Thursday, Dec 08

CHEVY NCS AT RICHMOND: Team Chevy Advance

RACE #7 – RICHMOND RACEWAY
With six races in the books for the 2022 season, the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) will head to Richmond Raceway this weekend for the first of three-consecutive short-track races. The NCS Chevrolet drivers and teams will take on the .75-mile D-shaped oval on Sunday, April 3, at 3:30 p.m. ET in the Toyota Owners 400, the first of two appearances for the series at the Virginia venue this season. Chevrolet leads all manufacturers in NCS wins at Richmond Raceway with 39 to lead all manufacturers. The spring 2021 race at the Virginia short track saw Alex Bowman power his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to his first-career short-track victory in NASCAR’s premier series.
 
Coming off the third win of the season for the Camaro SS in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the series will make its only appearance at Richmond Raceway this season in the ToyotaCare 250 on Saturday, April 2, at 1:30 p.m. ET. Momentum is on the side for Chevrolet, with the Camaro SS taking nine of the top-10 finishing positions in last weekend’s race at COTA. Noah Gragson and his No. 9 JR Motorsports team visited victory lane in the fall 2021 event at Richmond Raceway, a win that was part of an eight-race winning streak for the Camaro SS in the series.  
 
FOURTH VICTORY OF 2022 FOR CAMARO ZL1
The dream of smashing a watermelon in NASCAR Cup Series victory lane came to life for Ross Chastain and the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet team in the 2nd Annual EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. After leading a race-high 31 laps, the 29-year-old Florida native navigated through an overtime finish that produced four lead changes, powering his Chevrolet machine through final lap chaos to capture his first-career victory in NASCAR’s premier series.
 
“Over the years I tried to be better, and Chevy gives us a ton of support,” said Chastain. “Once I became a backed Chevy driver in 2018, the resources I had at my disposal were incredible. I’ve tried to never go to sleep without using one of their resources.
 
Chevrolet gave me the tools to try to go execute and we did it.”
 
The win came after a streak of podium finishes, with the COTA triumph marking Chastain’s fourth-consecutive top-three finish. That notable feat has only been accomplished by five NASCAR Cup Series drivers since 2019. Chastain’s victory also adds him to a distinguished list of drivers as the 40th driver in NASCAR history to have won at least one race in all three of NASCAR’s national series. Chastain is now the 12th consecutive NCS winner under the age of 30; and the third first-time winner thus far this season.
 
Chastain’s trip to victory lane also marked the first NASCAR Cup Series win for Trackhouse Racing in the organization’s second full-time season in the series. Expanding to a two-car team in 2022, Trackhouse Racing has put their name on the map among competitors with both Camaro ZL1’s recording top-10 finishes in the last two races.
 
“We have two incredible race car drivers,” said Justin Marks, Founder and Owner of Trackhouse Racing. “I’ve said this about Daniel (Suarez) all along, and I’ve said it about Ross (Chastain) for the ten years that I’ve known him. These are championship-caliber talents. We just need to get them in a spot where they can shine.
 
And Chevrolet is strong right now. Our preparation is on point. Everybody is super motivated, so workflow is super effective during the week.”
 
Chastain’s win marks the fourth NASCAR Cup Series win for the Next Gen Camaro ZL1, the most of all manufacturers. Joining fellow Chevrolet drivers Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman and William Byron on the win list, Chastain is now the fourth different Chevrolet driver to claim a playoff berth and the first chance in his career at running for the coveted championship title. The race also marks the third time in just six points-paying races this season that Chevrolet has placed four drivers in the top-five and six in the top-10 in a single race. The final running order at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course saw four different Chevrolet teams represented in the top-10:
 
 
Trackhouse Racing (Chastain - race winner)
Hendrick Motorsports (Bowman – 2nd; Elliott – 4th)
Richard Childress Racing (Reddick – 5th; Dillon – 10th).
Petty GMS Motorsports (Jones – 9th)
 
CHEVROLET LEADS IN NCS AND NXS STANDINGS
Heading into the Richmond race weekend, Chevrolet remains atop both the NASCAR Cup Series Driver Standings and Manufacturer Standings. Chevrolet, who recorded its 33rd NCS Driver Championship in 2021, currently occupies four of the top-six and five of the top-10 in the driver points standings. The bowtie brigade is led by Chase Elliott, who’s fourth-place finish at COTA kept the Hendrick Motorsports driver at the top of the standings with a 13-point advantage over second-place.
 
Looking to defend the NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championship title, Chevrolet continues to lead in the manufacturer points standings with an 18-point lead. The bowtie brand tops all manufacturers in race wins (4), laps led (664), top-five’s (18), top-10’s (28), and stage wins (7) heading into the Richmond race weekend.
 
