Hendrick Motorsports Is Honed In On Michigan

Hendrick Motorsports / 5 24 48 88

MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (TWO-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 15 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, JUNE 9 (FS1/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

Chase Elliott
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2019 Season

  • 3rd in standings
  • 14 starts
  • 1 win
  • 2 pole positions
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 402 laps led

Career

  • 127 starts
  • 4 wins
  • 6 pole positions
  • 39 top-five finishes
  • 66 top-10 finishes
  • 1,645 laps led

Track Career 

  • 6 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 66 laps led
RUNNER-UP FINISHES: Chase Elliott is in good company as one of four drivers with the most runner-up finishes at Michigan before their first win at the track. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon also earned three second-place results before capturing his first win at the two-mile oval (1998), and both Martin Truex Jr. and NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte have three runner-up results without a win at Michigan.

MICHIGAN STATS: The driver currently holds the best average finish (5.3) of all time at Michigan. He has finished inside the top 10 in all six career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the two-mile oval, which ties him for the series’ longest streak of starts before a finish outside the top 10 at Michigan. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has collected three top-five finishes – all of which were runner-up results – at the track. Elliott also averages a starting position of 10.7 at the venue.

GUSTAFSON STATS: In his 15th season as crew chief, Alan Gustafson is set to call his 29th race from atop the pit box this weekend at Michigan. In his previous 28 starts at the venue with five different drivers (Elliott, Gordon, Mark Martin, Casey Mears and Kyle Busch), Gustafson has collected two wins – with Martin in June 2009 and Gordon in August 2014, when he started from the pole position. The No. 9 team crew chief has garnered five top-five finishes,13 top-10s and 292 laps led at the Michigan track.

LAST FIVE: Last weekend’s fourth-place finish at Pocono Raceway kept a streak alive for Elliott. The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has collected five straight top-five finishes (Talladega – first; Dover – fifth; Kansas – fourth; Charlotte – fourth; Pocono – fourth). It marks the longest top-five streak of Elliott’s Cup Series career. His previous longest streak was two races in August 2018 (Bristol and Darlington). Over the last five races, he has averaged a finishing position of 3.6 – the best average finish of all drivers – and has led 280 laps. Elliott has also collected more points (236) than any other driver over the previous five events.

SO FAR IN 2019: Through the first 14 races of the season, Elliott has led 402 laps – leading in eight of the last nine races after going the first five races of the season without leading a single lap. He currently owns the fourth-most laps led by a driver this season. He has taken the green flag from the front row in three races this season, starting from the pole position in two of the last seven races (Bristol and Dover). So far this season, Elliott averages a starting position of 12.4 and finishing position of 9.2.

William Byron
No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2019 Season

  • 14th in standings
  • 14 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 148 laps led

Career

  • 50 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 8 top-10 finishes
  • 209 laps led

Track Career 

  • 2 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
POCONO PLAYBACK: Collecting back-to-back NASCAR Cup Series pole awards, William Byron led the field to the green flag once again last weekend, this time at Pocono Raceway. Leading the initial 21 laps, the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 finished Stage 1 in second place and Stage 2 in third, collecting crucial stage points. A minor dust up with the wall caused him to lose momentum in the final 50 laps, but Byron fought to work his way back through the traffic. He ultimately crossed the finish line in ninth, his fourth top-10 finish of the 2019 season.

STATS DON’T LIE: Continuing to make strides every race, Byron has added to his already impressive sophomore season stats. In the last five races, Byron has scored 163 points – fifth-highest of all Cup drivers – propelling him from 20th to 14th in the driver point standings. He’s started on the front row six times – the most of any driver this season so far – and is tied for the most pole awards this season with three. Aside from starting in the top three in each of the last four races, he’s led laps in the last four consecutive races, the best streak of his career so far. In the last two races, Byron has had an average running position of seventh and has scored stage points in seven of the last 10 races. He has also finished in the top 10 in three of the last four races this season.

HENDRICK AUTOGUARD RETURNS: After another strong showing this past weekend in the Hendrick Autoguard colors, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet will once again carry the premier vehicle protection program on board this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Available at Hendrick Automotive Group dealerships, Hendrick Autoguard includes additional individualized maintenance products like tire and wheel protection, paintless dent repair, an oil change program, a mechanical repair service contract, flexible maintenance, and others. The program affords customers numerous options to get the maximum value from their vehicle with the highest level of service in the industry. All Autoguard vehicle protection programs are available as single products or value-packaged for additional savings. For more, visit the Hendrick Autoguard website.

MICHIGAN MOTIVATION: Byron will return to the two-mile, D-shaped oval for the third time in his NASCAR Cup Series career this weekend. Looking to continue to improve off his previous starts, the driver has a best starting position of 14th at the venue and a track-best finish of 13th, both coming in the rain-shortened event last June. Byron also has one Xfinity Series start at Michigan, where he qualified fourth and ended the race in the runner-up position, as well as one Gander Outdoor Truck Series start in which he started third and finished fourth.

