Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Bristol Night Race

BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY (0.533-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: BRISTOL, TENNESSEE
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 24 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 7:30 P.M. ET, SATURDAY, AUG. 19 (NBC/PRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Rated Red Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

Driver Kasey Kahne   Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 37                        Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 20th in standings
  • 23 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 31 laps led

Career

  • 491 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 1 win
  • 1 pole position
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 10 top-10 finishes
  • 512 laps led
RATED RED: This weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Rated Red Chevrolet SS. The Rated Red paint scheme will also adorn the No. 5 Chevrolet SS during the upcoming Charlotte Motor Speedway race weekend. The Hendrick Motorsports docuseries “Road to Race Day” can be seen on Complex Networks’ Rated Red available on go90. Rated Red is the Heartland’s first digital video network, covering the best in news, outdoor life, food, sports, DIY and more. Whatever your passion, Rated Red has you covered. No. 5 team-related episodes will be released on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6.

BRISTOL STATS: Bristol Motor Speedway marks the site of one of Kahne’s two NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2013. He led 109 laps in the March race and powered through 17 lead changes to take the checkered flag 1.7 seconds ahead of second place. The win was Kahne’s third while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has led a total of 512 laps throughout five races at Bristol, which places him ninth among active drivers. Kahne has also earned one of his 27 career pole awards at the short track. He captured the pole in the August 2007 race with a pole speed of 119.805 mph and came up one spot shy of earning the victory.

BRISTOL LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne is second in green-flag passes with 1,376 and in quality passes with 801. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running inside the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. He ranks fifth in the fastest laps run category with 506. The driver of the No. 5 Chevy is seventh in laps spent in the top 15 with 7,005.

PARADE OF POWER: On Wednesday, Aug. 16, Kahne will participate in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Parade of Power event in Concord, North Carolina. The parade signifies the kickoff of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s fall schedule of racing activities. The parade departs the Concord Mills mall at 12 p.m. ET and will end at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event is open to the public and media. For more information, contact Lauren Emling.

RACING ROOTS: HendrickMotorsports.com has released a four-part video series on Kahne titled “Racing Roots.” The videos take you from Kahne’s early beginnings in Enumclaw, Washington, to being part of Hendrick Motorsports today. The video series also looks at his passion away from the asphalt track – his dirt car team, Kasey Kahne Racing. The video series can be viewed here.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 21                      Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2017 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 23 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 2 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 13 top-10 finishes
  • 182 laps led

Career

  • 64 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 16 top-five finishes
  • 30 top-10 finishes
  • 540 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 14 laps led
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Aug. 18, at 9:15 a.m. local time in the Bristol Motor Speedway media center.

NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS will feature the familiar blue-and-yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 24 team for 24 NASCAR Cup Series races this year. Most recently, Elliott piloted the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy to an eighth-place finish at Michigan International Speedway.

BRISTOL STATS: Elliott is set to make his fourth career start at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. In his previous three starts, the 21-year-old driver has led 14 laps and collected one top-five finish and two top-10s. He averages a starting position of 9.0 and finishing position of 8.7. In Elliott’s four NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at the track, he earned one top-five finish and finished in the top 10 in all four events.

MICHIGAN REWIND: Elliott and the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team started fifth in Sunday’s event at Michigan International Speedway. Elliott leveraged the strong starting position to finish third in Stage 1 and collect eight additional points. After finishing 11th in Stage 2, the No. 24 team opted not to pit during the stage break. The strategy allowed Elliott to restart ninth on Lap 128. With less than 50 laps remaining, Elliott jumped from sixth to third before making a scheduled green-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel on Lap 160. After running a handful of laps under green, an incident on the backstretch halted the race with only five laps remaining to set up a two-lap overtime restart with Elliott scored in fifth. In overtime, Elliott’s position in the unfavorable inside line resulted in him dropping several spots to ultimately take the checkered flag eighth for his 13th top-10 finish in 23 races this season.

ELLIOTT IN BRISTOL: Elliott is scheduled to be at Courtesy Chevrolet in Kingsport, Tennessee, on Thursday, Aug. 17, beginning at 4 p.m. local time. He will also make appearances at the Team Chevy Stage on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 4:45 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session, followed by a stop at the Mountain Dew Tailgate at 5:05 p.m.

BRAVES COUNTRY: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native was recently a guest on Fox Sports South’s “Chopcast Live” with hosts Cory McCartney and Zach Dillard. Elliott covered a variety of topics including his thoughts on the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS throwback paint scheme for Darlington Raceway, the playoffs and of course, the Atlanta Braves.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 41                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 23 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 188 laps led

Career

  • 566 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 337 top-10 finishes
  • 18,634 laps led

Track Career 

  • 31 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 11 top-five finishes
  • 18 top-10 finishes
  • 914 laps led
LAST TIME AT BRISTOL: Last time at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson led 81 laps en route to his second win at the 0.533-mile track. It was Johnson’s 82nd career win and first win at Bristol since 2010.

DRIVER RATING AT BRISTOL: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson has the sixth-best driver rating at Bristol with an average score of 93.0 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points and is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

LOWE’S UNVEILED DARLINGTON THROWBACK: Today, Lowe’s revealed the special Darlington Raceway throwback Chevy Johnson will be driving at the 500-mile event over Labor Day weekend. The paint scheme design was inspired by Lowe’s trucks from 1986 and can be seen here.

