Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Darlington

Darlington Raceway
Sunday, May 8, 2022
1.366-Mile Oval
3:30 PM ET
Location: Darlington, South Carolina
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (12 of 36)
Radio: SiriusXM, PRN

Age: 29 (July 31, 1992)
Hometown: Elk Grove, California
Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels
Standings: 8th

No. 5 HendrickCars.com Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available in the Darlington Raceway media center on Saturday, May 7, at 9:30 a.m. local time.

EGG-CELLENT STATS: In eight NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington Raceway, Kyle Larson has five top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He has led 656 laps in six of those seven races – 23 percent of the laps he has competed in at the egg-shaped track. Larson has posted runner-up finishes in his last three starts at the 1.366-mile track.

5.5 FOR NO. 5: Based on average finish at active tracks with more than one start, Darlington is Larson’s best venue. A pair of runner-up finishes at the South Carolina track in 2021 improved his average finish there to 5.5.

MONDAY SPIN: In the rain-delayed race at Dover Motor Speedway on Monday, Larson recovered from a spin on lap 156 to post a sixth-place finish in the 400-lap race. The Elk Grove, California, native now sits eighth in the point standings, 83 markers down to leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott.

FIVER: Larson ranks second this season in top-five finishes with five, trailing only Ross Chastain who has seven. Larson has a victory at Auto Club Speedway, a runner-up finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a fifth-place result at Richmond Raceway and fourth-place finishes at Bristol Motor Speedway (Dirt) and Talladega Superspeedway.

A PERFECT 10: The 29-year-old driver also has four starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Darlington, finishing in the top 10 in each. He has a 5.8 average finish in those races with his best result of fourth occurring in 2016.

HONORING RICHMOND: This weekend at Darlington, the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team will throwback to 1984 and Tim Richmond. With a newly founded team by Rick Hendrick, All-Star Racing fielded an entry in the NASCAR Grand National Series in October 1984 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Richmond set the fastest lap during qualifying and led 11 laps from the pole position before wheeling the No. 0 entry to a fifth-place finish. Check out every angle of the scheme here.

ARLINGTON: On Wednesday, Larson visited Arlington National Cemetery to participate in the laying of the wreath ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 2021, Charlotte Motor Speedway began taking the previous year’s winner of its 600-mile race to just outside Washington for this ceremony. Larson won all three stages and led 327 of 400 laps en route to victory last May at Charlotte.

YOUR CAR NEEDS: This weekend, Larson will drive the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. 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.

WE’RE HIRING: Hendrick Automotive Group is hiring more than 300 technicians at its dealerships throughout the country. Positions are open for all skill levels and offer tuition and training reimbursement. Interested people can apply at HendrickCars.com.

Age: 26 (Nov. 28, 1995)
Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia
Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia
Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
Standings: 1st

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available in the Darlington Raceway media center on Friday, May 6, at 4:15 p.m. local time.

CONQUERED THE MONSTER: Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team earned their first victory of 2022 on Monday at Dover Motor Speedway after the race was postponed on Sunday due to rain. Elliott led three different times for a total of 73 laps to score his second win at the 1-mile track and the 14th of his NASCAR Cup Series career.

BUILDING STEAM: With his win at Dover, Elliott expanded his hold of the Cup Series points lead to 50 over Ryan Blaney. The victory also earned the Dawsonville, Georgia, native five coveted playoff points, bringing his total to seven on the season with his two stage wins. Including a tie earlier in the season, this marks the seventh consecutive week he has been atop the standings.

KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE: Elliott is currently riding a streak of four straight top-10 finishes and has eight finishes of 10th or better this season, a career-best mark for him through 11 races. Those eight top-10s are also tied for most in the Cup Series in 2022.

SINGLE DIGITS: The No. 9 team has been the most consistent team in the Cup Series garage in 2022. Following the Dover race weekend, they now have an average finish of 9.64, which is the best in the field. They are also the only Cup team with an average finish in the single digits.

RUNNIN’ AT THE FRONT: Elliott and the No. 9 team have consistently shown speed through the first 11 races of 2022, having led 349 laps and spent a total of 1,279 circuits inside the top-five spots. Those marks are the third-most in each category in the series behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron and Blaney.

