Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Pocono

 

5 KYLE LARSON

 

Age: 30 (July 31, 1992)

 

Hometown: Elk Grove, California

 

Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels

 

Standings: 8th

 
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No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

NEWS FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE: Kyle Larson’s third-place finish led the way for Hendrick Motorsports at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Monday afternoon. After finishing 11th in the opening stage, he moved into the top 10 early in stage two. By lap 100, the driver was in the top five and went on to finish stage two in second. Larson ran as high as second in the final stage and restarted on the inside front row with nine laps to go before ending the day third. 

HEATING UP: Following Larson’s top-three finish at New Hampshire, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion has earned the most top-five finishes (nine) of all drivers in the series this year. Larson has scored four top-five finishes in the last six races, one less than he scored in the first 14 races of the season. He has earned the sixth-most points (197) in the field over the last six races. The Elk Grove, California, native ranks third in laps led (598) in 2023, with teammate William Byron (750) atop the category. Larson has run the fourth-most laps in the top five (2,005) and top 10 (3,192) this season. 

COMING TO POCONO: In his 15 starts at Pocono Raceway, Larson has enjoyed several strong runs, including two runner-up finishes. He has completed 99.4% of his 2,335 laps attempted, led 134 circuits, scored five top-five finishes and nine top-10s at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania, track. Larson’s 11.00 average finish for his Cup Series career at “The Tricky Triangle” is third-best among drivers in Sunday’s field. At the 2.5-mile venue, he currently holds the longest active streak of top-10 finishes (four) and the best average finish (5.33) over the last four races.

FOUR TIRES FAST: The No. 5 HendrickCars.com pit crew has the second-fastest average four-tire pit stop time (11.069 seconds) this season, just behind teammate Byron’s No. 24 crew (10.943 seconds). Their four-tire stop of 9.281 seconds on lap 93 in last month’s race at Nashville Superspeedway is the second-fastest four-tire stop of the season. The No. 5 team’s five-person pit crew consists of Blaine Anderson (front-tire changer), R.J. Barnette (tire carrier), Brandon Harder (fueler), Brandon Johnson (jackman) and Calvin Teague (rear-tire changer). Rod Cox is currently filling in for Teague, who is week-to-week as he rehabs a knee injury.

WEEKDAY RACING: On Tuesday, Larson climbed behind the wheel of the No. 57 sprint car at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania. For the second consecutive year, he won the top prize in the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup in the All-Star Circuit of Champions.

UYRS GRAND PRIX: This Friday, Larson will partner with the Urban Youth Racing School (UYRS) for the second UYRS Kyle Larson and Friends Grand Prix. The No. 5 driver will be accompanied by Chevrolet Cup Series competitors Corey LaJoie (Spire Motorsports, No. 7) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (JTG Daugherty Racing, No. 47) at the go-kart event. The students will pick teams, practice in the go-karts and take the green flag for the UYRS Grand Prix! Hendrick Motorsports has been a long-time supporter of the UYRS and Larson has developed a strong relationship with the Philadelphia-based school. To learn more about the UYRS, click here.

VISIT HENDRICKCARS.COM: This Sunday, Larson will drive the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Thinking of upgrading your vehicle? Shop one of Hendrick Automotive Group’s 95 dealerships nationwide. Customers can also explore from the convenience of their home 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.

HENDRICK AUTOMOTIVE GROUP IS HIRING: Join 10,000+ others nationwide in working at Hendrick Automotive Group. The company is hiring technicians and other positions 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.

 
 
 
 

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

 

Age: 27 (Nov. 28, 1995)

 

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

 

Standings: 23rd

 
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No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media at the Pocono Raceway media center on Friday, July 21, at 2:30 p.m. local time.

POCONO PERFORMANCE: Chase Elliott has 13 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Pocono Raceway with one win, four top-five finishes, eight top-10s and 67 laps led. Though he was the third car to cross the finish line in last season’s race at Pocono, Elliott was awarded the victory after the two cars ahead of him failed post-race technical inspection. Over the last four Cup races held at Pocono, the 27-year-old driver has the sixth-best average finish (11.00). 