TESTING CHICAGO: Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and the No. 48 team are participating a two-day test at Chicagoland Speedway on Aug. 15 and 16 in preparation of the Sept. 17 playoff-opening event. Over the course of his 83 career wins, Johnson still has yet to earn a victory at Chicago.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: The fourth installment of “Road to Race Day,” the eight-part docuseries about Hendrick Motorsports, premieres Wednesday on go90and focuses on Johnson, Knaus and the No. 48 team. The episode was filmed during the May 2016 All-Star Race weekend in Charlotte. The series is directed by Cynthia Hill (“A Chef’s Life,” “Private Violence”) and executive produced by Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights,” “Lone Survivor”).

TICKET PACKAGE AT DOVER: Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and 11-time Dover winner Johnson will hold an exclusive question-and-answer session before the playoff race at Dover on Oct. 1. For $60, the “Jimmie Johnson Q&A Package” includes one adult ticket and one junior ticket (for children ages 12 and younger) in the lower section of the turns, as well as access to the Q&A session before the race. For more information, log on to www.DoverSpeedway.com.

No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 23 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 24 laps led

Career

  • 618 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 256 top-10 finishes
  • 8,211 laps led

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 16 top-10 finishes
  • 790 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Thursday, Aug. 17, at 2:15 p.m. local time in the Bristol Motor Speedway media center.

BRISTOL VICTOR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has earned one victory at Bristol Motor Speedway, which came in August 2004, when he led 295 laps en route to capturing the checkered flag. The 42-year-old came close to getting his second win in the 2016 spring race, finishing second in a dramatic comeback. In that race, Earnhardt had no power at the drop of the green flag, but he was able to get the No. 88 Chevrolet SS to pit road for service, although it forced him two laps down at the start of the race. Earnhardt and the crew chief Greg Ives-led No. 88 team worked diligently throughout the race to get back on the lead lap and in position to contend for the win.

BRISTOL STATS: The driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS has been running at the finish of 31 of the 34 races (91.2 percent) he has entered at Bristol. He’s also completed 16,267 of 17,027 laps (95.5 percent) in his 34 starts. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Earnhardt ranks third in green-flag passes with 1,279 and ranks fourth among active drivers in the “closers” category, gaining a total of 13 positions in the last 10 percent of races. The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has the third-best average finish among all active drivers in the last 25 Cup races at Bristol. Earnhardt, who recorded 11 top-10s during that span, has an average finish of 12.6 since 2005.

SPECIAL SCHEME: Earnhardt will run a special True Timber camouflage Axalta scheme this weekend, featuring Axalta’s partners Ducks Unlimited, which is the largest wetlands conservationist in the world, and Service King, an auto service chain that strives to deliver safe, superior repairs with excellent customer service. Click here to see the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS camo scheme.

DOUBLE DUTY: For the first time this season, Earnhardt will be pulling double duty, driving the JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Friday night in addition to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Cup Series on Saturday night. Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports will have five cars entered in Friday night’s XFINITY race. He will also pull double duty again at Richmond Raceway in three weeks.

DEW PROMOTING THE OUTDOORS AND ‘RIDE WITH JR.’ PROGRAM: Just in time for fall, Mountain Dew is introducing a program to bring fans the best in outdoors, racing and more. The brand has partnered with True Timber for a unique line of limited-edition camo gear that fans can earn and win. In addition to the True Timber apparel, Mountain Dew will also celebrate the outdoors by introducing limited-edition Mtn Dew True Timber camo products, executing one of the brand’s biggest-ever outdoors activations at the Bristol night race on Aug. 19, and joining Earnhardt for his final race at Talladega, where he’ll take his final laps featuring the names of 100,000 fans on his No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet. Fans can enter to have their names placed on the paint scheme atRideWithJr.com. Fans will receive an email and can check the site this fall to see where their name will be placed on the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet. Earnhardt will stop by the Mountain Dew Tailgate at 4:10 p.m. local time on Saturday, Aug. 19, for a fan Q&A session.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT BRISTOL: At Bristol Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins, 11 pole positions, 55 top-five finishes and 99 top-10s. Johnson most recently won there for the organization earlier this year in the April event.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: Hendrick Motorsports has teamed with Complex Networks, Film 45 and Markay Media on an original eight-part documentary series that goes behind the scenes with the organization during the 2016 season. New “Road to Race Day” episodes premiere Wednesdays on the go90 streaming platform. Watch for free by downloading the go90 app on your Apple or Android device, or view the series at go90.com.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,022 top-five finishes and 1,722 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,797 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“Over the years, Bristol has gotten faster throughout an entire run — the lap times don’t fall off like they used to. Track position means a lot, and on the longer runs you can make moves. It’s a small track and you can work the top and bottom, wherever your car is best. The excitement of the night race is so cool and it would be neat to get a night win. I’ve won during the day and that was cool.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Bristol

“Just the atmosphere — such a cool atmosphere and one that we don’t see but one time a year and that is why we love it. We love what we can’t have and something that only happens once a year makes it that much more special.”

Chase Elliott on the difference between Bristol’s day and night races

“To say I’m excited to get to Bristol is an understatement. I can’t say enough about the hard work my guys have been putting in lately. It’s been a frustrating summer to say the least. I’ve got confidence we can turn this around.”