INDY TEST: Before heading to Michigan this weekend, Byron and the No. 24 team participated in a two-day tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 4-5. It is the first Goodyear tire test for the No. 24 team this year.

Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

2019 Season

  • 17th in standings
  • 14 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 68 laps led

Career

  • 629 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 36 pole positions
  • 225 top-five finishes
  • 358 top-10 finishes
  • 18,771 laps led

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 13 top-10 finishes
  • 700 laps led
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, June 7, at 3:30 p.m. local time in the media center at Michigan International Speedway.

HOME TURF: Michigan International Speedway is in close proximity to two key players on the No. 48 team. Sponsor Ally Financial is based in nearby Detroit, roughly 78 miles east of the track. Ally Detroit Center, formerly One Detroit Center, is a skyscraper located in the downtown area overlooking the Detroit Financial District. The 43-story tower is the tallest office building in Michigan and the second tallest building overall in the state. Michigan is also home to manufacturer Chevrolet, as General Motors Company is also based in Detroit’s Renaissance Center just around the corner from Ally.

MICHIGAN FINISHES: Jimmie Johnson has had some exciting finishes at Michigan. Over the years, Johnson has led 700 laps at the two-mile track. After a few close calls and near misses, Johnson scored his first and only win at Michigan on June 15, 2014, leading 39 laps en route to the checkered flag.

MICHIGANIANS: No. 48 team crew chief Kevin Meendering was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and lived there – gracing the pits of Berlin Raceway – until he was 8 years old, when he and his family moved to North Carolina. Meendering began working at Hendrick Motorsports as an intern and moved his way through the organization as he attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte part-time to earn a mechanical engineering degree. Also claiming Michigan as a “home” track is Brandon Harder, the fueler on the No. 48 pit crew. Harder is a native of Oak Harbor, Ohio, and attended Bowling Green State University, majoring in construction management before moving to North Carolina to pursue his NASCAR dreams.

JJ Q&A: Johnson will participate in a question-and-answer session Sunday, June 9, on the pre-race stage at Michigan International Speedway at 11 a.m. local time. One lucky child from the crowd will be picked at random to introduce the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.

ALLY SWAG(GER): Ally will help fans get their “Ally Swag(ger)” on once again this weekend.  Fans will have the opportunity to update their Johnson gear with the Ally colors if they find an Ally brand ambassadors in the campgrounds at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time. Follow @AllyRacing on Twitter for exact locations and updates.

POCONO REWIND: Last weekend at Pocono Raceway, Johnson and the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team seemed on track for another solid top-10 run but slid backward in the closing laps to a 19th-place finish. After starting eighth and running in the top 10 for the majority of the race, Johnson later tweeted that while loading the car in the transporter, the team noticed the track bar was bottomed out on the right side of the car and that something happened during on-track contact, which allowed the car to drop multiple inches. The culprit was a mechanical failure.

Alex Bowman
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Driver Alex Bowman   Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 26                         Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2019 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 14 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 94 laps led

Career

  • 131 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 18 top-10 finishes
  • 368 laps led

Track Career 

  • 7 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, June 7, at 11:30 a.m. local time in the media center at Michigan International Speedway.

WELCOME BACK, NATIONWIDE: The primary blue-and-white colors of Nationwide will be featured on the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in 20 NASCAR Cup Series events in 2019. Nationwide will adorn the hood of Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet for this weekend’s event at Michigan International Speedway. After this weekend’s race, the Nationwide colors will be back on board the No. 88 machine at Kentucky next month. Last August, Hendrick Motorsports and Nationwide extended their primary partnership with Bowman and the No. 88 team for an additional two years beginning in 2019.

LET’S COMPARE: It is safe to say that Bowman and the No. 88 team have been successful in the last five races. The Tucson, Arizona, native has three top-five finishes and four top-10s in the last five races. Bowman’s average finish went from 18.3 in the first nine races to 5.6 in the last five. The Nationwide team has moved from 21st to 11th in the point standings in that span.

POINTS, POINTS, POINTS: Bowman has scored the second-most points among all drivers over the last five races. The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy is second to teammate Chase Elliott on the list, with 204 points earned since Talladega Superspeedway.

BOWMAN AT MICHIGAN: Bowman has seven previous starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at the two-mile track in Michigan. Last spring, Bowman started from the 21st position and ended the race 16th after the event was cut short due to weather on Lap 133. The 26-year-old has completed 92.5 percent of the total laps run in those seven events. Bowman also has four previous starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Michigan. In 2016, he qualified on pole for the 125-lap event and went on to get a seventh-place finish. Last spring, the driver qualified 10th in the No. 23 Chevrolet and finished 21st after leading eight laps. The driver ran for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series event in 2015 and finished 11th after starting 16th. In 2012, Bowman qualified third for the ARCA Racing Series event at the track and led 12 laps before crossing the line second.

