Hendrick Motorsports Previews Martinsville

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MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY (0.526-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: RIDGEWAY, VIRGINIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE SIX OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, MARCH 24 (FS1/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

Chase Elliott
No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23                       Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2019 Season

  • 12th in standings
  • 5 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 0 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 7 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 143 laps led
MARTINSVILLE STATS: Chase Elliott is set to make his eighth NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. He has finished inside the top 10 in three of his last four visits to the track. In the one race he finished outside of the top 10 – the 2017 playoff race at the track – he led 123 laps and was spun from the lead with three laps to go, which led him to finish of 27th. At Martinsville, Elliott averages a starting position of 12.4 and finishing position of 16.6.

SHORT-TRACK STATS: This weekend, Elliott will make his 21st short-track start (Richmond, Bristol, Martinsville). The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has collected a top-10 result at the last four short-track races – the second longest active top-10 streak on short tracks. At three of the stops – both Richmond races and Bristol – the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 garnered top-five finishes, including a runner-up result at Richmond in April 2018. In his previous 20 short-track starts, Elliott has collected six top-five finishes, eight top-10s and 305 laps led. He averaged a starting position of 12.6 and finishing position of 14.0 in those 20 short-track starts.

PEACH OF AN ATHLETE: On Tuesday evening, Elliott accepted the 2019 Professional Athlete Award at the Boy Scouts of America’s annual Peach of an Athlete Awards banquet that was held at the College Football Hall of Fame. For over 30 years, the Peach of an Athlete Awards banquet has recognized deserving community leaders and athletes whose character and commitment to the community most closely match the aims and ideals of the Scouting program. The Scouting organization takes great pride in recognizing those who serve as good “Role Models for Youth.” The Professional Athlete Award that Elliott received is awarded annually to a well-known, successful professional athlete who exemplifies qualities of responsible citizenship and outstanding character. Past recipients include Dominique Wilkins, Brian Jordan, Warrick Dunn, Champ Bailey and Calvin Johnson Jr., to name a few.

GUSTAFSON’S PAPERCLIP STATS: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 29th race from atop the pit box at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. In his previous 28 starts at the track, Gustafson has two wins, 11 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s. Both wins at the 0.526-mile oval came with Jeff Gordon (2013, 2015). The 2015 win secured Gustafson and Gordon into Championship 4 for the season finale. In his six Cup starts with Elliott at the track, Gustafson averages a starting position of 10.0 and finishing position of 13.0.

GET YOUR HAT: Time is running out to get the 2019 NAPA Racing/Chase Elliott promo hat at participating NAPA AUTO PARTS stores. During the month of March, when customers spend $25 in store they will receive the No. 9 NAPA Racing/Chase Elliott hat, while supplies last.

William Byron
No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Driver William Byron   Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 21                         Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2019 Season

  • 19th in standings
  • 5 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 68 laps led

Career

  • 41 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 129 laps led

Track Career 

  • 2 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
FIRST FIVE: Already five races into the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron has made improvements during his sophomore year. Opening up the campaign with his first Cup Series pole for the Daytona 500, Byron has improved his average qualifying position during the first five races of the season by almost 10 spots, from 22.6 in 2018 to 13.4 in 2019. In four out of five races so far this season, Byron has improved or tied his previous best finish at each track, except for ISM Raceway, where he was on pace for a top-15 finish but a loose wheel in the closing laps hindered his result. At this point last season, Byron and the No. 24 team had led 16 laps compared to 68 laps led already this season, more than the total laps he led in all of 2018. He ranks second among the Chevrolet lap leaders for 2019.

MARTINSVILLE MERIT: Since attending his first Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in 2006 as a fan, Byron has since moved through the NASCAR ranks and is now poised to make his fifth start at the paperclip – his third in the Cup Series. Building off of his first Cup Series race at Martinsville, where he started and finished 20th, Byron qualified a track-best 11th in the fall but his day was cut short when an incident on pit road after Stage 1 left him with brake issues, relinquishing him to a 39th-place finish. The 21-year-old driver’s other two Martinsville starts both came in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series in 2016 when he qualified seventh for both events and raced to a third-place finish in the spring and an eighth-place finish in the fall.

