HMS Auto Club Speedway News And Notes

Hendrick Motorsports / 5 24 48 88

AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY (2-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: FONTANA, CALIFORNIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE THREE OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, MARCH 1 (FOX/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

Chase Elliott
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 24                       Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2020 Season

  • 6th in standings
  • 2 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 93 laps led

Career

  • 151 starts
  • 6 wins
  • 8 pole positions
  • 44 top-five finishes
  • 74 top-10 finishes
  • 1,937 laps led

Track Career 

  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 5 laps led
STAGE WIN STREAK: After just two races in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, Chase Elliott already has garnered three stage wins. That’s more than half of what he collected in 2019 (five). Since stage racing was established in 2017, Elliott has earned at least three stage wins in each season (2017 – three, 2018 – four, 2019 – five).

2-MILE STATS: This weekend, Elliott is set to make his fifth NASCAR Cup Series start at Auto Club Speedway and his 12th Cup start at a 2-mile track (ACS and Michigan International Speedway). In his 11 previous Cup Series starts on 2-mile tracks, Elliott has earned three top-five finishes – all runner-up results – and nine top-10 finishes.

GUSTAFSON AT ACS: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 22nd race from atop the pit box at the Fontana, California, track this weekend. In his previous 21 starts, Gustafson has one win, four top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. His sole win at ACS came in September 2005 with Kyle Busch – his first career victory as a crew chief.

CALIFORNIA IS HOME: No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS rear-tire changer Chad Avrit will compete at his home track in the Golden State this weekend. Avrit grew up in El Centro, California, and was an avid surfer before moving to Mooresville, North Carolina, to pursue a career in motor sports. When not at the track, he enjoys spending time with his two sons, hanging out on the lake and mountain biking.

LAS VEGAS REWIND: Elliott proved to be a factor at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading for 70 laps and winning both Stage 1 and Stage 2. His average running position during the 267-lap event was the fourth highest in the field (7.3). Unfortunately, a flat left-rear tire sent Elliott into the outside barrier, resulting in a caution. The No. 9 team was forced to make multiple pit stops to repair the damage. He fell to 27th and ultimately finished the day in 26th.

CHECK OUT THOSE HATS: This weekend in California, the No. 9 team will wear special, limited-edition NAPA hats at the track. The hats are part of NAPA AUTO PARTS’ March in-store promotion. 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 1LE

Driver William Byron   Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 22                         Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2020 Season

  • 21st in standings
  • 2 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led

Career

  • 38 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 5 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 17 top-10 finishes
  • 294 laps led

Track Career 

  • 2 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 4 laps led
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Tribute Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, will be in the media center at Auto Club Speedway on Friday, Feb. 28, at 3:45 p.m. local time.

VIGILANT IN VEGAS: With rain canceling NASCAR Cup Series qualifying last weekend in the desert, William Byron rolled off 11th for the start of Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Showing long run speed in his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, the 22-year-old driver ran solidly within the top 10 throughout the first and second stages of the 267-lap race. In fact, Byron’s average running position of 7.5 during Sunday’s race ranked fifth overall among the Cup Series field. Moving into the top five in the final laps of the event, Byron lined up second for a two-lap dash to the finish. Unfortunately, contact on the restart resulted in a tire rub on the No. 24 and a last-lap incident relinquished him to a 22nd-place finish after an extremely solid weekend.

NO. 24 AXALTA TRIBUTE CHEVROLET For this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway, Axalta Coating Systems will pay special tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant and the eight victims of the tragic Jan. 26 helicopter accident in California with a special purple and gold paint scheme on Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. In honor of the victims, Axalta will make a donation to After-School All-Stars, a non-profit organization where Bryant served as a national ambassador. With locations across the country, including Los Angeles and Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia where Axalta is based, After-School All-Stars provides free, comprehensive after-school programs that keep children safe and help them succeed in school and life. Founded in 1992, it serves students and supports working families in cities across the nation. The organization partners with schools and communities on innovative programs that provide transformative experiences. To learn more about After-School All-Stars and how to donate, click here.

FONTANA FACTS: For the second stop on the West Coast swing, Byron will be making his third Cup Series start at Auto Club Speedway this weekend in his No. 24 Axalta Tribute Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. In his previous two starts at the 2-mile D-shaped oval, Byron had solid races that included him leading four laps en route to two 15th-place finishes. The Charlotte, North Carolina native also has one NASCAR Xfinity Series start under his belt at ACS; in 2017 he started from the sixth position and crossed the finish line in fifth. In the Cup Series, two drivers have earned their first wins at ACS – Jimmie Johnson (April 2002) and Kyle Busch (September 2005) – with both of those wins coming during their rookie seasons while driving for Hendrick Motorsports.

