DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (2.5-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 18 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 7:30 P.M. ET, SATURDAY, JULY 6 (NBC/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 NAPA Batteries Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase Elliott Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 23 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
7th in standings
2 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
7 top-10 finishes
406 laps led
6 pole positions
39 top-five finishes
66 top-10 finishes
1,649 laps led
3 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
61 laps led
NAPA MILITARY MONTH: As part of NAPA’s Military Month promotion, Chase Elliott’s No. 9 NAPA Batteries Chevrolet will don a patriotic scheme for the Fourth of July weekend at Daytona International Speedway. The red, white and blue colors featured on the No. 9 machine also showcase the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund on the TV panel. During the month of July, a portion of the proceeds from select products will go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
SUPERSPEEDWAY STATS: This weekend, Elliott will make his 15th superspeedway start in the NASCAR Cup Series (Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway). In his previous 14 starts on the track type, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has started on the front row six times, four from the pole position. He averages a starting position of 6.2 in his superspeedway starts and has led 168 laps. In April, he earned his first superspeedway victory at Talladega Superspeedway after collecting his first stage win of the season and leading 45 laps. The driver has two Duel wins at Daytona (2017, 2018). He has also made 11 superspeedway starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In those 11 events, he garnered one victory (Daytona, Feb. 2016), four top-10 finishes and a total of 53 laps led.
LAST EIGHT: Elliott has garnered the second-most points (303) over the last eight races, 20 points less than teammate Alex Bowman. He has collected top-five finishes in five of the last eight events (Talladega – first; Dover – fifth; Kansas – fourth; Charlotte – fourth; Pocono – fourth).
SUNSHINE STATE NATIVE: This weekend, No. 9 crew chief Alan Gustafson will return home to the “Birthplace of Speed.” Gustafson hails from Ormond Beach, Florida, less than 10 miles down the road from Daytona International Speedway. After graduating from Seabreeze High School, he enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to study mechanical engineering. He returns to Daytona for his 15th full-time season as a crew chief and fourth with Elliott.
GUSTAFSON AT DAYTONA: Though Gustafson has never won a points race at Daytona, he has collected two Duel wins (2017, 2018) with Elliott. The 43-year-old crew chief also has two runner-up finishes at the 2.5-mile oval with Kyle Busch in 2006 and 2007. The 2007 result with Busch ahead of Jamie McMurray was the closest margin of victory ever in the July race at Daytona (0.005 seconds). Gustafson has also won the pole award at Daytona five times with three drivers (Elliott – three, Jeff Gordon – one, Mark Martin – one).
SEE ELLIOTT AT DAYTONA: On Saturday, July 6, Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage at 4:55 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.
DEWNITED STATES: Last week, Elliott’s Kentucky ride was revealed on social media. The No. 9 Mtn. Dew DEWnited States Chevrolet Camaro celebrates the entire country. Mountain Dew launched 50 unique labels on bottles across the U.S. representing all 50 of the DEWnited States. Fans that find and collect all 50 can score $100 by entering the code under each cap at dewnited.com. On Tuesday, Elliott shared a virtual cheers video via his social channels promoting the DEWnited States campaign. Click here to watch.
No. 24 Axalta Flames of Independence Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 21 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
12th in standings
3 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
5 top-10 finishes
180 laps led
3 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
9 top-10 finishes
241 laps led
1 pole position
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
56 laps led
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Flames of Independence Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Thursday, July 4, at 3:15 p.m. local time in the media center at Daytona International Speedway.
CHICAGO CLOUT: Forced to start at the rear of the field for last Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway due to an engine change from an oil leak discovered after practice, William Byron powered his No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 through the field, ultimately taking over the lead on Lap 99. When a caution with 60 laps remaining shuffled the running order, the driver continued to maintain his top-10 running position as the laps wound down before ultimately scoring an eighth-place result, his fifth top-10 finish of the 2019 season.
SOPHOMORE SEASON SUCCESS: At the halfway mark of his sophomore season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Byron has improved in spades behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevy. In 17 races so far, Byron has five top-10 finishes, 180 laps led and three poles compared to only four top-10 finishes, 61 laps led and zero poles in all of 2018. The driver is currently the leader in the entire Cup Series with an active streak of laps led in seven consecutive races, with the next closest driver at five straight events. That streak has him tied for the third-longest streak of races led in 2019 and ties his longest streak of consecutive races with laps led dating back to his standout Truck Series season in 2016. In the last eight races, Byron ranks eighth among Cup drives for the most amount of points earned with 257.
AXALTA’S FLAMES OF INDEPENDENCE: This weekend, Axalta Coating Systems will return to Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Daytona. The iconic Axalta flames will take on a new look for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. On Tuesday, the Axalta Flames of Independence paint scheme was unveiled sporting a pearl-white base coat with red and blue ombre flames traveling down the sides of the car.
