Wednesday, Mar 29

Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Phoenix




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 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media at the Phoenix Raceway media center on Friday, Nov. 4, at 4 p.m. local time.

FINAL FOUR: While Kyle Larson is seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings and could climb as high as fifth following the season finale at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, the No. 5 team is still competing for the owner’s championship. Following its win at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 23, the No. 5 team secured one of the four spots that will battle for the owner’s title this weekend.

TOTAL TEAM EFFORT: Last November at Phoenix, Larson led the final 28 circuits to capture his first Cup Series championship. The No. 5 pit crew’s final performance of 2021 – a 12.345-second four-tire stop on lap 285 – moved Larson from fourth to first for the final restart and propelled the Elk Grove, California, native to his fifth win in 10 playoff races. 

SIX PACK: In his last seven starts at the Arizona track, Larson has posted six top-10 finishes. Overall, his nine top-10s at the 1-mile facility rank as the second-most at a track for the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, trailing only Dover Motor Speedway where he has 11.

WEST COAST WINNER: Since the start of 2021, there have been 10 races on the West Coast in NASCAR’s top division. Larson has been victorious in 40% of those races with wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Phoenix in 2021 plus a victory at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year.

MOVING ON UP: With wins at Homestead, Watkins Glen International and Auto Club in 2022, Larson now has 19 career wins 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. Larson’s next trip to victory lane could move him into a tie for 42nd at only 30 years old.

BAKER’S DOZEN: With his win at Homestead, the 2021 champion now has 13 points-paying victories since joining Hendrick Motorsports last season. In that span, Larson has collected six more triumphs than second in that statistical category. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman rank second and third with seven and five wins, respectively.

YOUR CAR NEEDS: This weekend, Larson will drive the No. 5 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 The website also makes it easy for customers to find one of Hendrick Automotive Group’s 94 dealership locations nationwide.




Age: 26 (Nov. 28, 1995)


Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia


Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia


Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson


Standings: 1st-Tied

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No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media at the Phoenix Raceway media center on Friday, Nov. 4, following NASCAR Cup Series practice. Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media at the Phoenix Raceway media center on Saturday, Nov. 5, following NASCAR Cup Series qualifying. 

: Chase Elliott will compete for his second NASCAR Cup Series title in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway this weekend. It marks his third consecutive appearance in the Championship 4, and he is the only driver in this year’s quartet who ran for the title in 2021. Elliott secured his first Cup Series championship at Phoenix in 2020 and finished fourth in the standings last season. 

GOING FOR TWO: Elliott is seeking to become the second active Cup Series driver with multiple championships, joining Kyle Busch. The 26-year-old would become the second-youngest driver to win at least two titles in the Cup Series – behind only NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon – and the 17th driver to be crowned a multi-time Cup Series champion.  

WHERE HE STACKS UP: In the series’ most recent start on the desert oval in March, Elliott was the best running driver of the Championship 4 for 236 of the 312 laps. He led 50 laps on the day and finished inside the top five in the first two stages en route to an 11th-place result after a late-race spin. Overall at Phoenix, Elliott has the best average finish of the Championship 4 at 10.69 and his two stage wins at the track are second to only Joey Logano. At just 26 years of age, Elliott is the youngest of the Championship 4 drivers. 

WINNING MOMENT: Elliott’s 2020 Cup Series championship was secured after the Dawsonville, Georgia, native piloted his way to the victory at Phoenix in the season finale. Elliott started at the back and drove to the front, leading a race-high 153 laps en route to the win.  

: The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will make his 14th Cup Series start at Phoenix this Sunday. In his previous 13 races at the track, he’s amassed one win (November 2020), five top-five finishes and eight top-10s. The five top-five results are tied for his third-most at a track and his top-10s are tied for his fourth-most. Additionally, Elliott’s 546 laps led there are his second-most among active courses on the circuit. The 2020 Cup champion’s average start of 5.62 is his best on a track with more than two starts. 

BEST IN SHOW: Elliott’s 2022 season has seen him atop the series in wins (five), laps led (857) and average finish (12.03). He won the regular-season title and is aiming to be the fourth driver to win both the overall championship and regular-season championship in the same season – teammate Kyle Larson was the most recent to do it last year. 

