Saturday, Jan 28

Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Martinsville

 
 

5 KYLE LARSON

 

Age: 30 (July 31, 1992)

 

Hometown: Elk Grove, California

 

Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels

 

Standings: 9th

 
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No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

BROUGHT THE HEAT: Sunday in South Florida, Kyle Larson led a dominant 199 laps en route to his first Homestead-Miami Speedway victory in the NASCAR Cup Series. Larson, who started fifth in the 267-lap race, won both stages at the 1.5-mile track before collecting his third Cup Series win of the season. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott is the only driver with more trips to victory lane (five) in 2022.

OWNING THE FINAL FOUR: While Larson is out of contention for the 2022 driver's title, the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team is still in the mix for the Cup Series owner’s championship. On the heels of last weekend’s victory at Homestead, the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team will be one of four vying for the owner’s title at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 6. Larson, the 2021 Cup champion, ranks ninth in the driver standings going into Sunday's event at Martinsville Speedway.

MOVIN' ON UP: With wins at Homestead, Auto Club Speedway and Watkins Glen International in 2022, Larson now has 19 career victories in NASCAR’s premier series. The 2014 rookie of the year is currently tied with Fonty Flock, Buddy Baker, Davey Allison and Greg Biffle for 43rd in all-time wins. The 30-year-old Larson’s next trip to victory lane could move him into a tie for 42nd.

BAKER’S DOZEN: With his performance at Homestead, Larson now has 13 points-paying victories since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2021. In that span, the Elk Grove, California, native has collected six more Cup Series wins than anyone else. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Elliott and Alex Bowman rank second and third with seven and five victories, respectively.

HOT DOG: In 15 starts at the 0.526-mile Martinsville Speedway, Larson has two top-five finishes and three top-10s. In this race last year, the eventual 2021 Cup Series champion led 77 laps – representing 69 percent of his career laps led at the Virginia short track.

YOUR CAR NEEDS: This weekend, Larson will drive the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. From the convenience of home, customers can select 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. The website also makes it easy for customers to find one of Hendrick Automotive Group’s 94 dealership locations nationwide.

 
 
 
 

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

 

Age: 26 (Nov. 28, 1995)

 

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

 

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

 

Standings: 3rd

 
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No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

PLAYOFF UPDATE: With just one race remaining before the NASCAR Cup Series playoff field is narrowed to four, Chase Elliott ranks third in the standings. He sits 11 points above the cutoff line to advance to the title-deciding event at Phoenix Raceway. If he does, it will be his third consecutive appearance in the Championship 4. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native brought home his first career Cup Series title in 2020 after winning the season’s penultimate race at Martinsville Speedway to advance. He has the opportunity to do it again when the series heads back to the paperclip-shaped track this weekend.

PAPERCLIP PERFORMANCE: Elliott is set to make his 15th Martinsville start in the Cup Series on Sunday. The 26-year-old driver made his Cup debut for Hendrick Motorsports there on March 29, 2015, and has since led a total of 903 laps on the 0.526-mile oval – his most at any track. Across his 14 Cup starts at Martinsville, Elliott has one win (November 2020), five top-five finishes and eight top-10s. He leads all Cup drivers in stage points earned and won five of the last seven stages at the short track. In fact, he swept the first two stages in each of the series' two most recent visits there. Elliott's six total Martinsville stage wins are tied for the most by any Cup Series driver at any track.

SPRING RECAP: In the most recent Cup Series race at Martinsville in April, Elliott and the No. 9 team started from the pole and swept the first two stages. The driver led a total of 185 laps, including the 10,000th lap led by a Hendrick Motorsports driver at Martinsville, which is the most by a team in series history at a single track. Elliott ultimately took the checkered flag in the 10th position after the race was sent into overtime.

SHORT-TRACK STATS: On Sunday, Elliott will make his 41st short-track start in the Cup Series. In those races, he has garnered one win (Martinsville in 2020), 14 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s with 1,437 laps led. The 2022 Cup Series regular-season champion has finished in the top 10 in the three most recent short-track races, which is the longest active streak by a driver. He is also the only driver to win more than one stage on short tracks in 2022 after sweeping the first two stages at Martinsville in April.