DAYTONA DATA: When Byron returned to Daytona International Speedway for the Cup Series season opener this February, it marked his third start at the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway but his first with No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus. A strong Speedweeks yielded Byron securing the pole for the Daytona 500, his first Cup Series pole award. Across the driver’s three Daytona Cup Series starts, he’s led 56 laps and has a track-best finish of 21st earlier this season after an on-track incident with two laps remaining took him out of contention. He has a Daytona win on his racing resume – during his 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship campaign, Byron qualified third in the July race at Daytona and found himself at the front of the field when it mattered most, leading 29 laps to score the victory. In the process, he became the youngest driver with a Xfinity Series win at Daytona at 19 years, seven months and one day. Aside from his two Xfinity starts at Daytona, Byron also has one Truck Series start and one ARCA Racing Series start at the track on his resume.
HEADING HOME: Making the trip to the “Sunshine State” for the second time in 2019, three crew members on the No. 24 team call Daytona International Speedway their hometown track. Longtime Hendrick Motorsports rear-tire changer Johnny Roberts hails from Titusville, Florida, just down the coast from Daytona Beach, where he spent most of his time surfing before making his way to North Carolina and eventually trying out with Hendrick Motorsports in 2010. New to Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 24 team in 2019, engineer Brandon McSwain grew up approximately 100 miles from the “World Center of Racing” in Auburndale, Florida. Just a few miles down the road from where McSwain grew up, engine tuner Ben Proctor calls Lakeland, Florida, home.
KNAUS’ KNACK: This weekend’s race at Daytona will mark the 37th race Knaus has called from atop the pit box at the track, but it will be his second with Byron at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Making his 2019 debut with the sophomore driver in February, the duo claimed the Daytona 500 pole. Aside from this year’s pole award, Knaus has two other pole awards at Daytona as well as two wins, sweeping the 2013 season.
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 43 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
14th in standings
1 pole position
2 top-five finish
7 top-10 finishes
78 laps led
36 pole positions
226 top-five finishes
359 top-10 finishes
18,781 laps led
2 pole positions
11 top-five finishes
15 top-10 finishes
299 laps led
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to the media on Thursday, July 4, at 3:30 p.m. local time in the media center at Daytona International Speedway.
SPARKLE AT CHICAGO: Although Jimmie Johnson did not win at Chicagoland Speedway, he led 10 laps and scored his best finish of the season. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion qualified fourth and jumped to an early lead on Lap 11, but was interrupted by a serious bout of inclement weather. Once the track dried and racing resumed hours later on the 1.5-mile oval, Johnson completed Stage 1 in fourth, Stage 2 in fifth and took the checkered flag in fourth. The driver had a 46-point day and moved from 17th to 14th in the point standings.
ONE MORE LOOK AT CHICAGO: How good was Johnson at Chicago? His average running position of 4.24 was his best in a race this season. He spent 97 laps in the top two, 238 laps in the top five, and 245 of the 267 total laps in the top 10, all of which marked his best performances of the season. In addition to his best finish of the year, he collected his third Stage 1 top-five finish and first Stage 2 top-five finish, leading laps for the fourth time this season.
APPLES TO APPLES: Compared to last season’s performance at this time, Johnson has a pole, two top-five finishes and 78 laps led in 2019 after having no poles, two top-five finishes and 40 laps led in all of 2018.
FLASHBACK TO FEBRUARY: Right out of the gate, Johnson and No. 48 team crew chief Kevin Meendering won the non-points race “The Clash” leading into 2019 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. While Victory Lane has eluded Johnson since 2017, he is closing in on his 84th career victory and as history has it, two of the last three Daytona races were won by drivers who gave their crew chiefs their first career wins. Johnson was able to win the 2006 Daytona 500 with interim crew chief Darian Grubb, which was Grubb’s first win on top of the pit box.
HOT SUMMER NIGHTS: The last time Johnson won at Daytona in the summer was on July 6, 2013. He led 94 laps and scored his third victory at the 2.5-mile superspeedway under the lights after starting eighth. His best finish since then was on July 5, 2015, when he started 12th, led 35 laps and finished second behind former teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.
TEAM CHEVY STAGE: Johnson will make a public appearance at the Team Chevy stage at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 6, at 4:30 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.
No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Alex Bowman Hometown Tucson, Arizona
Age 26 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
9th in standings
0 pole positions
4 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
182 laps led
2 pole positions
7 top-five finishes
20 top-10 finishes
456 laps led
1 pole position
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
14 laps led
Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Thursday, July 4, at 12:15 p.m. local time in the media center at Daytona International Speedway.
