HMS News And Notes for Kansas

Alex Bowman

Hendrick Motorsports / 5 24 48 88

KANSAS SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: KANSAS CITY, KANSAS
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 19 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 7:30 P.M. ET, THURSDAY, JULY 23 (NBCSN/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

  • 5th in standings
  • 18 starts
  • 1 win
  • 1 pole position
  • 7 top-five finishes
  • 9 top-10 finishes
  • 451 laps led

Career

  • 167 starts
  • 7 wins
  • 9 pole positions
  • 51 top-five finishes
  • 83 top-10 finishes
  • 2,295 laps led

Track Career 

  • 8 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 97 laps led
HALFWAY THERE: The NASCAR Cup Series has officially hit the halfway point of 2020. Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, has seven top-five finishes – the most he has collected through 18 races in a season – and nine top-10s. His 451 laps led are also a career high at this point in the year and are currently fifth-most in the series. He continues to lead all drivers with five stage wins. In the first half, Elliott also has garnered the third-most stage points (179) and is currently fifth in the driver standings, 117 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.

KANSAS STATS: On Thursday, Elliott is set to make his ninth Kansas Speedway start in the NASCAR Cup Series. He averaged a third-place finish in the two races at Kansas in 2019, the best of all drivers in the series. In Elliott’s previous eight starts at the track, he garnered one win, four top-five finishes – tied with Charlotte for the second-most at any track in his career – and five top-10s. He has finished inside the top five in four of the last five races at the 1.5-mile track. Elliott’s three consecutive top-fives are tied with Charlotte and Michigan for the most at a single track in his Cup Series career. He also has finished inside the top 10 in every stage in the last three events at Kansas.

LAST TIME AROUND: Last October, in a double-overtime event at Kansas Speedway, a gutsy late-race drive from Elliott yielded a second-place finish. The runner-up result allowed him to advance to the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 8 for the third consecutive season.

WEEKDAY WARRIOR: Since the Cup Series returned in May from a two-month hiatus, Elliott has won two of the five events run on weekdays: the 300-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday, May 28, and the NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, July 15.

1.5-MILE TRACKS IN 2020: In seven 1.5-mile races in 2020, Elliott won at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28 and has two runner-up finishes, which lead all drivers. On 1.5-milers, he has led the fifth-most laps (189) in the Cup Series and his three top-five finishes are tied for the third-most. His two stage wins are tied for second-most in the series this season.

NAPA AT KANSAS: On Thursday night at Kansas Speedway, the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will don the familiar blue, white and yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. The Atlanta-based company is serving as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 9 team for a total of 26 NASCAR Cup Series races this season.

PIT PROWESS: Through 18 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2020, the No. 9 NAPA team owns the second-best average time for four-tire stops at 13.92 seconds.

WELCOME HOMENo. 9 team jackman T.J. Semke hails from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, less than 40 miles from Kansas Speedway. Before stepping on the football field at the University of Kansas in 2012, Semke was a part-time bounty hunter. The 25-year-old was a defensive lineman for the Kansas Jayhawks for three years, earning Academic All-Big 12 Second Team honors twice. Semke signed with Hendrick Motorsports in October 2016.

BEHIND THE 9: Crew chief Alan Gustafson is trying his hand as a host in a new Hendrick Motorsports video series called “Behind the 9” in which he interviews each member of the No. 9 crew. Fans are able to learn about where they came from and the role they serve on the team, with each bringing a unique personality and skillset. Episodes are released every Tuesday on the Hendrick Motorsports Facebook page and YouTube channel. The most recent episode features tire carrier Jared Erspamer.

William Byron
No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

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

2020 Season

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

Career

  • 90 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 5 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 22 top-10 finishes
  • 339 laps led

Track Career 

  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finishes
  • 1 top-10 finishes
  • 5 laps led
BABY KNAUS: In anticipation of the birth of his second child, crew chief Chad Knaus will miss Thursday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. Knaus and wife Brooke are expecting their new addition – a little girl – any day. In his absence, veteran crew chief Keith Rodden will call the shots for William Byron and the No. 24 Axalta team at Kansas.

RODDEN ON DECK: Rodden has called 138 Cup Series races as a crew chief for drivers Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne, who he led to victory for Hendrick Motorsports at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2017. Coincidentally, that crown jewel win fell on July 23 – the same date of Thursday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. Rodden, who oversees a variety of special projects for Hendrick Motorsports, also won the 2014 NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with McMurray and Chip Ganassi Racing. He has called seven Cup races at Kansas with a best finish of fourth with Kahne in 2015.

