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Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Richmond

Richmond Raceway
Sunday, April 18, 2021
.75-Mile Oval
3:00 PM ET
Location: Richmond, Virginia
TV: Fox logo
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (9 of 36)
Radio: SiriusXM logo PRN logo

5 KYLE LARSON
Age: 28 (July 31, 1992)
Hometown: Elk Grove, California
Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels
Standings: 4th

No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

WON IN A DOZEN: In 12 starts at Richmond Raceway, Kyle Larson has one win (2017), two top-five finishes and five top-10s. The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has finished seventh or better in five of his last seven starts at the Virginia venue.

SHINING MOMENT: In September 2017 at the .75-mile track, Larson held off Martin Truex Jr. and others in overtime to earn his lone short-track victory in NASCAR’s premier series. The native of Elk Grove, California, led 53 laps in the event that was extended by four laps due to a late-race caution.

TOP-FIVES FOR NO. 5: Larson, who is fourth in NASCAR Cup Series points and 99 markers behind leader Denny Hamlin, finished fifth Sunday in the rain-delayed race at Martinsville Speedway. The result marked his fourth top-five finish in eight races this season, second-most in the series to Hamlin.

FIGURE EIGHT: Through eight races, Larson has collected three stage wins and has led 379 laps – both career highs for him through eight events to begin a year. His victory and six top-10s tie his best start to a season.

FOUR BY FOUR: Prior to Sunday’s event at Richmond, Larson is scheduled to compete in a late model Thursday in Middlebourne, West Virginia, a sprint car Friday in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and a late model Saturday in Hagerstown, Maryland. The Richmond Cup Series event will be his fourth race in four days.

VIRGINIA SON: No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels is a native of Smithfield, Virginia, which is approximately 75 miles southeast of Richmond. Daniels received a go kart at age 7 and his first bandolero car at 9. As a driver, he competed at Southside Speedway near Richmond and progressed to legends cars at Langley Speedway by 2001. Daniels competed in late models at South Boston Speedway from 2004 until 2007, the year after he graduated high school from Hampton Roads Academy in Newport News, Virginia.

YOUR CAR NEEDS: This weekend, Larson will again drive the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. 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 93 dealership locations nationwide.

9 CHASE ELLIOTT
Age: 25 (Nov. 28, 1995)
Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia
Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia
Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
Standings: 7th

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

100 CLUB: With a second-place finish Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, Chase Elliott collected his 100th NASCAR Cup Series top-10 finish in his 193rd career race. Among all active drivers, it took the driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE the fewest number of starts to reach 100 top-10s.

SHORT-TRACK PERFORMANCE: On Sunday at Richmond Raceway, Elliott will make his 34th short-track start in the Cup Series. In those previous 33 races, he has garnered 11 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and led 775 laps. Elliott currently has six consecutive top-10 finishes on short tracks – the longest active streak of all Cup Series drivers.

RICHMOND RUNDOWN: This Sunday, Elliott will make his 11th Richmond start in the NASCAR Cup Series. In his previous 10 races at the .75-mile oval, he has collected three top-five finishes – one being a runner-up result – and four top-10s. Richmond is one of five tracks where Elliott has captured a runner-up finish but has yet to collect a victory. Additionally, he has made four Richmond starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, never finishing outside the top five and earning a win in 2015.

2021 SHORT TRACKS: The NASCAR Cup Series has competed on two short tracks in 2021: the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race and Martinsville Speedway. Elliott is one of five drivers who garnered top-10 results at both events – a second-place finish at Martinsville and 10th-place performance at Bristol.

THIS SEASON: Eight races into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, Elliott’s three top-five finishes are third-most among all drivers. He has posted two runner-up results and led a total of 73 laps in those first eight events. The 25-year-old driver has spent 558 laps inside the top five and 1,311 laps running in the top 10.

GUSTAFSON AT RICHMOND: On Sunday, No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 31st Richmond race in the NASCAR Cup Series race. In his previous 30 starts at the track with five different drivers (Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Elliott), Gustafson has accumulated 13 top-five finishes including five runner-up results, 17 top-10s and 566 laps led. His five second-place finishes are tied with Kirk Shelmerdine. The only crew chief with more at the .75-mile oval is NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Inman, who has 10.

NAPA KNOW HOW: The No. 9 Chevrolet will showcase the blue, white and yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme this weekend at Richmond. The Atlanta-based company is serving as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 9 team for 25 NASCAR Cup Series races this season.

24 WILLIAM BYRON
Age: 23 (Nov. 29, 1997)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle
Standings: 6th

No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

MR. CONSISTENCY: So far in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE team have been a model of consistency. After eight races, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has spent 1,764 laps running inside the top 10 – the second-most in the field behind only points leader Denny Hamlin (1,936). Of those top-10 laps, 753 have been inside the top five, which is the sixth-most of all drivers. Currently, Byron has led 138 laps across four races, also good for sixth in the Cup Series. At 8.87, he has the fifth-best average running position so far in 2021.

