Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Phoenix




Age: 30 (July 31, 1992)


Hometown: Elk Grove, California


Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels


Standings: 14th

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No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


RUNNER-UP AT LAS VEGAS: Last Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson finished second in the first two stages. In the final stage, the Elk Grove, California, native navigated to the front, leading 63 laps and building a four-second advantage over second place before a caution occurred with three laps to go in regulation. In overtime, Larson finished as the runner up to teammate William Byron. In three of the last five races at Las Vegas, Larson has finished in the top two and is currently 14th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 44 markers behind the leader.

MARCHING TO THE FRONT: Through three races in 2023, Larson has the most laps run in the top two (263). He also has the third-most laps run in the top five (322) and the fifth-most laps run in the top 10 (390). With 69 laps led on the year, the driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet ranks third in that statistic. 

SCENE OF A CHAMPIONSHIP: In fall of 2021 at Phoenix Raceway, Larson completed his run to the top by winning the Cup Series championship with crew chief Cliff Daniels. The victory capped off a historic first season at Hendrick Motorsports that saw Larson win 10 races as well as the NASCAR All-Star Race. The win at the westward track saw him become the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate and Asian-American driver to win the championship in the sport’s top series.

DESERT WHEELING: The 30-year-old driver has one win, six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in 17 starts at Phoenix. In his last eight starts at the Avondale, Arizona, facility, he has one win, four top-five finishes and seven top-10s – the latter mark is tied for second among drivers since the November 2018 race. Larson is tied for fourth with four top-10 finishes over his last six Phoenix races – a mark he shares with teammates Chase Elliott and Byron as well as Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. His 181 laps led since 2017 at the 1-mile track rank sixth among the field. 

WESTERN BOUND: With two wins at Auto Club Speedway and a win each at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Sonoma Raceway, Larson has five Cup Series victories on the West Coast. That places him fifth among active drivers with left coast victories. Four of those triumphs have come in the last 14 western races.

ONE-MILE MOJO: The two 1-mile long tracks on the schedule – Phoenix and Dover Motor Speedway – have been some of Larson’s best tracks on the circuit. His six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s at Phoenix are tied for his second-best marks in those stats at any facility on the schedule. Only Dover has been a better track for the 19-time Cup Series winner with seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. 

DRIVE ON HOME: This Sunday, Larson will drive the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 out West, but you can pick your own keys from any one of Hendrick Automotive Group’s 95 dealerships nationwide. Customers can also shop from the convenience of their home by selecting 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.

WE’RE HIRING: Join 10,000+ others nationwide in working at Hendrick Automotive Group. Technicians and other positions are being hired at its dealerships throughout the country. Positions are open for all skill levels and offer tuition and training reimbursement. Individuals who are interested can apply at HendrickCars.com.




Age: 32 (Oct. 22, 1990)


Hometown: Hendersonville, Tennessee


Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson


Standings: 19th — Owner’s

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No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


DRIVER UPDATE: As Chase Elliott continues to recover from a leg injury, Josh Berry will climb behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. Berry will also drive at other upcoming oval tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Road racing standout Jordan Taylor is set to compete for the team at Circuit of The Americas. Elliott’s recovery is expected to last approximately six weeks.
: On Sunday, Alan Gustafson will call his 37th Phoenix race as a Cup Series crew chief with his sixth different driver. The 1-mile oval is statistically one of his best tracks. In the veteran crew chief’s previous 36 starts there, he has collected four wins, 12 top-five results, 23 top-10s and 977 laps led. Gustafson’s four victories are tied with Hendrick Motorsports’ vice president of competition Chad Knaus for the second-most by a crew chief at Phoenix and came via four different drivers: Kyle Busch in 2005, Mark Martin in 2009, Jeff Gordon in 2011 and Elliott in 2020. 

THE BERRY LOWDOWN: Berry, a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports, has three Cup Series starts under his belt. Last weekend in his Next Gen debut filling in for Elliott at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and battling a throttle issue, Berry finished 29th. The Hendersonville, Tennessee, native, has 65 Xfinity Series starts to his name, with five victories, 19 top-five finishes and 36 top-10s. The 2022 season marked his first full-time campaign in the Xfinity Series. He earned three wins and advanced to the Championship 4, ultimately placing fourth in the series standings. In 2020, he was the NASCAR Weekly Series National Champion. 