GUSTAFSON AT PHOENIX: On Sunday, Alan Gustafson will call his 36th Phoenix race as a Cup Series crew chief. In his previous 35 starts there, he has collected four wins, 12 top-five results, 23 top-10s and 977 laps led. Gustafson’s four wins are tied with Chad Knaus for the second-most by a crew chief at Phoenix and came via four different drivers: Busch in 2005, Mark Martin in 2009, Gordon in 2011 and Elliott in 2020. This weekend, he’s seeking to become the 16th different crew chief to win multiple championships and would join Adam Stevens as the only other active crew chief with more than one title. 

HOMECOMING: No. 9 team fueler John Gianninoto, who grew up in Tucson, Arizona, will compete in front of his home-track crowd on Sunday. Gianninoto graduated with honors from Catalina Foothills High School and went on to play as an offensive lineman for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 2006 - earning his first letter in 2007 and becoming a team captain in 2010. In 2012, he participated in training camp with the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers before signing with Hendrick Motorsports that September. Gianninoto set a Guinness World Record in 2018, teaming with Sunoco for the most vehicles refueled by an individual in one hour (148). 




Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)


Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina


Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle


Standings: 6th

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No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


OH SO CLOSE: Last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway marked the final race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 8 before the Championship 4 was locked into the season finale. After qualifying 25th, William Byron tried to make up track position throughout the 500-lap event, reaching seventh by the time the checkered flag came out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to advance him into the next round of the playoffs. With points reset prior to the race at Phoenix Raceway, Byron now sits sixth in the driver point standings, 11 points behind fifth place.

PLAYOFF POWER: Even though he was eliminated from the 2022 playoffs following the race at Martinsville, Byron holds an average finish of 9.33 through the nine playoff races - second-best behind Denny Hamlin (6.44).

PIT ROAD PROWESS: In the first nine races of the 2022 playoffs, the No. 24 pit crew has an average four-tire pit stop time of 11.045 seconds – the best average in the field in the same timeframe. 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).

VENTURING TO THE VALLEY OF THE SUN: Heading to a track that he has found success at, Byron will return to Phoenix for the 10th time in his Cup career. Across his nine Cup Series starts at the 1-mile oval, Byron has a track-best finish of eighth (March 2021). In fact, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has four top-10 Cup Series finishes - tied for the fourth-most at a track for Byron. The driver of the No. 24 also has two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix on his résumé, both coming in 2017. He started on the front row and finished in the top-four in both races, including a win in November. With that victory, he became the youngest winner ever at Phoenix in the Xfinity Series at 19 years, 11 months and 13 days.

DYNAMIC DUO OUT WEST: In 2016, Byron was behind the wheel for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the 1-mile oval with crew chief Rudy Fugle atop the pit box. The duo won the pole and went on to lead 112 laps. Unfortunately, an engine failure while Byron was leading with 10 laps to go ended his night early and his chances to advance on to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – where they ended up finding redemption and winning.

RUDY’S PHOENIX PERFORMANCE: Heading to Phoenix for the fourth time in his Cup Series crew chief career, Fugle has a series-best finish of eighth that came in the spring of 2021. Aside from those three Cup Series starts, the Livonia, New York, native has eight Truck Series races and three Xfinity Series events under his belt at the Arizona venue. In the eight Truck Series starts, he has four pole awards and his drivers have led a total of 471 laps. While only notching one win at Phoenix (Erik Jones, 2013), Fugle has two runner-up results, four top-five finishes, and six top-10s. In fact, his Truck Series drivers have only finished worse than ninth two times.

AT IT AGAIN WITH AXALTA: Heading to the 2022 season finale, Axalta will be back on board Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Sunday’s race. Now in its 30th year of partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, this is Axalta’s fifth season as a primary partner on Byron’s No. 24. 


48 Alex Bowman


Age: 29 (April 25, 1993)


Hometown: Tucson, Arizona


Resides: Concord, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Greg Ives


Standings: 15th

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No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN: After being medically cleared to return to racing, Alex Bowman will get behind the wheel of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Phoenix Raceway this Sunday. It will also mark the last race for the pairing of Bowman and crew chief Greg Ives of the No. 48 Ally Racing team. Ives announced in August that he will be stepping down at season's end to spend more time with his family. 

BEST IN THE WEST: Bowman has tallied two wins in the Cup Series at tracks on the West Coast since the start of the 2020 season. The 29-year-old driver took home his first victory in that span at Auto Club Speedway in March 2020. In that race, Bowman won the first stage and finished second in the second stage, leading 110 laps en route to his second Cup Series victory. The No. 48 driver scored his other West Coast win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March 2022. In that event, he won the first stage and led 16 laps, all but securing his spot in the 2022 Cup Series playoffs. 