AT IT AGAIN WITH AXALTA: Once again, Byron will carry the iconic Axalta flames on his No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the fourth time in 2019. Axalta Coating Systems will be on board Byron’s machine again next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway as well as Bristol Motor Speedway the following weekend.

SPECIAL THANKS FROM AXALTA: Unloading at the 0.526-mile oval this weekend, Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Chevy paint scheme will have an added touch of appreciation for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will feature the names of employees from Axalta’s Front Royal, Virginia, site. As one of Axalta’s top-performing sites in 2018, Front Royal manufactures paint for commercial vehicles, industrial products and collision repair. In recognition of their success, Mike Carr – vice president of Axalta and president for Axalta’s Americas region – wanted a unique way to recognize the employees and say, “Thank you,” so, Front Royal employees will have their names displayed on the back of Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Chevy. In addition, 28 lucky Front Royal employees will make the trip to Martinsville Speedway for Sunday’s race.

KNAUS’ KNACK FOR MARTINSVILLE:  Switching gears to the first short-track race of the season, No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus will call the shots on top of the pit box for his 38th NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. A track rich in history and known for the sought-after grandfather clock trophy, Martinsville is a track where Knaus has found success. Collecting nine wins, the second-highest amount at one track in his career (11 wins at Dover), his most recent win at the paperclip came in the fall of 2016. Knaus hopes to add to his grandfather clock collection with a win this weekend with Byron and the No. 24 Axalta team.

FONTANA FINISH: Byron collected his first top-15 finish of the 2019 season when the NASCAR Cup Series wrapped up the West Coast swing last weekend in Fontana, California. The No. 24 Axalta Chevy had speed early on, but Byron would ultimately lose positions over long green-flag runs due to handling issues. The sophomore driver fought hard to climb his way back into the top 15 in the closing laps, grabbing the 15th position as he crossed the finish line for the 200-lap event.

Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2019 Season

  • 14th in standings
  • 5 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 2 top-10 finish
  • 4 laps led

Career

  • 620 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 224 top-five finishes
  • 354 top-10 finishes
  • 18,707 laps led

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 9 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 19 top-five finishes
  • 24 top-10 finishes
  • 2,862 laps led
WINNING PERFORMANCE: Jimmie Johnson has the third-best winning percentage at Martinsville Speedway all-time. In 34 starts, he has nine wins, which means he has won 26.5 percent of the time he has raced at Martinsville. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the most wins at the 0.526-mile track (15), Darrell Waltrip has 11 and Johnson is tied with former teammate Jeff Gordon for third all-time with nine.

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 – placed Johnson in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he earned his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship.

KEVIN HAS A CLOCK, TOO: No. 48 team crew chief Kevin Meendering has also won a race at Martinsville Speedway. Meendering was the lead engineer on the No. 88 team of Dale Earnhardt Jr. when the driver won his first race at Martinsville on Oct. 26, 2014.

NINE CLOCKS AND COUNTING: Johnson is responsible for nine of Hendrick Motorsports’ 24 wins at Martinsville. Martinsville is one of four tracks at which Johnson has earned at least seven wins. He has won three of the last 13 races at Martinsville.

‘SPIN’ WITH JJ: Johnson recently went for a spin with ESPN on-air personality and friend Marty Smith at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The spot was filmed to showcase how easy it is to fill out an NCAA bracket on ESPN.com. Smith is shown in a Chevrolet Camaro spinning a basketball on his finger while Johnson is driving approximately 160 mph at the 1.5-mile track. Click here to see the clip.

CHASING 84: Johnson is on the verge of his 84th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series win. He secured his 83rd in June 2017 to tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list. An 84th win would tie Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth all-time. Johnson is currently 10 wins behind former teammate Jeff Gordon, who has 93 victories and is third on the list. Johnson has the most wins of all active drivers.

Q&A WITH THE CHAMP: Johnson will take part in a question-and-answer session with fans at the pre-race experience at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, March 24, at 11:15 a.m. local time. The stage is at the start-finish line inside the track.

JOHNSON ON BABBITVILLE RADIO: Johnson recently recorded a podcast episode on Babbittville Radio with host Bob Babbitt, an IRONMAN historian and Hall of Famer, regarding his quest to compete in the Boston Marathon next month. Johnson and Babbitt talk about racing, training and working with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. To listen to the episode, click here.