GUSTAFSON’S PAPERCLIP PAST: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 36th Martinsville Speedway race from atop the pit box. In his previous 35 Cup Series starts at the track, he has three wins, 15 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s with 1,880 laps led. Gustafson most recently visited victory lane at the Virginia short track with Elliott in November 2020 to solidify the No. 9 team’s spot in the Championship 4. The veteran crew chief’s other two wins came with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in 2013 and 2015.

FRONT RUNNER: Elliott’s series-high five wins this season are currently tied with 2020 for his most in a single year. The Hendrick Motorsports driver also leads his fellow competitors with a total of eight top-two finishes in 2022 – tied for his second-most in a single season. Elliott had eight top-two finishes in 2020 and nine in 2021.

WINNING WAYS: Atlanta-headquartered NAPA AUTO PARTS is on board the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the final two races of the 2022 season. NAPA has been the primary sponsor for Elliott and the No. 9 team for all five of their victories this year. In fact, the long-time partner of Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports has had its scheme visit victory lane in 13 of the Georgia native’s 18 career Cup Series wins. NAPA was also Elliott’s primary partner when he captured the championship in 2020.

 
 
 
 

24 WILLIAM BYRON

 

Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)

 

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle

 

Standings: 4th

 
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No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media at the Martinsville Speedway media center on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 11:15 a.m. local time.

FINAL CHANCE
: Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway marked the second race in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 8. Following a 12th-place finish, driver William Byron is now seeded fourth, five points above the cutline to advance to the Championship 4. Heading into the final race of the round at Martinsville Speedway, Byron is the defending winner at the track with his victory there earlier this season.

PLAYOFF POWER: Across the first eight races of the 2022 playoffs, Byron has accumulated 294 points – the most of any driver in that span. He also has an average finish of 9.63 – second-best behind Denny Hamlin (6.63).

PIT ROAD PROWESS: In the first eight races of the 2022 Cup Series playoffs, the No. 24 pit crew had an average four-tire pit stop time of 10.995 seconds – the best average in the field. The over-the-wall crew consists of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Landon Walker (fueler), Ryan Patton (tire carrier), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer) and Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer).

SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS: With the Cup Series entering its fifth paved short-track race of the season, Byron has momentum on his side. In the four previous races this year, he has collected 173 points – the most of any driver. On paved short tracks in 2022, Byron has one win, three top-five finishes and three top-10s. He has also led 334 laps and posted an average starting position of 6.75 and an average finish of 4.5. His top-five finishes, laps led, and average starting and finishing positions are the best of any driver in 2022. Byron’s totals for wins and top-10 finishes are tied for the best of the field this season.

DOUBLED UP: In April, Byron pulled double duty by racing in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Cup Series events at Martinsville. Not only did he collect the win in the truck event, but the driver went on to pick up a second grandfather clock in Sunday’s main event, representing his first career victories at the paperclip-shaped track.

MARTINSVILLE MINUTES: Despite his young age, Byron’s time at Martinsville Speedway goes back to 2006 when he attended his first Cup Series race as a fan. Since then, the 24-year-old driver has moved through the NASCAR ranks and is now poised to make his 10th Cup Series start at the half-mile track. Of his nine Cup starts there, Byron has one win (April 2022), four top-five finishes and five top-10s with 221 laps led. In fact, in the last six races at Martinsville, Byron has five top-10 finishes – tied for the second-most behind Joey Logano (six). Martinsville Speedway also marks the track where Byron has the most top-five finishes and the highest laps-led total of his Cup Series career.

THE FUGLE FILES: Sunday’s race will mark Rudy Fugle’s fourth at Martinsville Speedway as a Cup Series crew chief. In his first three starts, Fugle has one win (April 2022) and three top-five finishes with the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team. Aside from his Cup Series starts, the Livonia, New York, native has 14 races at the paperclip-shaped track already under his belt, all in the Camping World Truck Series. In those events, Fugle has accumulated one win (May 2019), six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. Two of those appearances came with Byron in 2016 when the duo started seventh in both races and earned a third-place result in the spring and an eighth-place finish in the fall.