Jimmie Johnson on heading to Bristol

“When I was a kid, the night race at Bristol was the one I got really excited about. They parked the vans over the corner and literally it felt like we were 20 feet from the cars sitting on top of the vans there. You just could see the drivers working in the cars and you could see the action. There was no better experience in my book than getting that close to stock car racing in those days at Bristol. Me and the other kids would run around and beg everybody to let us wax their cars or whatever we could do. It was such a small place. It was fun to get involved in anything and everything in the infield. During the race, we’d probably watch from 50 different vantage points. We’d be climbing all over trucks and going down pit road and getting on this truck and that truck. We’d just be everywhere. So, I loved going there.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his childhood memories at Bristol

“The track itself is real unique. There’s not another one like it. It has always been a surprise to me that nobody has ever tried to emulate it somewhere else because it’s such an incredible place. Particularly when it was asphalt, it was quite the racetrack. And it’s surprising to me that nobody has tried to rebuild that sort of racetrack somewhere else to see how it would do. But maybe it’s best there’s only one. It’s still a lot of fun to race on even though it’s changed quite a bit. And, I always thought that was one of the coolest trophies. It was taller than me for quite a large part of my life. Until I graduated from high school, I don’t think I was any taller than that trophy, and daddy had a bunch of them in the house. He had a lot of clocks. He had a lot of Bristol trophies. And I wanted one of each. So, I feel lucky to have those now.”

Earnhardt on racing at Bristol

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

Hendrick Motorsports Announces Leadership Promotions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS STRENGTHENS ORGANIZATION WITH EIGHT LEADERSHIP TEAM PROMOTIONS

CONCORD, N.C. (Aug. 15, 2017) – Hendrick Motorsports has elevated eight senior leaders into new positions designed to strengthen the 12-time and defending NASCAR Cup Series champions and enhance the team’s overall management structure. The eight executives, who will assume their new roles immediately, have more than 150 combined years of service with the organization.

“I believe the best leaders serve their teammates, not the other way around,” said , owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Servant leadership is an approach that’s been successful for us in both racing and the automobile business, and it’s something our organization has wholeheartedly embraced. These people have grown in our culture and are trusted throughout our company. I’m proud to see them expand their responsibilities as we look toward the future together.”

Vice president and chief financial officer Scott Lampe has been promoted to executive vice president, making him Hendrick Motorsports’ third-ranking officer after owner Hendrick and team president Marshall Carlson. The Appalachian State University graduate will continue as CFO with responsibility for core business functions that include accounting, aviation, human resources, information technology, legal affairs, purchasing, and real estate. The Durham, North Carolina, native has been with the company for 18 years.

Veteran racer Ken Howes, who has 32 years of service with Hendrick Motorsports, has been named vice president and chief of staff to provide leadership, coordination and support across the organization’s senior executive team and all racing operations. The Johannesburg, South Africa, native previously was vice president of competition and is the company’s most experienced team executive with a decorated auto racing career that spans NASCAR, Formula 1 and IMSA.

Director of engine operations Jeff Andrews has been elevated to vice president of competition. With 25 years of experience with Hendrick Motorsports, Andrews is now the organization’s senior competition executive supporting its crew chiefs and four NASCAR Cup Series teams. His responsibilities include oversight of the company’s engine operation and the newly formed competition systems group. The Fresno, California, native will be the organization’s representative on the NASCAR competition committee and serve as its co-chair representing Chevrolet teams.

Nos. 5 and 24 team manager Brian Whitesell has been promoted to the new position of vice president of operations. He will oversee the organization’s vehicle engineering group and direct all vehicle-related production, including chassis, bodies, composites and other unified vehicle production functions. The Stuarts Draft, Virginia, native holds a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech and has 25 years of service with Hendrick Motorsports.

Lampe, Howes, Andrews, Whitesell and longtime vice president of marketing Patrick Perkins will report to Carlson, along with crew chiefs Alan GustafsonGreg IvesChad Knaus and Keith Rodden.

“Without question, our greatest strength is the more than 600 people working at every level inside Hendrick Motorsports,” Carlson said. “We’ve spent a great deal of time listening to team members throughout the organization, front to back, and identified ways to better align management and organize capabilities to take full advantage of our talent. The first priority is our people, and the best way we can serve them is to continue winning races and competing for championships for many years to come. We believe these decisions will help to ensure we meet that goal.”

Other new assignments include:

·  Longtime director of engine engineering Jim Wall has been promoted to director of powertrain. In conjunction with Andrews, Wall will continue managing the development and delivery of championship-caliber engines with the added responsibility of overseeing the gear and transmission unit, which will be integrated with the engine operation. The Concord native holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University. He has more than 30 years of service with Hendrick Motorsports.

·  Vehicle production director Darian Grubb has been promoted to director of competition systems, reporting to Andrews. The Floyd, Virginia, native will work to enhance team capabilities that directly support at-track competition with day-to-day oversight of the new competition systems group, which includes the organization’s simulation programs, analytics platforms, data acquisition and communication technologies, and at-track research and development.

·  Manager of aerodynamics Diane Holl, a former principle engineer at the McLaren Formula 1 team, has been promoted to director of vehicle engineering, reporting to Whitesell. The Guildford, England, native will lead the vehicle engineering group and integrate the design-and-build processes employed in race car development and production.

·  Nos. 48 and 88 team manager Michael Landis has been promoted to director of operational support, reporting to Lampe. The New York City native will provide responsive business services to the competition and operations units with oversight of essential support functions including purchasing, apparel, travel, and logistics and transport.