HOT START AT KANSAS: Right out of the gate, Byron found success at Kansas Speedway in just his first two NASCAR national series appearances at the 1.5-mile track. With one NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start in 2016 and one Xfinity Series start in 2017, Byron has finished no worse than fourth. In fact, in his debut at the intermediate oval in 2016 – just his fifth Truck Series start – Byron started from the second position, led 34 laps and collected his first series win, which kickstarted the most successful season by a rookie in the history of the Truck Series.

RACING FOR REDEMPTION: Since his early success at Kansas Speedway, Byron has made four Cup Series starts at the 1.5-mile track. His best result came last October when he ran solidly at the front of the field and scored a top-five finish. However, Byron’s other Cup Series stats at Kansas don’t match the runs he was having. During his rookie season, Byron was running top 10 in the May race before a late-race multi-car incident ended his day with a 33rd-place finish. While in October of 2018, a mechanical issue hindered his performance, leaving him 38th. Last May, Byron was running in the second position when a pit road penalty during green-flag pit stops relegated him to a 20th-place finish.

EYES ON THE NEXT EIGHT: Looking to lock himself into the playoffs for the second time in his three-year NASCAR Cup Series career, Byron is 17th in the playoff standings with eight races left in the regular season and two playoff points to his name. While a win in one of the upcoming points-paying races would automatically secure his position in the fight for the championship, Byron currently is sitting just two points below the playoff cutline heading into the Kansas weekend.

AT IT AGAIN WITH AXALTA: This weekend at Kansas Speedway, Byron will pilot the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE with the iconic flames that fans are accustomed to seeing. In 2020, Axalta is the 22-race majority partner of the No. 24 team. The company’s relationship with Hendrick Motorsports was recently extended, taking one of the most enduring partnerships in sports through 2027.

Jimmie Johnson
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

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

2020 Season

  • 15th in standings
  • 17 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 99 laps led

Career

  • 668 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 36 pole positions
  • 229 top-five finishes
  • 370 top-10 finishes
  • 18,933 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 3 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 9 top-five finishes
  • 19 top-10 finishes
  • 601 laps led
KANSAS WINS: Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has seen plenty of success over the course of his 27 starts at Kansas Speedway, accumulating a record three wins at the 1.5-mile track. The driver’s most recent win there came on May 9, 2015, when he led the final 10 laps to edge Kevin Harvick for the victory. Johnson owns 28 career Cup Series wins on 1.5-mile tracks, the most of all-time. At Kansas, he also has the second-most top-five finishes (nine), the most top-10s (19) and the fourth-most laps led (601).

ABOVE AVERAGE AT KANSAS: Johnson had the sixth-best average finish at Kansas Speedway last season. He finished sixth in the spring event and 10th in the fall for an average finish of 8.0. Hendrick Motorsports was strong overall at Kansas in 2019, with Chase Elliott posting the top average result (3.0) and Alex Bowman the fifth-best (6.5).

TEXAS REWIND: Fast cars don’t always win. Mired by a pit road penalty after driving into the top 10 from his 20th-place starting position at Texas Motor Speedway, Johnson again drove back into the top 10 from 32nd after serving his penalty. As he continued his forward march, misfortune struck when Johnson got into the marbles and hit the wall on lap 117 causing significant damage. The team stayed the course even though they were multiple laps down and moved from 40th to 26th for the finish. All in all, Johnson passed 32 cars for position under green flag conditions throughout the race at Texas.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: With eight races remaining in the regular season before the NASCAR playoffs begin, Johnson is 15th in the point standings, two points above teammate William Byron in 16th. Johnson missed the event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in early July due to a positive COVID-19 test, but NASCAR granted the driver a playoff waiver if he were to otherwise qualify for the post-season.

BUSY IN THE PITS: The No. 48 crew ranks ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series with an average four-tire stop time of 14.21 seconds. The team is coached by Jon Carvin and consists of veteran gasman Brandon Harder, tire carrier Allan Stallings, jackman Kyle Tudor and tire changers Calvin Teague and Donnie Tasser.

ALLY SALUTES: On Thursday night in Kansas, primary sponsor Ally will honor Airman First Class and United States Airforce reservist LaToya Freeman with her name on the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet. Freeman, a Jacksonville, Florida, native is stationed at Duke Field, 919th Special Operations Wing, and has been a supervisor in Ally’s Jacksonville office for the last 10 years.

Alex Bowman
No. 88 ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE ​

Driver Alex Bowman   Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 27                         Resides Concord, North Carolina

2020 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 18 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 381 laps led

Career

  • 171 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 12 top-five finishes
  • 31 top-10 finishes
  • 855 laps led

Track Career 

  • 9 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 3 top-10 finish
  • 70 laps led
DRIVING IN KANSAS: Alex Bowman will make his 10th NASCAR Cup Series start at Kansas Speedway under the lights on Thursday evening. The Tucson, Arizona, native has qualified fifth on two occasions (2016 and 2019) and got his best finish of second during the spring race last season. Bowman led 63 laps before the No. 2 car of Brad Keselowski got around him with 11 laps remaining in the 271-lap event. Bowman had the fifth-best average finish (6.5) at the track last season. The 27-year-old has one start there in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he qualified and finished in the 11th position back in 2013. Bowman has a stellar record at the 1.5-mile facility in the ARCA Menards Series with two front row starting positions, including a pole position in 2012. In the two ARCA races he ranat Kansas, Bowman captured the victory in both events.