KNAUS’ KNACK: Returning to the site of his first win as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief, Chad Knaus’ stats at Auto Club Speedway are hard to beat. In 25 races, Knaus has called the shots for six wins, with the most recent one from 2016. He has two poles at the track, including an average finishing position of 9.0 with 99.9% of laps completed (5,701 of 5,705).

KNAUS IN THE BOOTH: After qualifying Saturday, Knaus will trade in his radio for a different type of headset when he transitions to the FOX TV booth for the Xfinity race. He’ll join Adam Alexander and Joey Logano for the race broadcast. To hear Knaus’ thoughts, tune in at 4:00 p.m. ET on FS1.

Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 44                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2020 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 2 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 3 laps led

Career

  • 653 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 36 pole positions
  • 228 top-five finishes
  • 365 top-10 finishes
  • 18,837 laps led

Track Career 

  • 25 starts
  • 6 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 13 top-five finishes
  • 17 top-10 finishes
  • 980 laps led
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will be in the media center at Auto Club Speedway on Friday, Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. local time.

JIMMIE JOHNSON SPEEDWAY: Jimmie Johnson’s final trip to Auto Club Speedway as a full-time driver will be one for the memory books for both the driver of the No. 48 and his fans. Some of the major events and activation the track is planning include: A five-wide salute at the start of the race; Johnson’s long-time mentor, childhood friend and motocross racer Ricky Johnson as the
Honorary Pace Car Driver; Chandra, Genevieve and Lydia Johnson as honorary starters; famed Los Angeles artist Jonas Never will create a large mural in the Fan Zone and second mural in the infield tunnel exit will be painted as a tribute to Johnson’s career; a street at the main entrance of the speedway will be named Jimmie Johnson Dr., intersecting with Jeff Gordon Way; and Johnson is featured on the cover of the event program.

ALL THE THINGS: Seven-time NASCAR champion Johnson is the proud owner of six victory lane trophies at Auto Club Speedway – the most all time. He has led 980 laps around the 2-mile track located in Johnson’s home state of California. On top of the six wins, the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE owns the most all-time records with five second-place results, zero DNFs (did not finish), 25 lead-lap finishes and an average finish of 7.6.

FIRST WIN: As a rookie in just his 13th start, Johnson pulled into victory lane as a NASCAR Cup Series driver for the first time on April 28, 2002 at Auto Club Speedway (then California Speedway). He led 62 laps en route to the victory, then followed up two weeks later with his second Cup Series victory at Dover International Speedway. Johnson is the only driver to win at ACS in his twenties, thirties and forties.

YEARS OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP: Winning at Auto Club Speedway – at least for the driver of the No. 48 – has been an indicator of his championship form. Johnson’s four wins at the Fontana track during the 2007-10 seasons, as well as his 2016 win, all served as a premonition of good things to come. Johnson was crowned the NASCAR Cup Series champion in those particular seasons.

NOT DONE YET: There are some huge milestones on the horizon for Johnson. The next time he crosses the finish line first, he will have scored his 84th points-paying Cup Series win to tie Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth all-time. Johnson currently is 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 with 83.

#VROOM LOUNGE PRESENTED BY ALLY: In a first-of-its-kind installation in NASCAR, the #VROOM Lounge, presented by Ally, is targeted toward a tech-savvy millennial audience. Located in the Fan Zone at ACS, the lounge will feature “Instagrammable” photo stations, an Ally-branded “pod,” or photo station, featuring Johnson’s signature #OneFinalTime message and a life-size standee of Johnson, where fans can take photos. There also will be a unique photo booth where fans can leave special messages for Johnson to wish him well. “Pop-up Helmets” replicating Johnson’s No. 48 driver helmet will be available for the first 2,000 fans through the gate on Sunday.

Alex Bowman
No. 88 Cincinnati Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

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

2020 Season

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

Career

  • 155 starts
  • 1 win
  • 2 pole positions
  • 10 top-five finishes
  • 26 top-10 finishes
  • 477 laps led

Track Career 

  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole position
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 1 lap led
CINCINNATI IS BACK IN 2020: In September 2019, Hendrick Motorsports announced a 10-year agreement with leading machine tool manufacturer Cincinnati Inc. As the new Official Metal Fabrication and Additive Equipment Provider of Hendrick Motorsports, the Ohio-based company will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE this weekend at Auto Club Speedway and at Kentucky Speedway later this season. Click here to see the No. 88 paint scheme for this weekend’s race.

CALIFORNIA STATS: Alex Bowman will make his fifth start at Fontana this weekend. The 26-year-old driver recorded his best finish of 13th at the 2-mile track in 2018 after rolling off 28th. He has completed 99.8% of the total laps during those four events. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has one start at Fontana in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2013, where he qualified sixth and finished 12th in the spring event.