BERRY’S PHOENIX FILE: While Berry has never competed at Phoenix in the Cup Series, he does have three Xfinity Series starts at the track, earning a best finish of third last March. In March of 2021, Berry ran as high as third, but an on-track incident took him out of the race. During his most recent start on the desert oval last fall, the 32-year-old had an average running position of eighth and ran 96% of the race inside the top 15, ultimately finishing 13th.  

COMING HOME: No. 9 team fueler John Gianninoto, who grew up in Tucson, Arizona, will compete in front of his home-track crowd at Phoenix on Sunday. Gianninoto graduated with honors from Catalina Foothills High School and went on to play as an offensive lineman for University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2006 – earning his first letter in 2007 and becoming a team captain in 2010. In 2012, he participated in the NFL’s Carolina Panthers training camp before signing with Hendrick Motorsports that September. Gianninoto set a Guinness World Record in 2018, teaming with Sunoco for the most vehicles refueled by an individual in one hour (148). 

KBB.COM IS BACK: This weekend is the first of two primary races for No. 9 team partner Kelley Blue Book. In January, it was announced that Kelley Blue Book extended its sponsorship of Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports with a two-year contract renewal. In addition to this Sunday’s race at Phoenix, the Cox Automotive brand will be the primary partner on the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 24. You can view the paint scheme here.  
: Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, is the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry for nearly a century. As the industry standard for generations, Kelley Blue Book provides transparent, objective information and data-driven, innovative tools for consumers, automotive dealers and manufacturers. The company publishes millions of market-reflective values weekly on its top-rated website KBB.com. Kelley Blue Book is a Cox Automotive Company. 




Age: 25 (Nov. 29, 1997)


Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina


Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle


Standings: 13th

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No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


WINNER WINNER RAPTOR DINNER: Going to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the second stop of the NASCAR Cup Series West Coast swing, William Byron and the No. 24 team proved they had the car to beat from the start of the weekend. After posting the fastest 10-lap average during practice, he went on to qualify second for Sunday’s race – the second time that he has started on the front row at the 1.5-mile track. When the field went green, Byron took the lead on lap 10 and went on to sweep both stages of the race for the first time in his Cup Series career. Despite losing the lead in the final stage, the driver of the No. 24 was able to power his way back to second before a caution sent the race into overtime. Restarting second, Byron made the pass for the lead just after the race went back green to score his first win of the 2023 season and fifth in the Cup Series.

ODDS AND ENDS: The 176 laps led by Byron on Sunday were the second-highest mark he has led in a single Cup Series race. In fact, with Sunday’s domination, Byron has led the most laps this season with 79 more circuits out front than the next closest driver. This is the third consecutive season that he has won a race within the first five races of the season.

WHO WAS WORRIED?: While the first two races of the 2023 season didn’t turn out like the No. 24 team wanted, the team’s Las Vegas results saw the group stand and deliver. After three points-paying races this year, Byron has spent 452 laps running in the top 10 – third-most among drivers. He has also spent a series-best 340 laps in the top five and 226 laps running in the top-two positions – second-most behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson with 263. 

PIT ROAD PROWESS: In the first three races of 2023, the No. 24 pit crew has an average four-tire pit stop time of 11.19 – the fourth-best average in the field. The No. 24 pit crew consists of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer), Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer), Ryan Patton (tire carrier) and Landon Walker (fueler). The No. 24 pit crew had a strong hand in the Las Vegas victory, helping Byron win the race off pit road during the final stop of the race.

VENTURING TO THE VALLEY OF THE SUN: Heading to a track that Byron has found success at in every level of NASCAR competition, he will return to Phoenix Raceway for the 11th time in his Cup career. Across his 10 Cup Series starts, Byron has a track-best finish of sixth (November 2022). In fact, half of his starts at Phoenix have been top-10 results. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native’s 307 laps run within the top five in 2022 were the fifth-most. He also is tied for the fourth-most top 10s in the last six races at the Arizona facility – four – with teammates Chase Elliott and Larson as well as Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. In two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix, both coming in 2017, he started on the front row twice, won the November race and finished fourth in the March event. With the Xfinity win, he became the youngest driver in the series to reach victory lane at Phoenix at 19 years, 11 months and 13 days.

DYNAMIC DUO OUT WEST: In 2016, Byron was behind the wheel for the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at the 1-mile oval with crew chief Rudy Fugle atop the pit box. The duo won the pole and went on to lead 112 laps. Unfortunately, an engine failure while Byron was leading with 12 laps to go ended his night early and his chance to advance on to the Championship 4. A week later at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the team ended up finding redemption and won.

