Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Bristol

 

5 KYLE LARSON

 

Age: 31 (July 31, 1992)

 

Hometown: Elk Grove, California

 

Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels

 

Standings: 1st

 
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No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

TOP FIVE AT KANSAS: Kyle Larson led the way for Hendrick Motorsports with a fourth-place result in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. After qualifying on the front row, he quickly jumped to the lead. The 31-year-old driver went on to score his fourth stage win of the season and would pace the field for a race-high 99 laps. Despite finishing outside the top 10 in stage two, Larson rallied in the final stage to earn a fourth-place result in his 100th Cup Series start with Hendrick Motorsports. 

ATOP THE STANDINGS: Following the second race of the 2023 Cup Series playoffs, Larson took the lead in the driver points standings. Larson’s first-place finish at Darlington Raceway (which locked him into the Round of 12) and his fourth-place finish at Kansas put him at the top with 2,117 points.  

IN 2023: The driver of the No. 5 leads the series in top-five finishes (12) and average starting position (9.64) this season. He ranks as the second-best driver on restarts, based on data from Racing Insights. Larson has the third-most laps led (778), laps run in the top five (2,619), laps run in the top 10 (4,041) and is in a four-way tie for the third-most top-10 finishes (14). In addition, he has the fourth-best average running position (11.79). 

BACK AT BRISTOL: This weekend, the Elk Grove, California, native returns to Bristol Motor Speedway for the famous night race. The Tennessee short track is where Larson has led the second-most laps (850) at any track in his Cup Series career, only 49 circuits behind Dover Motor Speedway. In 2021, he won the night race, taking the No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet to victory lane. Since the start of 2017, which totals eight starts on Bristol’s concrete layout, Larson has the best average starting position (4.75), average finishing position (6.25) and most laps led (760). In that span, he is tied for the most stage wins (three), runner-up finishes (two), top-10s (seven) and pole positions (one). 

STRONG ON SHORT TRACKS: This season, Larson has earned three victories on short tracks: Richmond Raceway, Martinsville Speedway and the exhibition All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Of all Cup Series drivers in the Next Gen era (since 2022) on short tracks, he has the best average finish (8.25), is tied for the most points-paying wins (two) and has the second-most points scored (295). In 49 career Cup Series starts on short tracks, Larson has four wins, 12 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s, three pole positions and 1,245 laps led.

FOUR TIRES FAST: The No. 5 pit crew holds the fourth-fastest four-tire average pit stop time at 11.244 seconds. Their four-tire stop of 9.281 seconds on lap 93 in June’s race at Nashville Superspeedway is the fifth-fastest four-tire stop of the season. The team’s five-man 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).

VALVOLINE ON BOARD: Valvoline will make its third and final appearance of 2023 as the primary sponsor of Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Bristol. 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. Off the track, Valvoline is the preferred lubricant of Hendrick Automotive Group, which operates 95 car dealerships across the United States. To see every angle of the No. 5 Valvoline Chevy, click here

WIN A CHEVROLET COLORADO Z71: Want to drive Larson’s 2023 Chevrolet Colorado truck? The 2021 Cup Series champion is giving away his ride to one lucky winner. Fans can donate now to enter a drawing for a chance to take home the Z71 Crew Cab 4WD package with custom features and styling. This special sweepstakes raises funding for the Kyle Larson Foundation’s “DRIVE FOR 5” campaign that supports youth, families and communities in need. The campaign is nearing its fundraising goal of $500,000. Click here to check out this sweet custom ride and enter to win today. The drawing closes on Sunday, Dec. 3, and the winner will be chosen on Monday, Dec. 11. 

 
 
 
 

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

 

Age: 27 (Nov. 28, 1995)

 

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

 

Standings: 18th

 
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No. 9 NAPA Gold Filters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

KANSAS CHRONICLES: Last weekend at Kansas Speedway, Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team had one of their strongest races of the season. The 27-year-old driver led 47 laps en route to a sixth-place finish. Elliott ran all but one lap inside the top 15, averaged a fifth-place running position and had his second-highest driver rating of the year (113.20), according to NASCAR loop data. The result was his 10th top-10 finish in 16 NASCAR Cup Series starts at the 1.5-mile oval and his 12th top-10 of the year.