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

Kasey Kahne Is On The Search For A 2018 Ride

Kasey Kahne
Kasey Kahne’s job hunt started soon after it was announced that he would not return in 2018 to the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

He has won six races in his nearly six years at Hendrick Motorsports and 18 in his career. He is widely considered to have underperformed in his time at Hendrick. Kahne is hopeful he will be able to land a ride in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and that the new job will rejuvenate his career.

“I think that it’s all about people,” Kahne said. “If you can get the people behind you and believe in you and then I believe in them, and we work together for the same goal to win races. It’s a competitive series it is a super tough series to win in and so many things have to go right for the entire race weekend and then throughout the race.”

Team owner Rick Hendrick shouldered the blame for the No. 5 team’s subpar performance and says he will help Kahne get a new ride. “To have him behind you is a really good thing,” Kahne said. “I respect him a ton. Yeah, I hope we can build something out of that, but I also have been working in my own direction as well on certain things to make sure I just check out everything that is out there for sure.”

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

Chase Elliott Has His Eyes On The Pure Michigan 400 Trophy

Chase Elliott
When Chase Elliott travels to Michigan International Speedway, he must feel like Sisyphus – the king in Greek mythology forced to roll a boulder up a hill, and when he reaches the pinnacle, the boulder rolls off, forcing him to repeat the process for all of eternity!

The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver has made three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts in the Wolverine State and has finished second all three times.

“It’s great,” Elliott said about the two-mile track, which hosts Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400. “It’s also frustrating to have run second every time we have been there. It’s good I guess that we are inside the top five the past few times we have been there, but at the same time that is frustrating to have been pretty close to having a shot to win there, which would have been very big if we could have pulled that out.

Elliott enters Sunday’s contest coming off a series of solid, yet unspectacular performances. He placed 13th last week at Watkins Glen, 10th at Pocono, 39th at Indianapolis due to engine trouble and 11th at New Hampshire. Still he ranks 14th on the playoff grid, 39 points ahead of Clint Bowyer on the cutoff line. Elliott has little margin of error when it comes to making the postseason, but can guarantee himself a playoff berth by grabbing a win at Michigan.

“I like Michigan, I’ve always liked going up there,” Elliott said. “I really love that area. It’s just a cool part of the United States to go to. I like it up there – it’s a nice area and that is kind of why I like going.”

Could this be the weekend that Chase parks the No. 24 squarely in Victory Lane?

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

William Byron: “I’m Ready”

William Byron
William Byron summed up his future at Hendrick Motorsports in two words: “I’m ready.”

That was the answer Byron gave team owner Rick Hendrick on Sunday night, when Hendrick first broached the possibility of the 19-year-old moving up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018.

“He didn’t know why we were meeting,” Hendrick said on Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. “I said, ‘William, how’d you like to drive in Cup next year?’ And he said, ‘I’m ready.’ There was no hesitation.

“We’re just really excited. It was a special moment. … Just to see his face and the excitement there, those are real special moments when you can break the news.”

On Wednesday morning, HMS made that news official. Byron will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy Series next season, with primary sponsorship from existing partners Axalta and Liberty University filling most of the race dates. Byron replaces Kasey Kahne, who will leave the car with one year remaining on his contract.

“We haven’t gotten the job done,” Hendrick said of the results from the No. 5 car. “I take full responsibility for that. For whatever reason, we weren’t getting it.”

Though Byron has never driven a Monster Energy Series car in competition, he has shown enormous talent at every level of racing, winning seven times in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie season last year and winning three times in 20 NASCAR XFINITY Series starts this season. Byron currently is second to JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler in the XFINITY standings.

“As a kid, this is the race shop that I would drive by and look in the windows,” Byron said of his early affinity for Hendrick Motorsports. “Actually, at the 5/24 (shop), they have the window there, and I would walk up to that, and it’s pretty cool to be on the other side of it next year. …

“I feel like I’ve put the work into it, and I feel like I’m learning on the job, and that’s been the biggest thing for me, to learn from the best people I can have around me. Just looking forward to the future.”

With 24-year-old Alex Bowman recently announced as the successor to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet, the shift to Byron from Kahne further reduces the age and experience of the Hendrick roster. Second-year driver Chase Elliott, who replaced Jeff Gordon into the No. 24 car last year, is 22.

That leaves seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who will turn 42 in September, as the only veteran in the Hendrick camp.

“Jimmie Johnson will be a mentor to all three of them,” Hendrick said. “We still have Jeff Gordon involved, and Dale Earnhardt’s going to be involved. He’s still going to be involved with the team, so we’ve got a lot of coaches. But the main thing is just not putting too much pressure on them and let them go out and learn.”

Hendrick says he is also trying to help Kahne take the next step in his career. Kahne has spent six years in the No. 5 car and recently qualified for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I have an obligation to Kasey, so I’m paying two drivers next year,” Hendrick said. “And I’m also trying to help Kasey in another situation that we could be involved with helping another team.

“So therefore, it’s not so much about money. It’s about the future and building for the future, getting a fresh start.”

That’s precisely what Hendrick hopes and expects from Byron.

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

William Byron Is The New Driver Of The HMS No. 5 Chevy!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WILLIAM BYRON TO COMPETE IN THE NASCAR CUP SERIES FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS BEGINNING IN 2018

AXALTA AND LIBERTY UNIVERSITY ON BOARD AS PRIMARY SPONSORS

CONCORD, N.C. (Aug. 9, 2017) – Record-breaking teenager William Byron will drive for 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports beginning next season. He will debut at stock car racing’s highest level in the 2018 Daytona 500 and compete for rookie of the year honors.