RUDY’S PHOENIX PERFORMANCE: Going to Phoenix for the fifth time in his Cup Series crew chief career, Fugle has two top-10 finishes with 12 laps led in those previous four races. In fact, his best showing at this track is a sixth-place finish last fall. Aside from his Cup Series starts, the Livonia, New York, native has three Xfinity starts and eight Truck Series starts under his belt at the Arizona facility. In those eight Truck races, he has four pole awards and his drivers have led a total of 471 laps. While Fugle has only one Phoenix win (Erik Jones, 2013), he also has two runner-up results, four top-five finishes and six top-10s. His Truck Series drivers only finished worse than ninth two times, including the race with Byron that they dominated before an engine failure resulted in a 27th-place finish.

VALVOLINE RETURNS: Valvoline will make its first 2023 appearance as the primary sponsor of Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Phoenix this weekend. Valvoline Inc. (NYSE: VVV) is a leading worldwide marketer and supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services, with sales in more than 140 countries. Established in 1866, the company’s heritage spans more than 150 years, during which time it has developed powerful brand recognition across multiple product and service channels. Valvoline ranks as the No. 3 passenger car motor oil brand in the DIY market by volume. To see Byron’s No. 24 Valvoline Chevy, click here


48 Alex Bowman


Age: 29 (April 25, 1993)


Hometown: Tucson, Arizona


Resides: Concord, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Blake Harris


Standings: 2nd

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No. 48 Ally Best Friends Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


VIVA LAS VEGAS: Alex Bowman took home his third consecutive top-10 finish to open the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last Sunday. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 started the race 11th before finishing the first stage in seventh and the second stage in third. He took the checkered flag in third behind race winner William Byron and teammate Kyle Larson. Bowman’s third-place result makes him one of two drivers in the Cup Series to finish in the top 10 in each of the first three races this year. He is the first driver to accomplish this feat for the 14-time Cup Series championship-winning organization since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015. 

FRONT RUNNER: Thanks to his three straight top-10 finishes, Bowman has amassed 285 laps completed in the top five and 428 circuits in the top 10. Both marks are fourth-best in the series. 

HAVIN’ A RECORD YEAR: Bowman is off to his best start ever in 2023. He currently sits second in the regular season standings, just three markers behind the leader, Ross Chastain. This year, Bowman has garnered two top-five finishes, three top-10s and has an average start and finish of 5.33 – all his best marks through three races. He also won the DAYTONA 500 pole and has led in all the races. Bowman’s average finish is the best of all drivers in the Cup Series. 

COUNT IT UP: With 85 points earned during the West Coast swing, Bowman has the second-most points scored among the field in the last two races. With one more race left in the three-race stretch, the driver of the No. 48 will look to make a move into the regular season points lead with another strong performance out West on Sunday. 

BEST IN THE WEST: The 29-year-old has tallied two wins in the Cup Series at tracks on the West Coast since the start of the 2020 season. Bowman took home his first victory in that span at Auto Club Speedway in March 2020. In that race, Bowman won the first stage and finished second in the second stage, leading 110 laps en route to his second Cup Series victory. He scored his other West Coast win at Las Vegas in March 2022. In that event, Bowman won the first stage and led 16 laps, all but securing his spot in the 2022 Cup Series playoffs.  

HOMETOWN HERO: Heading home to take on Phoenix Raceway for the 16th time in his Cup Series career, the Tucson, Arizona, native has one top-10 finish at this track – a sixth-place finish in 2016. In that race, he started from the pole position, led a race-high 194 laps (his most in a single race) and spent 272 laps inside the top two for an average running position of 1.9. The Hendrick Motorsports driver also has six NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the venue with a best finish of eighth (2017) and one NASCAR K&N Pro Series West start (now known as the ARCA Menards Series West) in 2011 when he led 23 laps en route to a second-place result. 

LET THEM COOK: The No. 48 Ally Racing pit crew was unstoppable in Las Vegas last Sunday. On lap 185, the five-man crew made the fastest stop to date of the 2023 season with a four-tire pit stop of 9.77 seconds. The over-the-wall crew is made up of front-tire changer Donnie Tasser, rear-tire changer Andrew Bridgeforth, tire carrier Scott Riddle, jackman Allen Holman, and fueler Jacob Conley. 

