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Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Nashville

Nashville Superspeedway

Sunday, June 20, 2021
1.33-Mile Oval
3:30 PM ET
Location: Lebanon, Tennessee
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (17 of 36)
Radio: SiriusXM, PRN

5 KYLE LARSON
Age: 28 (July 31, 1992)
Hometown: Elk Grove, California
Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels
Standings: 2nd

No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

IF YOU’RE GONNA PLAY IN TEXAS: Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway in the annual NASCAR All-Star Race, Kyle Larson battled Brad Keselowski and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott late before maneuvering into first and leading the final eight laps to capture the $1 million payday. It marked the second win for the 28-year-old in the annual exhibition race where no championship points are awarded.

YEA, WE MOVIN’ PRETTY FAST: Following the season’s 11th race at Kansas Speedway in May, Larson ranked ninth in the driver standings, 144 markers behind the leader. In five points-paying events since, Larson has wins in the last two races along with three second-place finishes for a 1.6 average result. In that span, he has moved up seven spots to second in the standings and now trails by only 47 points.

STOMP THE GAS, DRIVE TOO FAST: There have been 4,291 laps completed in points races during the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season and Larson has paced the field a series-high 1,162 times, or 27%. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet is nearing his career-high record, which occurred in 2017 when he led 1,352 laps in 36 races.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Following his win on Sunday night, Larson traveled to Ohio to race a sprint car during Ohio Speedweek. On Monday, the 2014 NASCAR rookie of the year won the All-Star Circuit of Champions event at Wayne County Speedway in Orville, and, on Tuesday, he finished fourth at Sharon Speedway in Hartford. Wednesday night, he will compete at Waynesfield Speedway in Waynesfield.

GIDDY UP, OOM POPPA, OOM POPPA, MOW MOW: Larson has finished first or second in seven of 16 NASCAR Cup Series races this season. He won at Sonoma Raceway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway while posting second-place finishes at Circuit of The Americas, Dover International Speedway, Darlington Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.

TENNESSEE BIGHWAY: After graduating in 2010 with a degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in motor sports and a minor in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels landed a job at RAB Racing in 2011 as the race engineer for veteran driver Kenny Wallace. In two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Nashville Superspeedway that year, Daniels recorded finishes of 10th and 12th.

I SAW A RED CAMARO TODAY: Valvoline will make its first of three appearances as the primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. Valvoline Inc. (NYSE: VVV) is a leading worldwide marketer and supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services, with sales in more than 140 countries. Established in 1866, the company’s heritage spans more than 150 years, during which time it has developed powerful brand recognition across multiple product and service channels. Valvoline ranks as the No. 3 passenger car motor oil brand in the DIY market by volume. To learn more, visit www.valvoline.com.

NOW THE RACE IS ON: In March, Larson announced the launch of the Kyle Larson Foundation, which was established to better serve today’s youth, families and communities in need through hands-on support. The Sanneh Foundation and the Urban Youth Racing School are the primary beneficiaries of the foundation, which also works closely with Hendrick Cares, the corporate social responsibility program of Hendrick Automotive Group. To kickstart the “Drive for 5,” Larson pledged a personal donation of $5 for every NASCAR Cup Series lap he completes this season and will contribute another $5,000 for every top-five finish he earns. Through 16 races, he has already pledged more than $65,000. To learn more, please visit KyleLarsonFoundation.org. Valvoline, the primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro this weekend, will also contribute $5 for each lap Larson completes at Nashville on Sunday along with $5,000 if Larson scores a top-five finish.

9 CHASE ELLIOTT
Age: 25 (Nov. 28, 1995)
Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia
Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia
Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
Standings: 3rd

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

T-R-O-U-B-L-E: Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team are once again hitting their stride at the right time of the season – and for the rest of the field, that means trouble. The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion currently has four consecutive top-three finishes and an active streak of six races with top-10 finishes.

IT’S GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME: With 16 races complete in the 2021 season, the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team is continuing to improve. In the last six races, the driver of the No. 9 has garnered one win, five top-five finishes – two that were runner-up results – and top-10s in all six events with an average finish of 3.33. In the first 10 races of the season, Elliott had three top-fives, four top-10s and an average finish of 14.1.

IT JUST COMES NATURAL: This weekend will mark the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series event at Nashville Superspeedway, and success at new venues comes naturally to Elliott. Since the beginning of 2020, the 25-year-old driver and his No. 9 team have been victorious at two of the three new venues on the circuit: the DAYTONA Road Course (Aug. 20, 2020) and Circuit of The Americas (May 23, 2021).

