Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Richmond

 

5 KYLE LARSON

 

Age: 30 (July 31, 1992)

 

Hometown: Elk Grove, California

 

Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels

 

Standings: 7th

 
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No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

RICHMOND REPEAT: On Sunday, Kyle Larson will seek his second Richmond Raceway win of 2023 after going to victory lane there in April. The 30-year-old driver has earned two wins, four top-five finishes and eight top-10s in 17 NASCAR Cup Series starts at the Virginia short track. Over the last three Richmond races, Larson has posted the second-most laps run inside the top five (622) behind only teammate William Byron (648). He is also one of only five drivers to lead at least 100 laps at the 0.75-mile venue since the start of 2022.

SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS: In 2023, Larson has won every Cup Series race held on a pavement short track: the points-paying events at Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway and the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. The last driver to win three straight paved short-track races was Rusty Wallace in 1993. In Larson’s first 38 (of 48 total) short-track starts, he earned one pole position, one win and six top-five finishes. In his most-recent 10 races, he has posted two poles, three victories and six top-fives on short tracks.

UP FRONT: Larson, the 2021 Cup champion, has earned two wins and a series-best nine top-five finishes this season. After taking the second stage at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, he now has 45 career stage wins, which is third-most amongst all Cup drivers. Larson has led 622 laps in 2023, good for third-best in the series behind Byron (810) and Martin Truex Jr. (763). This year, he ranks fourth in both laps run in the top five (2,078) and laps run in the top 10 (3,280).

FOUR TIRES FAST: After 21 points-paying races in 2023, the No. 5 HendrickCars.com pit crew stands third in the Cup Series in average four-tire pit stop time (11.110 seconds). The team’s 9.281-second performance on lap 93 in last month’s race at Nashville Superspeedway ranks as the second-fastest four-tire stop in the series this season. The No. 5’s 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 an injury.

BIRTHDAY RACE: Larson, who hails from Elk Grove, California, will turn 31 years old on Monday, July 31, following the race at Richmond.

EXTRACURRICULAR: In addition to his full-time Cup Series schedule, Larson often races dirt during the week. On Wednesday night, he finished second in a rescheduled High Limit Racing Sprint Car Series event at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania. He posted a heat race win and dash victory before leading the opening 18 laps of the main event.

HENDRICKCARS.COM IS HOME: Larson and the No. 5 crew will wear their white “home” fire suits this weekend at Richmond for the 10th home race for the HendrickCars.com team in 2023. Every HendrickCars.com home race this season (15 total) will feature a unique hat released the week of the event and exclusively available for purchase at trackside merchandise haulers or to win on HendrickCars.com. Less than 100 of each limited-edition hat will be made available. Check out this weekend’s Richmond hat here. The No. 5 team celebrates home races in markets where Hendrick Automotive Group car dealerships are located.

THE (CAR) CAPITOL: The River City is also a car town. The Richmond, Virginia, market is home to Hendrick Automotive Group dealership Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Buick GMC Richmond. Not located in Richmond? Customers can pick from any of Hendrick Automotive Group’s 95 dealerships nationwide and shop from the convenience of their home by visiting HendrickCars.com. The website offers searches by category, make, model and vehicle packages from the nearly 30,000 new, high-quality pre-owned and certified cars, trucks and SUVs.

 
 
 
 

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

 

Age: 27 (Nov. 28, 1995)

 

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

 

Standings: 21st

 
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No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

RICHMOND RUNDOWN: On Sunday, Chase Elliott will make his 15th Richmond Raceway start in the NASCAR Cup Series. In his previous 14 races at the 0.75-mile oval, he has collected five top-five finishes – one being a runner-up result in April 2018 – and six top-10s. Additionally, he has made four Richmond starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, never finishing outside the top five and earning a win in 2015.

RECAPPING RVA: In Elliott’s most recent Richmond start last fall, he started 23rd at the Virginia short track and steadily climbed through the field throughout the 400-lap event. The 2020 Cup Series champion ended stage one in the 11th position and stage two in the eighth spot before taking the checkered flag fifth. During the spring Cup Series event this year, driver Josh Berry filled in for the injured Elliott. After being mired deep in the field for much of the race, the No. 9 team used pit strategy to get Berry track position. They ended the day with a runner-up finish.

