Wednesday, Oct 05

Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Watkins Glen

 

5 KYLE LARSON

 

Age: 30 (July 31, 1992)

 

Hometown: Elk Grove, California

 

Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels

 

Standings: 3rd

 
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No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

BOWLING FOR A DOUBLE AT THE GLEN: Last year at Watkins Glen International, Kyle Larson led the final 26 laps to capture the victory. The win in the 23rd race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season moved the Elk Grove, California, native into the top spot in the points standings – his first time atop the standings during his inaugural season with Hendrick Motorsports.

JUUUUUNIOOOOR: Saturday will mark Larson’s second start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season. The driver of the No. 88 HendrickCars.com JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro has won four of his last six starts in the Xfinity Series, capturing victories at Bristol Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2018. In July of this year, Larson won stages one and two in the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Xfinity Series entry before ultimately finishing second at Road America.

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND: In seven Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen, Larson has one win, two top-five finishes and four top-10s. In six Xfinity Series starts at the 2.45-mile road course located in New York, the 30-year-old driver has one top-five – a third-place finish in 2016.

KING OF THE ROAD: Larson won three road course events in 2021, the most ever during a NASCAR Cup Series season. Victories at Sonoma Raceway in June, Watkins Glen in August and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in October were integral during his 10-win championship season.

BACK NINE: Dating back to June 2021, Larson has been victorious in three of the last nine Cup Series road course events – tops in NASCAR’s premier series. Overall, the 2021 Cup Series champion ranks fourth among active drivers in road course wins (three), one behind Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who are tied for second.

ROAD COURSE RINGERS: Only two Hendrick Motorsports drivers have scored more wins on road courses than Larson. On serpentine layouts in the Cup Series, the all-time winningest driver is NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon with nine while Chase Elliott has crossed the line first on seven occasions.

GOOD STARTING POINT: With a 6.71 average starting position in seven Watkins Glen Cup Series starts, the defending event winner is tops in this statistical average among active drivers at NASCAR’s highest level. Among drivers with a minimum of three starts, Larson trails only Tony Stewart, who posted a 5.88 average start at the New York track during his NASCAR Hall of Fame career.

YOUR CAR NEEDS: This weekend, Larson will drive the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the Cup Series and No. 88 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro in the Xfinity Series. From the convenience of home, customers can select the category, make, model and vehicle packages that are important to them from the nearly 30,000 new, high-quality pre-owned and certified cars, trucks and SUVs available at HendrickCars.com. The website also makes it easy for customers to find one of Hendrick Automotive Group’s 93 dealership locations nationwide.

 
 
 
 

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

 

Age: 26 (Nov. 28, 1995)

 

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

 

Standings: 1st

 
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No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

BACK WHERE IT STARTED: In 2018, Watkins Glen International was the site of Chase Elliott’s first NASCAR Cup Series win. He led 52 of 90 laps en route to victory. In just five starts on the 2.45-mile road course, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has three top-two finishes including two wins. Elliott’s most recent trip to victory lane at Watkins Glen came in 2019 after he swept the stages and led all but 10 laps of the race. His average finish is an impressive 6.0, which is the best among active drivers at the venue, and he has led for a total of 141 laps.

IN THE RUNNING: The four-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Most Popular Driver Award winner heads into the weekend with a 116-point lead in the Cup series point standings. Elliott could be named the regular season champion as early as this Sunday, needing only a 61-point advantage following the race over second place to clinch the title. It would mark the 26-year-old’s first Cup Series regular season championship and give him 15 bonus points heading into the playoffs. So far in 2022, Elliott has earned a series-high 25 playoff points thanks to his four victories and five stage wins. He’s also tops in the laps led category, pacing the field for 659 circuits. Elliott is the only driver with more than two wins this season.

WATKINS GLEN REWIND: Last season, Elliott and the No. 9 team came from the back of the field to score a second-place finish at Watkins Glen behind teammate Kyle Larson. It was the fourth time in the season that the duo had scored 1-2 finishes. Elliott took the green flag for the final stage of the race from the 19th position and was up to third with 20 laps to go. At that time, he was 11 seconds behind leader Larson and made the pass for second on lap 82. He cut into Larson’s lead by more than eight seconds but ran out of time, ultimately taking the checkered flag in the runner-up spot. It was his third consecutive top-two finish at the track.

FEELING ‘22: Elliott has three top-10 finishes on road courses in 2022 out of four events. The 2020 Cup Series champion drove to a fourth-place result at Circuit of The Americas, scored an eighth-place result at Sonoma Raceway and was the runner-up finisher at Road America. He’s tied with Austin Cindric for the most points earned on serpentine tracks this season with 138.

