Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021
3:30 PM EST
Location: Homestead, Florida
TV: Fox logo
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (3 of 36)
5 KYLE LARSON
Age: 28 (July 31, 1992)
Hometown: Elk Grove, California
Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels
No. 5 NationsGuard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
RECENT RECAP: Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 NationsGuard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, finished 10th in the season-opening DAYTONA 500 on Feb. 14. This past Sunday, he was battling for second on the DAYTONA Road Course with just over seven laps to go when he spun into a tire barrier and finished 30th. Larson is currently 12th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 51 markers behind the leader.
LEADER AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS: In seven starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Larson has led 325 laps – the fourth-most among Cup Series tracks for the 28-year-old – while accruing three top-five finishes. He has led the most laps there among current Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
SUCCESS ON THE STAGE: Since the introduction of stage racing to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2017, Larson has never finished worse than third at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In his six stages at the track, the driver has recorded three wins, two second-place finishes and one third-place result.
TIRED OF PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE: In 70 career Cup Series starts on 1.5-mile tracks, Larson has nine second-place finishes and 20 top-five results but has yet to visit victory lane. He has recorded six stage wins and has led 794 laps in those races. His nine runner-up finishes on 1.5-milers are the most of all-time without a victory.
GREAT MEMORY … FOR SOME: In the 2016 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, now No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels was a race engineer on the No. 48 team with Jimmie Johnson. Johnson took the lead from Larson on a restart with two laps to go and raced his way to the win, earning his record-tying seventh championship.
MORE NATIONS: NationsGuard, a program that gives car dealers control of their F&I products and customer experience, will adorn the No. 5 Chevrolet again this Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It also appeared as the primary sponsor on the car in the first two events of the season at Daytona. For more information about NationsGuard, click here.
9 CHASE ELLIOTT
Age: 25 (Nov. 28, 1995)
Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia
Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia
Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
LEADING THE FIELD: Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, has led laps in the last four NASCAR Cup Series events and is tied with Joey Logano for the longest active streak. In the four-race span that dates back to last season, Elliott has led the most total laps (436) out of all Cup Series drivers and has led the most laps in three of the last four events.
TOP-10 TRACK: Homestead-Miami Speedway is one of seven NASCAR Cup Series racetracks where Elliott averages a top-10 finish. In five career starts there, the driver of the No. 9 Camaro has an average result of 8.0, which is second all-time behind Kevin Harvick (7.4). Elliott has never finished worse than 15th at the venue.
ELLIOTT AT HOMESTEAD: On Sunday, Elliott will make his sixth career Homestead-Miami Speedway start in the NASCAR Cup Series. In his previous five races, Elliott garnered two top-five finishes and three top-10s. During last season’s trip to the 1.5-mile track, the 25-year-old driver raced inside the top five all night and led 27 laps before collecting a runner-up finish.
1.5-MILERS: Elliott will make his 57th start on a 1.5-mile track on Sunday at Homestead. In his previous 56 races, he led 738 laps and scored his second career 1.5-mile track win at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020. Along with the two victories, Elliott has collected 18 top-five finishes – five of which are runner-up results – and 29 top-10s on 1.5-milers.
2020 1.5-MILE STATS: Last season on tracks 1.5 miles in length, Elliott collected one win, three top-three finishes, five top-10s and led the fourth-most laps of all drivers (310). The Dawsonville, Georgia, native also garnered the most stage wins (four) on 1.5-mile tracks in 2020.
NAPA AUTO PARTS: On Sunday at Homestead, the familiar blue, white and yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme will be showcased on the No. 9 Chevrolet. The Atlanta-based company is serving as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 9 team for 25 NASCAR Cup Series races this season.
GUSTAFSON AT HOMESTEAD: This weekend, No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 17th Homestead-Miami Speedway race from atop the pit box. In his previous 16 events at the venue, Gustafson has collected one win (2012 with Jeff Gordon), four top-five finishes, eight top-10s and 247 laps led. The Ormond Beach, Florida, native also started from the pole position in 2014 with Gordon.
NEW PARTNER, NEW SCHEME: On Tuesday afternoon, Hendrick Motorsports revealed Elliott’s 2021 No. 9 Adrenaline Shoc (A_SHOC) Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE that will appear at his hometown track of Atlanta Motor Speedway in July and Talladega Superspeedway in October. In January, Hendrick Motorsports announced that A_SHOC would become a primary sponsor of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion. Click here to see the scheme.