OWNING IT: While Elliott did not make the driver playoffs this season, he and the No. 9 team are part of the 16-team playoff field for the owner championship. Heading into this weekend’s Round of 16 elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the No. 9 is eighth in the owner playoff standings and is 12 points above the line to advance to the Round of 12. 

BUILDING CONSISTENCY: The No. 9 team is hitting its stride, with Elliott being one of only two drivers to reach four top-10 finishes over the last five races – second at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, fourth at Daytona International Speedway, eighth at Darlington Raceway and sixth at Kansas. Over that span, he’s earned the fifth-most points (169), tied with teammate Kyle Larson, and is also tied for the fourth-best average finish (10.40).

LAST YEAR’S BATTLE: Last fall at Bristol, Elliott started the Saturday night race in the 23rd position and steadily gained ground throughout the first two stages. He then came on strong in the final segment to earn a runner-up result. That finish is his best in a points-paying Cup Series race at the Tennessee short track. 

BRISTOL DEETS: This Saturday, Elliott will make his 13th Bristol Cup Series start on the track’s concrete oval. He has four top-five finishes, six top-10s and 439 laps led at “The Last Great Colosseum,” his third-most at active tracks on the Cup Series circuit, behind Martinsville Speedway (957) and Phoenix Raceway (546). Elliott has finished inside the top seven in four of the last five night races at the .533-mile track. In addition, Elliott and the No. 9 team captured the NASCAR All-Star Race victory at this venue in 2020.

SHORT TRACK STATE OF MIND: The Bristol race marks Elliott’s 44th short-track start in the Cup Series. In his previous 43 races, he has garnered one win (Martinsville 2020), 14 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s, two pole positions and 1,491 laps led. This season, across two paved short-track starts, Elliott has one top-10 finish, earning a best effort of 10th at Martinsville (his first start after returning from his leg injury). In the Next Gen era (since 2022) on short tracks, he has the fifth-best average finish (9.14) and has scored the eighth-most points (260). 

AG IN TENNESSEE: Crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 34th Bristol Cup Series race on Saturday night. In his previous 33 starts with five different drivers – Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Elliott – the Ormond Beach, Florida, native has one win (2007 with Busch), 10 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and 1,039 laps led. Together, he and Elliott captured the All-Star Race victory in 2020, leading 60 of 140 laps. 

GOING GOLD: Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have a different look under the lights at Bristol. Primary partner NAPA Auto Parts is trading in its iconic blue and yellow for a black and gold livery, highlighting its line of NAPA Gold™ oil filters. Since 1966, NAPA Gold™ oil filters have earned the trust of generations of drivers and car enthusiasts. Each one is built to offer better strength, performance benefits and is specifically designed to remove contaminants to keep engines running at peak performance. Get a look at all the angles of the No. 9 NAPA Gold Filters Chevrolet here

 
 
 
 

24 WILLIAM BYRON

 

Age: 25 (Nov. 29, 1997)

 

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle

 

Standings: 4th

 
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No. 24 Relay Payments Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

KEEP IT ROLLIN’: Following a 15th-place finish at Kansas Speedway, William Byron is fourth in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings, 41 points above the elimination line. With 28 races completed, Byron leads the series in wins (five) and stage wins (eight). The 25-year-old driver’s series-leading 877 laps led are also a single-season career-best. He is tied for second in top-five finishes (10) and tied for third in top-10s (14). In addition, Byron ranks second in average running position (10.51), laps run in the top five (3,072) and laps run in the top 10 (4,071).

NEXT GEN DUO: Since the introduction of the Next Gen Cup Series car in 2022, Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle have collected seven wins together. Not only is that the most by a driver but it is also the most by a crew chief in the same time period. In fact, two of those seven wins came during night races (Martinsville Speedway in 2022 and Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2023).

