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Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Las Vegas

Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021
1.5-Mile Oval
7:00 PM ET
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (30 of 36)
Radio: SiriusXM, PRN

5 KYLE LARSON
Age: 29 (July 31, 1992)
Hometown: Elk Grove, California
Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels
Standings: 1st

No. 5 Tarlton and Son Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: Kyle Larson captured his first short track win of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. The 29-year-old driver finished second in stage one before winning stage two. Larson led a race-high 175 laps in the 500-lap event.

JACKPOT: In March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Larson led 103 laps en route to his first victory driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Along with that win, the driver of the No. 5 Tarlton and Son Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has four top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 10 starts at the 1.5-mile track.

TWO-FER: Prior to 2021, Larson had accumulated six stage wins and led 794 laps in 70 starts but had never visited victory lane at a 1.5-mile track in NASCAR’s premier series. In his last six 1.5-mile starts, the Elk Grove, California, native has two wins (Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas) while leading 836 laps with seven stage wins to his credit.

MAKING A POINT: Larson has accumulated 59 playoff points this season through six race wins (five points per win), 14 stage victories (one point per stage win) and winning the NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season championship (15 points). He enters the Round of 12 with a 30-point advantage over second place and a 46-point advantage over the cutoff position.

BEST YEAR YET: Through 29 of 36 Cup Series races, Larson leads the series in wins (career-best six), top-five finishes (career-best 16), top-10s (career-best 21), stage wins (14), average start (6.9) and laps led (career-best 1,905). He has led 676 more laps than his closest competitor.

NASCAR DEBUT: Tarlton and Son Inc. will make its debut in NASCAR as the primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tarlton and Son Inc. disrupts the construction industry in the California market with an award-winning mentality, unique Frame-2-Finish solution and unmatched work ethic to win. Owners Tom and Tommy Tarlton are well known in the California dirt racing community, Tommy Tarlton even raced against Larson in Larson’s early career. Seeing Tarlton and Son Inc. go from the No. 57 sprint car to the No. 5 NASCAR Cup Series car is a win for race fans everywhere. For more information, click here.

QUICK TIME: At 13.66 seconds, the No. 5 pit crew owns the quickest average time for four-tire pit stops in 2021. The over-the-wall crew is comprised of gasman Brandon Harder, jackman Brandon Johnson, tire carrier R.J. Barnette and tire changers Donnie Tasser (front) and Calvin Teague (rear).

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 will also work closely with Hendrick Cares, the corporate social responsibility program of Hendrick Automotive Group. To kickstart “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 29 races, he has already pledged more than $110,000 and raised nearly $190,000. To learn more, please visit KyleLarsonFoundation.org.

9 CHASE ELLIOTT
Age: 25 (Nov. 28, 1995)
Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia
Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia
Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
Standings: 6th

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

ROUND OF 12: For the sixth consecutive season, Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, has advanced to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The reigning series champion enters the round seeded sixth, 38 markers behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate and points leader Kyle Larson. In Elliott’s previous 53 playoff races, he has collected six wins, 21 top-five finishes, 30 top-10s and led 1,650 laps.

NEXT SEVEN: Elliott and the No. 9 team have seen their share of success on the next seven tracks to close out the 2021 season. The 25-year-old driver has wins at five of the next seven venues – four of which came during a playoff campaign.

LAS VEGAS STATS: On Sunday, Elliott is set to make his 10th Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his previous nine starts, he has collected two top-five finishes, three top-10s, led 177 laps and has picked up three stage wins. Elliott’s 177 laps led at LVMS are the second-most that he has at a track without a points-paying win (Bristol – 439). He has led in each of the last four Las Vegas races, tied for the second longest active streak at the track. The driver of the No. 9 also has the second-most stage top-10 results of active drivers (15) and he ranks second all-time in stage points earned at the 1.5-mile track (89).

LAST SEASON LOOKBACK: Last year during the playoff race at the Las Vegas venue, Elliott led 73 laps and battled inside the top five for most of the race before lining up ninth for the overtime restart and losing a number of positions. He ultimately finished 22nd. During the race, Elliott’s average running position (4.23) was the second best of all drivers.

1.5 MILERS: Elliott will make his 63rd start on a 1.5-mile track while in Sin City. In his previous 62 1.5-mile races, he has led 799 laps. Last season, he scored his second career 1.5-mile track win at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28. Along with two victories, Elliott has collected 20 top-five finishes – six of which are runner-up results – and 32 top-10s on 1.5-milers.