24 WILLIAM BYRON
Age: 23 (Nov. 29, 1997)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle
No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
HEADING TO HOMESTEAD: With three previous NASCAR Cup Series starts under his belt at Homestead-Miami Speedway, William Byron’s results at the 1.5-mile track are a bit misleading. In his first two races, Byron ran solidly within the top 10 but a flat tire in 2018 and a mechanical issue late in the 2019 event left him with a track-best finish of 24th (2018). However, Byron’s luck changed in 2020 when he scored a ninth-place finish after running inside the top 10 for the majority of the race. In fact, last year’s event was the fifth-best overall race for Byron based on average running position (9.66). He will try to keep that momentum going Sunday when the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE hits the track.
RUDY RUNS MIAMI: While this Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be crew chief Rudy Fugle’s first in the NASCAR Cup Series, his previous stats show he has what it takes to tackle the 1.5-mile track. In seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the south Florida track, Fugle has visited victory lane two times – first with Kyle Busch in 2013 and again with Byron in 2016. In fact, Fugle’s drivers have never finished outside the top eight there. Along with his two wins, Fugle has collected five top-five finishes and seven top-10s at the truck level. He has an average starting position of 5.7 and average finish of 3.4 with 180 laps led.
SOUTH FLORIDA SUCCESS: In addition to his Cup Series starts, Byron has two races on his Homestead-Miami Speedway résumé – one in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and one in the Camping World Truck Series. In 2017, Byron started sixth and went on to finish third, locking up the Xfinity Series championship in the process. In 2016, Byron started on the pole for the truck race and led 31 laps en route to the win at the 1.5-mile speedway with Fugle on the pit box.
ALL ABOUT AXALTA: With one more race in the state of Florida before the NASCAR Cup Series heads out west, Byron will pilot the newly redesigned No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Sunday’s race at Homestead. Now in its 29th year of partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta will return as primary partner on Byron’s No. 24 for 14 races in 2021. For a better look at Byron’s new No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, click here.
48 ALEX BOWMAN
Age: 27 (April 25, 1993)
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Resides: Concord, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Greg Ives
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
1.5-MILE STATS: In 60 starts on 1.5-mile tracks, Alex Bowman has six top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and one win. The Ally-sponsored driver is tied with Martin Truex Jr. for the most top-10 finishes (four) in the last four events on 1.5-mile tracks, which is the longest active streak. Bowman also has finished inside the top five in the last three races on 1.5-milers, which is also the longest current streak. The 27-year-old driver’s first NASCAR Cup Series win came in 2019 at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway after leading 88 laps. Bowman led 269 laps on intermediate tracks last season, which is the sixth most among active drivers. He captured three stage wins at these venues in 2020, the third-most behind Denny Hamlin and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott.
TOP-10 FINISH: On Sunday, Bowman and the No. 48 Ally team captured their first top-10 finish of the 2021 season after crossing the line 10th at the DAYTONA Road Course. After rolling off 36th, Bowman reported that his Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was tight in the bus stop on Lap 11. Through a series of cautions and pit stops, the Ally team made improvements to the car and Bowman was running 17th with 10 laps to go in the event. With his eyes focused out front, the Ally driver advanced seven positions by the end of the 70-lap event. This is Bowman’s first top-10 finish on the DAYTONA Road Course in a points-paying event.
WELCOME TO MIAMI: Bowman will make his seventh Homestead-Miami Speedway start in the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday. The Tucson, Arizona, native’s best finish of ninth came in the November 2019 event after starting 12th. Bowman has one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the 1.5-mile Florida track. In 2016, he drove the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports and brought home a 14th-place finish after qualifying eighth.
IVES AT HOMESTEAD: Greg Ives will call the shots from the pit box at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend for the seventh time in his NASCAR Cup Series career. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s best finish at the track came in 2019 when the team crossed the line in ninth after qualifying 12th. Ives’ résumé includes two starts in the Xfinity Series at the 1.5-mile track, where his best finish of 17th came in 2014 with Elliott. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Chevrolet driven by seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. He was part of two pole awards, two top-five results and four top-10s at Homestead with the seven-time champion. Ives was on hand for five NASCAR Cup Series championship title wins at the Florida venue with Johnson during that span.
HELLO, WORLD: On Monday, No. 48 fueler Jacob Conley and wife Claire welcomed twin boys into the world. At 11:40 p.m. and 11:43 p.m. ET, Lucas and Bennett Conley were born and joined their 22-month-old sister Nora. The new family of five is doing well, and Jacob will compete with the No. 48 team this weekend at Homestead.
CLOSE TO HOME: No. 48 Ally team tire specialist Carl Haag grew up not too far from Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 34-year-old grew up in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and attended Treasure Coast High School. Haag has been in the motor sports industry for six years and has worked with Daytona prototype international cars, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and with Ives and Bowman for the past two seasons.