PHOENIX PAINT: This weekend, the No. 48 Ally Best Friends Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will adorn the vibrant orange colors of Best Friends Animal Society as part of the paint scheme. Bowman and Ally have teamed up for the third consecutive year to help Best Friends “Save Them All.” This season, the duo will donate $4,800 each week to a network partner in each race market the Cup Series will visit. If Bowman wins, the animals win, too, as the donation will increase to $10,000. So far, the program has donated $362,000 to pets in need across the country. To see all angles of the scheme that will run this Sunday in Phoenix, click here




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CLOSING IN ON 300: William Byron’s win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway puts Hendrick Motorsports eight points-paying victories away from 300 in the NASCAR Cup Series. Twenty drivers have combined to reach the organization’s current total of 292 wins, which is the most in the sport by any one team. 

EXTENDING THE STREAK: For the 38th straight season, the Concord, North Carolina, based team has won a race. The squad’s 39 seasons with a win are the most years with at least one victory in the Cup Series by any organization.

XFINITY SLATE SET: For the second consecutive season, Hendrick Motorsports will run a limited NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule with primary sponsorship from HendrickCars.com. Byron is set to drive the No. 17 Chevrolet at Circuit of The Americas on March 25. Kyle Larson will take two turns starting at Sonoma Raceway on June 10 and then at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 2. Alex Bowman gets behind the wheel on Aug. 19 at Watkins Glen International. Veteran crew chiefs Greg Ives and Kevin Meendering will oversee the effort. In last year’s four races, the No. 17 had two runner-up finishes, three top-fives and 71 laps led in its first action on the circuit since 2009. The organization has 26 wins and one driver’s championship (2003) in the series. 

SWEEPING THE PODIUM: Hendrick Motorsports’ one-two-three finish at Las Vegas with Byron, Larson and Bowman, respectively, marked the third time in team history that the organization placed in at least the top-three spots of the finishing order. The previous two instances came in the 1997 DAYTONA 500 (Jeff Gordon won, while Terry Labonte finished second and Ricky Craven placed third) and the 2021 race at Dover Motor Speedway (Bowman won, Larson was second, Chase Elliott came in third and Byron grabbed fourth).

HIGH FIVE: Hendrick Motorsports is the only team to have at least one driver earn a top-five finish in all three races this season. Bowman finished fifth in the DAYTONA 500, Elliott was the runner-up finisher at Auto Club Speedway and the Byron-Larson-Bowman trio took the top three spots at Las Vegas. 

DESERT DOZEN: The Rick Hendrick-owned organization has a series-best 12 wins among eight drivers at Phoenix Raceway. Jimmie Johnson tops the board with four, followed by Gordon at two victories. Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elliott, Labonte, Larson and Mark Martin have each tallied one triumph at the 1-mile track for the team. Elliott and Larson’s wins came in the 2020 and 2021 championship races. The 14-time Cup Series championship-winning organization also leads the way in poles (13), top-five finishes (52), top-10s (96) and laps led (3,170) at the Arizona venue.

NEW PACKAGE AT PLAY: This weekend’s race at Phoenix will be the first for a new rules package designed to have a decrease in downforce on most short ovals and road courses. Teams will get a 50-minute practice session on Friday, starting at 6:35 p.m. ET. In addition, wet-weather equipment will also be available for this race in the event of rain. The sanctioning body’s intent is to use it in mild conditions to speed up the resumption of racing following a rain delay.

DATE WITH DESTINY: This year’s spring Phoenix race will be held on March 12. In the previous four instances of races held on that date, the winner of a March 12 race has gone on to win the championship three different times – with two of those happening for Hendrick Motorsports drivers. Gordon won at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1995 and went on to win his first title. Johnson won at Las Vegas in 2006 and earned his first championship later that season. 

WEST SUCCESS: Hendrick Motorsports’ 42 wins on the West Coast are the most in the series and 18 more than the next closest team. Auto Club and Phoenix have been their most successful tracks on that side of the country with 12 triumphs each. Las Vegas has been the site of eight wins, while Sonoma has seen seven victories. Riverside International Raceway was responsible for three wins as well. Johnson’s 15 wins are the most among all drivers on the West Coast. Gordon (11), Larson (four), Bowman (two), Busch (two), Tim Richmond (two), Geoff Bodine (one), Byron (one), Earnhardt Jr. (one), Elliott (one), Labonte (one) and Martin (one) have all gone to victory lane for the organization out West.