GETTING IT DONE: Elliott has proven his road-racing prowess, leading all active drivers with seven wins on road courses. He’s also third on the overall list of drivers with road course victories, trailing only NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine) and Tony Stewart (eight). Elliott has victories across five different road courses, the most in series history. In 23 Cup Series starts on road courses, Elliott has an average finish of 7.83, which is not only the best among active drivers, but ranks third all-time among drivers (five or more starts) behind NASCAR legends Fireball Roberts (nine starts) and Buck Baker (10 starts). He is also tied with Kyle Busch for the most laps led on road courses among active drivers with 404.

GUSTAFSON THE GREAT: No. 9 crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 16th Watkins Glen Cup Series race from atop the pit box. In 15 races at the venue, the Ormond Beach, Florida, native has two victories – both with Elliott – two top-five finishes and four top-10s with 178 laps led. Gustafson leads all active crew chiefs with seven road course victories. 

KBB IS BACK: This weekend at Watkins Glen, Kelley Blue Book will make its second and final appearance on the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 2022 season. The Atlanta-based Cox Automotive Group company was the primary partner for Elliott and the No. 9 team earlier this year for the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway, finishing eighth. The long-standing Hendrick Motorsports partner has one win with the No. 9 team coming at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2020. Earlier this year, KBB unveiled a new look for its 2022 paint scheme. See all the angles of the No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet here.

 
 
 
 

24 WILLIAM BYRON

 

Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)

 

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle

 

Standings: 10th

 
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No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

RACKING UP THE POINTS: So far in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron has secured 13 playoff points – tied for the third-most by a driver this season with Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. In the last six races, the 24-year-old driver has collected 45 stage points – the fourth-most among the Cup Series field.

UP FRONT: Byron continues to hold the statistic of leading the second-most laps this season with 611, just behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott who has led 659. Those 611 laps led are not only Byron’s most in a single Cup Series season but have come across 12 races – tied with Ross Chastain for the seventh-most races led by a driver this year.

ROAD RESULTS: During his Cup Series career, Byron has been working to step up his road course racing skills. In the last 10 road course races to hold qualifying, Byron has won the pole for three of them (Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL 2019, Road America and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course 2021). He also has five top-10 finishes in the last 14 road course races. In the four road course races this year, Byron has finished 12th at the Circuit of The Americas, ninth at Sonoma Raceway, 16th at Road America and was poised for a top-five finish at the Indianapolis Road Course before a late-race incident left him with a 31st-place result.

WATKINS GLEN WIZ: Sunday’s race will mark Byron’s fourth Cup Series start at Watkins Glen International and his fifth NASCAR national series start overall at the road course. In the Cup Series, Byron has a track-best qualifying effort of second (2019) and a best finish of sixth (2021) at the 2.45-mile course. Prior to his Cup Series starts, Byron made his first start at the track in the 2015 ARCA Menards Series East race, starting second and finishing seventh. He then returned to the road course in 2017 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, qualifying 15th and crossing the line in 10th. In fact, in his five previous national starts at Watkins Glen, Byron has finished outside the top-10 running order only once, which occurred during the 2019 Cup Series race when he was collected in an on-track incident while running second.

HOMEWARD BOUND: While Rudy Fugle may have limited experience at Watkins Glen, the Livonia, New York, native is excited to be heading to his hometown track for Sunday’s race. This weekend will mark Fugle’s second Cup Series start at the 2.45-mile road course. In his first Cup Series start in front of his hometown crowd, the crew chief led Byron and the No. 24 team to a sixth-place finish. In total, Fugle has 11 Cup Series starts on road courses, three starts in the Xfinity Series and seven in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In those seven Truck Series starts, he has one win (Erik Jones, 2015), three top-five finishes, and five top-10s. One of those seven truck starts was also with Byron, where the duo raced to a 10th-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2016.

DOUBLE UP: Byron is pulling double duty at Watkins Glen this weekend. In addition to Sunday’s Cup Series race, he’ll drive the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports in the Xfinity Series race on Saturday afternoon. Byron’s primary partner in the Cup Series, Axalta, will also serve as an associate partner on his Xfinity Series car. The No. 17 has raced in two other Xfinity races this year, scoring runner-up finishes in both events with Kyle Larson at Road America and Alex Bowman at the Indianapolis Road Course. 

RAPTOR® TOUGH: The Charlotte, North Carolina, native will be back behind the wheel of the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend. RAPTOR® is a durable protective coating and bed liner that is designed to tolerate the toughest climatic conditions and can be applied to a wide range of substrates from steel, wood, concrete and plaster to plastics and composites. Resistant to common fuels, U.V., scratches and stains, RAPTOR® is available at local paint distributors, auto parts stores and can also be purchased from online retailers like Amazon. 