FAST FIVE: When NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1994, he didn’t waste any time – winning at North Wilkesboro Speedway in just his seventh start for the team. Since the organization’s inception in 1984, no driver has recorded a Cup Series victory in fewer races for car owner Rick Hendrick. Geoff Bodine and Mark Martin came close, with each posting a win in their eighth race. In fact, the five quickest Hendrick Motorsports winners all piloted the No. 5 Chevrolet: Labonte, Bodine, Martin, Casey Mears (12 races) and Kasey Kahne (12). Newcomer Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, will make his third start for the team Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
HOME(STEAD) TEAM: The Chevrolet fleet of Hendrick Motorsports has rattled off 19 consecutive Homestead-Miami Speedway races with at least one top-10 finish. Since the NASCAR Cup Series began competing at Homestead in 1999, the team has notched at least one top-10 there in every season with the exception of 2001 when Labonte led the stable with an 11th-place result.
SIXTY AND COUNTING: Going into Sunday’s race at Homestead, Hendrick Motorsports has scored 60 combined points-paying wins at 1.5-mile tracks, making it the all-time NASCAR Cup Series leader. The team has seven more 1.5-mile victories than second-place Joe Gibbs Racing and 19 more than third-place Roush Fenway Racing.
WINNER, WINNER: Hendrick Motorsports has sent 11 different drivers to victory lane at 1.5-mile Cup Series tracks. Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was dominant on 1.5-milers, winning 28 points races, followed by four-time champ Jeff Gordon with an impressive 17 victories. The team’s list includes Darrell Waltrip (three wins), Chase Elliott (two), Ken Schrader (two), Kahne (two), Labonte (two), Alex Bowman, Jerry Nadeau, Martin and Mears.
Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the high line at Homestead-Miami Speedway: “One of the fastest ways around there, definitely one of the fastest at the end of a run, is getting right up next to the wall and running inches off of it. I’ve had a lot of success there running that line. I don’t have a win but have led a lot of laps there.”
Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the car setup with Larson running low versus high: “That’s been a hot topic for us this week. There are a few characteristics of the car that Kyle has identified to us that he really wants to give him the capability to run the high line well. Allowing him to run the high line on the long run, we have known adjustments for the short run to allow him to run the low line if needed. You want to have the best trade off of both you possibly can have, but we know giving him the ability to run up high next to the wall is going to be good for us.”
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on racing at Homestead: “I think the biggest thing that everybody likes is running up by the wall. That’s the thing that’s kind of cool and not a lot of tracks let you do that. A lot of times, the track isn’t symmetrical enough to run that close to it for that period of time. It might have little sections of the wall that dip in or out, and when that happens it makes it really hard to run right by it because it’s hard to follow a curve in the wall. But Homestead is a place where the wall is super symmetrical and the track is symmetrical. And progressive banking, too, which I think all those things kind of give you options on lanes to run and something a little different from the normal.”
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on racing at Homestead: “Last year, we got our first taste of running Homestead in the summer versus the season finale like it used to be. The heat was more extreme, but you could still run right against the wall like before. Last year’s race was definitely one of our most consistent races of the year as a team. It was a good feeling to be able to run well there and have the finish to show for it. Hopefully we can do that again this weekend and get momentum building on our side for the start of the season.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on his success at Homestead: “Homestead is a track I always like going to. It used to signal the end of the season and you wanted to go there in contention for a championship. Last year was the first time that it was moved from the fall to the summer, and now it’s even earlier in the schedule. I feel like it changes the dynamic of the race some, but you still go there and give 100%. The first two races of this season haven’t ended with the results we have wanted as a team, but with Homestead being the next race, I’m optimistic. I think with my knowledge of that track and the knowledge William has gained, we will have the tools we need to leave there with a good result.”
Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the team’s 1.5-mile program: “Getting a top-10 finish last week on the DAYTONA Road Course was good redemption from the week prior. Greg (Ives) and the No. 48 Ally team made great adjustments on pit road and put us in a good position at the end for a solid finish. Going to Homestead this weekend gives us a good opportunity to show what our 1.5-mile program looks like this season. We had a really solid end to the 2020 season, and I know that we will have a fast Ally Camaro this weekend.”
Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on returning to Homestead: “We are really looking forward to getting back to Homestead. We have a strong 550 (horsepower) program at Hendrick Motorsports and that showed at the end of last year. We’re looking forward to getting to the track and having another solid race. Knowing that the start of the season didn’t go our way in the DAYTONA 500, we just need to crawl back to where we need to be.”
Ives on working the high line at Homestead: “I expect the high line to be very inviting at Homestead, especially as the run goes on. The car gets a little snug and you can get the air cushion on the wall. The later start is going to potentially have the sun going down and the grip going up. You are going to have to be able to rip the bottom to slingshot. It has the tendency to widen out the groove a lot once grip comes into the track. It’s going to be a fun race, and tire strategy is definitely going to come into play.”