DOUBLE DUTY: This weekend, in addition to Sunday’s Cup Series race, Elliott will run the NASCAR Xfinity Series event on Saturday. The 2014 Xfinity champion will drive the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, his first start for Hendrick Motorsports’ Xfinity Series program. In his lone Xfinity Series start at “The Tricky Triangle” in 2018 (with GMS Racing), the Dawsonville, Georgia, native earned a second-place result. Across 82 races in the series, Elliott has five wins, 34 top-five finishes, 66 top-10s, two pole awards and 689 laps led. He won the Xfinity Series title during his rookie season driving for JR Motorsports.  

AG IN PA: This weekend, Alan Gustafson will call his 36th Pocono Cup Series race from atop the pit box. In his previous 35 races at the 2.5-mile track, he has amassed three wins – one with Elliott (2022) and two with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon (2011 and 2012) – nine top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and 202 laps led.  

NUMERICAL DETAILS: Last year’s win for Elliott in the No. 9 marked the seventh time that the car number has reached victory lane at Pocono, which is tied for the second-most wins by car number with the Nos. 18 and 88 at the Pennsylvania facility. The other drivers to win in that number at the venue are Chase’s dad, Bill Elliott (five times) and Kasey Kahne (once)

GIVE ME FIVE: Over the past five Cup Series races, Elliott has earned the fifth-most points (157) and has the best average finish (7.40). That stretch of races includes three consecutive top-five finishes at Sonoma Raceway, Nashville Superspeedway and the Chicago Street Course. Despite missing seven races this season, he is tied for the seventh-most top-five finishes (five) in the sport’s top series. 

PLAYOFF PUSH: Elliott currently sits 23rd in the Cup Series point standings, 60 points outside of the provisional cutline for a playoff spot. With six races left in the regular season, the Hendrick Motorsports driver needs to average 10 markers gained per race on the cutline to advance to the playoffs on points. While pointing his way in is still mathematically possible, the most straightforward way for Elliott to lock himself into the playoffs is with a victory. He has earned three of his 18 career Cup Series wins across two of the six tracks remaining in the regular season (Pocono and Watkins Glen International). At three of the other tracks, Elliott has nearly taken home the hardware, finishing runner-up at Richmond Raceway, Michigan International Speedway (three times), and Daytona International Speedway (twice). 

GET UP AND GO: NAPA Auto Parts is back on board the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Pocono. The Atlanta-based company has been the primary partner for Elliott in all but one of his Cup Series starts on the 2.5-mile triangle, including his win at the track last year. Get a look at all the angles of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy here.

 
 
 
 

24 WILLIAM BYRON

 

Age: 25 (Nov. 29, 1997)

 

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle

 

Standings: 2nd

 
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No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

EYE ON THE PRIZE: With six races left in the regular season, William Byron is second in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings, just 17 markers behind the leader. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native is looking for his first Cup Series regular-season championship and the extra 15 playoff points that come with it. To this point, Byron leads the series in wins (four), average running position (9.10), laps led (750), laps run in the top five (2,577) and stage wins (seven). His 750 laps led mark a new season-high for the 25-year-old driver in that category. In addition, Byron is second in top-10 finishes (eight) to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (nine), has run the second-most laps in the top 10 (3,397) and has collected the second-most points (208) over the last six races.

TWO-FOUR: The No. 24 has scored the win at Pocono Raceway six times – tied for the fifth-most wins by a car number at “The Tricky Triangle,” all coming with Jeff Gordon. If Byron were to end up in victory lane Sunday, the No. 24 would be tied for the second-most wins at Pocono with the Nos. 9, 18 and 88. A win would also move the iconic number into a tie with the No. 2 for the third-most Cup Series wins by car number at 102. Earlier this month, Byron’s triumph at Atlanta Motor Speedway placed the No. 24 in a tie for the fourth-most wins by car number with the No. 3 at 101. 

PREVIEWING POCONO: In his nine Cup Series starts at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania, track, Byron has one pole award (June 2019), two top-five finishes, five top-10s and 70 laps led. He holds the top average finish (9.40) among drivers in Sunday’s race, with his track-best finish of third coming in the first race of the June 2021 doubleheader. In the last four Pocono races, Byron has an average finish of 8.50 – third-best behind teammates Larson and Alex Bowman. In fact, his five top-10 finishes are the fourth-most for him at a track in his Cup Series career.