TAKING STOCK IN THE TRENDS: Of the last 14 races on the West Coast, seven have resulted in victories for Hendrick Motorsports. Larson has four wins, while Bowman, Byron and Elliott have one each. On last year’s three-race western swing following the DAYTONA 500, the organization won two of the three races (Larson at Auto Club and Bowman at Las Vegas). This year’s West Coast stretch has seen Byron win at Las Vegas and each of the team’s four drivers earn a top-three finish. 




Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Phoenix Raceway: “I enjoy Phoenix (Raceway). 2021 was a great ending for us there, getting the win and (NASCAR Cup Series) championship. I feel like we’re usually on the cusp of being able to lead laps and win races there. It’s a unique track. Different than any other race track we go to. The shape of it, the size of it, the banking, etc. is unique to Phoenix. I also bought a place out here (Scottsdale) a handful of months ago, so it’s kind of like a home race for me now and I really enjoy going there.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on having extra track time at Phoenix: “This past Sunday was good for us. I really felt like we would have had a great day in California but unfortunately, we missed out on that. Taking the momentum that we’ve had of those good performances (and) a little bit of confidence built from Vegas will be good going into Phoenix. Phoenix is still going to be a big unknown with the new package. None of the Hendrick (Motorsports) cars got to test in January with the new package. We haven’t had our hands on it or been able to touch it and feel it at the track. We will have to make best use of our practice time at the track on Friday and hopefully get it dialed in.”

Josh Berry, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparing for Phoenix: “Alan (Gustafson) and the entire team have been great to work with this week in getting me prepared for Phoenix (Raceway). Last week was a last-minute situation and my first time in a Next Gen, so to get the opportunity this week to be at the shop and sit down and talk through a lot of things with everyone on the team has been extremely helpful. This is still a really difficult situation and we’re all thinking about Chase (Elliott). We want him back and healthy as soon as he’s able. In the meantime, I’m thankful for the opportunity to fill in for him on the ovals.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparing for Phoenix with Josh Berry: “This week there’s still been a lot of work to do, but we have a much better idea of what Josh needs for the cockpit, his seat and everything around that. Just going through all of that and being able to spend some time with Josh has been good. Having driven this car is the biggest thing for him and we’re now going to be more prepared heading to Phoenix (Raceway). Having that practice will be a big deal. Having those 50 minutes will help a bunch because we don’t really know his tendencies and driving style – what he would need relative to some of the other drivers. It will be nice to get that time and be able to draw some correlation and understanding.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the importance of track position at Phoenix: “I think that the craziest thing at Phoenix (Raceway) is the restarts. It’s all about lane choice and setting yourself heading into turn one. Track position is important throughout the whole race. Once you lose it, it’s hard to gain it back. We’ll be running the new short-track package for the first time this weekend and I’ll be interested to see how it does since I wasn’t one of the drivers to test it earlier this year. We have momentum on our side after the win last week, but we want to keep that going for sure.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on what he expects for this weekend at Phoenix: “I’m interested to see how this weekend goes. We have a very small taste of what happened at the organizational test that happened in January. They never tested exactly what we’re racing. We don’t know what to expect honestly. It’s like a simulation game and we hope we just have all the right information to work from. We’ll do our best to make all our changes during practice Friday.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his expectations heading to Phoenix: “We have started off this season really strong and Phoenix (Raceway) is a place I have circled on my calendar. I ran good there once and haven’t had that kind of performance since then, so I am always eager to get back there and try to find success with it being my home track. Blake (Harris) and I are doing all we can to get ready for the race. I know the team is putting in the work to get our No. 48 Ally Chevy ready to hit the track. I am just ready to get to the track and get my redemption.”

Blake Harris, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the start of the 2023 season: “When you look back at the start of our season, it starts with Daytona (International Speedway). We missed all the wrecks and scored some good stage points – it was a good points day. At the last two intermediates, we have had a lot of speed in our race cars. We had a solid day on pit road in Las Vegas. Having fast race cars and track position is really giving us the chance to capitalize early in the season. We focused on execution throughout the races and have been able to stay up front. We have scored stage points in every stage except one at Daytona. Being able to get a top 10 in the first three points races this season is really important. You have to be able to score stage points and have to have good finishes to put yourself in a prime position to make the playoffs, which is our focus. That is certainly something we plan on continuing at Phoenix (Raceway). Our expectation is to run in the top 10 and be able to capitalize at the end of the race.”

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