TRACK STATS: In 2019, Bowman made 13 starts on tracks measuring 2 miles in length or greater. He qualified on the outside pole position three times last year on tracks of this length. Bowman brought home a runner-up finish at the Charlotte ROVAL and the spring Talladega event last season and captured four top-10 finishes.

LAS VEGAS REWIND: Prior to a late-race caution with six laps to go at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bowman and the No. 88 team battled inside the top 10 for the majority of the 267-lap event. With less than 20 laps left in the race, Bowman’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE came to life and was moving up through the field. The Tucson, Arizona native entered the top three with 17 laps to go and eight laps later made the pass for second. During the caution on lap 261, the No. 88 team made the decision to come to pit road for four tires and fuel, putting the team 14th on the restart with two laps to go. Bowman ultimately finished the event 13th and earned valuable stage points for two top-10 finishes in Stages 1 and 2. Bowman’s average running position throughout the 400.5-mile event was 8.3.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the sixth time for the No. 88 team at Fontana this weekend. The Michigan native led the No. 88 team to a sixth-place finish at the track in 2015. Ives’ drivers have completed 99.9% of the total laps during those five events. He has two starts as a crew chief in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with a best finish of third coming in 2013 with driver Regan Smith. From 2006-12, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was part of four wins, two pole awards and nine top-five finishes at ACS.

IVES ON SIRIUS: Starting this week, Ives will join Sirius XM Speedway on channel 90 with Dave Moody every Monday at 5:00 p.m. ET to talk about the previous race and the upcoming event for the No. 88 team. Time is subject to change.

Hendrick Motorsports

CALIFORNIA LOVE: At Auto Club Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has earned 10 NASCAR Cup Series wins (most all-time), five pole positions (tied for most), 11 runner-up finishes (most), 32 top-fives (most), and 51 top-10s (second-most). The team has led a record 2,005 laps and posted a series-leading 14.34 average finish at the track.

WINS ON THE ONES: Hendrick Motorsports has 12 NASCAR Cup Series wins on the first of the month, which is tied with the 27th, 28th and 29th for the team’s winningest race dates. Of the organization’s 256 points-paying victories, 19% have come on one of these four dates. In 2020, six races fall on the first, 27th, 28th or 29th, including this Sunday, March 1, at Auto Club Speedway.

MARCHING ON: Historically, the third month of the year has been successful for Hendrick Motorsports, which holds an all-time record 22 NASCAR Cup Series wins in March. The organization also has the most all-time victories in June (35) and the playoff months of September (33), October (32) and November (19).

TINSELTOWN BREAKTHROUGHS: Hendrick Motorsports has registered numerous firsts at Auto Club Speedway. Jeff Gordon won the inaugural race there in June 1997, and two other drivers earned their first career Cup Series wins at the track while driving for the team: Jimmie Johnson in 2002 and Kyle Busch in 2005. In addition, two current Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs recorded their first career Cup wins at ACS: Chad Knaus with Johnson in 2002 and Alan Gustafson with Busch in 2005.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 256 race victories, 225 pole positions, 1,072 top-five finishes and 1,840 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 69,000 laps since 1984. Hendrick Motorsports won four times in 2019, extending its streak to 34 consecutive seasons with at least one win, the longest streak all-time.

QUOTABLE / 

Chase Elliott on the challenges at Auto Club Speedway:
“Fontana, being 2-mile racetrack, that place it can expose flaws pretty easily because you are trying to take drag off the car for as long as the straightaways are, but you also want it to drive pretty good there.”

Elliott’s goals and expectations for 2020:
“You always have goals and you always want to do good and you always want to do better than you did last year. You are always trying to move forward and get better. I’d say that’s the biggest thing, just try to do better than last season.”

William Byron on his experience at  Fontana:
It’s a tough track to get a hold of for sure. The bumps are difficult to deal with but it’s a lot of fun to drive. I think it’s a good track that’s fun to run and be able to move around the track to find grip. We’ve definitely learned a lot since we were there last year. It’s going to be interesting though to see how things go since we only race there once a year, but we have a lot of things to apply from last year’s efforts.”

Jimmie Johnson on the wins that are most meaningful:
“People always ask me what was my most special win or memory. I guess you have to go with the first one and your last one. You never know how these things go. That first win in 2002 gave me confidence. It made me realize that I belonged in the NASCAR Cup Series and I would be able to win at this level. I couldn’t have dreamed bigger or imagine things could have gone any better. It will be bittersweet taking the checkered flag this weekend. There will be so many good memories to relive. I can’t wait.”

What Alex Bowman expects going to California:
“Fontana is neat track. There are a lot of different groves that you can move around a lot. Obviously, tire fall off is really big. I think it’s a place where you have to go pretty gripped up with a lot of downforce in the car and not super trimmed-out. So, I think it will fit our race car pretty well. It should be a really good race for us.”

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

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