BRISTOL BULLETS: This weekend, Byron will make his ninth Cup Series start on the concrete of Bristol Motor Speedway. In his eight previous starts at the short track, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has two consecutive third-place efforts – tied for the second-longest active top-10 streak at Bristol. No matter what any other driver does this Saturday night, Byron needs just 22 points to lock into the Round of 12. In four of his last five races at the .533-mile track, he has earned at least that amount of points, if not more.

SHORT-TRACK STATS: Byron has one win (Martinsville in 2022), seven top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and 460 laps led in 30 Cup Series starts on short tracks. In the Next Gen era, he has scored the sixth-most points (269) and posted the eighth-best average finish (11.63) on that track type. 

FUGLE FILES: Saturday night’s race will mark Fugle’s third Cup Series start on pavement at “The Last Great Colosseum.” In his two previous starts at the highest level, Fugle and the No. 24 team have collected back-to-back third-place results. Beyond this, Fugle has seven NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series starts and two in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His one win at the half-mile track came in the 2013 spring Truck Series race. In total, he notched three top-five finishes and six top-10s in Truck Series events at Bristol.

PIT ROAD PROWESS: Through 28 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 11.071 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). 

WELCOME RELAY PAYMENTS: Earlier this year, Hendrick Motorsports announced a new partnership with Relay Payments, the fintech company modernizing payments for the transportation, logistics and supply chain industries. At Atlanta, Relay Payments made its debut as an associate partner of Byron and the No. 24 team for 2023. This Saturday’s event will mark the first of two races where Relay Payments is the primary partner. Founded in 2019, Relay’s mission is to help digitally transform the logistics industry. The company offers a digital payment network designed to increase efficiencies, reduce fraud, improve driver satisfaction and eliminate operational headaches. For a closer look at Byron’s No. 24 Relay Payments Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Bristol, 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

 

KANSAS RECAP: Last Sunday, Alex Bowman garnered his third consecutive top-10 finish at Kansas Speedway. The 30-year-old driver mounted a charge in the final stage to claim 10th place and his ninth top-10 result of the season. 

BACK IN THE FIGHT: This Saturday, Bowman will take on “The Last Great Colosseum” as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will make his 13th start at the .533-mile short track in NASCAR’s premier series, previously tallying two top-five finishes and three top-10s. The last time Bowman was on Bristol’s concrete layout, he started the race in third and finished the first two stages in sixth. Unfortunately, his strong day ended early after being collected in an on-track incident on lap 278. In that race, Bowman was the ninth-fastest car on green flag speed, according to NASCAR loop data. Bowman matched his career-best finish of fifth place at the Tennessee track in 2021.

HE’S GOT HISTORY: Bowman has earned wins in two of the last 12 short-track Cup Series races. His victory in the penultimate race of the 2021 season at Martinsville Speedway was the final triumph of Bowman’s four-win campaign (best in his career to date) at Hendrick Motorsports. Earlier that season, he also won at Richmond Raceway.

SET FOR THE RESTART: The Tucson, Arizona, native ranks seventh-best on restarts in 2023, according to data from Racing Insights. That mark is second-best among the Hendrick Motorsports quartet, as teammate Kyle Larson is second in this statistical category. In last fall’s Bristol’s race, Bowman was the 10th-fastest driver on restarts, according to NASCAR loop data.

BATTLE-TESTED BLAKE: Crew chief Blake Harris will make his first start with Bowman on the traditional version of Bristol. The second-year crew chief is calling the shots on that layout in Thunder Valley for the second time. In last year’s night race, his driver finished just outside of the top 10 in 11th after starting the race in 18th. 

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 Appalachian Highlands Humane Society, which serves the local community in Johnson City, Tennessee. Bowman and Ally will donate $4,800 to Best Friends and Appalachian Highlands Humane Society. Ally will increase its donation to $10,000 if the No. 48 team wins.

IN THE NIGHT: During Saturday’s race under the lights at Bristol, the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will adorn its “night” scheme for the final time in 2023. This scheme hosts a black base with bright plum, grapefruit, and seafoam stripes down the side. The “night” scheme is one of two primary paint schemes for the No. 48, which also has a white-based livery for day races. Check out all the angles of both looks here.