HOLDIN’ MY OWN: In the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, Elliott has been holding his own by garnering one win, four runner-up results, eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. In those 16 races, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has led a total of 116 laps and collected one stage win. Elliott has spent 1,432 laps inside the top five and 2,685 laps running in the top 10. His average running position for the season is 9.93 and his average finish is 10.06. Elliott currently sits third in the driver point standings, 73 behind leader Denny Hamlin.

HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?!: During the mandatory pit stop during round five of Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race, the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS pit crew held the fastest timed four-tire stop with an official time of 11.59, winning the pit crew challenge and its $100,000 payout. The NAPA pit crew is comprised of jackman T.J. Semke, gasman John Gianninoto, tire carrier Jared Erspamer, and tire changers Chad Avrit and Nick O’Dell.

MY OLD FRIEND: Elliott has a few laps under his belt at Nashville Superspeedway. In February 2013, he participated in a one-day test session at the track with Hendrick Motorsports.

WOKE UP IN NASHVILLE: While Elliott has never competed at Nashville Superspeedway, he has enjoyed success in Music City. On Nov. 2, 2013, he won the All-American 400 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway when he was 17 years old.

CLYDE: On Wednesday, it was announced that Elliott has been nominated for the 2021 ESPYS Best Driver. He is in the company of Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and NHRA Pro Stock champion Erica Enders. The ESPYS are July 10 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

BLUE SUEDE SHOES: This weekend at Nashville, NAPA AUTO PARTS will once again adorn the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. 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: 4th

No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

CHASIN’ THAT NEON RAINBOW: With the most recent points-paying race two weeks ago and a solid run in Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race, William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE continue to be a model of consistency. After 16 races in 2021, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has collected one win, six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s, all while leading 195 laps. Byron has spent the second-most laps in the series running inside the top 10 (3,459) and of those laps, 1,845 were in the top five, which is fourth-best. With the second-best average running position throughout the NASCAR Cup Series of 8.13 and an average finishing position of 10.63, Byron currently is fourth in the driver standings.

EVERY MILE A MEMORY: While Nashville Superspeedway may be a new facility for Byron and most of the Cup Series field, he does have prior experience on venues similar in size. Making 23 starts on tracks 1 mile to 1.37 miles long (Dover, Darlington, New Hampshire and Phoenix), the 23-year-old driver has collected four top-five finishes and nine top-10s.

I GO BACK: While many in the Cup Series will be experiencing Nashville Superspeedway for the first time, crew chief Rudy Fugle is one of a few who has prior experience at the 1.33-mile oval. The Livonia, New York, native has three prior starts at Nashville, including two in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, both coming in 2010 when he recorded one top-10 finish and two top-15s, and a 16th-place result in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2011.

TRUCK YEAH: In addition to his full-time driving duties in the Cup Series behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Byron also will compete in Friday’s truck race at Nashville Superspeedway in the No. 27 Cruisin’ Sports/Rackley Roofing Chevrolet Silverado for Rackley W.A.R. Racing.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT SUNDAY: Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet this weekend at Nashville. 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: 28 (April 25, 1993)
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Resides: Concord, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Greg Ives
Standings: 11th

No. 48 Ally Neon Lights Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

DOWN ON MUSIC ROW: This weekend’s 400-miler at Nashville Superspeedway marks the first time that Hendrick Motorsports partner Ally is the entitlement sponsor of a NASCAR Cup Series race. The sold-out event is the inaugural Cup Series race at the 1.33-mile venue. Ally and Nashville Superspeedway entered into a multi-year agreement for future Cup Series events as well as community and NASCAR fan events. In addition to the entitlement partnership, Ally will donate $25,000 to the Box 55 Association, which provides support for first responders, and $25,000 to the Urban League of Middle Tennessee, a civil rights and urban advocacy organization.

NEON LIGHTS: For Sunday’s Ally 400, No. 48 Chevrolet driver Alex Bowman will sport a fresh new paint scheme designed by a NASCAR Hall of Famer. Through the Legends Unite program created by Ally, NASCAR royalty Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon went head-to-head designing a special No. 48 Ally scheme for the inaugural event in Nashville. Earnhardt and Gordon both submitted a scheme, then fans voted using #TeamMusicRow or #TeamNeonLights to pick their favorite design so fans didn’t know which legend designed each scheme. After the fans spoke, #TeamNeonLights was declared the winner and Earnhardt was unveiled as the victorious designer. Check out the winning scheme here.

DON’T STOP DRIVING: Bowman has 40 starts on tracks measuring 1 mile in length to 1.37 miles in length. The 28-year-old driver has one win (Dover International Speedway), five top-five finishes and seven top-10 results at the venues of Darlington Raceway, Dover, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. Since 2016, Bowman has led 376 laps at the four tracks in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: In 16 points-paying events in 2021, Bowman has two wins (Richmond Raceway and Dover), four top-five results and eight top-10s. The Tucson, Arizona, native has led 117 laps this season and is third for the longest active top-10 streak (four races). The No. 48 Ally team continues to have the fastest average four-tire pit stop time (13.64 seconds) and has the second-fastest four-tire stop (12.18) so far this season at Dover International Speedway on lap 304. Bowman currently has the 11th-best average running position (12.96) in the Cup Series.