TWO-FOUR HISTORY: With his win earlier this year, Byron added his name to the already hefty history of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team at Martinsville. With 10 combined victories at the half-mile track, including nine by Jeff Gordon, the No. 24 is tied with the No. 48 for the third-most wins there by a car number. The No. 24 ranks fourth in Cup Series history with 97 combined wins. The Nos. 2 and 3 are currently tied for third with 101 victories apiece.

LIBERTY U IS BACK: For Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the final time in the 2022 season. 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 Liberty University paint scheme, click here.

 
 
 
 

48 Noah Gragson

 

Age: 24 (July 15, 1998)

 

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

 

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Crew Chief: Greg Ives

 

Standings: Alex Bowman - 15th

 
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No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

 

DRIVER NO. 48: Martinsville Speedway will mark the fifth consecutive race Alex Bowman will miss due to a concussion suffered Sept. 25 at Texas Motor Speedway. As Bowman recovers, substitute driver Noah Gragson will again fill in for the No. 48 Ally Racing team. He is the 48th driver to make a Cup Series start for Hendrick Motorsports.

WINNER’S CIRCLE: Although Sunday will mark Gragson’s first Martinsville Speedway start at the NASCAR Cup Series level, the driver has enjoyed success at "The Paperclip." He has seven top-10 finishes in his eight combined appearances there in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, including wins in October 2017 (truck) and October 2021 (Xfinity). With his victory Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Gragson locked himself into the Championship 4 of the Xfinity Series. It was his eighth win of 2022, which is  the most of all drivers in the series.

SCARY GOOD: The No. 48 Ally Racing team heads into Martinsville as the defending race winners. On Oct. 31, 2021, Bowman finished the first stage in eighth and the second stage in second en route to his fourth and final win of the season. The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team has 10 all-time wins at the 0.526-mile venue.

SHOT CALLER: Heading into Sunday’s race at Martinsville, crew chief Greg Ives has one win, two top-five finishes and six top-10s in his 15 Cup Series starts there. Cars fielded by the 42-year-old Bark River, Michigan, native have completed 7,158 of 7,409 laps across all starts, or 96.6%.

 
 
 

HENDRICK

MOTORSPORTS /

Hendrick Motorsports
 
 

 

2022

 

 

All-Time

 

 

Martinsville

 

Races

 

34

 

 

1,307

 

 

77

 

Wins

 

11*

 

 

291*

 

 

27*

 

Poles

 

7

 

 

238*

 

 

18*

 

Top 5

 

33*

 

 

1,189*

 

 

88*

 

Top 10

 

57

 

 

2,040*

 

 

140*

 

Laps Led

 

2,252*

 

 

77,194*

 

 

10,379*

 

Stage Wins

 

18*

 

 

79

 

 

7

 

 

*Most **Most (tie)
 

CLOCKING IN: With its 27 victories at Martinsville Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports holds the NASCAR Cup Series record for the most wins at a single track. The team has won 12 of the 18 playoff races held there, including each of the last two.

LAPPING IT UP: In April, Hendrick Motorsports led a combined 397 of 403 laps at Martinsville Speedway en route to a William Byron victory. At 98.51%, the performance set a record for the organization’s highest percentage of laps led in a single race. Hendrick Motorsports has led 10,379 laps at the half-mile oval, which is the all-time record for any team at any track.

EIGHT GREATS: Eight different drivers have won at Martinsville for Hendrick Motorsports, led by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson with nine victories apiece. Darrell Waltrip recorded four wins there while competing for car owner Rick Hendrick. Geoff Bodine, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and current drivers Byron, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman have each taken home one Martinsville victory.

NO SHORTAGE: Hendrick Motorsports leads all active Cup Series teams with 55 points-paying victories on short tracks. Joe Gibbs Racing is second with 44 short-track wins and Team Penske ranks third with 33.

VIRGINIA IS FOR WINNERS: Car owner Hendrick grew up in Palmer Springs, Virginia, and his teams have won 38 Cup Series races in his home state. Hendrick Motorsports has gone to victory lane in Virginia at least one time in 27 different seasons, including each of the last three.