SHORT-TRACK PERFORMANCE: On Sunday, Elliott will make his 43rd short-track start in the Cup Series. In his previous 42 races, he has garnered one win (Martinsville Speedway in 2020), 14 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s and 1,491 laps led. This season, Elliott has one points-paying start on a track measuring less than 1 mile in length, placing 10th at Martinsville Speedway in his first race back following a leg injury.

READY FOR A WIN: This season, Elliott has finished in every position inside the top five except for first. He placed second at Auto Club Speedway prior to sitting out several weeks for an injury. Since returning, Elliott has added to his top-five tally, finishing third at Darlington Raceway, fifth at Sonoma Raceway, fourth at Nashville Superspeedway and third at the Chicago Street Course. After starting just 14 of the 21 Cup Series races in 2023, the 27-year-old driver has five top-five finishes – tied for 10th-most at the sport’s top level. In fact, over the last six Cup events, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has the best average finish in the field (7.83).

PLAYOFF PUSH: With his 10th-place finish Sunday at Pocono Raceway, Elliott moved up to 21st in the Cup Series standings, 56 points outside of the provisional cutline for a playoff spot. With five races left in the regular season, the Hendrick Motorsports driver needs to average 12 markers per race against the cutline to advance to the playoffs on points. While pointing his way in is mathematically possible, the surefire path for Elliott is a victory. At the five tracks remaining in the regular season, the driver has two wins at Watkins Glen International and a combined six runner-up finishes coming at Richmond (one), Michigan International Speedway (three) and Daytona International Speedway (two).

GREAT GUSTAFSON: On Sunday, No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 35th Richmond race in the Cup Series. In his previous 34 starts at the track with five different drivers (Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Elliott), Gustafson has accumulated 15 top-five finishes including five runner-up results, 19 top-10s and 625 laps led.

UNIFIRST IS BACK: UniFirst Corporation (NYSE: UNF), a North American leader in providing customized work uniform programs, corporate attire and facility service products, is back on board as the primary partner on No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for its third of three races in 2023. Last year, UniFirst extended its partnership with Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 9 team through 2028. Starting in 2024, the company will increase to five primary races per season with the team. Get a look at all the angles of the UniFirst Chevrolet 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 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

NOTHING REGULAR ABOUT IT: With five races left in the regular season, William Byron is second in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, just 30 points behind leader Martin Truex Jr. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native is looking for his first regular-season Cup championship and the extra 15 playoff points that come with it. Byron leads the series in wins (four), laps led (810), laps run inside the top five (2,682) and stage wins (seven). After just 21 of 36 points-paying races in 2023, his 810 laps led are already a personal full-season record. In addition, the 25-year-old driver is tied for second in both top-five finishes (eight) and top-10s (11) and has run the second-most laps inside the top 10 (3,516).

SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS: Byron is carrying momentum into Richmond Raceway, the third short-track race of 2023. Since the start of 2022, he ranks fifth in points scored on short-track layouts. He also has three top-five finishes, which tie him for fourth among drivers in the same time period. In fact, Byron has led more than 100 laps in three of the last seven short-track events.

RICHMOND READY: Sunday’s race will mark Byron’s 11th Richmond start in the Cup Series. His personal-best finish of third at the 0.75-mile oval occurred in April 2022 after starting on the front row and leading 122 laps. However, Byron came close to picking up a Richmond victory earlier this season after winning stage one and leading 117 laps before he was involved in an incident that left him with a 24th-place result. In the last three races there, he has run 648 laps in the top five and has led 239 laps – both the highest of any driver in that span.

RUDY AT RICHMOND: No. 24 team crew chief Rudy Fugle has seven combined NASCAR national series starts at Richmond Raceway: four in the Cup Series, two in the Xfinity Series and one in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series. In April 2022, Byron and the No. 24 team had a track-best weekend at Richmond, qualifying second, leading 122 laps and ultimately finishing third in the Cup event after being passed for the win with four laps to go.

PIT ROAD PROWESS: After 21 races in 2023, the No. 24 pit crew is the best in the Cup Series with an average four-tire pit stop time of 11.013 seconds. The No. 24 pit crew consists of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Landon Walker (fueler), Ryan Patton (tire carrier), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer) and Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer). The team boasts three of the 10 fastest stops in the series this season, which rank sixth (9.383 seconds), eighth (9.443) and ninth (9.504).

