believing that I could win. I’m not sure where I’d be right now if they hadn’t committed to the No. 48 team. I never dreamed we would have come all this way. Their partnership, all the people who touched this program along the way who made an impact on my career and this sport will never be forgotten.”

Alex Bowman on racing at Homestead:
“I really haven’t raced at Homestead that much. It’s a tough place for me. I haven’t ever gotten super comfortable running the wall there all day without knocking the right side off. I think we have some work to do, but I am confident we can have a good race car there.”

Bowman on Homestead versus other 1.5-mile tracks:
“It just gets really slick. It kills tires and it’s a different shape, so you have to run the fence, pretty much completely dedicated to running the fence. Even on stickers there is no grip. It’s an interesting place.”

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

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