WINNER, WINNER: Last weekend, Alex Bowman and the No. 88 team led 88 laps en route to a victory at Chicagoland Speedway. It was Bowman’s first career NASCAR Cup Series victory and No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives’ fifth win. The team qualified eighth for the 267-lap event last Sunday and finished both stages inside the top 10, earning valuable stage points. Bowman is now locked into the NASCAR playoffs, which kick off later this season. He is now one of 10 drivers to capture their first Cup Series victory with Hendrick Motorsports, an all-time record.
BRING IT HOME: On Monday afternoon, the winning Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 made its way back to Hendrick Motorsports. Hauler drivers Andy “Squiggs” Quillan and Scott Denton returned around 1 p.m. local time and unloaded the confetti-covered Axalta machine and the Chicagoland trophy. Check it out here.
GOING FOR TWO: The last time a driver captured his first two series victories back-to-back was in 1964 when Billy Wade captured his first win at Old Bridge and went on to get his second win the following weekend at Bridgehampton. Bowman finished second in the last superspeedway race at Talladega back in April and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, took home the win. The No. 88 team is looking to have back-to-back wins this weekend at Daytona.
BOWMAN IN DAYTONA: Bowman is set to make his seventh start at Daytona International Speedway this Saturday night. The Tucson, Arizona, native has one pole (February 2018) and one top-10 finish at the superspeedway. During the July race weekend last season, Bowman and the No. 88 team finished 10th after rolling off second for the 168-lap event. The driver has led a total of 14 laps at the Florida-based track and has completed 99.6 percent of the total number of laps run.
A LOT OF FIRSTS: Bowman may have scored his first NASCAR Cup Series victory last weekend, but there are many more firsts. The Arizona native is the first Cup Series driver to get his first win at Chicagoland Speedway. He is also the first driver of the No. 88 machine to get their first win with that number on the door. Hailing from Tucson, Arizona, Bowman also became the first NASCAR driver from the state to win a Cup race.
2019 AT A GLANCE: Following last weekend’s victory at Chicagoland Speedway, the No. 88 team continues to make gains this season. This season, Bowman has one win, four top-five finishes, and six top-10s. The No. 88 team has led 182 laps this season thus far, which is more than double its number of laps led in 2018. The team is locked into the NASCAR playoffs and currently sits eighth in the playoff standings. Bowman is ranked number one on the list of drivers who have earned the most points over the last eight races this season. In that span, the 26-year-old sits first with 323 points. He also has the best average finish of the series at 6.63 in the last eight races, finishing inside the top two in four of them.
IVES’ STATS: Ives will call the shots for the 10th time at Daytona International Speedway this weekend under the lights. The crew chief’s resume includes two pole wins, one win with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015, two top-five results and three top-10s at the track. Ives’ drivers have led a total of 166 laps at the superspeedway. In 2013 and 2014, Ives was a crew chief at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His drivers led 25 laps at Daytona and had an average start of 14.8 and an average finish of 14.2. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer on the No. 48 team with Jimmie Johnson. During that time, the team had one win (2006), one second-place finish and one pole award at Daytona.
WELCOME VALVOLINE: Valvoline Inc. – a leading worldwide supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services – extended its partnership with Hendrick Motorsports through 2022 in January 2018. Valvoline will be on board the No. 88 Camaro ZL1 during two events this season starting this weekend at Daytona and again at Texas Motor Speedway in November. The Official Lubricants Partner for Hendrick Motorsports also serves as an associate sponsor on the team’s full stable of Chevrolets. On June 13, Valvoline and Hendrick Motorsports unveiled the special patriotic paint scheme that will run this weekend. The scheme honors the American Heroes Fund, which provides support to the American Red Cross, Building Homes for Heroes and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Check it out here.
MEET BOWMAN: If you are at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, there are two opportunities to meet the No. 88 driver. On Friday, July 5, Bowman will be at the Hendrick Motorsports/JR Motorsports merchandise trailer from 1:15-1:45 p.m. local time signing autographs. You can find the Chicagoland winner at the Chevrolet display on race day, July 6, from 3:15-3:30 p.m. local time.
EYES SET FOR THE GLEN: On Monday, June 17, Hendrick Motorsports partner Axalta Coating Systems, along with Bowman, announced a joint branding initiative with CARSTAR for the upcoming race at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 4. CARSTAR is North America’s premier network of independently owned and operated collision repair facilities. The CARSTAR logo will be featured on the television panel and roof of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Watkins Glen. In addition to the branding on the car, Bowman will also wear a special helmet designed through the “Accelerate the Cure” contest. Those affected by cystic fibrosis can design a helmet for the driver in order to raise awareness for the disease. Those interested can visit the “Accelerate the Cure” website to submit an entry. The deadline to submit is July 5.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT DAYTONA: Over the years Hendrick Motorsports has accumulated quite the resume at Daytona International Speedway. The organization boasts the second-most wins all-time at the track with 14, behind only Wood Brothers Racing’s 15. Hendrick Motorsports has accumulated 54 top-five finishes, 96 top 10s and 2,102 laps led at the track.