MOST LAPS: Bowman is sixth on the list of drivers who have led laps this season but have yet to capture a victory. The 26-year-old has led 94 laps total over four events this season. The No. 88 machine led seven laps at Talladega, 16 laps at Dover, 63 laps in Kansas and eight laps in the 600-mile event at Charlotte two weeks ago.

IVES HEADS HOME: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will make his ninth NASCAR Cup Series start as crew chief this weekend at his home track of Michigan International Speedway. In his eight previous starts calling the shots, he has one top-five finish and three top-10s. Ives’ best finish of second came in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel. In 2013, Ives was a crew chief at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and captured the victory in the spring event with driver Regan Smith. Ives’ drivers have led 20 laps in the Xfinity Series at the two-mile track and have an average finish of 3.5. Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 team between 2006 and 2012. During that time, the team captured six top-10 finishes and three second-place starting positions.

HOMETOWN TRACK: Three members of the No. 88 team have ties to the state of Michigan. Ives grew up in Bark River, Michigan, which is approximately 443 miles from the Michigan track. Ives received his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University. No. 88 team hauler driver Andy “Squiggs” Quillan grew up in Belding, Michigan, which is approximately two hours from Michigan International Speedway. Quillan grew up a NASCAR fan and attended his first race at his home track back in 2001. Front-tire changer Scott Brzozowski grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan, which is just outside Detroit. Brzozowski started out as a member of the No. 24 over-the-wall crew before switching to the No. 88 team in 2015.

PITCH TO WIN BIG: Small Business Week ran from May 5-11 and recognized small businesses everywhere. Nationwide and BlueVine are teaming up to give away up to $100,000 to one small business to help it grow. From now until June 30, small-business owners can visit www.pitchtowinbig.com to enter for a chance to win funds to achieve their business goals. Nationwide and BlueVine will select the contest finalists, who will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Nationwide’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, to pitch business leaders during a live “Pitch to Win” event. The winning pitch will win the $100,000 prize, with second place receiving $20,000 and third place taking home $10,000.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MICHIGAN: At Michigan International Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has collected eight wins, 11 pole positions, 52 top-five finishes and 99 top-10s along with 2,491 laps led. This weekend, Michigan could become the seventh different track where the organization has collected 100 or more top-10s.

POWER OF THE POLE: Hendrick Motorsports leads organizations in poles for the 2019 season. Last weekend at Pocono Raceway marked the fourth time in history that the organization has captured six or more poles in the first 14 races of the season. The record for most poles captured in one season by the organization is 16, a feat it accomplished in 1986 when it had amassed seven poles in the first 14 races.

FEELING HOT, HOT, HOT: Over the last five races, the organization has claimed the top spot in many areas. The team stands as a leader in the most poles (three), second-place finishes (three), top-five finishes (eight), top-10s (14) and average finish (9.6). At least one Hendrick Motorsports car has finished in the top five in each of the last five races, which is the longest active streak in the Cup Series.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 253 race victories, 221 pole positions, 1,055 top-five finishes and 1,808 top-10s in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 68,400 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

Chase Elliott on improving:
“We’ve had some good NAPA Chevrolets the last couple of weeks. We’ve been good, just not great and you have to be great to win these things. I’ll go to work and try to do a better job, and we’ll see what we can do (at Michigan).”

Elliott on Michigan strategy:
“I assume the outside lane will be really dominant on restarts. Getting up in that outside lane and getting in the draft will be big. I don’t know if the guy up front will ever be able to get away or not. The thing about Michigan is that it is still very one-lane. Unfortunately, that racetrack just hasn’t really widened out like we all hoped it would or like it used to be. Maybe it will and maybe the new package will make it widen out some. I think it will be similar to the Xfinity race last year unless we are able to move around more.”

William Byron on speed at Michigan:
“Absolutely. With the new package we have I think the racing could be more similar to Talladega or Daytona. If that’s the case, it’ll be a really, really wild race. I don’t really know what to expect otherwise. Michigan is always fast and you’re always on edge there because it’s so flat. It seems like you’re either on edge with the front or the back of the car and that makes it tough.”

Jimmie Johnson on Michigan:
“I enjoy the racetrack. It’s been one of my favorite tracks to run on since I’ve started racing. There’s lots of lane options and high speeds. From inside the car, the experience on the track has always been pretty intense and cool.”

Johnson on Michigan’s speed:
“The highest speed I’ve ever had in a race car was at Michigan. The rules package this year will change that, the straightaway speeds won’t be as high as we have had in the past. When they resurfaced it and with the higher horsepower rules package, I think I went 217 mph into Turn 1, and that’s the fastest I’ve been in a race car.”

Alex Bowman on continuing success into Michigan:
“The past five weeks we have seen improvements. Last weekend, we didn’t have the greatest race and had some unfortunate things happen there at the end, but this team never gave up. I think going to Michigan this weekend will be good for our group. We have had some good races there before and it is a fast racetrack. The track is really narrow, so we will see how this package races on Sunday.”

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

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