DOUBLE-DIGITS: In 2022, Hendrick Motorsports set a new record for the most seasons with 10 or more points-paying Cup Series wins. Including its 11 victories this year, the organization has hit the double-digit mark 12 times since it was founded in 1984. Hendrick Motorsports was previously tied with Petty Enterprises, which posted 11 seasons with 10 or more wins.

PLAY IT OFF: Hendrick Motorsports holds the all-time record for Cup Series playoff race wins with 55, which is 21 more than second-place JGR.
 

 
 
 

QUOTABLE /

 

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the team's test at Martinsville Speedway in August: “It’s always good when you can get track time and can work on your car. Martinsville (Speedway) is my worst race track – I just don’t have a good feel for it. Anytime I can get more laps it helps me get into a better rhythm. For me and the type of racing I did growing up, the speed in the middle of the corner at Martinsville is so slow. I am used to trying to roll a corner as fast as possible in a sprint car or a midget or even now a dirt late model. That’s not the case at Martinsville. Usually, the driver going the slowest in the corner is turning the quick laps.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the August test and what he expects this weekend: “Martinsville (Speedway) is certainly its own beast and a unique track. I grew up a couple hours away from it and I love the track. I’ve raced there (as a driver) in a late model and I’ve always enjoyed going there with a Cup (Series) car. We had a good test (in August). Kyle says he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in himself at Martinsville, but we’ve run really well with him and I have seen a lot of good things from him there. I’m cautiously optimistic about this weekend. It should be fun and exciting.”
 



Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Martinsville this weekend: “The Martinsville (Speedway) race in the spring was different than any Martinsville race I’ve ever really been a part of in the past. It was the craziest thing. You couldn’t pass. It was wild to be going that slow and to have a track position race like that. I’m sure it’s going to be more of that (this weekend), and look, that’s fine. It is what it is, right? As competitors, you have to figure out how to be successful in whatever environment is thrown at you, and I think that’s what we’re going to have there. I think a good qualifying effort is going to be really important in how your day’s going to unfold and how much opportunity you’re going to have. Hopefully we can just get it right all weekend because you’re going to have to be on from the beginning. There’s going to be no catching up.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on heading into the final race of the Round of 8: “The strategy, ultimately, is no different than any other week. You try to score as many points as you can and you try to win the race, but obviously the sense of urgency is going to be much higher because you need to advance through this race. That means it’s all or nothing. So yeah, the strategy won’t be any different, but the sense of urgency will be really elevated and it will be the same for everybody besides Joey (Logano). No one else is in a really safe spot, so I think that is really going to generate some interesting situations.”
 



William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on how he will approach Sunday’s race at Martinsville: “I think there’s a little we can apply this weekend from our win there in April. We had a good test at Martinsville (Speedway) a couple months ago that helped us be able to refine some things since we’ve raced there last. This weekend is going to be a bigger challenge, though, than usual given it’s the final playoff cutoff race. Everyone will be bringing their ‘A game’ and everything they’ve got. We just need to approach it how we have been so far. You can’t go in thinking about points because that (the points situation) changes every lap. You have to go in with the mindset of needing to win, and that’s what we will do this weekend to hopefully ensure our spot in the final four.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparing for Martinsville: “A lot has changed since the last time we raced at Martinsville (Speedway) but having the test a few months ago is really going to help us prepare for this weekend. We’re using a new tire than we did in the April race. We tested with it, so at least we have some idea of what falloff will look like, but there’s still some unknowns until you’re running 80 to 90 laps at a time in race conditions. This race is longer than the spring was as well, so that changes your strategy some. We saw in April that track position was a major key, and I think that will be the same this time. We need to have a good Saturday to really set us up well for Sunday and to hopefully maximize points and contend for the win.”
 



Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on heading to Martinsville as the defending the race winners: “Martinsville Speedway is a place where we have had success in the past. We won the fall race last year, and this season we are in a very different position but with the same goal – go maximize our race and compete for a win. Noah (Gragson) is still in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Sunday’s race, and we will support him this weekend like we have since he stepped up to fill in for Alex (Bowman). We just have to stay focused on what’s in front of us and right now, and that’s Martinsville.”

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