The NASCAR Xfinity Series also sees Chevrolet at the top of the driver and manufacturer points standings with six races in the books. Five of the top-six and seven of the top-10 of the driver points standings are occupied by Camaro SS drivers. JR Motorsports driver, Noah Gragson, remains in the lead of the standings, just one point ahead of fellow Chevrolet driver AJ Allmendinger. In the series’ manufacturer standings, Chevrolet continues to lead all manufacturers by 25 points. Chevrolet drivers have won three of the six NXS events so far this season, including last weekend at Circuit of The Americas when road course master AJ Allmendinger took the checkered flag for his 11th-career NXS victory and his first of the 2022 season.
 
BOWTIE BULLETS
·      Active NASCAR Cup Series Chevrolet drivers who have won at Richmond Raceway:
Alex Bowman(2021)
Kyle Larson (2017)
 
·       In addition to its 39 wins, Chevrolet has recorded 46 pole wins, 238 top-five’s and 493 top-10’s at Richmond Raceway.
 
·       Chevrolet holds the record for the longest consecutive win streak in the NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond Raceway with six, spanning from 2006-2008.  
 
·       Heading into the Richmond race weekend, Chevrolet leads all manufacturers in NASCAR Cup Series wins (4), top-five’s (18), top-10’s (28), laps led (664) and stage wins (7).
 
·       Five Team Chevy drivers have combined seven NASCAR Cup Series stage wins:
Tyler Reddick 2 - (Fontanax2)
Alex Bowman 1 - (Las Vegas)
Ross Chastain 1 - (Las Vegas)
William Byron 2 – (Phoenix)(Atlanta)
Daniel Suarez 1 – (COTA)
 
·      In the sixth points-paying NASCAR Cup Series race of the season at COTA, Chevrolet took four of the top-five and six of the top-10 finishing positions, the third time this season the bowtie brand has accomplished this feat.
 
·      With its 40 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championships; 33 NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championships; and 818 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chevrolet holds the title of winningest brand in NASCAR.
 
·       Chevrolet leads in the driver points standing in both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series. Chase Elliott leads in the NCS standings by 13 points and Noah Gragson leads in the NXS standings by 1 point. The bowtie brand also sits atop both the NCS and NXS manufacturer points standings.
 
TUNE IN
FOX will broadcast the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at 3:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 3. The NASCAR Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 will air on FS1 on Saturday, April 2, at 1:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage of both events can also be on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
 
QUOTABLE QUOTES
ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 ONX HOMES / IFLY CAMARO ZL1
HAS YOUR FIRST CUP SERIES WIN SUNK IN YET?
"The best way all of this is starting to sink is that I'm hearing all of the different stories of where each person was at. My grandparents told me their story. My dad was out at a restaurant watching with friends. They're sending me videos and if someone in the family was really excited, someone turned their camera on and videoed them and then they all go crazy, and the camera starts flying around. Seeing them watching the end of the race and realizing that we are going to win is really neat."
 
HOW DOES THE WIN CHANGE YOUR MINDSET MOVING FORWARD IN THE SEASON?     
"I don't think it does. There's a lot of handshakes, smiles, high-fives, and we're confident that we can go compete and we've been that way all year. We've been that way really since we tested in the off season. We knew we had speed and it was a matter of executing. In the first two races we didn't, I didn't do a good job, but the last month we have. It doesn't change our thoughts and philosophy on approaching races, it's just go race and compete and everything else will work out."
 
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES WITH RICHMOND?
"This Gen 7 car has changed how I drive at a lot of the tracks. So really, the fastest learner of this car is probably going to win and we have some tried and true things that work at Richmond, but that doesn't mean that's going to be the case this year. I think things like managing tire wear, getting good forward drive off of the corner, wrapping the yellow line at the apron, are still going to be important."
 
WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT THIS WEEKEND’S RACE AT RICHMOND?
"The tire wear that always happens at Richmond. We run pretty soft tires so they're pretty fast right out of the gate and whatever compound Goodyear brings, will probably fall off quite a bit. Choosing when to pit, setting your car up to turn better, to have more forward drive - ideally you want both but we're probably not going to get that. That's what we'll try and balance during practice."
 
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
LARSON ON HIS UPCOMING RACING SCHEDULE:
“I’m racing (on dirt) at Bristol this weekend as well as Richmond, and my schedule is about to get real busy in the coming weeks and months. I wouldn’t have it any other way. At Richmond, I have a win there and we’ve run well there in the past, but this is a new car and we’re still learning it. Hopefully, we can figure it out pretty quickly and be there at the end.”
 
CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
DANIELS ON RACING THE NEXT GEN CAR AT RICHMOND:
“It’s hard to pinpoint what we think Richmond is going to be like with past experiences with the previous generation car. You could have a globally similar approach between Phoenix and Richmond, but there is a lot of nuances of what you need for Richmond that is really hard to figure out. You can’t take a Phoenix setup and run well at Richmond and vice versa. Richmond seems to change a lot with temperature and the surface seems to get more worn out year after year. It’s hard to find the right buttons to push.”
 
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 GUARANTEED RATE CAMARO ZL1
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS WEEKEND’S RACE AT RICHMOND RACEWAY?
“I just think with this newer car with the wider tire, with a little less power than the old car, I think it’s going to be even more momentum-based. We’re just working on some things set-up wise. I feel pretty good about where we’re at and the direction we’re going. But again, I think we’re only going to get one set of tires in the warmup that we’ll have Saturday morning to really understand where our car is at. Honestly, with the warmup and the few adjustments you can make, you’re kind of boxed in. You can make some balance changes, but you’ve really got to do your homework going into it and that’s what we’re focused on right now.”
 
COMING OFF OF A STRONG FINISH LAST WEEKEND AT COTA AND NOW THAT WE’RE SIX RACES INTO THE SEASON WITH THE NEXT GEN CAR, HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT YOUR SEASON SO FAR?
“This new car is everything that NASCAR told us it would be and everything we thought it would be. It’s a really hard car to drive but it’s also really fun to drive. You have to work for every spot and it’s so competitive. Every track is different now and there’s so much to learn and that’s always exciting. To be the best and to win, you have to know what you’re doing and work for it. Last week’s finish was strong considering but it was a tough one to swallow because we were so close to that first win. I know my team and I are going to find Victory Lane soon because we’ve been strong every single week. Sometimes luck hasn’t been on our side and sometimes we just couldn’t quite get up there but our Chevys have been so fast and so good on all of the track. We will continue to learn from the COTA race and keep working on the simulator and be even more ready for the next road course race. This week, though, we’re focused on Richmond. We have the Kansas Speedway tire test that we’re participating in but also focused on doing our homework for Richmond. Everyone at RCR and ECR have been working incredibly hard and it’s showing on the track. We’re running up front, everyone knows we’re there and I’m confident it will be the same this weekend at Richmond.”
 
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 A SHOC CAMARO ZL1
ELLIOTT ON RACING AT RICHMOND:
“Historically, Richmond hasn’t really been the best track for us, but I felt like we were a little more solid there the last couple of years and were able to lead some laps. Going back there with this new car, it will be interesting to see how things go. Teams are going to have to make the most of the little bit of practice time we get because getting your car driving the way you need it to for this track is so important.”
 
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 9 A SHOC CAMARO ZL1
GUSTAFSON ON THE 2022 SEASON THUS FAR:
“Each week I feel like we’re getting a better feel for this (Next Gen) car and what it can do. It’s definitely been a bit of a learning curve for all of us, but Chase has done a great job of adapting, and the performance of the car has been there, and we’ve been competitive. Every race we’ve been in, I think we’ve really had a shot, and a lot of that credit goes to him and his ability to drive the car and understand and pick up on it quickly. As this season goes on, I think we’re only going to get stronger.”
 
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 16 ACTION INDUSTRIES CAMARO ZL1
“I’m pumped to run for $100,000 in the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash once again this year. Richmond was a really good racetrack for us last year at Kaulig Racing, and I felt like we had a really good shot to win. I’m looking forward to getting back there and continue the momentum of this past weekend in both the Xfinity Series and in the Cup Series. The Next Gen car has been so fun to race each week, so I’m excited to have another shot at it in our No. 16 Action Industries Camaro ZL1”
 
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1
BYRON ON HIS THOUGHTS HEADING INTO RICHMOND:
"I feel like going into Richmond we have a pretty clear idea of what we need in the car. It’s going to be about qualifying well, having a good pit selection and staying up front all day. I think Richmond is a tough place to pass and a tough place to come from the back. You’ve got to be on it from the beginning."
 
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1
FUGLE ON UTILIZING NOTES FROM PHOENIX FOR THIS WEEKEND AT RICHMOND:
"While Phoenix isn’t a true short track, I think we can use a lot of the notes we have from there from a few weeks ago. We’ll be using the same tire we ran there so that helps as well. We learned a lot throughout that race weekend especially towards the end of the race that we can apply this weekend. We had speed, but we just needed to fine tune some setup things, which we have been working on during this week."
 
JUSTIN HALEY, NO. 31 LEAFFILTER GUTTER PROTECTION CAMARO ZL1
“We’ve been competitive at every race this year, and I see no reason why we can’t go for another solid finish in Richmond. It was always a great track for me in the Xfinity Series with Kaulig Racing. We have always been so strong there and had runner-up finishes several times. I’m looking forward to seeing what our No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team can accomplish on a short track after our strong performance in LA earlier this year.”
 