DARLINGTON STATS: This Sunday, Elliott will make his 11th Darlington Raceway start in the Cup Series. In his previous 10 races at the 1.366-mile oval, he has collected two top-five finishes and four top-10s. His best finish of fourth came in 2020. Additionally, he has made three Darlington starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, earning a win at the track during his rookie season in 2014.

NAPA THROWBACK: Elliott and NAPA AUTO PARTS are throwing it back to the early 90s when the Cup Series heads to Darlington this weekend. The 2020 Cup Series champion’s No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will emulate the yellow and blue NAPA scheme sported by Jimmy Means and his No. 52 machine during the 1993 season. Check out all the angles of the special throwback scheme here.

GUSTAFSON AT DARLINGTON: Crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 21st Darlington race in the Cup Series. In his previous 20 starts at the track with five different drivers (Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Elliott), Gustafson has accumulated one win (2009 with Martin), four top-five finishes and eight top-10s, with 222 laps led.

DARLINGTON DOUBLE: Elliott is pulling double duty at Darlington. In addition to Sunday’s Cup Series race, he’ll drive the No. 88 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series race on Saturday afternoon. The 26-year-old driver earned his Xfinity Series championship with JRM in 2014 and garnered five wins with the team, including a victory at Darlington. Elliott’s primary partner in the Cup Series, NAPA AUTO PARTS, will also serve as an associate partner on his Xfinity Series car.

Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle
Standings: 3rd-Tied

No. 24 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

BEST YEAR YET: So far in 2022, William Byron is off to a NASCAR Cup Series career-best start. In 11 races, Byron has scored two wins, four top-five finishes, 520 laps led, three stage wins and 13 playoff points accumulated. All of those statistics are his most through 11 races in his Cup Series career. He is currently tied for third in the driver point standings and is locked into the Cup Series Playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

LEADING THE FIELD: Byron has led laps in eight races – tied for the second-most with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. His 520 laps led is the most by a driver this season. He has also spent the most laps running in the top-10 (2,026) as well as the most laps running within the top-five (1,409). With 13 playoff points, Byron has the most by any driver so far this season.

DARLINGTON DEETS: With seven previous Cup Series starts at Darlington Raceway, the 24-year-old is looking to capitalize on his previous strong showings at this venue on Sunday as well as continuing to have a little luck along the way. Despite running well early on, Byron’s results in five of his starts at the 1.366-mile track don’t accurately represent the strength he has shown. In two of his last three starts at “The Lady in Black,” Byron started within the top five both times, while securing a fifth-place result in the fall of 2020 and then a fourth-place finish in last year’s spring race. Byron also has one NASCAR Xfinity Series start at the southern track where he qualified sixth and raced to a fifth-place result as well.

THE FUGLE FILES: When the Cup Series returns to Darlington, it will mark the third trip to the South Carolina track for crew chief Rudy Fugle at the top level of NASCAR. Last season, Fugle called the shots for Byron at Darlington twice, starting fifth and racing to a fourth-place result in the spring. In the fall, Byron made his way within the top 10 of the running order before a turn one accident ended the team’s race early. Prior to last season, Fugle had only three previous starts at Darlington – two in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and one in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

THROWIN’ IT BACK: For this weekend’s throwback event, Axalta unveiled Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 last month. Paying tribute to Jeff Gordon, the No. 24 will don the familiar blue and red flames that Gordon raced during the 2007 season. Byron picked this scheme based on his earliest memories of the Hall of Fame driver. That season, Gordon won the spring race at Darlington as well as tied and passed Dale Earnhardt on the all-time Cup Series win list. For a closer look at Byron’s throwback scheme, click here.

BACK TO THE ROOTS: Going back to his racing roots, Byron will once again climb back behind the wheel of the No. 24 Super Late Model for Wilson Motorsports this year, this time for the Music City 200 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on Saturday, May 7, for the North/South Challenge. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has raced the No. 24 Super Late Model four times this year – three times at New Smyrna Speedway and once at Hickory Motor Speedway – scoring three wins total. This weekend’s race at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway will be available for PPV on Racing America, here.

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE OF MIND: While Landon Walker hails from North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the fueler for the No. 24 team also has significant ties to the southernmost Carolina state, having played football at Clemson University. The former college offensive tackle earned a scholarship to Clemson in 2007 after being named an All-American offensive lineman in his hometown at East Wilkes High School. While playing at Clemson, Walker recorded 3,131 snaps with 49 starts at tackle over four seasons. In 2011, he was named team captain, the same season Clemson went on to win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. The college football standout was then recruited by Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 and earned a position as the starting fueler for the former No. 5 (now No. 24) team in 2015.