PAST POCONO WINNER: Byron isn’t a stranger to victory lane at Pocono. After starting from the pole in 2016, he dominated the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race, leading 44 out of 60 laps before capturing the checkered flag. 

TRICKY TRICKY TRICKY: Crew chief Rudy Fugle has three previous Cup Series starts at Pocono under his belt. His best showing with Byron and the No. 24 team came in 2021 – the first race of a doubleheader – where the group finished third after starting second. Since that initial race, Fugle has back-to-back 12th-place finishes at the Cup Series level. The Livonia, New York, native has had more success at the 2.5-mile track though. In seven Truck Series starts, Fugle has visited victory lane there two times, going back-to-back in 2016 and 2017. Byron was his winning driver in the 2016 event. In those Truck Series starts, Fugle’s drivers have also racked up a pole award, four top-five finishes, five top-10s and 71 laps led. 

PIT ROAD PROWESS: After 20 races in the 2023 season, the No. 24 pit crew remains in the top spot with the fastest average four-tire pit stop time of 10.943 seconds. 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 team has also had three of the fastest pit stops of the season, which rank sixth (9.383 seconds), eighth (9.443 seconds) and ninth (9.504 seconds) overall.

RAPTOR® TOUGH: For this weekend’s race at Pocono, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have RaptorTough.com back on board. RAPTOR® is a durable protective coating that is designed to tolerate the toughest climatic conditions and can be applied to a wide range of items, including truck beds, lawnmowers, outdoor furniture and more. With 16 pre-mixed colors available, it’s easy to personalize anything you want to protect. RAPTOR® is available at local paint distributors, auto parts stores, and online retailers. For a better look at Byron’s No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, click here.

 
 
 
 

48 Alex Bowman

 

Age: 30 (April 25, 1993)

 

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

 

Resides: Concord, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Blake Harris

 

Standings: 20th

 
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No. 48 Ally Best Friends Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

POCONO? NO PROBLEM: Statistically, Pocono Raceway is one of Alex Bowman’s best tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series. The Tucson, Arizona, native has one win (June 2021 – the first race of the doubleheader weekend), two top-five finishes, four top-10s and has led 34 circuits at “The Tricky Triangle.” Bowman’s win at the three-cornered track was his third of four wins in his career-best year in the Cup Series. Additionally, Bowman has the second-best average finish (7.00) in the last four races at Pocono, trailing only Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. In that four-race stretch, Bowman has not finished outside the top 11. 

NO TRICKS HERE: Since the start of the 2021 season, Bowman’s average finish (6.3) at Pocono is his third-best among all tracks. The only venues where he has a better finishing position in that span are Dover Motor Speedway (3.00) and Circuit of The Americas (4.33).

NEED MORE POINTS: With just six Cup Series races left before the 2023 playoffs, Bowman is 42 markers behind the provisional cutoff line. With that said, the 30-year-old wheelman needs to gain an average of seven points per race on the field as it stands to make it in on points. Bowman could punch his ticket to the playoffs with a win in the coming races. In fact of the next six tracks, he has wins at two of them (Pocono and Richmond Raceway, both coming in 2021).

GO BEST FRIENDS: This weekend, the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will bring back the Best Friends Animal Society colors to celebrate the partnership Bowman and Ally have with the philanthropic organization, aiming to end kill shelters by 2025. At Pocono, the No. 48 will carry 400 pet names from fans who donated to Best Friends. Those 400 names can be found across the hood and decklid of the No. 48. In addition, Bowman and Ally will make charitable contributions to the Lehigh Valley Humane Society, which serves the local community in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Both Bowman and Ally will donate $4,800 to Best Friends and the Lehigh Valley Humane Society. Ally will increase its donation to $10,000 if the No. 48 team wins on Sunday.  

HOMETOWN HEROES: Two members of the No. 48 pit crew are Pennsylvania natives. Front-tire changer Donnie Tasser hails from Belle Vernon and went to the University of Pittsburgh. Tasser was a member of the wrestling team from 2008 to 2013, competing through his entire college career. Teammate and No. 48 jackman Allen Holman, who is from Harrisburg, played football for Shippensburg University as a linebacker. 