 
 
 

HENDRICK

MOTORSPORTS /

Hendrick Motorsports
 
 

 

2023

 

 

All-Time

 

 

Bristol

 

Races

 

28

 

 

1,337

 

 

76

 

Wins

 

8*

 

 

299*

 

 

12

 

Poles

 

6

 

 

245*

 

 

12

 

Top 5

 

34*

 

 

1,224*

 

 

66*

 

Top 10

 

52*

 

 

2,097*

 

 

115*

 

Laps Led

 

1,831*

 

 

79,148*

 

 

6,384

 

Stage Wins

 

13

 

 

92

 

 

4

 

 

*Most **Most (tie)
 

CLOSING IN ON 300: Hendrick Motorsports is just one points-paying victory away from its milestone 300th win in the NASCAR Cup Series. Twenty drivers have combined to reach the organization’s current total of 299, which is the most Cup Series wins by any team. With eight 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. 

FITS LIKE A GLOVE: For this weekend’s on-track activity at Bristol Motor Speedway, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers will wear skeleton driving gloves as part of The Dale Jr. Foundation’s Driven to Give Gloves program benefitting The Dale and Amy Earnhardt Fund at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The drivers will sign the right-hand glove, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will sign the left-hand glove and the pair will be auctioned off on The Dale Jr. Foundation auction page starting on Friday, Sept. 15 and ending on Monday, Sept. 18. 

PLAYOFF LOWDOWN: The 2023 season marks the 20th year with playoffs in NASCAR. Including this year, Hendrick Motorsports has had at least two drivers compete in the postseason in 18 straight seasons and in 19 of the 20 postseason years. Both marks are the most of all teams. William Byron (five wins) and Kyle Larson (three wins) are in the 16-driver field. In addition, the Nos. 5, 9 and 24 teams are battling for the owner championship. Larson and the No. 5 team are locked into the Round of 12 with his victory at Darlington Raceway. 

CHAMPIONSHIP COUNT: The Rick Hendrick-owned team has a series-best 14 Cup Series championships. NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2024 inductee Jimmie Johnson accounts for half of those with seven (2006-10, 2013 and 2016). NASCAR Hall of Famer and team vice chairman Jeff Gordon racked up four titles (1995, 1997-98 and 2001). NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte (1996), Chase Elliott (2020) and Larson (2021) each have one championship for the team. Nine of those titles have come in the playoff era (2004-present). 

RECORD SETTERS: Hendrick Motorsports has posted a series-best 56 wins in the playoffs. Johnson has the most with 29 victories. Among the current driver lineup, Elliott and Larson top the board with seven wins apiece in the playoffs followed by Alex Bowman with one. 

LOOK BACK TO LAST YEAR: In last year’s night race at Bristol, Hendrick Motorsports placed three cars in the top five. Elliott was the runner-up finisher, Byron took third and Larson rounded out the top five. This is one of two times that the team has placed three drivers in the top five at Bristol, with the other coming in September 2021. In total, there have been six instances of a team placing three cars in the top five at the Tennessee short track. 

COLOSSEUM CLOSERS: The organization has 12 wins at “The Last Great Colosseum.” Gordon (five wins) and Johnson (two wins) are the only drivers in team history to win multiple times at the venue. Larson, Labonte, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Darrell Waltrip each have one triumph for the team.

NO SHORTAGE: Hendrick Motorsports leads all active Cup Series teams with 57 points-paying victories on short tracks. Gordon’s 17 short-track wins lead all drivers in team history. The active driver lineup has combined for seven short-track successes: Larson (three), Bowman (two), Byron (one) and Elliott (one). 

NEXT GEN NUMBERS: With three wins on short tracks since 2022, Hendrick Motorsports has the most victories on that track type in the Next Gen car. Those victories came at Martinsville Speedway by Byron in 2022 and Larson in 2023 as well as at Richmond Raceway by Larson in 2023. 