COMING HOME: Bowman heads to his home state to take on Phoenix for the 15th time in his Cup Series career. The Tucson, Arizona, native has one top-10 finish at the 1-mile facility, which came in 2016 after he started from the pole position, led a race-high 194 laps and spent 272 laps inside the top two for an average running position of 1.9. The Hendrick Motorsports driver also has six NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the venue with a best finish of eighth (2017) and one NASCAR K&N Pro Series West start (now known as the ARCA Menards Series West) in 2011 when he led 23 laps en route to a second-place result.

WINNING WAYS: Since the start of the 2021 season, Bowman has the third-most wins of all drivers in the Cup Series. The No. 48 driver trails only teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson, who have seven and 13, respectively.

OUR FEARLESS LEADER: Ives has had a storied eight-year career as a crew chief for Hendrick Motorsports. Heading into his final race atop the pit box, the 43-year-old Bark River, Michigan, native has 285 Cup Series starts with 10 wins, 50 top-five finishes, 107 top-10s and 75,464 laps completed. As a crew chief, he has worked with four different drivers in NASCAR’s premier series: Bowman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Noah Gragson. Prior to his Cup career, Ives also served as a crew chief for Regan Smith and Elliott at JR Motorsports. In his brief stint with JRM, Ives had 65 starts, five wins, 23 top-five finishes, 44 top-10s and won the 2014 championship with Elliott.

DYNAMIC DUO: Bowman and Ives have seven wins under their belt in their five full-time seasons together – tied for fifth-most of all active driver-crew chief combinations in the Cup Series. 

BEST FRIENDS UPDATE: Each week of the 2022 Cup Series schedule, Bowman and Ally team up to donate $4,800 to a Best Friends Animal Society network partner in each race market they visit, accompanied with a decal that bears the name of the recipient of the donation. So far, Bowman and Ally have donated $182,800 – including a $10,000 donation for his win at Las Vegas. This weekend, the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have Saving One Life Animal Rescue and Sanctuary on the decklid – a no-kill shelter for at-risk dogs and cats.




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CHASING 15: Chase Elliott will be going after Hendrick Motorsports’ 15th NASCAR Cup Series driver championship on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. The organization has won a sport-best 14 Cup Series titles with five drivers (most among all teams in the series) taking home the honors. Jimmie Johnson is tied with a series-best seven championships (2006-2010, 2013 and 2016), Jeff Gordon has four (1995, 1997-1998 and 2001) and Terry Labonte (1996), Elliott (2020) and Kyle Larson (2021) each have one. Since the start of the 1995 season, Hendrick Motorsports has won 54% of all the Cup Series crowns. 

IN THE OWNER’S MIX: The driver's championship is not the only title the organization is in pursuit of. The No. 5 team and Larson have an opportunity to win the owner’s championship for the second straight season. Should Larson and the No. 5 team accomplish that feat, it would mark the third time the driver and owner championships were split. This also occurred in 1954 and 1963. 

NUMERICAL NOMENCLATURE: To date, Hendrick Motorsports’ 14 titles are divided up among four car numbers: No. 48 with seven, No. 24 with four, No. 5 with two and the No. 9 with one. The four different car numbers to win a championship for one team is a Cup Series record. 

CREW COUNT: A record six crew chiefs are responsible for the 14 Cup Series championships for the Concord, North Carolina, based squad. Chad Knaus has won seven, while Ray Evernham has three. Gary DeHart, Robbie Loomis, Alan Gustafson and Cliff Daniels each have one. Gustafson and Daniels are after titles this season in the driver and owner's races, respectively.  

CHAMPIONSHIP 4 SCORE: Elliott’s third straight Championship 4 appearance marks the sixth time that a Hendrick Motorsports driver has reached the final round since the elimination-style format was adopted in 2014. Among the previous five instances, the Rick Hendrick-owned organization has won the championship in three of those: Johnson in 2016, Elliott in 2020 and Larson in 2021. Elliott and Larson’s title-clinching victories came at Phoenix in the two years that the 1-mile track has hosted the championship coronation. 

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.

LEADING THE WAY: With 11 wins through the 35 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2022, the four-car team has earned the most victories so far this season. It is the only team to see all four drivers win a race this season. On top of that, Elliott and William Byron rank first and second in laps led this year.