 
 
 

HENDRICK

MOTORSPORTS /

Hendrick Motorsports
 
 

 

2023

 

 

All-Time

 

 

Pocono

 

Races

 

20

 

 

1,329

 

 

77

 

Wins

 

6*

 

 

297*

 

 

19*

 

Poles

 

5*

 

 

244*

 

 

13*

 

Top 5

 

26*

 

 

1,216*

 

 

76*

 

Top 10

 

37*

 

 

2,082*

 

 

136*

 

Laps Led

 

1,455*

 

 

78,772*

 

 

3,372*

 

Stage Wins

 

10*

 

 

89

 

 

4

 

 

*Most **Most (tie)
 

CLOSING IN ON 300: Hendrick Motorsports is just three points-paying victories away from its milestone 300th win in the NASCAR Cup Series. Twenty drivers have combined to reach the organization’s current total of 297, which is the most Cup Series wins by any team. With six points-paying victories in 2023, the team has posted its 36th multi-win season in the Cup Series while maintaining a streak of at least two per season for the past 30 years. The organization has gone to victory lane at more racetracks (31) than any other active team.

MILESTONE MOMENTS: In addition to 300 Cup Series wins, Hendrick Motorsports is approaching several other major milestones. With 244 pole awards, the team is just six away from 250 at the Cup level. In addition, Hendrick Motorsports engines have recorded 495 NASCAR national series victories and need just five more to reach 500.

XFINITY RIDES AGAIN: Hendrick Motorsports will make the third of its five starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season at Pocono Raceway. As announced last week, Chase Elliott will drive the car. The entry is also slated to make starts at Watkins Glen International with Alex Bowman and Darlington Raceway with Kyle Larson. Greg Ives will serve as the team’s crew chief, which marks a reunion with Elliott as the two won the 2014 Xfinity championship together. The team’s previous two Xfinity starts this season have resulted in finishes of second (William Byron at Circuit of The Americas) and third (Larson at Sonoma Raceway). The organization has one championship and 26 wins in the series, with Tony Stewart recording the last victory to date at Daytona International Speedway in 2009. 

EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: For the Xfinity races, the Chevrolet Camaro will carry the No. 17 with sponsorship from HendrickCars.com. The No. 17 carries special significance to the Hendrick Motorsports family as it is the same number Ricky Hendrick drove and won with in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN 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 Hendrick Motorsports.

RANK AND FILE: The Concord, North Carolina, based team’s 19 wins at Pocono are its fourth-most all-time by track. The only tracks where Hendrick Motorsports has been more successful are Martinsville Speedway (28 wins), Dover Motor Speedway (22 wins) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (21 wins). 

NINE TO GET 19: Nine drivers have accounted for the Rick Hendrick-owned team’s 19 wins at “The Tricky Triangle.” Jeff Gordon leads the way with six. Tim Richmond and Jimmie Johnson each earned three wins, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. picked up two triumphs at the 2.5-mile track. Bowman, Elliott, Labonte, Geoff Bodine and Kasey Kahne each won once. Bowman and Elliott’s wins have come in two of the last three Pocono races. 

POCONO POWER: From August 2012 to August 2014, Hendrick Motorsports won five straight races at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania, venue. That run included Gordon’s then-record sixth win at the track, which has since been matched, as well as Earnhardt Jr.’s 2014 sweep. The five-race streak is the longest consecutive stretch of wins for any one race team at Pocono. 

FOUR SCORE: Since the start of the 1986 season, Hendrick Motorsports has had 17 instances where a driver has earned four wins in the first 20 races of the year. Byron is the most recent to do so this year and joins Larson (2021) as the second driver for the team to do it in the last three years. The others to accomplish this in team history are Richmond (1986), Waltrip (1989), Gordon (1995-1999, 2004 and 2007), Johnson (2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2015) and Martin (2009). 

STILL STREAKING: In the past 10 points-paying races dating back to Dover in May, Hendrick Motorsports has had at least one driver finish in the top five. The most recent streak by Hendrick Motorsports of the same length came in 2013 during the 10-race playoffs from Chicagoland Speedway to Homestead-Miami Speedway.