MY OWN KIND OF HAT: On June 14, Bowman, Greg Stumpff from Off Axis Paint and former NFL safety Bernard Pollard teamed up to design a special helmet for the Ally 400. Pollard elected to combine the look of a football helmet with a racing theme to create a one-of-a-kind helmet for Bowman. Stumpff began putting Pollard’s designs down on paper and the Ally 400 helmet soon came to life. To see the final version, follow @AllyRacing for the official unveil on June 18.

DON’T BLINK: Kevin Hamlin, spotter for the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, used to be behind the wheel before spotting full time in the Cup Series. From 2005 to 2010, Hamlin posted 43 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts and six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts. In 2007, the Snohomish, Washington, native had two NXS starts at Nashville Superspeedway, completing 99.1% of the total number of laps and bringing home a best finish of 18th in the spring event.

SOMETHING TO DO WITH MY HANDS: Over the last 16 points-paying weeks, the No. 48 pit crew has recorded the fastest average four-tire stops in the NASCAR Cup Series at 13.64 seconds. The team includes fueler Jacob Conley, tire carrier Allen Stallings, jackman Dustin Lineback, and tire changers Scott Brzozowski and Devin DelRicco.

IF YOU’VE GOT THE MONEY, I’VE GOT THE TIME: On Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson became the fifth different Hendrick Motorsports driver to win the NASCAR All-Star Race. The $1 million payday marked the record-extending 10th All-Star Race victory for car owner Rick Hendrick and the 20th for manufacturer Chevrolet. The non-points exhibition event was the fifth consecutive win for Hendrick Motorsports dating back to the middle of May.

SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD: Hendrick Motorsports is on a roll heading into Sunday’s inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race, the Ally 400, at Nashville Superspeedway. The organization has won four consecutive points-paying events, sweeping at least the top-two positions in each, leading 842 of 946 laps (89%), and recording an average result of 5.7. Its finishes include 1-2-3-4 at Dover, 1-2-8 at Circuit of The Americas, 1-2-4-5 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and 1-2-9 at Sonoma Raceway. At NASCAR’s top level, no team has ever finished in both the first and second positions in five consecutive points races.

WRITE THIS DOWN: On seven different occasions in its history, Hendrick Motorsports has won at least four consecutive NASCAR Cup Series points races. In addition to 2021, it went to victory lane four straight times in 1996, 1998, 2007 and 2014. The organization has won five races in a row twice: 2007 and 2014. Hendrick Motorsports’ team record of six consecutive victories was also set in 2007. That year, it won 18 points races – the organization’s most in a single season – and went on three separate runs of four or more straight victories.

SIXTEEN TONS: Through the first 16 points races in 2021, Hendrick Motorsports has seven wins – the team’s second-most ever at this point in a NASCAR Cup Series season (it recorded 10 in 2007). At the 16-race mark, the organization’s 13 stage wins are the most ever by a team. Its 41 top-10 finishes are the second-most ever and 27 top-fives are tied for the second-most. The 1,590 laps led by Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevrolets rank as its fourth-most through 16 events behind only the 1995, 1996 and 2009 seasons.

REMEMBER WHEN: Although it occurred nearly 37 years ago at a different track, Hendrick Motorsports is the most recent NASCAR Cup Series team to win a race in the Nashville, Tennessee, market. On July 14, 1984, in the 17th race of its inaugural season, driver Geoff Bodine earned the organization’s second points-paying victory at the old Nashville Fairgrounds, where he led 327 of 420 laps in the No. 5 Chevrolet. Since that day, Hendrick Motorsports has gone on to win 268 more points races (270 to date) to become the all-time winningest team in NASCAR Cup Series history.

THE NASHVILLE SCENE: On Sunday, Nashville Superspeedway will become the 13th new track to hold a NASCAR Cup Series race since 1994. Hendrick Motorsports has won the inaugural event at five of the previous 12 venues (42%): Indianapolis in 1994 (Jeff Gordon), California in 1997 (Gordon), Kansas in 2001 (Gordon), the DAYTONA Road Course in 2020 (Chase Elliott) and Circuit of The Americas in 2021 (Elliott).

DAYS OF GOLD: Hendrick Motorsports has won four of the last eight NASCAR Cup Series races held on Father’s Day. Jimmie Johnson went to victory lane at Sonoma in 2010 and Michigan in 2014, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Michigan in both 2008 and 2012. Although he did not drive for Hendrick Motorsports at the time, Larson triumphed at Michigan in 2017, making him the most recent Father’s Day winner in the Cup Series.