Alex Bowman
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2019 Season

  • 16th in standings
  • 5 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 6 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 0 laps led
NATIONWIDE ON BOARD: The primary blue-and-white colors of Nationwide will be featured on the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for 20 NASCAR Cup Series events in 2019. Last August, Hendrick Motorsports and Nationwide extended their primary partnership with Alex Bowman and the No. 88 team for an additional two years beginning in 2019.

BOWMAN AT MARTINSVILLE: Bowman has six starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway. His best finish of seventh came in the spring event in 2018 after the No. 88 team started 16th. It was Bowman’s first top-10 finish at the track and his first of the 2018 season.

IVES IN VIRGINIA: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the ninth time for the No. 88 team at Martinsville this weekend. The Michigan native has one top-five finish and three top-10s at the track, with a best finish of fourth coming in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ives’ drivers have an average start of 17.4 and an average finish of 16.1 at the Virginia track. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of six wins, three pole awards and 12 top-10 finishes at Martinsville.

CLOSE TO HOME: Two members of the No. 88 Nationwide team call Martinsville Speedway their home track. Engine tuner Stephen Raynor and front-end mechanic Cale Johnson grew up not too far from the Virginia venue. Raynor grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which is approximately 50 miles away from Martinsville, and Johnson was raised in Belews Creek, North Carolina, about 35 miles away from the track.

THE OTHER SIDE: Last Thursday, Bowman’s third diary feature on Motorsport.com was published, titled “The Other Side of Alex Bowman.” Each month, Bowman will release a diary piece to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on each month both on and off the track. In his diary entry this month, Bowman talks all about pets. Nationwide ran a pet insurance paint scheme last weekend in California and Bowman talks about the benefits he has seen from having such insurance with his two dogs, Finn and Roscoe. Check out his diary article here.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MARTINSVILLE: At Martinsville, Hendrick Motorsports holds the team record for wins (24), top-five finishes (78), top-10s (125) 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 tied for 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, at the venue.

DOMINANCE ON DISPLAY: Starting with its first win at the track in April 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has won 34 percent of the races at Martinsville (24 of 70). It has won at least one race at Martinsville Speedway 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 63 of 70 races since April 1984. Hendrick Motorsports’ 9,241 laps led at Martinsville make for 26 percent of the total laps led (34,895) at the track since the April 1984 win.

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. 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. The record for most different winners by one team on short tracks is Junior Johnson and Associates with 11. Ten different Hendrick Motorsports drivers have contributed to those 50 short-track wins.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 252 race victories, 216 pole positions, 1,045 top-five finishes and 1,790 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 racing at Martinsville:
“It’s short-track racing, which I enjoy. Very different from most of the short tracks that I’ve visited over the years, but it’s a challenge. It’s not a place that I feel like has clicked very well with me, so we have put a lot of effort into trying to run better there. I like that challenge.”

William Byron on Martinsville being a challenge:
“Yeah, that is a tough racetrack. I like it, but it’s very challenging. I feel like a lot of the same things that work at any other short track are going to work there. I’m trying to work on those things and hopefully, when we get there, we will have a better idea. I think we had some bright spots in the fall, we just had a wreck on pit road and that blew the brake ducts out of the car so we didn’t have any brakes, but other than that we had some solid points of the race, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Jimmie Johnson on Martinsville:
“In Martinsville, the inside lane is so important, but so is having a strong race car. Passing is tough and you will see the ‘bump and run’ a lot – sometimes you just have to rough someone up to get by them, but you have to be smart, because as soon as you get by them, they will be right back on your bumper into the corner and could pay back the favor. It’s obviously one of my favorite tracks. I am looking forward to this weekend.”

Alex Bowman on his strong run at Martinsville last year:
“The car will just be faster this weekend with more downforce. It will be interesting. We were really strong there in the spring and just kind of struggled there in the fall. Hopefully we can figure out where we went wrong and get back to running well there.”

Bowman on Martinsville hot dogs:
“This fitness and health regimen I am on now probably doesn’t allow me to eat a Martinsville hot dog. I can say, though, that they are delicious. I usually try to get the guys on my team some before the weekend is over because they are just too good not to share with my guys.”

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

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