48 Alex Bowman
Age: 29 (April 25, 1993)
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Resides: Concord, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Greg Ives
Standings: 5th

No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

DOVER RECAP: Alex Bowman took home a top-five finish at Dover Motor Speedway on Monday. He finished the first stage in 11th and the second stage in third before finishing the 400-mile event in fifth. Bowman’s on-track performance places him fifth in the regular-season points standings, 69 markers behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Dover winner Chase Elliott.

MR. CONSISTENT: Bowman continues to show that he is determined to become more consistent this season. After his fifth-place finish last weekend, Bowman now has the most top-10s of his career through 11 races with seven. Only Kyle Busch and Elliott have more top-10 finishes this season in the NASCAR Cup Series, at eight. His three top-five finishes also tie his most through 11 events in his Cup Series career.

THROWBACK WEEKEND: Bowman and primary sponsor Ally have teamed up to throwback to one of the No. 48 driver’s idols, Mark Martin, for this Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway. The No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will adorn the red, white, and blue colors of Martin’s 1993 No. 6 Valvoline that won the Southern 500 at Darlington that year. You can see every angle of the paint scheme here.

ABOVE AVERAGE: Bowman continues to hold the second-best average finish in the Cup Series this season, at 10.55. Only teammate and 2020 Cup Series champion Elliott is better in this category, averaging a 9.64 finish.

IVES AT DARLINGTON: Crew chief Greg Ives is no stranger to success at “The Lady in Black,” notching one top-five finish and three top-10s in his 10 starts at the 1.366-mile track in the Cup Series. The 42-year-old crew chief also has two starts atop the pit box in the NASCAR Xfinity Series where he took home a win with Elliott in April 2014 and a seventh-place result in May 2013 with Regan Smith.

SLINGING DIRT: Last Saturday, Bowman made an appearance at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, to race his sprint car for Alex Bowman Racing. He ran the ninth-fastest time in the hot laps and placed fifth in his heat race, transferring him to the feature event where he started 24th. Bowman managed to battle back from an on-track incident with three laps left in the 30-lap event, taking the checkered flag in 17th. He will return on May 11 for the World of Outlaws event at the same track.

FIVE SPOT: Hendrick Motorsports’ five wins in 2022 are the organization’s most through 11 NASCAR Cup Series races since winning eight races in the first 11 races of 2007. This season’s five wins are more than twice as many as any other team this year.

QUICK WORK: With all four drivers visiting victory lane in the season’s first 11 races, the 2022 driver lineup of Hendrick Motorsports is the fastest to have all four win. The previous top mark belonged to the 2007 Hendrick Motorsports four-car brigade and the 2016 Joe Gibbs Racing quartet – which each needed 12 races before all its drivers were victorious.

LEADING THE WAY: Hendrick Motorsports’ 1,024 laps led this season are the team’s most since 2014 – when they led 1,025 laps. The 1,024 laps led this season are more than second and third place in team laps led combined.

GETTING TO THE POINTS: As we near the halfway mark of the regular season, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are in the top eight of the Cup Series standings. Chase Elliott holds the points lead with William Byron tied for third. Alex Bowman occupies fifth place and reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson sits in eighth.

SIX PACK OF SOUTH CAROLINA WINNERS: With 14 wins at Darlington Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at the 1.366-mile venue all time in the Cup Series. Jeff Gordon has half of that total with seven victories, followed by Jimmie Johnson (three wins) and Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Tim Richmond and Ricky Rudd.

FLY THE W: Since the start of the 2021 Cup Series season, Hendrick Motorsports has recorded 22 points-paying race wins. The total is equal to that of the next four teams combined: Joe Gibbs Racing (11 victories), Team Penske (six), Stewart-Haas Racing (two) and Trackhouse Racing (two). Four other active teams have recorded one win apiece during that span.