Byron’s No. 5 Chevrolet team will feature sponsorship from Axalta Coating Systems and Liberty University, which currently support the 19-year-old driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Beginning in 2018, the two primary sponsors will cover the majority of Byron’s Cup races annually. Additional details of the multi-year partnerships will be announced at a later date.

In 2016, Byron turned in the most successful debut season in Camping World Truck Series history with a NASCAR national series rookie record seven victories. This year, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native progressed into the Xfinity Series, where he has already earned three wins — Iowa, Daytona and Indianapolis — and currently ranks second in the standings after 20 of 33 races with Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Byron, who will turn 20 on Nov. 29. “Mr. (Rick) Hendrick has built such a great team. The people at Hendrick Motorsports have dedicated their lives to giving their drivers the best chance to win every weekend. I have a responsibility to them to work hard and put everything I have into this opportunity. They need to know I’m always giving 100 percent because that’s what they do.

“When I told my parents that I wanted to drive race cars, they supported me and believed I could do it. Without them, there’s no way this would be possible. Axalta and Liberty University are awesome partners, and I’m so thankful for their faith in me. I’m going to do all I can to make my family, my sponsors and my teammates proud and represent them all in the right way.”

Hendrick Motorsports signed Byron in August 2016. Next season, he will join drivers Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman as a member of the four-car NASCAR Cup Series operation.

“At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Some drivers have raw talent and some have a strong work ethic. William has both. It’s impressive to see a young guy who never gets rattled and instinctively knows how to communicate with his team. That level of commitment, poise and pure ability is rare at any age. I think he’s just scratching the surface.”

Axalta Coating Systems (NYSE: AXTA), a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, became a sponsor of Byron’s Xfinity Series effort this season. With primary sponsorship across teammates Byron and Alex Bowman (15 races), the company will increase its already significant presence with Hendrick Motorsports in 2018. Axalta has been a Hendrick Motorsports corporate partner since 1992 and recently opened its state-of-the-art Customer Experience Center on the team’s campus.

Liberty University began its support of Byron in 2014 when he drove late models for JR Motorsports and is now in its fourth season sponsoring the driver. Founded in 1971 and located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is the largest private, nonprofit university in the United States, the largest university in Virginia and the largest Christian university in the world. Byron is currently a sophomore student working toward an undergraduate degree in business communications through the school’s online education program.

“To have this opportunity with a new partner (to Hendrick Motorsports) in Liberty University and to grow what’s been an incredible long-term relationship with Axalta, it’s very special,” Hendrick said. “These are two sponsors who have already built effective programs around our sport and now see even more possibilities. It’s a big compliment to William, who has been a terrific ambassador for them both, and we look forward to a bright future together.”

WILLIAM BYRON YEAR-BY-YEAR:

2017: As a rookie, has posted three wins, one pole position, seven top-five finishes and 14 top-10s through 20 of 33 races in the Xfinity Series. Recorded wins at Iowa Speedway and the iconic venues of Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Currently second in driver points, first in playoff points and leads the rookie of the year standings.

2016: Recorded the most successful rookie season in NCWTS history with seven wins (a national series rookie record), three poles, 11 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Named rookie of the year after leading 21 percent of the season’s total laps and securing the NCWTS owner championship. Started two ARCA Racing Series events, finishing second and eighth. Signed by 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports in August.

2015: Crowned NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion after posting four wins, three pole positions, five top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. In 14 events, led 740 of the season’s 1,730 total laps (43 percent). Started two K&N Pro Series West races, recording two top-five finishes. Competed in two ARCA events, earning a second-place finish in his series debut after leading 120 of 200 laps at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Won the pole at Kentucky in second ARCA start. Posted one win and three top-five finishes in three CARS Super Late Model races. Made NASCAR national series debut with a NCWTS start Nov. 13 at Phoenix. Outside of racing, earned the Boy Scouts of America rank of Eagle Scout, the highest advancement rank in scouting.

2014: Turned professional in legends cars in January and promptly won the Charlotte Winter Heat Series U.S. Legend Car Pro championship. Crowned Pro Legends champion at the Winter Nationals at Florida’s Auburndale Speedway after winning six of six races. Gained experience in full-sized stock cars across the U.S. Legend Car Pro division, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late model division and select pro late models. Signed to compete regionally for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s late model program at JR Motorsports, competing 21 times at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway. Earned first-ever victory in a stock car on Sept. 6 at Hickory. Named the state of North Carolina’s rookie of the year in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Model Series. In total, competed 56 times with 11 wins, 24 pole awards, 29 top-three finishes and 37 top-five finishes.