TY DILLON, NO. 42 CHEVYLINERS.COM CAMARO ZL1
YOU HAVE FIVE TOP-20 FINISHES IN THE FIRST SIX RACES. HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO BREAKING INTO THE TOP-10?
“We were a headlight away from being 10th at the Daytona 500 and finished 15th at Phoenix a couple weeks ago. Just over three months ago when we announced that we were going to be Petty GMS, if you would have told me that we started the first five of six races finishing every lap and not finishing outside the top-20, I would be satisfied. But like any competitor, you are always looking for the next best thing. My teammate, Erik Jones, has had really good speed. He’s been able to cash in a lot of stage points and have solid finishes, but we want that speed in our cars too. We need to get up inside the top-10 to grab stage points, which will help us as the year goes on. That is something that we can achieve and working towards. That’s the unsettledness in our stomachs that will keep us grinding to get better.”
 
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 FOCUSFACTOR CAMARO ZL1
SIX RACES, SIX DIFFERENT WINNERS WITH SMALLER TEAMS COMPETING UP FRONT. DOES THAT GIVE YOU ENCOURAGEMENT AT PETTY GMS?
“It does for sure. I think we’ve seen the parity right from the start of the season. There are different cars, different drivers, different teams running up front. We’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of that and having some strong runs. Our expectations are high at this point. We all feel like we can win races and we’ve had cars that can win races this year already. If we continue to bring that speed to the track, it will happen. But putting these races together isn’t easy. It’s not easy to win a Cup race at all. We have to keep pushing and working hard to put it all together. Winning and playoffs are definitely in our sights and definitely where our goals are for the rest of this season.”
 
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 SUNNYD CAMARO ZL1
“We had a lot of speed at Richmond the last few years and I really enjoy going there. Shifting is going to be different if people are shifting. We learned a lot at Phoenix Raceway when we missed it and the positive from that is it will help us going forward with carrying more speed.”
 
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
BOWMAN ON HIS EXPECTATIONS HEADING TO RICHMOND:
“Going back as the defending race winner always gives you a little boost of confidence. With it being the track where Ally got their first Cup Series win, it makes that place even more special. Obviously, this year the car is different, but I think it will still be a good race. The car is getting better, and my team has given me everything I need to go out there and race hard, so I am excited to go back to Richmond and try to take home another win.”
 
GREG IVES, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
IVES ON THE MOMENTUM HE FEELS HIS TEAM HAS HEADING INTO RICHMOND:
“We have a lot of momentum coming off of a great race weekend for Alex and the No. 48 team (a second-place finish at Circuit of The Americas). Anytime you go to a place you want to improve and run well, it gives you a lot of confidence heading to your next race. Running up front in the truck race and then coming second in the Cup race is huge for us, and then having won at Richmond (last year) gives us even more confidence to build on. I am excited to get back to there and try to take home another trophy.”
 
IVES ON GOING BACK TO RICHMOND WHERE ALLY CAPTURED ITS FIRST POINTS WIN IN THE CUP SERIES:
“It was a super special win for us and for Ally given that it was their first in the Cup Series and our first with the No. 48 team. That is definitely in the back of our mind going into the weekend, so we will go out there and race hard and try to repeat our success and get Ally another win.”
 
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 COMMSCOPE CAMARO ZL1
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TRACKHOUSE RACING’S SUCCESS IN 2022?
"You saw Sunday how good of Chevrolets Trackhouse Racing is building for Ross and I. I think we led 46 of the 69 laps. I knew going into the race we were so close to a victory.
 
I was so disappointed the way it turned out for us, but so happy for Ross and all of Trackhouse Racing. Now it is our turn. I want to win at Richmond and keep the celebration going. I hope it is the first of many this season and in the future."
 
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE START TO YOUR 2022 SEASON?                   
"So far, it’s been a really good start. Everybody has been working very hard at Trackhouse Racing and at Chevrolet. We have great equipment and great people. As we all know, great people is key in this sport. You have to have good people around you; not just at the racetrack, but at the shop as well building these cars. I think we have an amazing package right now. We have to keep working because we’re only a couple months into the season and everyone is working hard to either catch-up, get better or stay on top. I feel like we’ve been doing a good job, but there’s always room for improvement. I believe that we can be better than what we’ve been running. We just have to keep pushing."
 
HOW DO YOU BALANCE SUCCESS FOR YOU AND ROSS?
"Justin Marks said it best at the beginning of the season. He wanted to approach this team as having one gun and two bullets. Go out there as a team working together and try to improve each other. I think that is one of the reasons why we have been consistent and getting better and better."
 
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