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Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Kansas

Kansas Speedway
Sunday, May 15, 2022
1.5-Mile Oval
3:00 PM ET
Location: Kansas City, Kansas
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (13 of 36)
Radio: SiriusXM logo PRN logo

5 KYLE LARSON
Age: 29 (July 31, 1992)
Hometown: Elk Grove, California
Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels
Standings: 9th

No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

SPORTING IN KC: Last October at Kansas Speedway, Kyle Larson led 130 of 267 laps en route to victory. The result marked the second time in 2021 that he won three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series points-paying races – the first driver to win three consecutive races on two separate occasions in one season since Dale Earnhardt did so in 1987.

FAMILIAR SIGHT UP FRONT: During his 2021 championship year, Larson set the record for most laps led during a season on 1.5-mile tracks with 1,317 circuits at the front of the field. In two races at Kansas, he paced the field for 262 laps while all other drivers combined to lead just 10 more (272).

SECOND IN COMMAND: 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 the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

RANKING UP: Along with his win in 2021, Larson has four top-five finishes and six top-10s in 14 starts at the 1.5-mile Kansas track. His 426 laps led at the venue ranks sixth all-time. Larson also has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track with his best finish of fifth occurring in 2016.

WON.5 MILERS: Prior to his victory at Las Vegas in March 2021, Larson had scored nine runner-up finishes – the most all-time without a Cup Series victory – in 71 career starts on 1.5-mile tracks. The 29-year-old driver now has four victories in the last 10 races held on tracks of that length.

ONLY TWO: Since his first race with Hendrick Motorsports at the beginning of 2021, Larson leads the Cup Series with four victories on 1.5-mile tracks. Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron is the only other driver to post multiple wins (two) on that length of track during that span.

STAYING CLOSE TO HOME: From Wednesday to Friday of this week, the Elk Grove, California, native is scheduled to compete in a dirt late model on The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. HendrickCars.com will appear on Larson’s car, uniform, gloves and helmet.

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: For the fifth time this season, Larson and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team will wear their “home” white uniforms at Kansas Speedway. Home races occur in markets where there are Hendrick Automotive Group dealerships nearby, and the Kansas City area is home to five of them. Be sure to follow Hendrick Automotive Group’s social media channels and visit HendrickCars.com to view the complete home and away schedule.

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

No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

KANSAS STATS: On Sunday, Chase Elliott is set to make his 13th Kansas Speedway start at the NASCAR Cup Series level. In his previous 12 races at the track, he garnered one win (2018), six top-five finishes – the second-most top-five results at a track in his Cup career – eight top-10s and 187 laps led. He has finished inside the top 10 in six of the last seven races at the 1.5-mile venue. Elliott also holds the second-best average finish (9.8) among active drivers with more than five starts at Kansas, behind only Kevin Harvick.

NO. 9 IS TOPS: Elliott expanded his hold of the Cup Series points lead to 65 markers over Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron and Ryan Blaney. Including a tie earlier in the season, this marks the eighth consecutive week the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has been atop the standings.

KINGS OF CONSISTENCY: Elliott and his No. 9 crew have been the most consistent team in the Cup Series garage in 2022. Following the weekend at Darlington Raceway, they now have an average finish of 9.25. That is the best in the field by nearly three positions and the only team to be in the single digits. Through 12 races in 2022, Elliott has nine top-10 finishes (most among all drivers), including five in a row, which is the longest active streak in the series.

FRONT RUNNER: The No. 9 team has spent a lot of time at the front of the field this season, with Elliott leading 349 laps and spending a total of 1,298 circuits inside the top-five. His 2,094 laps raced inside the top-10 this season is second most behind only his teammate Byron.

1.5-MILE STATS: This weekend at Kansas, Elliott will make his 68th start on a 1.5-mile track in the Cup Series. In his previous 67 races, Elliott has led 871 laps. Along with two victories (Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas), he has collected 22 top-five finishes – eight of which are runner-up results – and 37 top-10s on 1.5-milers.

TOP-10 STREAK: Elliott currently holds the longest active streak of top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks in the Cup Series with eight. This streak is also the longest by a Hendrick Motorsports driver since Jeff Gordon had eight straight top-10s between 2008 and 2009. The last Hendrick Motorsports driver with more than eight consecutive top-10 finishes at mile-and-a-half facilities was Jimmie Johnson with 10 (2004-2005).