QUOTABLE /

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on getting up to speed at Nashville: “I’ve tested there before – a couple times in an Xfinity car and I think once in a Cup car. It’s a track where very few drivers have any experience. We will have practice and qualifying before this Sunday’s race, so I’m looking forward to the challenge of getting up to speed quickly. This team and Hendrick Motorsports as a whole have been strong on intermediate-type tracks this year, so I hope we can have another strong finish in the Valvoline Chevrolet.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on past experience at Nashville: “The most relevant things to pull from my previous experience there and Kyle’s testing experience there is the nuance of the track. It’s a really unique track geometry. It’s sweeping into turn one but then gets tight off of turn two. We know the track is going to be temperature sensitive. Knowing that will help us, but we don’t have a pure setup or race strategy standpoint. We don’t have any data points to go off of.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on how he is preparing for Nashville Superspeedway: “My preparation for this weekend is really going to revolve around the test that I’ve had at Nashville in the past. I actually had a test with the 24 team in 2013, back when Jeff (Gordon) was driving with Alan (Gustafson) and (engineer) Tom (Gray) and a lot of our same group that we have now. I’ve spent some time talking about that and just some of the tendencies that I remember from the racetrack. I feel like the rules have changed, the cars are different, and Cup has never raced there to look back at a ton of races. Maybe watching an Xfinity race or something, but I think a lot of it is really just going to be more from the test for me, personally.”

Elliott on being nominated for an ESPY: “It’s just an honor to be considered for an ESPY. I haven’t been doing this stuff near as long as guys like Lewis (Hamilton) and Scott (Dixon). I’m not sure I even belong on the same list as them, but it is such an honor to be there and be considered. Regardless of how it works out, I’ll certainly always be appreciative of being considered for something like that.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on testing at Nashville Superspeedway: “We were lucky to have been able to test at Nashville Superspeedway when he tested for Hendrick Motorsports back seven or eight years ago. There may be a couple things that we can apply, but that test just gives us a rough baseline to know what drove decent back then, but things are so much different now. We have different tires, aero package and hopefully we are smarter than we were in then (laughing). Having that test definitely helps; it’s better than starting from square one with nothing.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the challenges of racing at a new track: “You’re not going to have a good feel in general going into this weekend, I think. Nashville (Superspeedway) is going to be one of those places that you just need to adapt and learn as you go. It looks like a superspeedway but it’s more of a short track with how tight the corners are. It’s going to be tough, especially with the heat. I think that this race is going to be one of the toughest places we will go this season just because we don’t have any notes on it. No one has any notes from any series, really. Things have changed so much since the last race there. I’m going to rely heavily on the truck race and watching the Xfinity race. I’ll use that info to hopefully learn and be able to adapt faster in our race. It’s going to be challenge but it’s good to have a new environment and the excitement around it.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on his experience at Nashville Superspeedway: “Nashville is a tricky place. It races like a short track and has short track features, but it also has the characteristics of a mile-and-a-half track. That’s going to be your biggest issue; finding a setup that balances that line perfectly. You want it to handle similar to how it would at a concrete short track like Dover but also handle well, aero-wise, like a mile-and-a-half. While we have limited notes across the board, we do know that it will also be a very temperature-sensitive track, as well. There’s going to be a lot of obstacles to overcome, but I think with William running the truck race and us having a practice session on the Cup side, we’ll be as prepared as we can be. I’m excited to get back to Nashville and see what we can do as a team.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on competing at Nashville: “I have tested at Nashville Superspeedway before but haven’t actually raced there. It is going to be interesting learning the track with the No. 48 Chevrolet in practice on Saturday. Our last race we ran on concrete (Dover) we were able to claim the victory, so we are hoping for the same result on Sunday in our No. 48 Ally Chevy.”

Bowman on Ally hosting its first entitlement race: “This is a huge weekend for our partner Ally. It is their first entitlement race, and they have a lot of fun things planned for the sold-out crowd coming out to Nashville. We have a fun, neon paint scheme designed by Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., and I will have a new helmet that Bernard Pollard and Greg (Stumpff) from Off Axis Paint and I designed. It would be really cool to be able to bring home the Ally 400 trophy on Sunday with so many great people from Ally in attendance.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on his experience at Nashville Superspeedway: “Nashville was always a fun track. You used to be able to test at the speedway all the time and it was always a lot of fun. I remember testing when it was 40 degrees out and you were shivering and wondering how the tires were holding up. Then there were times where you would test and it would be extremely hot out. We have been to Nashville Superspeedway a lot, just not with this configuration. We have been around this track with rental cars multiple times to try to dry the track, so hopefully I can study from some videos I have of that. It is going to be a fun track.”



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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