2013: After racing exclusively online, began competing in the U.S. Legend Car Young Lions division. Raced in 69 legends car events across the United States, posting 33 wins, 59 top-five finishes and 64 top-10s en route to the U.S. Legend Car Young Lions national championship. In addition, won the 2013 ThursdayThunder Young Lions championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Young Lions all-star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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

Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Pure Michigan 400

MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (TWO-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 23 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, AUG. 13 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 LiftMaster Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

Driver Kasey Kahne   Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 37                        Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 19th in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 31 laps led

Career

  • 490 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 1 win
  • 3 pole positions
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 10 top-10 finishes
  • 67 laps led
LIFTMASTER: This weekend, Kasey Kahne looks to lift his position in the point standings at Michigan International Speedway in the No. 5 LiftMaster Chevrolet SS. Michigan marks the third and final time Kahne will pilot the LiftMaster paint scheme this season. He also drove it Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

KAHNE AT MICHIGAN: Three of Kahne’s 27 NASCAR Cup Series pole awards have been earned at Michigan – in 2006, 2010 and 2015. The three pole awards ties Kahne with Joey Logano for the most poles earned by an active driver at the track. In June 2006, the 37-year-old swept the weekend at the Irish Hills track by winning the 129-lap race. He led 19 laps en route to his fifth Cup Series victory, bringing his total laps led at the track to 67.

MICHIGAN LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne ranks second in green-flag passes with 1,974. He’s fourth in quality passes with 878. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. The Enumclaw, Washington, native is sixth in fastest laps run with 187 and eighth in laps spent in the top 15 with 2,741.

RACING ROOTS: HendrickMotorsports.com has released a four-part video series on Kahne titled “Racing Roots.” The videos take you from Kahne’s early beginnings in Enumclaw, Washington, to being part of Hendrick Motorsports today. The video series also looks at his passion away from the asphalt track – his dirt car team, Kasey Kahne Racing. The video series can be viewed here.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 21                      Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2017 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 2 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 12 top-10 finishes
  • 182 laps led

Career

  • 63 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 16 top-five finishes
  • 29 top-10 finishes
  • 540 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 66 laps led
NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS will don the familiar blue-and-yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. The Atlanta-based company will serve as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 24 team for 24 NASCAR Cup Series races this year. Most recently, Elliott piloted the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy to a 10th-place finish at Pocono Raceway.

MICHIGAN STATS: The 21-year-old driver is set to make his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series start at Michigan this weekend. In each of Elliott’s three previous starts at the two-mile speedway, he collected second-place finishes. In addition to his average finishing position of 2.0, he averages a starting position of 8.3 at the track. In Elliott’s two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Michigan, he collected one top-five finish and two top-10s.

MICHIGAN LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Elliott has the top driver rating at Michigan with an average score of 119.0. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. Elliott also ranks first for average running position at Michigan with a 5.135 average place.

ELLIOTT AT CHEVY STAGE: Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage on Sunday, August 13, at 12:10 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.

WATKINS GLEN REWIND: Elliott posted his best career qualifying effort and raced inside the top 10 for much of last Sunday’s Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International before ultimately finishing 13th after having to pit for fuel in the closing laps. He remains seventh in the driver point standings as the series heads to Michigan.

No. 48 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 41                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 188 laps led

Career

  • 565 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 337 top-10 finishes
  • 18,634 laps led

Track Career 

  • 31 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 13 top-10 finishes
  • 687 laps led
HELMET OF HOPE: This weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson will wear the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope, which features five charities working to improve K-12 public education. As a show of support to Johnson’s efforts to raise funds for such programs, a number of his NASCAR Cup Series competitors will display Jimmie Johnson Foundation-branded decals on the visors of their helmets. Featured on the helmet are the following winning charitable initiatives: Art Feeds in Fayetteville, Arkansas; Edu-Futuro in Arlington, Virginia; Mary J. Treglia Community House in Sioux City, Iowa; School on Wheels of Massachusetts in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts; and The Kids’ Reading Room in Houston.

JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION PAINT OUT: In addition to the Helmet of Hope, Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet will feature the special star logos of the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. Johnson has seen plenty of success running the paint scheme, earning three wins, two top-five finishes and three top-10s. Along with the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, the foundation operates the Champions Grant program – providing cash grants to schools in the Johnsons’ hometowns and where they currently live – Team Up For Technology, a $48,000 technology makeover open to schools nationwide, and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Fit Fest – a family friendly, event in Charlotte, North Carolina, which features running, mountain biking, obstacle racing, music, food and more.

DRIVER RATING AT MICHIGAN: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson has the fourth-best driver rating at Michigan with an average score of 99.1 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points and is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

CALLING ALL KIDS TO CHICAGO: Johnson is hosting a special ticket package for families at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 17. Johnson, Chicagoland and NASA have teamed up for the third consecutive year for a special ticket package that features a youth question-and-answer session. The pricing is $23 for kids 12 and under and $48 for adults. Log on to www.ChicagolandSpeedway.com for more info.

No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 23rd in standings
  • 22 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 24 laps led

Career

  • 617 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 256 top-10 finishes
  • 8,211 laps led

Track Career 

  • 35 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 15 top-10 finishes
  • 353 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Aug. 11, at 4:15 p.m. local time in the Michigan International Speedway media center.

SOLID STATS IN THE IRISH HILLS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored two wins at Michigan International Speedway. His most recent victory came on June 17, 2012, when he started 17th and led 95 laps before crossing the stripe with a 5.393-second lead to earn the victory. The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has also earned two pole-position starts at the two-mile track, tying his career bests. He also has two poles at Texas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Earnhardt ranks sixth in the driver rating category among active drivers at Michigan with an average of 95.5 since 2005. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. He ranks in the top five in many other loop data categories, such as fastest laps run (fourth – 205 laps), green-flag speed (fifth – 180.173 mph), laps in the top 15 (third – 3,134 laps), laps led (fifth – 289), and quality passes (second – 973 passes).