GUSTAFSON AT LVMS: This weekend, No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 21st race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from atop the pit box. In his previous 20 events with five different drivers (Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Elliott) at the venue, Gustafson has garnered five top-five finishes, eight top-10s and 186 laps led – 177 coming with Elliott.

PLAYOFF PERFORMANCE: The No. 9 team owns the third-best average time for four-tire pit stops at 13.75 seconds through 29 races. 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.

NAPA RETURNS TO VEGAS: This weekend, the familiar blue, white and yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme will return to Las Vegas for the second time this season. The Atlanta-based company is serving as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 9 team for 25 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: 8th

No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

NOT DONE YET: Needing to make up 18 points on the NASCAR Cup Series playoff cut line last Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, William Byron and the No. 24 team did just that. Scoring crucial points in both stages in the 500-lap event, Byron battled his way within striking distance of the leaders in the closing laps, scoring a track-best finish of third at “The Last Great Colosseum.” His third-place result was good enough to secure his spot in the next round of the playoffs by two markers. With points resetting for the Round of 12, Byron is now sitting eighth in points, just above the cut line by one point.

BEST YEAR YET: With only seven races left in the 2021 Cup Series season, Byron is continuing to have a career-best season at the highest level of competition in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. So far, he has collected one win (Homestead-Miami Speedway), two pole awards (Road America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – most by a driver this season), 10 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s all while leading 276 laps and collecting three stage wins. In his Cup career, these are the most top-five finishes, top-10s, laps led and stage wins the 23-year-old driver has collected in a single season.

1.5-MILE MOMENTUM: With the Cup Series racing six times on 1.5-mile tracks so far this year, Byron has finished inside the top 10 in five of those events. This season, he has an 8.33 average finishing position in 1.5-mile races – the third best behind Kyle Busch and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. Going back as far as the last 10 races on 1.5-milers, Byron has secured seven top-10 finishes – tied for the fourth-most behind Busch (nine), Martin Truex Jr. (nine) and teammate Alex Bowman (eight).

LOOKING FOR LUCK: When the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet ZL1 1LE unloads for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it will mark Byron’s eighth Cup Series start at the 1.5-mile venue. Out of those seven previous starts, Byron has a track-best finish of seventh (September 2019). However, Byron’s stats at Las Vegas don’t accurately represent the strength the No. 24 team has displayed there. Last February, he ran solidly inside the top five before a flat tire late in the race resulted in a 22nd-place finish. In September 2020, Byron pushed through the field to find himself within the top-10 running order, but an on-track incident with six laps to go left him in 25th. Byron rebounded in the spring of this year, starting second and racing to an eighth-place result.

VIVA LAS RUDY: Returning to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the second time with the Cup Series, crew chief Rudy Fugle is confident heading to a venue where he has had success at before. In his first Cup Series showing earlier this season, the No. 24 scored an eighth-place result at the 1.5-mile track. Aside from that one start, the Livonia, New York, native has called the shots for 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Las Vegas. He earned one win (March 2019) with Busch, four top-five finishes, six top-10s, three pole awards and 238 laps led. With Byron in the Truck Series in 2016, the duo qualified 10th and raced to a fifth-place finish at the 1.5-mile venue.

ALL ABOUT AXALTA: With the Round of 12 kicking off at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Sunday’s race. 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 No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, click here.

48 Alex Bowman
Age: 28 (April 25, 1993)
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Resides: Concord, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Greg Ives
Standings: 7th

No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

TOP FIVE IN BRISTOL: Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway ended with a top-five finish for the No. 48 Ally team after 500 laps. Alex Bowman rolled off 11th under the lights and battled through both loose and tight conditions throughout the evening. At the end of stage one, Bowman was 14th and, following a four-tire stop under the lap 220 caution, he reported that his balance felt better. With 30 laps remaining, he entered the top five and crossed the finish line in the same spot. Following his seventh top-five result of the 2021 season, Bowman advanced into the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

ROLLING THE DICE: Bowman has nine Las Vegas Motor Speedway appearances in the Cup Series. Earlier this season, the 28-year-old driver finished inside the top 10 in both stages but suffered a flat left-rear tire, which resulted in a 27th-place result. Bowman’s average running position during the 2020 playoff event at Las Vegas was 5.5, which was the third-best of all drivers. In his lone start at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Bowman finished eighth after qualifying 18th for the 200-lap event in 2013.