STILL STREAKING: Dating back to his win at Homestead- Miami Speedway on Feb. 28, Byron has been on a hot streak of top-10 finishes. Prior to this current streak, Byron’s Cup Series best was three consecutive finishes in the top 10, which he accomplished twice. The 23-year-old driver has now doubled that amount after his fourth-place finish Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, extending his consecutive top-10 finishes to six races – the longest active streak in the Cup Series. Byron’s six total top-10s are the second-most by a driver this year behind only Hamlin (seven).

READY FOR RICHMOND: Sunday’s race at Richmond Raceway will mark Byron’s sixth Cup Series start at the .75-mile track. He currently has a personal track-best finish of 12th coming in April 2018. Aside from his five Cup starts, Byron has made two NASCAR Xfinity Series appearances at the Virginia track, both in 2017. He earned a best starting position of sixth and finished seventh in the fall. He also has one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start in 2015 when he won the pole and finished sixth.

SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS: With two short-track races completed so far in 2021, Byron is one of five drivers who have finished in the top 10 for both. He secured a sixth-place effort during the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt event and a fourth-place finish Sunday at Martinsville. In fact, Byron’s two consecutive top-10 finishes have him tied for the third-longest active top-10 streak on short tracks.

MOMENTUM AT MARTINSVILLE: Starting third at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday night when the Cup Series took the green flag, Byron ran inside the top five early before handling woes dropped him back to sixth as the red flag came out for rain. When the race resumed Sunday afternoon, Byron was able to score points in both stages of the 500-lap event. Continuing to improve throughout the race, Byron surged to the front of the field as the laps wound down, scoring a fourth-place finish at Martinsville and extending his string of consecutive top-10 finishes to six.

THE FUGLE FILES: Despite an extensive résumé in NASCAR, Sunday’s event at Richmond Raceway will bring unknowns for crew chief Rudy Fugle. Making his first Cup Series start at the .75-mile track, Fugle has only three previous starts at Richmond – one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and two in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While both of his Xfinity starts came in 2010, Fugle’s most recent race at the Virginia short track was last year in the Truck Series where his driver started third and finished 18th.

LIBERTY U ONBOARD: Picking up a fourth-place finish last Sunday, Byron will look to keep his top-10 streak alive when the No. 24 unloads at Richmond Raceway with Liberty University onboard his Chevy. Redesigned for the 2021 season, the new paint scheme features 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 communications, Byron is in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program. For a better look at Byron’s new Liberty University paint scheme, click here.

48 Alex Bowman
Age: 27 (April 25, 1993)
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Resides: Concord, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Greg Ives
Standings: 17th

No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

RACING AT RICHMOND: Alex Bowman has nine previous Richmond Raceway starts in the NASCAR Cup Series. His best finish came last fall when he finished ninth after 400 laps. Bowman also has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the Virginia track where he qualified a career-best second and finished ninth in 2016 for JR Motorsports. In 2011, the 27-year-old driver made one start at the track in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, qualifying fourth and finishing fifth after 100 laps.

SHORT-TRACK STATS: Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, has made 31 short-track starts in his seven-year Cup Series career, capturing one top-five finish and six top-10s. Last season, he earned eight top-10 stage finishes at these tracks.

ALL IN THE NUMBERS: The No. 48 team has run 500 laps inside the top five and 996 laps inside the top 10 this NASCAR Cup Series season, which both rank ninth among active drivers. Bowman has the 11th-best average running position (14.22) and finishing position (19.13) after eight events in 2021. The Tucson, Arizona, native has captured one top-five finish, three top-10s and one pole award (the DAYTONA 500) this season.

IVES IN VIRGINIA: Crew chief Greg Ives is set to call his 11th Richmond Raceway event in the Cup Series on Sunday afternoon. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s best finish at the track came in 2015 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought home a fifth-place result after 400 laps. Ives’ drivers have completed 99.8% of the total laps at the Virginia venue. The sixth-year Cup Series crew chief also has four Xfinity Series starts at Richmond and his drivers finished inside the top five all four times. Chase Elliott placed second in both events in 2014 and Regan Smith finished fifth and third in 2013. Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team from 2006 until 2012. During that time, he was a part of Jimmie Johnson’s three wins, one pole award and seven top-10 finishes at Richmond.

PIT PERFORMANCE: After eight events in 2021, the No. 48 pit crew continues to be the fastest in the NASCAR Cup Series based on average four-tire stop times. The five-man over-the-wall crew has an average four-tire stop time of 13.58 seconds. The team includes fueler Jacob Conley, tire carrier Allen Stallings, jackman Dustin Lineback and tire changers Scott Brzozowski and Devin DelRicco.

TOP-FIVE VIBE: In Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports placed three cars inside the top five with Chase Elliott second, William Byron fourth and Kyle Larson fifth. It was the record-extending 36th time the team has accounted for at least three of the top-five finishers in the same event.

TOP-10 TREND: Hendrick Motorsports has placed at least two of its Chevrolets inside the top 10 in seven of the eight points-paying NASCAR Cup Series races held in 2021 – the most of any team. The organization has 19 top-10 finishes this season.