CONGRATS, AXALTA: Congratulations to Hendrick Motorsports partner Axalta Coating Systems, a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, on being named a GM Supplier of the Year by General Motors during its 25th annual Supplier of the Year awards ceremony held on March 31 in Orlando, Florida. GM recognized 118 of its best suppliers from 15 countries that have consistently exceeded GM’s expectations, created outstanding value or brought new innovations to the company. The announcement represented the most suppliers GM has recognized since debuting the Supplier of the Year event in 1992. This is the third consecutive year Axalta has received the award.

IVES AND OTHER MICHIGANDERS: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives hails from Bark River, Michigan, and grew up working with his father and older brother at the local racetracks. He spent eight years behind the wheel before finding his true calling under the hood. After earning a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Tech, Ives joined the No. 24 team as a shop mechanic before getting the opportunity to be the race engineer on the No. 48 team. After recording five championships with Johnson and the No. 48 group, Ives went to JR Motorsports to crew chief before returning to Hendrick Motorsports to lead the No. 88 team in 2015. You can read more about Ives’ background here. Two additional members of the No. 88 Axalta team call Michigan their home state. Andy “Squigz” Quillan, hauler driver for the No. 88 team, was born and raised in Orleans, Michigan, which is approximately two hours from the racetrack. Scott Brzozowski, the front tire changer for the No. 88 team, grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan, which is outside of Detroit. He was a member of the No. 24 over-the-wall crew before he switched to the No. 88 team last fall.

RIR VICTORY TOUR: On Tuesday, the driver of the No. 88 Chevy visits Richmond for his Victory Tour, where in addition to spending time at the racetrack, Earnhardt is scheduled to visit training camp for his favorite NFL team – the Washington Redskins. Follow Richmond International Raceway’s social media channels for highlights from the tour.

ICYMI, HOMESTEAD CAR UNVEILED: In case you missed it, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, the 14-time most popular driver appeared live on QVC to reveal the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS that he will race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19 as part of his JR Nation #Appreci88ion Tour. The red-and-black Axalta scheme is based on the paint scheme Earnhardt debuted in 1999 when he competed in his first career NASCAR Cup Series race. For photos from the unveil, click here.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MICHIGAN: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have led 2,478 laps en route to eight wins, 52 top-five finishes and 96 top-10s in addition to 11 pole positions at Michigan. The organization swept both races at the two-mile oval in 2014, and in each of the past three events at Michigan, Chase Elliott has earned runner-up finishes.

MASTERING MICHIGAN: Hendrick Motorsports’ eight NASCAR Cup Series victories at Michigan have come via five different drivers: Jeff Gordon (3), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2), Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd.

TEAM JJF VISOR: All four Hendrick Motorsports teammates will sport a Jimmie Johnson Foundation decal strip on their visors for Sunday’s race at Michigan. After the race, the signed visors will be auctioned off to raise funds for programs in need through the foundation.

ROAD TO RACE DAY: Hendrick Motorsports has teamed with Complex Networks, Film 45 and Markay Media on an original eight-part documentary series that goes behind the scenes with the organization during the 2016 season. New “Road to Race Day” episodes premiere Wednesdays on the go90 streaming platform. Watch for free by downloading the go90 app on your Apple or Android device, or view the series at go90.com.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,022 top-five finishes and 1,721 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,797 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“Michigan is unique because it’s a very fast track and the restarts can be pretty tricky. We’ve had fast cars the past few weeks and have been able to carry some momentum over from the Brickyard win, so I’m looking forward to getting on the track at Michigan. It’s a big weekend for Chevrolet because it’s their home track and they are such great supporters of the racing program.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Michigan

“It’s great. It’s also frustrating to have run second every time we have been there. It’s good I guess that we are inside the top five the past few times we have been there, but at the same time that is frustrating to have been pretty close to having a shot to win there, which would have been very big if we could have pulled that out. I like Michigan. I’ve always liked going up there. I really love that area. It’s just a cool part of the United States to go to. I like it up there – it’s a nice area and that is kind of why I like going.”

Chase Elliott on heading to Michigan

“First, I would like to thank Lowe’s for allowing us to run the Jimmie Johnson Foundation paint scheme. Also, an honor to highlight these five charities making a huge impact on K-12 public education across the country on my Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope. I’m thankful to my competitors who chose to wear the Team JJF visor strips and bring more visibility to our cause. We have had great success with the JJF Chevy in the past and hope to turn things around this weekend in Michigan.”

Jimmie Johnson on his Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevy at Michigan

Could William Byron Be Kasey Kahne’s Replacement?

William Byron

It is widely believed that Hendrick Motorsports will promote William Byron to the Monster Energy Cup Series next season to replace the departing Kasey Kahne. That announcement from the team is expected to made later this week, if reliable sources and rumors are correct.

The 19-year-old Byron is currently a rookie in the second-tier Xfinity Series, where he has three wins and ranks second in points driving for JR Motorsports, co-owned by Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller.

Byron will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet with primary sponsorship from Liberty University, which has backed him in both Xfinity and the Camping World Truck Series. Axalta will also sponsor Byron in select races.

Having only raced actual cars for five years, Byron is regarded as a prodigy by industry insiders and heralded as one of NASCAR’s top prospects. His seven Truck Series wins as a rookie last year set a NASCAR national touring record for a first-year driver, a performance that compelled team owner Hendrick to recruit him away from Toyota-backed Kyle Busch Motorsports and place him in a JRM Xfinity car this season.