1.5-MILE STATS: In six Cup Series starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season, Bowman has four top-10 results, including three top-fives. He has the eighth-best average finish (11th) at these venues in 2021. In the last 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks, the Tucson, Arizona, native has eight top-10 results, the third-best on the charts. He is second only to Kyle Busch with six top-five finishes in the last 10 races at these tracks. In nine events with the 550HP package this year, Bowman is ranked seventh in regard to his average finish (10th).

IVES’ VEGAS STATS: Crew chief Greg Ives will call his 11th Las Vegas Cup Series race this weekend. In his 10 previous starts at the 1.5-mile facility, the No. 48 crew chief has two top-five results and four top-10s with a best finish of fourth coming in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ives also has two starts there in the Xfinity Series, including one top-five finish with Chase Elliott in 2014 and one top-10 with Regan Smith in 2013. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team with seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. During that time, he was part of three wins and four top-five finishes at Las Vegas.

BOWMAN VISITS NEON GARAGE: On Sunday, Sept. 26, Bowman will visit the fan stage inside the Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a question-and-answer session. The Ally driver will be on stage starting at 1:15 p.m. local time.

PIT ROAD STATS: Following the Bristol event last weekend, the No. 48 pit crew sits fifth on the board for the fastest four-tire pit stop average in the Cup Series with a time of 13.89 seconds. The team had the fastest single stop at Dover International Speedway (12.18 seconds) on May 16 and had the third-fastest stop at Atlanta Motor Speedway (12.25 seconds) on July 11. The No. 48 pit crew includes fueler Jacob Conley, tire carrier Allen Stallings, jackman Dustin Lineback, and tire changers Scott Brzozowski (front) and Devin DelRicco (rear).

NO. 275: Kyle Larson’s performance Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway represented the record-extending 275th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory for Hendrick Motorsports. Earlier this season, the organization broke the all-time team record of 268 Cup Series wins held by the legendary Petty Enterprises.

PLAYOFF PAYOFF: For the first time since 2014, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers remain in contention for the Cup Series championship following the first playoff elimination race. At least two of the team’s drivers have advanced to the Round of 12 each year since 2014, including three in 2019.

THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE: With Larson’s Bristol victory, Hendrick Motorsports has won the last four Cup Series playoff elimination races, including teammate Chase Elliott sweeping the final three last season en route to the 2020 championship. Elliott won the Charlotte ROVAL in the Round of 12, at Martinsville Speedway in the Round of 8 and in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway to clinch the title.

A ONE AND A TWO: Larson’s Bristol win was Hendrick Motorsports’ 25th top-two finish of 2021, which is tied for the second-most all-time through 29 races (Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019). In 1956, Carl Kiekhafer Racing recorded a record 34 top-two finishes in the first 29 Cup Series events. This year, Hendrick Motorsports has 12 victories and 13 runner-up finishes.

GOOD COMPANY: On Saturday night, Larson became the eighth Hendrick Motorsports driver to record a race win during the Cup Series playoffs. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Elliott and Mark Martin won as active playoff contenders, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers recorded victories as non-playoff spoilers. The organization has won a race during the playoffs in a record 17 of the 18 seasons since the format was established in 2004.

WIN CITY: Hendrick Motorsports has six Cup Series victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, including Larson’s triumph in March. Going into Sunday’s playoff race there, the organization holds the track records for top-five finishes (24), top-10s (43) and laps led (1,695). Its four Las Vegas stage wins are tied for the most of any team.

QUOTABLE /

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on returning to Las Vegas: “It’s nice going back to a track we’ve won at before. We were really good at Vegas earlier this year, so definitely excited to go back and hoping we have similar speed. The temperature will be much warmer this weekend, so that changes things but our team has been really good at adapting to every situation this year. Hopefully, we can prepare well and have another good car and battle for the win.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on hotter temperatures compared to March: “It definitely presents a lot of challenges – from the ambient air temperature to the track temperature, and the pace is going to be slower and (tire) fall off is going to be higher. We’re taking all that into consideration and hope we make the right decisions to have a good car – not only for speed but longer into a run when grip is lacking.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on returning to Las Vegas: “We haven’t had the best results at Las Vegas. The good thing is I feel like we have been fast out there at times. That’s the frustrating thing. Terrible results. I feel like every time I leave out there I’m mad and ready to go home, but I’m looking forward to this trip. Vegas is a place that I don’t have any ill will toward and again, I feel like we have had pace there. We have just really struggled to get the results. Hopefully, this time is a little different. It would be nice to get a win out there. That would be even better.”