LIBERTY U IS BACK: On Sunday at Richmond, Byron will sport his Liberty University paint scheme. Featuring a white base with navy flames and red accents, the Liberty University No. 24 will be sure to stand out on track. Liberty University has a long history with Byron starting back in 2014 in the late model ranks. Liberty University has been Training Champions for Christ since it was founded in 1971. Located in the mountains of Central Virginia, Liberty is a liberal arts institution with 17 colleges and schools that offers more than 600 degree programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, on campus and online. Working on an undergraduate degree in strategic communication, Byron is now in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program. For a better look at Byron’s new Liberty University paint scheme, 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 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

RICHMOND WINNER: Heading to Richmond Raceway for the second time in 2023, Alex Bowman has garnered one win (April 2021), one top-five finish, four top-10s and one pole position (April 2023) in 14 NASCAR Cup Series appearances at the 0.75-mile oval. In his first race there this season, he finished seventh in both stages en route to an eighth-place result. The Tucson, Arizona, native will make his 275th career Cup start on Sunday.

VIRGINIA IS FOR VICTORS: Bowman is no stranger to victory lane at Virginia-based tracks. The 30-year-old driver has two Cup Series wins in the Commonwealth: March 2021 at Richmond and November 2021 at Martinsville Speedway. He is one of just three drivers to record multiple Virginia wins in the last 11 Cup races.

ALLY ARENA: Ally announced Monday on its social media platforms that the No. 48 primary sponsor is hosting a sweepstakes for Ally Racing fans where Fortnite users who beat Bowman’s Chaos Course time of 4:53 in the Ally Arena (arena code: 3804-0541-8611) have the opportunity to win tickets to Daytona International Speedway for final race of the 2023 regular season.

MAKING POINTS: With just five Cup Series races left before the 2023 playoffs, Bowman is 46 points behind the provisional cutoff line. As it stands, the 30-year-old driver would need to gain an average of 10 markers per event on the cutline to make it in on points alone. A win in one of the five upcoming races would solidify Bowman’s spot in the playoffs.

SAVE THEM ALL: Bowman and primary partner Ally are teaming up this year to bring back the Best Friends Animal Society donation effort. This week, the duo will make charitable contributions to the Prevent A Litter Veterinary Hospital, which serves the local community in Virginia’s capital city. Bowman and Ally will donate $4,800 to Best Friends and the Prevent A Litter Veterinary Hospital. Ally will increase its donation to $10,000 if the No. 48 team wins on Sunday.
 
DAY ‘N’ NITE: The No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will feature two versions of its primary scheme during the 2023 Cup Series season. The No. 48 Ally Chevy “day” scheme will host a white base with bright plum, grapefruit and seafoam stripes down the side. This version of the primary scheme will appear at races that take place during the day. When the lights come on over the racetrack, the black-based No. 48 Ally Chevy “night” scheme will be sported with a similar design to its daytime counterpart. This weekend, the No. 48 machine will showcase the “day” scheme. Check out all the angles of the new look here.

 
 
 

HENDRICK

MOTORSPORTS /

Hendrick Motorsports
 
 

 

2023

 

 

All-Time

 

 

Richmond

 

Races

 

21

 

 

1,330

 

 

78

 

Wins

 

6**

 

 

297*

 

 

12

 

Poles

 

6*

 

 

245*

 

 

18*

 

Top 5

 

26*

 

 

1,216*

 

 

67*

 

Top 10

 

38*

 

 

2,083*

 

 

123*

 

Laps Led

 

1,539*

 

 

78,856*

 

 

4,472

 

Stage Wins

 

11*

 

 

90

 

 

1

 

 

*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 245 pole awards, the team is just five 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.

WINNING IN THE RIVER CITY: In its storied history, Hendrick Motorsports has tallied 12 wins at Richmond Raceway. Jimmie Johnson and Terry Labonte lead the way with three victories apiece, followed by Jeff Gordon with two. Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson, Joe Nemechek and Tim Richmond each have one win at the 0.75-mile track. The seven different drivers to win in Virginia’s capital city are the most by a single organization.

SPRING REWIND: In April’s race at Richmond, Larson’s victory highlighted a strong day for Hendrick Motorsports. Josh Berry, who filled in for the sidelined Chase Elliott, finished second. Bowman finished eighth in the 400-lap event, while William Byron led a race-high 117 laps and scored a stage win. All told, the team led 228 laps on the day.

TOP-10 TRIO: Two of the last three races at Richmond have seen Hendrick Motorsports place three cars inside the top 10. The team achieved it in April 2023 and April 2022, which saw Byron finish second, Larson fifth and Bowman eighth.