KNOCKING ON THE DOOR: There are five tracks where Bowman has finished second at least once but has yet to capture a victory. Last season, he was the runner-up finisher at Talladega, Kansas, Dover and the Charlotte ROVAL. Earlier this season, Bowman finished second at Darlington on May 17 after leading 41 laps at the South Carolina venue.

1.5-MILE STATS: This season Bowman has led 215 laps on tracks measuring 1.5 miles in length, which isthe fourth-most in the NASCAR Cup Series. Although he has led over 200 laps, his best finish in 2020 on a track of this length is 12th at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The No. 88 team has won three stages on intermediate tracks this year.

LEADING LAPS: Bowman has led 855 laps in his six-year career in the NASCAR Cup Series. So far this season, the driver of the No. 88 machine has led laps during six events at five different tracks, totaling 381 circuits. He led his most laps ever during a single race in 2016 when he was in front for 194 laps at Phoenix Raceway before finishing sixth.

STAGE WINNER: Bowman has won four stages this season, which is tied with Keselowski and Joey Logano for the second-most in the NASCAR Cup Series. The No. 88 team has captured 154 stage points in 18 events in 2020.

IVES AT KANSAS: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 11th time at Kansas Speedway on Thursday night. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s drivers have two top-five results, five top-10s and have led 72 laps at the 1.5-mile facility. Ives’ best finish of second came in the spring of 2019 after the team rolled off fifth and led for 63 laps. His resumé also includes one top-five and two top-10s at the venue in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In 2013, Ives’ driver led 81 laps en route to a third-place finish at the facility. Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006 until 2012. During that time, he was part of two wins, two pole awards and eight top-10 finishes at Kansas.

WELCOME BACK, CHEVYGOODS.COMThe black and yellow ChevyGoods.com paint scheme featuring Adam’s Polishes will be on board Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in Kansas under the lights. Adam’s Polishes produces high quality products for auto detailing enthusiasts. In January, Hendrick Motorsports announced its partnership with ChevyGoods.com, which includes primary sponsorship of Bowman for 26 events. Associate brands that will be featured throughout 2020 are Adam’s Polishes, NOCO and Truck Hero.

GOOD DISCOUNTS: During the month of July, No. 88 team sponsor ChevyGoods.com is providing discounts on all accessories, including Adam’s Polishes, NOCO and Truck Hero. Customers can receive 10% off MSRP with purchases of $100-$249 (offer code “GET10”), 15% off with purchases of $250-$499 (code “GET15”), and 20% off with purchases of more than $500 (code “GET20”).

Hendrick Motorsports

KC MASTERPIECE: In NASCAR Cup Series competition, Hendrick Motorsports leads in every major statistical category at Kansas Speedway. The organization holds the track records for wins (seven), runner-up finishes (six), top-fives (35), top-10s (61), laps led (1,245) and average finish (13.1). Its five Kansas pole positions are tied for the most ever.

LAST YEAR: In two visits to Kansas Speedway in 2019, Hendrick Motorsports’ four-car stable led all NASCAR Cup Series organizations in second-place finishes (two), top-fives (four), top-10s (six) and average finish (7.5). It led 124 laps at the track last season, the second-most among all teams.

SETTING THE STAGE: Through 18 races this season, Hendrick Motorsports leads all NASCAR Cup Series teams in stage wins (12) and stage top-10 finishes (83).

THURSDAY NIGHT’S ALL RIGHT: Going into Thursday night’s race at Kansas Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports holds the all-time record for NASCAR Cup Series wins at 1.5-mile venues with 60 – nine more than anyone else. The team’s most recent 1.5-mile victory came courtesy of driver Chase Elliott on May 28 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which was the last time the series raced on a Thursday.

JUST NEED SOME LUCK: Hendrick Motorsports drivers are running better than they’re finishing in 2020 – by a lot. Alex Bowman’s average running position is 5.85 positions better than his average finish, which is the largest differential in the NASCAR Cup Series. Running 5.7 positions better than his average final result, Elliott is second in the series, with Jimmie Johnson fourth overall with a 3.65 differential.