Elliott on not looking ahead to next race or round in playoffs: “Ideally, you don’t want to be in a situation where you have to win that last race. You’d love to win the first one of every round. Maybe the first one and the last one of that round. I think the big thing is not getting ahead of yourself. The way this format is it’s really easy to look ahead a round or set your sights down the road and I think that’s the worst thing you can do. This stuff is taken for granted, in my opinion. You could have two bad races and then the next thing you know you have to win that final race in the round. That’s just the way this format is, and I think we recognize that and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. For us, we take it a week at a time and enjoy those tough spots when they come.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on all four teammates advancing to the Round of 12: “I think everyone is super focused on running as best as we can and winning and transferring. What the No. 24 and No. 48 teams did was great, so to have more Hendrick Chevys in there and more opportunities to advance cars is what we’re going for, so it’s good.”

Gustafson on how the team is preparing for the different style tracks in the second round: “It’s a really tough round. We just have to perform every week. Every track is very different, so we have to be good across all three of those disciplines, which are quite a bit different. It’s rare to have a really good intermediate program and superspeedway program and a good road course program. I feel like we have that – we just have to bring the best cars possible and execute at the track. Stage points will be important. Certainly, everybody knows the volatility of Talladega, so you just want to make sure you get as much as you can in Vegas and as much as you can at the ROVAL. I think we can have success at Talladega but there’s just a lot of circumstances that can get us in trouble.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on how crucial Las Vegas is for the next round of the playoffs: “It’s a great feeling knowing that we had the performance we did in Bristol and were able to advance on. I knew this team was capable of it but to be able to execute it in a Game 7-style situation is even more impressive. Now we’re moving on and turning or focus to the next round. These upcoming tracks are ones that have always been good for us but they also can be wildcards in their own respective, especially Talladega (Superspeedway) and the Charlotte ROVAL. That’s why it’s even more important for us to go to Vegas, execute everything and maximize points. We don’t want to start this round off in a hole like we did the first round. Myself and Rudy (Fugle) would rather play offense through these next three races than have to worry on defending points. Vegas is crucial, in my mind, to determine how you play the rest of the round. Hopefully, we come out with a win and the only points that matter for the next two races are playoff points.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the momentum heading to Las Vegas: “We’re super excited to hit the reset button at this stage. Darlington put us behind and we didn’t have a good run at Richmond. It made Bristol way too stressful. I feel like Vegas is really good for us, and this whole round has tracks where we are fast and perform well. I’m really excited about getting a reset, getting a good start at Vegas, competing for a win and maybe not having to worry about the next two (races), so that would be great.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on moving on to the Round of 12: “Advancing to the Round of 12 was exactly what we needed to do going into the Bristol race. It is obvious we struggled in the first two races in the playoffs, but we went into Bristol with a strategy and Greg (Ives) and the team did a great job with adjustments throughout the race. We fought hard and coming out with a fifth-place finish was big for this Ally team. We want to take Ally as far as we can in these playoffs and putting races together like last weekend will do just that for us.”

Bowman on returning to Las Vegas for a playoff race: “Going to Vegas this weekend, it is a good track for the 48 team. We have seen success there in the past, and earlier this season we had a top-10, if not a top-five run going before we had a tire go down. Our mile-and-a-half program is strong and this Ally team has been working hard on our Chevrolets. This round of the playoffs has a lot of good tracks for us, so we are looking to have strong runs in the next three weeks.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on moving on to Las Vegas with momentum: “Whether it’s a great week or a bad week, you try to look at each week as a new start and have realistic goals in mind. A realistic goal for us at Las Vegas is a win. There are some places you go and try to get top five in stages and then come out with a good finish. With Vegas, I feel like we got great race cars capable of going out there and scoring a lot of stage points and getting the win. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we have teammates who have the same thing. We just got to go out there and execute to the best of our abilities and take advantage when we can. Whether it’s a restart or on pit road or short runs or long runs. We just got to stay focused on that. I feel like we’re capable of winning at any racetrack, but there’s a lot of confidence going back to Vegas.”



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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