STUDYING THE TRENDS: In each of the last six 2023 Cup Series races, Hendrick Motorsports has had a driver finish in the top five. Those top fives came at Michigan International Speedway (Larson), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course (Elliott and Bowman), Watkins Glen International (Byron), Daytona International Speedway (Elliott), Darlington (Larson and Byron) and Kansas Speedway (Larson). No other team has a streak of more than two races. 

 
 
 

QUOTABLE /

 

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on returning to the concrete track of Bristol Motor Speedway: “The night race at Bristol (Motor Speedway) is one of my favorites. It’s such a prestigious track and race. The fans always show up there and it’s a great atmosphere. I’ve had some good runs on the concrete track, including a win in the Valvoline Chevy in 2021. Valvoline is back this weekend and it would be great to get another win before the Round of 12!”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the team’s strong playoff results thus far: “Our team has great momentum right now. It’s been nice to have two good runs the past two weeks, but there is certainly a lot of racing left ahead in the playoffs. We’ve got to stay focused and stay grounded. We take every week as it comes and this week is at Bristol (Motor Speedway), which is just an amazing track. I love Bristol. Kyle (Larson) loves Bristol. He’s always super good at Bristol in anything that he drives. The team’s been executing well and hopefully we have a fast Chevy to be there at the end. I’m sure it’s going to be an exciting race.”
 


Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the unique environment of Bristol: “My favorite (track), I would say, and probably my favorite race of the year. I just think that the environment up there is so unique and it’s so different. I love going (there). It’s close to home and up in the mountains of Tennessee. It’s just a cool deal from top to bottom. And they’ve always done a good job up there making that environment fun and energetic for the drivers and the fans. I think when that’s the case, everybody has more fun.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the Next Gen car at Bristol and what to expect on Saturday night: “It’s hard to say. We’ve had one race there with this car and it seemed ok. The tire’s changing slightly for this race, so that’s always a bit of an unknown. We’ll see what that has in store for us and how it affects the racing. Hopefully, there’s multiple lanes. To me, when we have multiple lanes and the top comes in, the racing’s better and you have more opportunity to pass.”
 


William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his mindset for Saturday’s race: “It would be nice if we could lock into the next round of the playoffs, or be close to locking in, before the end of the race this weekend. It just gives you more options on what you can do strategy-wise. We’ve raced at Bristol (Motor Speedway) in every point situation just about before, so we’ll be prepared for whatever happens. We just need to go in, race our own race and maximize points. Hopefully, we’ll be in a situation to go for a win and add some extra playoff points for the next round if it works out.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on how to prepare for Bristol: “Bristol (Motor Speedway) is a great atmosphere but a challenge to setup for. You need to be able to attack the entry without getting too loose, have your car turning when it lands into the banking, and you need to keep wrapping the bottom on exit but not so much that it snaps the back end of the car. It all happens super quick. We’ll qualify in the 14-second bracket. Even on a long run, we’ll probably be in the mid-15-second range. Getting a good starting spot is key and getting some stage points would be great. There will be a bunch of strategies playing out given all the different scenarios. It will be about running our own race.”
 


Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on heading to Bristol: “I think this weekend is one that our team really looks forward to. We have faced some unfortunate circumstances this season, so getting a top-10 finish last weekend in Kansas was a bit of a stabilizer for the No. 48 team. We have a chance to create some momentum to finish the season with and we all know that. Blake (Harris) and I have always focused on the details, looked to maximize where we can and this weekend is no different. We haven’t been to Bristol (Motor Speedway) together yet, but that gives us a clean slate to go work with, which I am looking forward to.”

Blake Harris, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his mindset for this weekend’s race at Bristol: “Saturday night at Bristol (Motor Speedway) is a great opportunity for us to bounce back. I feel like we had decent car speed and momentum going at Darlington (Raceway) and then rallied at the end of the Kansas race to bring home a top-10. It’s important to go into these playoff races and challenge ourselves as a team against those who are still in it to see where we stack up. Alex (Bowman) had a great race here last fall before a mechanical issue and Hendrick Motorsports as an organization had some positive results as well. We plan to go execute a clean weekend from start to finish and put ourselves in the best position to put the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in victory lane.”

Hendrick Motorsports PR