NEARING 100,000: Since Hendrick Motorsports was founded in 1984, it has led a record 99,526.14 miles in points-paying Cup Series races. The team is less than 500 miles from hitting 100,000 led at NASCAR’s top level. Last season, Hendrick Motorsports led 5,662.77 miles. Through 11 races in 2022, it has led 1,068.66 miles. At Darlington, the organization has led 4,834.274 miles. Earlier this season, the team hit another major milestone – its 2,000th top-10 finish in the Cup Series – at the dirt track of Bristol Motor Speedway.


Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the significance of his throwback paint scheme: “Throwback races are always fun, especially when you get to do something that doesn’t just look cool but also has a lot of meaning behind it. There aren’t a lot of All-Star Racing liveries that haven’t been re-done already, so it’s special. That scheme started it all, and everyone involved worked so hard to get us where we are now. It’s definitely motivating, especially when you add that Tim Richmond was the driver. He’s a legend for leaving it all on the track – he would go full send on crazy moves and things that other drivers wouldn’t even try. So I’m going to go out there and try to drive it like Tim would.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on how the team transitions from Dover to Darlington: “A lot of it is just going to be in advance (of the weekend) and the conversations we’ve had about our recent Dover experience and we tested there a month or two ago. What he knows of trends of himself at the track and trends from Dover to Darlington, which is odd to say but he talks about those tracks very similarly a lot. And what he looks for out of the car, not necessarily the tracks themselves, but just what he needs the car to do for him. All those conversations are kind of leading to our approach. In practice, we have got to make the right adjustments and keep up with the track because the track does and will change a lot.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the win at Dover: “I’ve said a lot this season that we’ve had some really great runs, but we just hadn’t been able to put it all together. We were finally able to do that on Monday and have a nice, clean race. Wins aren’t always guaranteed, so I think anytime you can get one it’s important to enjoy it. I’m really proud of my team for continuing to show up each week and bring good attitudes regardless of what has happened in the weeks prior. It says a lot about their character and who they are. Now it’s time to shift our focus to Darlington and the rest of the season and keep trying for more wins and put ourselves in a good position for the playoffs.”

Elliott on the benefit of extra seat time at Darlington: “I always look forward to going to Darlington. It’s really cool and I feel like it’s really a driver’s racetrack. For some reason, I’ve kind of struggled there the last couple of years, so I’m looking forward to getting some extra practice on Saturday in the Xfinity race. Hopefully, that can help me come Sunday. I also feel like there are some things that we learned from Dover that we can take to Darlington. It’ll be interesting with the new car and how things go.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his thoughts for the race at Darlington: “I feel like Darlington is going to be another track where we don’t know what to expect until we get on track. In the past, Darlington was a place that was super hard on tires, and you spent most of the race trying to manage how hard you could go to be able to have some tire left by the end of the run. The surface would just really use the tires up. Now though I feel like tire wear hasn’t been as big of a factor with the Next Gen car so far. We saw a little tire wear on long runs at Dover, but nothing like in the past. You could still maintain some track position even with newer tires behind you on track. I am curious to see how the tires hold up this weekend and if it plays the same factor that it has in the past or how we will have to adjust throughout the race.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the effort the No. 24 team has been putting in: “I’m proud of everyone’s efforts last week at Dover. It obviously wasn’t the way we wanted the start of the weekend to go. The No. 24 team, and really just about everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, jumped in to help us get the backup car ready to race. We may not have gotten the finish we wanted in the end, but the things we learned on and off the track, and the effort this team put in is something we can be proud of. We’re using these races to prepare to be a championship-level team, and weekends like Dover are what make a team stronger and able to go further than others in the playoffs. We’ll put it behind us and prepare to rebound at Darlington.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on heading to Darlington: “We have a lot of momentum as a team heading to Darlington this weekend. We had a great weekend in Dover after starting in the back with 70 laps to go at a place that is tough to pass, so I think it only helps myself and the rest of the team know that we are firing on all cylinders right now. I am looking forward to taking the No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevy to Darlington and making Mark (Martin) proud and try to get the car back in victory lane.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on coming off a top-five finish at Dover: “It was frustrating walking away from Dover knowing we had a car capable of contending for a win and not being in the mix. Alex (Bowman) drove the wheels off the car and did a great job staying in it to get that top-five finish and our pit crew had great stops all day, so we have a lot of positives to build off of heading to Darlington this weekend. It will be a fun race with it being throwback weekend, so I am looking forward to going down there and trying to take home another trophy this Sunday.”

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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