GUSTAFSON AT KANSAS: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 29th Kansas Cup Series race. In his previous 28 starts at the track with five different drivers (Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Gordon and Elliott), he has accumulated two wins – one with Gordon and one with Elliott – 10 top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and 305 laps led.

BACK HOME: No. 9 team jackman T.J. Semke hails from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, less than 40 miles from Kansas Speedway. Before stepping on the football field at the University of Kansas in 2012, Semke was a part-time bounty hunter. The 29-year-old was a defensive lineman for the Jayhawks for three years, earning Academic All-Big 12 Second Team honors twice. Semke signed with Hendrick Motorsports in October 2016.

RETURN OF UNIFIRST: This weekend at Kansas, UniFirst Corporation (NYSE: UNF), a North American leader in providing customized work uniform programs, corporate attire, and facility service products, will serve as the primary sponsor on the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. This will mark the second of three races that the UniFirst will partner with the team in 2022. Earlier this year, Hendrick Motorsports and UniFirst announced a partnership extension, keeping UniFirst with the team through the 2028 season.

24 WILLIAM BYRON
Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle
Standings: 2nd-Tied

No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

OH, SO CLOSE: On Saturday, William Byron climbed behind the wheel of the No. 24 Super Late Model at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Taking the lead on lap 21, Byron commanded the field until a late race caution with 11 laps to go. Losing the lead on the restart, Byron was able to battle back and secure his fourth Super Late Model win of the year with Wilson Motorsports. The following day, Byron picked up where he left off, running up front for the majority of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway. Taking the lead on lap 268, Byron looked poised to pick up his third Cup Series win of the season until being moved out of the way prior to taking the white flag, sustaining right side damage that resulted in a 13th-place finish.

RACKING ‘EM UP: Byron is continuing to have a career-best year in the Cup Series. The 24-year-old has scored two wins, four top-five finishes, eight top-10s, three stage wins, led 544 laps and accumulated 13 playoff points. All of those statistics are his best marks through 12 races in his Cup Series career – except for top-five finishes which are tied for his most. He is currently tied for second in the driver point standings behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott and is locked into the Cup Series Playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

LEADING THE FIELD: With 12 races complete in 2022, Byron has led laps in nine of them – tied for the second-most with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson and the most races that Byron has led through 12 races. His 544 laps led, 1,565 laps run within the top-five and 2,276 laps run within the top-10 are all the top marks in the series. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native’s 13 playoff points are also the most by any driver so far this season.

1.5-MILE MOMENTUM: Byron is no stranger to success on mile-and-a-half tracks during his Cup Series career. In 2021, he picked up the win at the third race of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway – his first on that configuration. He went on to collect seven top-10 finishes across nine races on 1.5-mile tracks throughout the season. This season, the Cup Series has raced at two 1.5-mile tracks – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – where Byron scored a top-five finish and Atlanta Motor Speedway where Byron captured his first win of the 2022 season. He is one of five drivers to finish in the top-10 in both 1.5-mile races this season and only one of two drivers to finish in the top-five of both races. In fact, since the start of 2021, Byron has nine top-10 finishes on that track length – tied for the most with Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. – and has an average finish of 7.45. He also has led laps in five consecutive races on 1.5-milers – tied for the most with Larson – and has the second longest active streak of top-10 finishes on this configuration.

HOT START AT KANSAS: Out of the gate, Byron found success at Kansas Speedway in just his first two NASCAR national series starts at the 1.5-mile track. With one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start in 2016 and one NASCAR Xfinity Series start in 2017, Byron finished no worse than fourth in both events. In his debut at the intermediate oval – just his fifth Truck Series start – Byron led 34 laps and collected his win which kickstarted the most successful season by a rookie in the history of the series.

MIDWEST MOJO: Byron has eight Cup Series starts at Kansas. While faced with bad luck in his first three races which included a mechanical failure, a late-race on-track incident and a pit road penalty, he has since turned that luck around. In his last five starts at the 1.5-mile track, Byron has collected one top-five finish and five top-10s. His five-consecutive top-10 finishes at Kansas are tied with Kevin Harvick and Truex Jr. for the longest active top-10 streak at the intermediate track. It is also the track where Byron has the longest top-10 streak in his Cup Series career. In 2021, Byron spent 403 laps running within the top 10 at Kansas – the fifth most among drivers – and 289 laps within the top five (the second-most) with 57 laps led (the third-most).