TOP OF THE BOARD: In the Next Gen era (2022-present), Hendrick Motorsports has won the most races (17) of any team. That total is six more than the next closest team. In that span of time, all four drivers in its lineup – Byron (six), Larson (five), Elliott (five) and Bowman (one) – have notched victories. 

 
 
 

QUOTABLE /

 

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his recent results at Pocono Raceway: “The No. 5 HendrickCars.com team almost got a win there (at Pocono Raceway) in 2021 and we got a top-five finish there last year. Hopefully, we can get a win there this year.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the team’s approach at Pocono: “We are looking forward to going to Pocono (Raceway). It’s been a pretty good track for us. We had a tough finish there in 2021 when we were on a streak of wins and then it kind of slipped away from us. We certainly know how tricky the track can be – no pun intended there for what its nickname is. It’s usually a challenge there in all three corners, very unique and different. Kyle (Larson) has a knack for unique tracks and can pretty much adapt anywhere. We have just got to give him a good car, make sure we execute a good race and hopefully we will be in good shape.”
 


Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what it would mean to be the driver to put the No. 17 NASCAR Xfinity Series entry in victory lane with everything that number means to the Hendrick family: “I think that’s the big thing. It is special to not only Rick (Hendrick), but Linda (Hendrick) too. Driving for them and knowing how much it means to them to have that car on track would be great. I know they’ve been super close (to winning) and probably should have a couple by now, so hopefully we can start racking them up for them.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on Elliott racing double duty this weekend and the team’s outlook for Pocono: “The cars are so different now. I think before the Next Gen, the two series were much closer to be able to take some things setup wise and information wise, and certainly line wise for Chase (Elliott). That said, anytime you’re racing something it is still beneficial. He can certainly learn something and going through the experience is good. I think they’ll have an opportunity to win the race, so I think that’s good. Certainly, a capable bunch and the car has run so well. They just have had tough circumstances, so hopefully he can win. For us on this No. 9 team, we’re focused on trying to get our car dialed in and driving well. We want to have as much pace as we can and execute a good race on Sunday.”
 


William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on rebounding at Pocono: “While we didn’t have our strongest race last weekend at New Hampshire (Motor Speedway), I’m confident in my team that we’ll rebound at Pocono (Raceway). We’ve always had fast cars there not only as a team but as an organization as well. Rudy (Fugle) and I have a win there in trucks and we came close in 2021 to getting two wins in the doubleheader weekend. Heading to a track that we’ve been traditionally really good at helps to bring that momentum back for everyone after a tough weekend. I’m just excited to get on track and put New Hampshire behind us.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what is the most challenging aspect about racing at Pocono: “I’ve always enjoyed racing at Pocono Raceway and I know William (Byron) has as well. While the track has three different corners with their own characteristics, we traditionally have always thought that you had to ‘give up’ handling in one corner to really get the other two right. I don’t think that’s as much of the case anymore. You can get turns one and three pretty similar in handling – it’s turn two that’s the hardest and what really sets you up for the rest of the lap. The whole track is rough but turn two is the most treacherous, so you have to worry a lot about the ride quality of the car and any bump contact.”
 


Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on how his past at Pocono will help him this weekend: “Having won there (at Pocono Raceway) in 2021 and knowing what it takes to win helps a lot. Blake (Harris, crew chief) and I have been looking at past notes, leaned on our teammates’ notes to try and get the car in a good spot for practice and make adjustments from there. I’ve said it before, but this No. 48 team is really strong and there is no reason we can’t go win any given weekend. We have to keep staying focused on each race and be ready to perform when the time comes. Right now, we are focused on trying to win at Pocono (Raceway).”

Blake Harris, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the next few races: “We have six races left in the regular season and Alex (Bowman) has wins at two of them, which is great for us in terms of confidence. Our team is plenty capable of contending every week but having a few tracks where Alex has found success is reassuring. Obviously, we have to take it one race at a time, stay focused on the small tasks and make sure we aren’t complacent on the easy tasks. It takes a team to win a race and our group is firing on all cylinders to punch our ticket into the top 16. Hopefully, we go get it done this Sunday at Pocono (Raceway).”

Hendrick Motorsports PR