NO SHORTAGE: No active NASCAR Cup Series team has more short-track victories than Hendrick Motorsports. Going into Sunday’s event at Richmond Raceway, the organization has 51 short-track wins – nine more than next-best Joe Gibbs Racing. Ten different drivers have won on a short track for car owner Rick Hendrick, which is one shy of the all-time record of 11 held by Junior Johnson and Associates.

TRACK FACT: Hendrick Motorsports has won a combined 64 races at the next five tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule: Richmond (10), Talladega (13), Kansas (seven), Darlington (14) and Dover (20).

QUOTABLE /

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on posting good finishes at Richmond: “Richmond is kind of a hit-or-miss track for me. Even though I have a victory and some good finishes, I haven’t had too many great runs there. It seems like there have been several times I have been average at Richmond but then come home with a top-five finish. I’m really looking forward to this weekend because we have had speed it seems like every week this year.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on challenges of the first daytime race at Richmond in several years: “Even with cool temperatures expected Sunday that could compare to a night race, the sunlight exposure does change the way the track behaves – the way the rubber lays or doesn’t lay. The rubber typically doesn’t stack anywhere, it just smears across the track and becomes slimy and greasy. Even if the ambient temperature isn’t very high, the sunlight exposure on the track will do that. In 2015 and 2016 in the daylight, we had great runs with (former Hendrick Motorsports driver) Jimmie (Johnson) and finished top three in both of those races. So, we have a little bit of a feel for what the track does in those situations and what we need to look for to be in contention on Sunday.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on Richmond: “I don’t feel like Richmond is a very good track for us. It seemed like the last time we were there we were a little more solid than we have been. But like I said, it’s been a really tough track for me. It’s so hard to be great at that track. It’s really difficult to be different there because everyone is running the same line. Everyone knows how to drive the car to get around there properly. I think that’s why it’s produced good races over the years because it’s so hard to be different than the next guy and to be better. I say that and people are like, ‘Eh it’s not boring’ but just from a driver’s perspective, there’s just not a lot to it and you have to be perfect from a setup perspective and behind the wheel to be really good there.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on heading to Richmond: “Positive energy is a good thing. When things are going your way it gives you a lot of confidence, you are much more decisive and you don’t question a lot of things. That certainly factors in. I don’t think us running well at Martinsville has a whole lot of impact on Richmond besides when you are running well and things seem to be going your way, you have the confidence to be very decisive. When you are not running well and things aren’t going your way, you basically question everything and that slows you down. I do think that impacts performance and just having that momentum. And then everyone is happy; when you run well everybody is in a good mood. Life is a lot easier running well.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the characteristics of Richmond Raceway: “I think Richmond is really its own beast. It’s similar to Atlanta with the surface but then you have aspects that are similar to Phoenix as well. It’s really just its own animal. It’s a very low grip track with even lower grip in the race car than it looks. Plus, it’s always a challenge to manage the throttle there. Sometimes you’re running half-throttle down the straightaway just to keep the tires under it later on in a run. It’s just a challenging place.”

Byron on the racing at Richmond during the day: “I’m interested to see what this weekend’s race will be like. Normally, we run at Richmond at night, so it’s going to be a different challenge this year racing during the day. It’s already so low on grip that you’re going to be moving around no matter what. I feel like the track is going to change a lot as the race goes on as well. It’s going to be a learning curve as the run goes on to keep up with what your car needs.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on approaching tracks with limited experience: “This weekend will be a track that I don’t have a ton of experience at as a crew chief but I don’t think it changes much on how we approach things. Every weekend, I’m still learning whether I have one start or 12 at a track. I think, honestly, most people do that. You lean on your team members, you lean on your teammates and you lean on what you know. Thankfully, last year the No. 9 team ran well basically everywhere, and if one weekend they were a bit off, then you had the No. 88, which is the No. 48 now, that ran well. You use their notes and sim time to try and hit your balance. So far, I think it’s been really good. The biggest thing to our advantage is my experience with William (Byron). We’re able to communicate really well. I understand what he’s trying to tell me about the car in the way he explains things. There’s no language barrier or trying to understand one another. I already know most of that when it comes to William, and I think that’s helped us when it comes to setting the car up and making changes throughout the race.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on short-track momentum: “Obviously, Sunday’s race was great until it wasn’t. Things out of your control can ruin a really great day, but our team is extremely pumped about how well we were running at Martinsville before the incident on track. Going into another short track this weekend means we have some good momentum. We have struggled at Richmond before, but had a solid top 10 run last fall at the track. This Ally team has a good notebook going into the race and Greg (Ives) keeps reminding everyone to keep your focus set forward. We can’t get back the Martinsville race, so we are going to focus forward and have a solid day on Sunday in Richmond.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on rebounding from Martinsville at Richmond: “We have carried some of the same philosophies from Martinsville to Richmond as far as tuning the car to Alex’s needs. The last time we were at Richmond we had a solid run, not a race-winning run by any means. We were able to continuously fine tune on that. Definitely looking forward to getting there and our confidence is high on Alex’s side. I feel like we have a team capable of coming out of there with a solid day. Starting mid-20s doesn’t help and maybe not getting the best pit stall won’t help, but we have to focus on the positives of what this team has been able to do. We are continuing to march forward and keep looking ahead.”



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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