 
 
 
 

48 Alex Bowman

 

Age: 29 (April 25, 1993)

 

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

 

Resides: Concord, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Greg Ives

 

Standings: 11th

 
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No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

TWO TO GO: With just two races left in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season, Alex Bowman has tallied one win (Las Vegas Motor Speedway), three top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and six playoff points. 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: For the fifth time in the 2022 Cup Series season, Bowman will be turning left and right as the top series races at Watkins Glen International. In his previous four road course starts this year, the Tucson, Arizona, native has a runner-up finish at Circuit of The Americas – tied for the best result by any Hendrick Motorsports driver on serpentine layouts this season. 

SECOND PLACE: In his career, the 29-year-old driver has two second-place finishes on road courses, which is the second-most among active drivers without a win. In addition to his runner-up showing at COTA this year, he also placed second at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in 2019. Brad Keselowski leads the category with three second-place results without a win on road courses.

SLINGING DIRT: On Tuesday, Bowman strapped back into the No. 55 Ally sprint car for Alex Bowman Racing in the Kyle Larson High Limit Open at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana. Bowman won his heat race to qualify for the feature race, where he placed sixth. 

NO. 48 PIT CREW: This weekend, the No. 48 pit crew will have four new members going over the wall. The five-man crew is made up of Austin Dickey (front-tire changer), Andrew Bridgeforth (rear-tire changer), Scott Riddle (tire carrier), Allen Holman (jackman) and Jacob Conley (fueler).

BEST FRIENDS UPDATE: Through 24 Cup Series races, Bowman and Ally - the primary sponsor of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 - have teamed up to donate $125,200 to Best Friends Animal Society and its network partners in the race markets that NASCAR’s premier series has visited. Each week of the season, Bowman and Ally join forces and donate $4,800 to Best Friends Animal Society. If Bowman wins, the donation increases to $10,000. 

 
 
 

HENDRICK

MOTORSPORTS /

Hendrick Motorsports
 
 

 

2022

 

 

All-Time

 

 

Watkins Glen

 

Races

 

24

 

 

1,297

 

 

35

 

Wins

 

8*

 

 

288*

 

 

9*

 

Poles

 

5

 

 

236*

 

 

7*

 

Top 5

 

25*

 

 

1,181*

 

 

22

 

Top 10

 

43*

 

 

2,026*

 

 

41

 

Laps Led

 

1,590*

 

 

76,532*

 

 

659*

 

Stage Wins

 

12*

 

 

73

 

 

3**

 

 

*Most **Most (tie)
 

REVVING TO A MILESTONE: The engine shop at Hendrick Motorsports sits five wins away from 500 victories. To date, the company’s engine program is responsible for 336 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, 122 wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, 22 wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and 15 wins in the ARCA Menards Series and K&N Pro Series ranks. 

EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: For its three 2022 Xfinity Series races, Hendrick Motorsports will field the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro - the same number Ricky Hendrick drove in the Camping World Truck Series. That number has won 39 times in Xfinity Series history and two of the four drivers to win in it – Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte – would go on to win in the Cup Series with the Rick Hendrick-owned organization. You can see renderings of the Xfinity Series paint scheme here.

GETTING GOING AT THE GLEN: The No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro will be making its final Xfinity Series start of the season with William Byron piloting the ride in Saturday’s race at Watkins Glen International. Kevin Meendering is serving as the team’s crew chief. The organization has 26 wins in the series with Tony Stewart recording the last win to date at Daytona International Speedway in 2009. Last month, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman each finished second at Road America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, respectively, in the team’s first Xfinity starts in 13 years.

LEADING THE WAY: With eight wins through 24 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2022, Hendrick Motorsports has earned the most victories so far this season. It is the only four-car team to see all of its drivers win a race this season. The 1,590 laps out front lead all teams in the series by 40 circuits. Teammates Chase Elliott and Byron rank 1-2 in laps led this year. 

STARTING STRONG: In six of the last nine road course events with qualifying, the Concord, North Carolina, based team has scored the pole position. During that span, which dates back to 2019, Byron has won three poles, Elliott has had two and Larson got one. In fact, two of the poles came this season with Elliott (at Road America) and Larson (at Sonoma Raceway).

RULERS OF THE ROAD: At 25 wins, Hendrick Motorsports has the most all-time triumphs on road courses in Cup Series history. The two closest teams in this statistic have combined for only 21 wins. Since their inaugural season in 1984, the organization has won 28 percent of road courses events (25 wins in 89 races).

COUNTING 'EM UP: Seven different drivers have accounted for the 25 road course wins in team history and those seven winners are the most for a Cup Series team on road courses. Jeff Gordon leads the way for the team with nine victories (which are also the most among all drivers) followed by Elliott with seven. Larson and Tim Richmond are tied for third on the list with three wins apiece. Jimmie Johnson, Geoff Bodine and Ricky Rudd each tallied one victory.