A NEW RECORD: Following Alex Bowman’s victory last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports tied Wood Brothers Racing for the all-time record for the most drivers to win for a team with 18. Of the 23 drivers that have competed in at least 10 races for Hendrick Motorsports, only five have failed to win. The organization is responsible for each of Chevrolet’s last five Cup Series wins.
GOT POLES?: Hendrick Motorsports has a Daytona record five straight poles at the track. Chase Elliott began the streak by grabbing the top starting spot for the 2017 Daytona 500, which was followed by pole wins from Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bowman, Elliott again and most recently William Byron earlier this season in the Daytona 500.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: Through the first 17 races of 2019 compared to that span in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has improved across the board. The difference in many categories includes poles (+5), wins (+2), top-five finishes (+5), top-10 finishes (+4), laps led (+740), average start (-4.28), average finish (-2.51) and stage wins (+3). The organization has placed at least three drivers in the top 10 at the end of four of the last seven races, compared to three or more Hendrick Motorsports drivers finishing inside the top 10 in the same race just three times in all of 2018.
PLAYOFF POSITIONING: Currently, all four Hendrick Motorsports teammates are in position to make the 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at the end of the regular season. Elliott and Bowman have both essentially locked in their spots by finding Victory Lane and rank seventh and ninth, respectively, in the point standings. Byron currently ranks 12th in the standings, with Jimmie Johnson in 14th.
ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has a total of 12 championships, 254 race victories, 221 pole positions, 1,057 top-five finishes and 1,812 top-10s in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led more than 68,500 laps since 1984.
Chase Elliott on how the Daytona races compare:
“Being at night is one thing that’s different. I love the summer Daytona race. You can almost enjoy that one a little more – it’s not the 500 and it’s not all the madness that comes with that first race of the season. It’s nice to be able to go back to Daytona, which is a cool area. I love going to the beach that time of year and just being able to go down there and race, it feels more like a normal race weekend. Always a lot of fireworks under the lights there, it seems.”
Elliott on night races:
“You hear people who have been around longer than me talking about racing in the day. But, for me, I like the excitement of a night race. That’s all I have ever known. So, if I had a choice, I like it like that. I like going down there and spending the week. It’s typically around the 4th and then racing at Daytona on Saturday night has always been exciting to me. So, I’ve enjoyed that tradition a lot.”
William Byron on Daytona:
“I’m excited to get to Daytona this weekend. We obviously started off the season there with a lot of speed by getting the pole for the Daytona 500, and we really had a good race going until the last couple laps. As a team we’ve gotten stronger since then, on and off the track, and I think that can only help us. The thing with Daytona though is you can’t really prepare for it; it’s about making sure you’re still there in the end. The hope is to collect as many points as possible in the first two stages to help balance out what may happen in the end, but even then, it’s easy to lose a ton as well. Hopefully though we can get the result that I think our team deserves. I honestly feel like we should be contending for the win at the end.”
Jimmie Johnson on going from Chicago to Daytona:
“Chicago was a huge step forward for this No. 48 team. Huge. I’m proud of the organization. Everyone is working hard. This gives us some momentum, but this weekend in Daytona is such a different animal, you know. We go down there, want to be fast, hope to be lucky and good. We obviously had great cars in February, had fast cars at Talladega, you just have to hope not to get caught up in anything.”
Alex Bowman on his first win:
“I’m still pretty speechless. I was able to go home and enjoy it even more with my friends and team and we won the race! I am just so thankful for Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta, Nationwide, LLumar, Valvoline and Chevrolet for believing in me. They stuck behind this team and it means so much. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity with this No. 88 team and Greg Ives. Greg is a great crew chief and I am so happy to get my first win with him.”
Bowman on Daytona:
“Going to Daytona this weekend, we have a little bit of a monkey off our back. I was one who definitely kept track of the point standings and now we can go out and focus on stage points and race wins. Being locked into the playoffs is an amazing feeling. Our goal is to get to Miami and be in the running for a championship.”
Bowman on finding success at Daytona:
“This team brought an amazing car to Talladega earlier this year and I know that these guys were back in the shop putting together a great car for this weekend. The superspeedway program at Hendrick Motorsports has always been good and the teams all work together pretty well on the track. I think we have a shot at the win this weekend, too, which is a great feeling.”