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE KANSAS: Looking to make his third start as a Cup Series crew chief at Kansas this Sunday, Rudy Fugle’s two Cup Series races at the Midwest track resulted in a ninth-place effort in the spring of 2021 and a sixth-place finish in the fall with the No. 24 team. Aside from those two Cup Series starts, the Livonia, New York, native has 12 previous starts at the 1.5-mile oval, with 10 coming in the Truck Series. At Kansas, Fugle’s drivers have started from the pole four times, led 396 laps, and collected two wins (2016 & 2018), five top-five finishes and six top-10s. In fact, his 2016 win came with Byron, who captured his first Truck Series win in just their fifth start together.

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: Last Thursday, Hendrick Motorsports announced a three-year contract extension for Byron and the 14-time championship organization. Per the agreement, Byron will remain behind the wheel of the No. 24 through the 2025 Cup Series season. To read more on the contract extension, click here.

RAPTOR® TOUGH: Returning for this weekend, Byron will race the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Sunday’s event at Kansas. RAPTOR® is a durable protective coating and bed liner that is designed to tolerate the toughest climatic conditions and can be applied to a wide range of substrates from steel, wood, concrete and plaster to plastics and composites. Resistant to common fuels, U.V., scratches and stains, RAPTOR® is available at local paint distributors, auto parts stores and can also be purchased from online retailers like Amazon.

48 Alex Bowman
Age: 29 (April 25, 1993)
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Resides: Concord, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Greg Ives
Standings: 8th

No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

STILL BEST: Through 12 races in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series, Alex Bowman has a career-best seven top-10 finishes in those events. Prior to this year, the 29-year-old driver’s best start to the season saw him notch four top-10s through 12 races in his banner year in 2021. Bowman’s seven front-running results are tied for the third-most among drivers this season. Only Kyle Busch and teammate Chase Elliott have more, with eight and nine top-10s, respectively.

RACK THEM UP: The Tucson, Arizona, native currently sits eighth in points after tallying 357 markers through 12 starts in the 2022 Cup Series season. This is the second time in his Cup Series career that Bowman has been scored within the top 10 in the standings through 12 starts, matching this year’s performance in 2020.

KANSAS LOVE: Having already tallied a win at a 1.5-mile venue (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) this season, Bowman heads to Kansas Speedway this weekend with confidence. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has collected two top-five finishes with a track-best runner-up finish in May 2019. His five top-10s in the Sunflower State match his most at any track (with Dover Motor Speedway being the other track where he has five top-10s). An average finish of 9.7 is his best at any active oval on the circuit since he started racing at Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman also has a start at Kansas in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in October 2013 where he took home an 11th-place result.

THE SHOWMAN ON 1.5-MILERS: In his last two appearances on 1.5-mile tracks, Bowman has won (Las Vegas, March 2022) and finished 10th at Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 2022). He is one of five drivers to notch top-10 finishes at both Las Vegas and Atlanta this season. Dating back to the start of the 2021 season, Bowman has garnered six top-10s on 1.5-mile circuits (the eighth-most in that stretch).

DYNAMIC DUO: Since Bowman and No. 48 crew chief Greg Ives have teamed up in the Cup Series, the duo has racked up two wins (Las Vegas in March 2022, Chicagoland Speedway in June 2019) one second-place finish, 10 top-fives and 21 top-10s in their 49 starts on 1.5-mile tracks. Across all starts in the Cup Series on these circuits, Bowman and Ives have an average finish on 14.4.

A TRIP TO THE DIRT: Bowman will run the No. 55 Ally sprint car for Alex Bowman Racing on Wednesday in the World of Outlaws at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pennsylvania. Last time at the dirt track, he made the feature race after placing fifth in his heat race. Bowman finished the 30-lap feature in 17th after being involved in an on-track incident on lap 27.

GREAT EIGHT: Hendrick Motorsports has won eight times at Kansas Speedway, which is the most among all NASCAR Cup Series teams. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson each earned three victories. Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have both won once at the venue.

1-2 SWEEP: Last season’s 1-2 finish in the October race at Kansas by Larson and Elliott is one of two times that a team swept the top two spots at the Sunflower State track. The team now known as RFK Racing swept the top three spots in the October 2005 race.