FACTS AND FIGURES: Since its inception in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has earned 258 race victories and holds the all-time records for championships (12), pole positions (226), top-five finishes (1,082), top-10s (1,864) and laps led (69,865) in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Including 2020, the organization has won at least one race in 35 consecutive seasons, the longest-ever streak. Hendrick Motorsports is 10 wins away from tying Petty Enterprises’ all-time Cup record of 268.

QUOTABLE / 

Driver Chase Elliott on Kansas Speedway:
“To me, Kansas feels like such a small mile and half compared to some of the other ones we go to. I just feel like the corners are sharper than some other places and with it being progressively banked, the top side is going to continue to become dominant. I think in a way, it’s going to turn into Homestead in some situations and as time goes on. The way the corners are shaped, it’s kind of small and that top groove having more banking than the other ones as you move down the track is going to make it a top-dominant racetrack. Typically, those tracks put on good shows, so I expect it to age really well. I look forward to racing there this weekend. It is a fun track.”

Crew chief Chad Knaus on being home for birth of his second child:
“Originally this was going to be a stretch of back-to-back off weekends for us and everything was going to go to plan so I could be home for those two weeks. Unfortunately, we now have two races in one week due to the shift in the schedule from the pandemic. Either way, we still have a great plan in place so that I get to be by Brooke’s side, and we can welcome our baby girl together.”

Knaus on Keith Rodden filling in:
“The No. 24 car has been strong even when the results haven’t shown it. Every week we lay out a pretty in-depth plan of what we’re going to do before we even get to the racetrack, so Thursday will be no different. We have a lot of depth to pull from in this situation at Hendrick Motorsports, and I know Keith (Rodden) is more than capable of getting the job done. Keith’s been working with the team the last few races in preparation of this situation, and I have all the faith that it will be a solid race for him and the No. 24 team.”

Keith Rodden on subbing for Chad Knaus at Kansas: 
“I’m super pumped to get to the track again and help out Chad, William and the No. 24 team. Being present for the birth of your child is important, especially in the world we are in now. That’s a moment you don’t want to take for granted. Myself and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports support Chad and his family 100% in whatever they need. I’ve known Chad for years and our communication with each other is great. I’ve also been working with William and the No. 24 team the last several weeks in anticipation of this moment. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to step in and represent Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports. I want to get the best possible result, but the ultimate goal is to show up to win and bring a trophy back for Chad and his family.”

Driver William Byron on Chad Knaus and Keith Rodden:
“I’m excited for Chad and Brooke on having their second child. This is an important moment for them as a family. While we will miss Chad at the track on Thursday, I know that Keith will do a good job taking over during his absence. No matter the situation, the goal remains the same for the No. 24 team and we’re all committed to it.”

 Byron on Kansas Speedway:
“I think Kansas is closer in relation to Charlotte with the amount of grooves it has and the ability you have to make the outside lane work. I think that outside lane is the preferred groove as the race goes along there. In terms of the track surface though, it’s similar to Texas with how smooth it is. It’s starting to get some grain to it and some character the more we race there. It’s a great track, honestly. I think it’s one of the best mile-and-a-half tracks we have on the schedule to race at.”

Byron on mid-week races:
“I’m definitely getting used to us having races coming rapidly around the corner and I really like it. It keeps my brain active and really myself in general. It doesn’t leave me too many days to sit and harp on the previous race or get lax waiting for the next one. I think it’s great to always have another race right around the corner so quickly like we’ve had.”

Byron on the playoff bubble:
“Right now, it’s all about points for us. We have to have a good week every week in terms of stage points and finishes. We need to work on getting back on the other side of the bubble and building back a buffer now. In my mind, you want at least 50 points sitting between you and the cutoff to feel more secure and be able to be more aggressive. We were close to that point a couple weeks ago but the tire issue at Indianapolis and the wreck in Texas really hurt.”

Driver Jimmie Johnson on Kansas Speedway:
“Kansas is one of my favorite tracks we go to. I’m so encouraged as to how we ran at Texas before we had the accident. It (the Ally Chevrolet) was such a rocket. Major kudos to the guys at the shop setting up these cars week in and out for us – without the ability to practice if the cars were way off we would be in big trouble. They are really close every week. Kansas has evolved so much and there is this aging that happens with the racing surfaces on these tracks to with they come into their own after 10 or 15 years and Kansas is now one of those tracks in its ‘prime’. I find it to be one of the most racy and competitive mile and a half tracks we race on right now.”

Driver Alex Bowman on heading to Kansas:
“I am definitely excited to get back to Kansas this week. That track was pretty good to us last year and I still think we should have gotten the win there in the spring. Kansas is pretty similar to Chicago, so I think it sort of fits my driving style. We have had some bad luck here lately and things just haven’t fallen into our hands. Hopefully, we can turn that around on Thursday when we get to a track that I feel really does fit my driving style.”

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

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