PLAY IT OFF: Hendrick Motorsports holds the all-time record for Cup Series playoff race wins with 55, which is 20 more than second-place Joe Gibbs Racing.

DASHING IN THE DESERT: Eight different drivers are responsible for the team’s 12 wins at the Arizona venue. Johnson’s four victories top the board followed by Gordon with two. Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Labonte, Elliott and Larson each have one triumph at the 1-mile track. 

SUCH A FINE SIGHT TO SEE: In races run out west, Hendrick Motorsports has 41 wins in its history. In the past 14 races in that location of the country, the organization has won seven times with two of those victories coming at Phoenix. 

CLOSING TIME: The storied team has won the last race of the season eight times. The three most recent of those victories resulted in Cup Series championships in 2016, 2020 and 2021. 




Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on competing for the owner's championship at Phoenix Raceway: "We still have a lot riding on the race this weekend – this team really wants to win that 15th championship for Mr. Hendrick. We ran pretty good there earlier this year before the mechanical issue, and I expect we’ll be better this weekend. We have been executing well recently as a team and we have a win and a second-place finish in the last two races. Hopefully, we’re in the battle for the win again on Sunday."

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the strategy this year with the Next Gen car compared to last year: "I think the biggest thing we saw in the spring, if I'm not mistaken, is that some teams stayed out while some took two tires and some took four tires. I don’t remember who was on what strategy, but I think the winner was on [right-side tires]. Last year in the championship race, everyone was on four (new tires). That could be different for the whole field this year. With a late caution, how do you handle that?"

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the biggest strength going into the championship race this weekend: "The biggest thing for us, our strengths, are just our entire team. I feel like it’s really solid. Our group puts in a lot of work. The amount of effort they’re willing to put in and the late nights and the things that they’ve done throughout this year to be good as a group is really impressive. For me personally, it’s just about them and they have always made me look better than I really am and I really appreciate their efforts and wanting to try to make me better. I just hope I can be half as good as the people I have around me and we’ll be just fine." 

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the performance of the team and the mindset heading into Phoenix: "I feel good about it. The one-race championship is a different feel, different setup. I don’t know how to describe it. Once you’re here, anything can happen. Our goal is always to just give ourselves this opportunity. That’s what you want to do. I know Phoenix (Raceway) is a really good track for us and we had a good car there in the spring. I feel really good about going back there, having fun with it and just cutting it loose and letting it rip. I think that suits our team well."

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the importance of closing the season strong: "It's unfortunate that our playoff run came to an end last weekend, but there's still more for us to fight for this weekend. We have a shot to finish fifth in both the driver and owner's points and that's still something to be proud of. We've had a bit of an up-and-down season. We started strong getting wins early on, and then tried a few things during the summer that didn't work out like we wanted. We really got back to the basics and that showed in our playoff run. We have one more race to put a solid weekend together and head into the offseason on a high note."

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what he expects at Phoenix: "I'm curious to see how the race this weekend at Phoenix (Raceway) is going to play out. Typically in the past, you head to the final race and it seems like the Championship 4 drivers are on a different level and you're racing for fifth. But with the Next Gen car, we've seen that the playing field is a bit more even. That could really shake things up, plus with the way the resin was applied differently, there's more unknowns than normal. It's going to be nice to have a full 50 minutes of practice to be able to make bigger changes you may not have normally made, but it also gives you time to overthink and go too far. We all want to end the season on a high note, and that's what we plan to do."

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on returning to Phoenix this Sunday: "I am excited to get back in the car and I am glad I can do one more race with Greg (Ives). We both wanted one more race together and for that to happen at Phoenix (Raceway) is really exciting. To this day, we both feel like we have unfinished business from 2016 and the whole crew is more motivated than ever to get it done this Sunday. We have one race left and I plan to make the most of it and leave it all out there when the green flag waves."

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on getting one more race with Alex Bowman at Phoenix: "Alex (Bowman) did a great job getting healthy and working hard to be in the car for Phoenix (Raceway) and to be able to go race together one more time is really special. I’ve spent most of my NASCAR Cup Series career with Alex and I am glad he was cleared to race this weekend so we can go to Phoenix and try to get one more win. Our whole team is working hard on the No. 48 Ally Chevy like they have done the whole season and I feel like we are all hungry for a win this weekend. I’ve said it all year and it holds true this weekend, we just have to keep maximizing on our opportunities and take it one stage at a time. If everyone plays their part, we have a really good shot at winning on Sunday."



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