STILL STREAKING: Dating back to last October at Texas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has won the last four races at 1.5-mile tracks. Larson won at Texas and Kansas in 2021. This season, Alex Bowman won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and William Byron won at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Such a streak has occurred only one other time in the Cup Series with Furniture Row Racing accomplishing it in 2017.

BIG BOUNCE BACK ON THE HORIZON: Hendrick Motorsports has followed up a last-place finish in a race with a win eight times. Larson finished last at Darlington Raceway after an engine issue. Two of the last three times this has occurred, the organization rebounded to win with the most recent instance being Elliott following up a last-place result at Pocono Raceway with a win at Watkins Glen International in 2019.

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.

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 (seven), 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 99,599.90 miles in points-paying Cup Series races. The team is less than 401 miles from hitting 100,000 led at NASCAR’s top level. Last season, Hendrick Motorsports led 5,662.77 miles. Through 12 races in 2022, it has led 1,142.43 miles. At Kansas, the organization has led 2,535 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.

QUOTABLE /

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the racing groove at Kansas Speedway: “At Fontana, we were able to run really close to the wall, so I would imagine it’s pretty easy to run next to the wall at Kansas. I love Kansas – it’s definitely one of my favorite tracks. It does have multiple lanes, typically. If that top lane gets going really fast, it does make it hard to pass. I hope we can run the bottom, middle and top.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on if 2021 success translates to this year: “We had success there last year, but this weekend is another track we are visiting for the first time with the Next Gen car so there is still a lot to learn. Kansas is just one of those tracks where you have to respect the track because it can draw you into thinking it’s pretty straightforward, but the lanes can change a lot throughout the race. Everybody thinks you can run up top, then everybody does and it’ll fall off, so you have to be good enough to move down the track. And right as you think the strategy will be simple, a caution will come out and change everything you’re doing. You really have to be on your game in the moment and respect the track and the race. Past success always gives you confidence, but it’s still the new car at a track we haven’t competed on with it yet.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Kansas: “We’ve had some pretty good finishes at Kansas in recent years and had built up a solid playbook, but I feel like a lot of that is out the window with this new car. We weren’t that great at Vegas earlier this year, but we were pretty decent in Atlanta. I think we’ve learned a lot more about the car in general since those races and the changes that we can make to get the most out of it. Each track presents its own set of challenges, but I think our team as a whole has done a good job of adapting and I don’t think that will be any different this weekend.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the challenge of the Next Gen car as teams continue to head to tracks for the first time: “It’s a big challenge. Probably a bigger challenge than what’s conveyed, just watching the races and what the fans would see at home. There’s a huge amount of unknowns and there’s a lot of pressure and focus for us to get the car right off the truck, because with just 15 minutes of practice there’s really few things you can do. And then I think for the drivers too, there’s a lot of pressure.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on what he expects this weekend at Kansas: “While most of these tracks this year we’ve had to re-learn because of the Next Gen car, I think I’m a bit more confident on what to expect heading to Kansas this weekend. Not all mile-and-a-half tracks are the same but I feel like Kansas and Las Vegas are the most similar to each other. We raced at Vegas earlier this year and ran really well. The only real difference is I feel like Kansas is a more temperature sensitive racetrack and has less grip. We’ve ran well at Kansas over the past couple years, so I think with the notebook we’ve built so far and our past experiences there, we should have a good shot at the win this weekend.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparing for Kansas: “We’re continuing to build on our intermediate package as the season goes with the Next Gen car. Since the second Charlotte test, we’ve raced at Las Vegas and Atlanta and been able to add those notes in. I think we can really use some of our notes from Vegas for this weekend especially since we will be using the same right side tire we ran there. I also think some of our notes from the fall race at Kansas last season will correlate as well. With its progressive banking and with how sensitive it is to temperature, we’ll have to keep up with the track not only throughout the weekend but throughout the race on Sunday to be in contention at the end.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on heading to one of his favorite tracks: “Kansas Speedway has always been a place I feel like I run well at. Getting the win at Las Vegas this season helps our confidence at a similar track. We have to stay focused and take it one race at a time and this week, it is a place that I enjoy racing at.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on resetting his focus for Kansas: “We had a tough weekend in Darlington and didn’t get it right when it came time to adjust the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, but that stays at Darlington. We have a brand new weekend ahead of us at a track that Alex (Bowman) really likes. We will go back to what works for us and get the car in a place that we think will give Bowman the best chance to be competitive and work on it during practice to get the little details right.”



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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