Byron takes over for Kahne, who Hendrick Motorsports announced Monday is being let go at the end of this season. Kahne, 37, had one year remaining on his contract, however, a combination of underwhelming results and a lack of sponsorship prompted Hendrick to make the change.

Since Byron joined the organization under a multi-year contract at the beginning of the 2017 season, Hendrick executives have viewed him has an option to replace Kahne, whose status with the team has been tenuous.

Initially, there was a lot of apprehension within the organization that it may be too soon to elevate Byron after just a single season in the Xfinity Series.  But the teenager’s recent results, he’s won three of the past seven Xfinity races and emerged as a championship favorite, along with his long-term potential and good rapport with sponsors were factors that just could not be ignored.

Byron’s presumed advancement comes with Hendrick amid a transition period. Kahne’s departure after six years with the team follows Earnhardt Jr. announcing in April he would retire from full-time competition at the end of the current season and four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon retiring after the 2015 season.

In 2018, the Hendrick lineup could span the gamut of experience. Along with seven-time Cup champion and team mainstay Jimmie Johnson, 41, it also consists of Byron, Alex Bowman, 24, and Chase Elliott, 21, none of whom have competed in more than two full Cup seasons.

Johnson and Elliott, who replaced Gordon, each recently signed multiyear extensions. Bowman is under contract through 2019 and was named in July to replace the retiring Earnhardt Jr. as driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet.

If, in fact, this presumed announcement happens, and both “Bowman The Showman” and young William Byron pan out, it could put HMS in a very strong competitive place that could keep the company extremely viable for many years to come!

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

Hendrick Motorsports And Kasey Kahne End Six Year Association

Kasey Kahne

Hendrick Motorsports and Kasey Kahne will end their six-year run together following the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. The driver has been released from the final year of his contract, allowing him to immediately pursue opportunities for 2018.

“Kasey has worked extremely hard,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “He’s a tremendous teammate and person, and he has been totally dedicated to our program since day one. I’ve always believed that he’s a special talent, and I know he will thrive in the right situation. We will do everything we can to finish the season as strong as we can.”

Kahne, 37, will complete the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule for Hendrick Motorsports. He was signed by the organization in April 2010, nearly two years before his February 2012 debut in its No. 5 Chevrolet. Now in their sixth season together, Kahne has earned six of his 18 career points-paying Cup victories with the No. 5 team.

“I’d like to thank Rick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for their hard work and dedication, along with providing me a great opportunity and success over the last six years,” said Kahne, who most recently won July 23 at Indianapolis. “We won six races together and I’m coming off of one of the biggest wins of my career at the Brickyard, which has given the (No.) 5 team a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs. We still have a lot of racing left in 2017 and finishing strong is our top priority. I look forward to what the next chapter in my career holds.”

Hendrick Motorsports will announce 2018 plans for its four-car operation at a later date.

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

Kurt Busch Isn’t Too Worried About His Options In 2018

Kurt Busch & Gene Haas
Kurt Busch didn’t appear too stressed Saturday morning talking about his contract status.  Since Gene Haas and SHR did not pick up the contract option for 2018, he is now a free agent and able to look for 2018.   Whether he would return to Stewart-Haas Racing next season is highly questionable.

The 2004 NASCAR Cup champion has driven for SHR since 2014, but his sponsor Monster Energy and NASCAR title sponsor, has not announced a decision on whether it would return to SHR and Busch.

Busch, who turned 39 on Friday, won the 2017 Daytona 500 for his 29th career NASCAR Cup victory and sits 14th in the standings.

“They chose not to pick up my option, but I see it as good options for me,” Busch said Saturday before practice at Watkins Glen. “I’m not too worried about it. I feel like there’s more options out there than what exist here.

“The phone didn’t stop ringing all week and not just because it was my birthday.”

While SHR tweeted earlier this week that they expected Busch to return, Busch appears ready to move on if he gets a better or more solid offer. It likely will depend on sponsorship. Busch’s former home, Furniture Row Racing, is among those looking for funding to field a car next year, as are Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing.

“I’m looking for the best possible options to race a competitive car that has got a chance to win races, win poles and compete for a championship,” Busch said. “There are different cars that are options for me, and Stewart-Haas is one of them.”

SHR made the transition this year to Ford, and that might have contributed to the organization not being as dominant as in the past. Busch and Kevin Harvick have wins to qualify for the playoffs. Clint Bowyer is 10th in the standings while Danica Patrick is 28th. Harvick has sponsorship for next season and the team already is committed to Bowyer. Patrick’s status remains in limbo pending sponsorship.

“The disruption of them not picking up my option [is] it gets the crew guys all flustered [and] Ford is very surprised by it,” Busch said. “We’ve just got to stay focused and stay sharp. There’s no reason to not think I couldn’t be back here. It’s a matter of making it all work out. I’m not too worried about it.”

Busch is in his 17th NASCAR Cup season.

“There’s no stress whatsoever,” Busch said. “There’s plenty of time for all different options to unfold. … There are a couple of offers already so we’ll see how things play out.”

It will be very interesting to see just where KuBu lands for 2018.  It is likely that he could land at any of the aforementioned teams, RCR, HMS, FRR or, in fact, be back in his familiar digs at SHR.

Any bets on what seat KuBu sits in to start the 2018 season?

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