WATKINS GLEN WINNERS: Among those 25 serpentine layout wins, nine have come at Watkins Glen - most among all Cup Series teams. Gordon’s four wins are the most for the squad followed by two for Elliott. Richmond, Rudd and Larson each have one win at the track near New York’s Finger Lakes region. 

NEW YORK MINUTE: Larson’s win last year came in an event that saw Hendrick Motorsports finish first, second (Elliott) and sixth (Byron). The victory extended the organization’s winning streak at the 2.45-mile venue to three with Elliott’s victories in 2018 and 2019 - there was no 2020 race due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the second time the team has won three in a row at this track, with Gordon scoring triumphs from 1997 to 1999.

SWEEP SENSATIONS: In the era of stage racing, there have been two times - both by Hendrick Motorsports - when one driver swept every road course stage and won the race. Elliott was the first to do so in his 2019 win at Watkins Glen. Larson also accomplished this with his victory in 2021 at Sonoma. 

 
 
 

QUOTABLE /

 

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the difference going from the NASCAR Xfinity Series car to NASCAR Cup Series car: "At Road America, the braking points were pretty similar, which was surprising. I thought the Cup car would brake much deeper. I hope it’s the same this weekend at Watkins Glen (International) because it would really, really help getting into a rhythm quickly for the entire weekend."

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the benefit of Larson running in the Xfinity (Series) race at Watkins Glen International: "I think him getting the track time is great – not really because of his skill and abilities, but for him to understand the grip level. I know he is going to be fast in the Xfinity car and I know he is going to be fast in our car, but having the extra time to understand the grip level and other nuances of the track that’s different from a year ago. We do have recent test data to go off of and feedback from those tests – but nothing replaces actual track time and the condition of the track and how we approach it."
 



Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Watkins Glen: "Watkins Glen (International) was where I got my first win so it’s of course a place that holds some great memories for me. We’ve had a good amount of success there as a team and I feel like this year we’ve come a long way in our road course program with the new car. This is a track that I feel like we can really go and have a good run and get some momentum back heading into the playoffs."

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen: "Certainly the last three years have been good for our team at Watkins Glen (International). We’ve been really competitive there and we feel like this is another opportunity for us to go out there and have a good race. Our focus will be winning and ultimately trying to get some more playoff points. That’s the key. This is a track we should be able to do that at. Hopefully that will come to fruition and put us in a good position for the playoffs."
 



William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on why he enjoys racing at Watkins Glen: "Honestly Watkins Glen (international) is one of the most fun race tracks we go to as a driver because it’s so fast. It’s not like a lot of the other road courses we go to that have much slower zones and such aggressive braking. Watkins Glen almost really feels like a superspeedway for road courses. I got to test there earlier this year in the Next Gen car and I think it’s just as fun of a road course in these cars compared to last year’s. I’m excited that I get extra track time this weekend there too with being able to run Xfinity on Saturday. It will make for a full day, but I think it will be beneficial to get those extra laps before Sunday’s race in similar race conditions. Plus, I want to be able to get Mr. Hendrick a win in the No. 17, especially since they’ve been so close this year already."

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the preparation by the No. 24 team for Watkins Glen: "I think our race last year at Watkins Glen (International) went well but I always think there’s room to improve. Since then, we have really worked on improving not only our road course racing notes but especially now with the Next Gen car and getting up to speed there. We’ll be utilizing the same tire Sunday that we have for most of the other road course races this year, so we have a good notebook built up on how they will react over a run. We also were able to test there earlier this year and had a lot of positive feedback while we were there. I think we’re more prepared for this race than we have been earlier this year on road courses. The main difference is how much faster this track is compared to the other road courses on the schedule. Downforce really plays a factor and so does handling, but I think that’s where our testing notes will really come into play."
 



Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his expectations heading to Watkins Glen: "We have had good runs on road courses this season, but each track has its challenges, so I look at them one at a time. Hendrick Motorsports has had a lot of speed on road courses, and I have run a few extra races. Whether it was in the No. 7 Spire truck or the No. 17 Chevy Camaro in Xfinity, I had the opportunity to get more time on road courses, which I think has helped me this season. I will prepare like I have every week and make sure I give Greg (Ives, crew chief) all the feedback he needs to get the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the right place and we will go compete on Sunday."

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the strength of Hendrick Motorsports at road courses this season: "We have had speed every time we have raced at a road course this year and it goes to show how talented our team is back at the shop at building exceptional race cars. We had a No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 capable of winning at Circuit of The Americas and had a great car at Road America, so I know we will have another great car this weekend at Watkins Glen International. Alex (Bowman) continues to do his homework and our team is matching his effort as we get ready to head up to New York and try to get Hendrick Motorsports a win on a road course this year."

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