NO SHORTAGE: Hendrick Motorsports leads all active Cup Series teams with 57 points-paying victories on short tracks, which is 12 more than the next-closest team. Gordon leads all drivers in team history with 17 short-track wins.

VICTORY IN VIRGINIA: Team owner Rick Hendrick grew up in Palmer Springs, Virginia, and his teams have won 40 Cup Series races in his home state. Hendrick Motorsports has gone to victory lane in Virginia at least one time in 28 different seasons, including each of the past four. The most recent 11 races in Virginia have seen one of his cars emerge victorious on six occasions with all four active drivers winning.

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

 
 
 

QUOTABLE /

 

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his short-track success in 2023: “All of our wins this year have been on short tracks: Richmond, Martinsville and North Wilkesboro. We were good at Loudon, even compared to our teammates. Honestly, we have been pretty good everywhere this year. Especially early on in the year, we were really good on 1.5-mile tracks, intermediate tracks and superspeedways even. I’ve been up front, but crash or whatever. I’m excited about going to Richmond this weekend and going back to a track that we won at earlier this year. As the season progresses, setups change and the weather is going to be different than it was earlier this year. It’s not going to be the same, but I’m confident because we have been good on all the short tracks.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on competing at Richmond Raceway: “We are planning to try to respect the track as much as we possibly can. This place is so difficult. We were very fortunate to have a great race car and race overall in the spring. It’s certainly been a tough place for us in the past and we know that so we are trying to have a healthy amount of respect to make sure we do the right things and study ourselves right. We won’t rest on our laurels of a great race in the spring or be lazy about our approach. We will certainly look at everything that we can or need to from the spring race and make any adjustments that we see needed. Kyle was pretty happy with the car, but we can always be better. Hopefully we can execute a very solid race and be in the top 10 by the end of it and have a shot (to win).”
 


Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Richmond: “When I think of Richmond, the surface and the age of the asphalt comes to mind first – just how that has changed the races over the last few years. You’ve had a lot of strategy options because there’s so much (tire) falloff because the asphalt’s so old. You end up having guys two-stopping stages and being able to make up enough time with their fresh tires as opposed to only making one trip down pit road. So I just think about the surface being aged and how that’s impacted strategies.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on Richmond: “Richmond is actually one of my favorite tracks. I like the fact that it always has different lanes and, if your car drives good, you usually can make some progress. There are a lot of pit stops, and tires really matter there. All of those things make it a lot of fun, and the strategy can be super creative, which can help you a lot. It’s a super finicky track. You either hit it or you don’t. There doesn’t seem to be any in between. This weekend it’s going to be hot and slick for sure, so that’ll add another element. Usually when it’s that way, it really spreads out and the lanes get really wide, so that makes it interesting, too. I’m looking forward to going up there.”
 


William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Richmond Raceway: “I’m excited to get back to Richmond this weekend. We ran well there in the spring and didn’t get the result we deserved. Hopefully we can redeem that this weekend. It’s going to be a hot one, though, and that’s going to play a factor. Not only from how the car handles and grip levels but also from a heat inside the car aspect. The heat will probably be the biggest thing that all of us will have to manage throughout the weekend.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what differences there are from the spring to the summer race at Richmond: “We were pretty good at Richmond earlier this year, but this race will be vastly different. It’s going to be really hot and a day race. The biggest thing is that the balance is going to change. It will be looser off the corners and tighter in the middle. You’re going to have to get the grip to improve and try to get your car to do better things at slower speeds. It’s still a short track, and it’s still worn out. The basics should all still be the same. You’re just going to want to add some more grip, especially when you’ll be going about a half-second slower compared to the spring. So that’s what we will focus on.”
 


Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on Richmond Raceway:  “I think it’s a good track for us. We won there in 2021, and since then I feel like it has been one of my better tracks. I used to not like going there but that’s changed, obviously. We have good notes for when we go there, and we had a great car in the spring, so we expect to have success this weekend and be able to contend for a win. This team is really focused on getting into the playoffs, and I think this weekend is a place we all have circled as a track that can be good for us.”

Blake Harris, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his approach to Richmond: “This weekend is another chance for us to perform the way we should. The last two weeks have been frustrating because the result we have isn’t reflective of the way we have ran during the race. We had a good race in Richmond in the spring so we know what we need to run well. It just comes back to the same thing I have preached all season. We need to focus on the details, get the little things right and capitalize on others’ mistakes. There is no reason we can’t go run in the top 10 all day and have a shot to win this Sunday.”

Hendrick Motorsports PR