Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: St. Louis

WWT Raceway
Sunday, June 5, 2022
1.25-Mile Oval
3:30 PM ET
Location: Madison, Illinois
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (15 of 36)
Radio: SiriusXM, PRN

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

No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available in the WWTR media center on Friday, June 3, at 1:30 p.m. local time.

600 TO REMEMBER: Last Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson and the No. 5 team overcame myriad issues to battle for victory late in the race. Larson, who started at the rear of the field following an incident during Saturday’s practice session, made contact with the wall, restarted from the rear of the field three times and spun off turn four – all before halfway in the race scheduled for 400 laps. No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels delivered an impassioned speech during the stage two break, and the team battled back with Larson taking the lead at lap 354. A caution on the penultimate lap bunched the field for the first attempt at a green-white-checkered flag finish, and the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion was collected in a multi-car incident off turn four. After stopping for new tires, Larson battled back in the second overtime to post a ninth-place finish.

NEWFOUND SUCCESS: Sunday’s race at WWTR marks the first Cup race at the 1.25-mile track. Last year during Larson’s championship season, five new events appeared on the Cup Series schedule including the inaugural event at Nashville Superspeedway. From the fifth starting position, the Elk Grove, California, native led 264 of the 300 laps on the Tennessee track en route to a third consecutive win. Larson scored two other top-five finishes in inaugural events last year: a runner-up finish to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott at Circuit of The Americas and a third-place result on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. Larson accumulated the most points (186) in the five inaugural events, 17 more than any other competitor.

SECOND THAT: In his last Cup Series start in Illinois prior to this weekend’s race at the Madison, Illinois, venue, Larson finished runner-up to now Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman at Chicagoland Speedway in 2019. At the time, Larson was driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.

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

ACTIVELY OUT FRONT: In his last six races, Larson has led at least one lap – tied for the longest active streak in NASCAR’s top division with Kyle Busch. In addition, the driver of the No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet has paced the field in 11 races, tied for the second-most with teammate William Byron this season and only trailing Ryan Blaney (12).

SEEING RED: Valvoline will make its second of three appearances as the primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend. 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.

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

No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

NEW TRACK SUCCESS: Chase Elliott has quite the knack for success in races on new tracks added to the NASCAR Cup Series schedule and this Sunday’s race at WWTR is the latest new addition to the slate. He’s been the first one to visit victory lane at the Daytona Road Course (2020), Circuit of The Americas (2021) and most recently at Road America last July. Those victories make up three of his 14 Cup Series wins.

SIMILAR TRACK STATS: While Elliott has never raced at the 1.25-mile track in the St. Louis area, he has plenty of experience on tracks similar in length. In 45 starts on tracks measuring 1 to 1.37 miles in length, the 26-year-old driver has three wins, including a victory at Dover Motor Speedway earlier this season. Accompanying those victories are 18 top-five finishes, 24 top-10s and 1,190 laps led.

NO. 9 IS TOPS: Despite a tough result at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Elliott and the No. 9 team, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native continues to hold the Cup Series points lead by 34 markers over Ross Chastain. Elliott has been atop the standings for 10 consecutive weeks and now has eight playoff points with the help of his stage one win last weekend.

LEADING LAPS: Elliott has spent a lot of time at the front of the field in 2022. Through 14 races, he’s led 445 circuits, a career-high mark for the driver of the No. 9 at this point in the season. Those laps are second to his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron, who’s led 570 on the season.

PIT ROAD PROWESS: The No. 9 team currently owns the best average time for four-tire pit stops at 11.644 seconds. The team is comprised of jackman T.J. Semke, gasman John Gianninoto, tire carrier Jared Erspamer and tire changers Chad Avrit and Nick O’Dell.

HOOTERS IS BACK: Hooters joins the No. 9 team as the primary partner for the first of three races in 2022 on Sunday at WWTR. At the end of 2021, it was announced that Hooters had extended its primary sponsorship of Elliott and the No. 9 team through 2024. Hooters will also be on Elliott’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 later this season at Bristol Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the Cup Series playoffs. Get a look at all of the angles of the 2022 Hooters paint scheme here.

WHEN CHASE WINS, YOU WIN: Fans can visit Hooters on Mondays after Cup Series races this season and ask their server for free fried pickles with any drink purchase when Elliott finishes in the top 10. If he wins, customers receive free boneless wings with any 10-wing purchase. Get more details at hooters.com/racing.

Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle
Standings: 7th

No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

2022 SO FAR: So far in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron has scored two wins, four top-five finishes, with 570 laps led across 11 of the 14 races, three stage wins and 13 playoff points accumulated. He is currently seventh in the driver point standings and is locked into the Cup Series playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

LEADING THE FIELD: With 14 races complete in 2022, Byron has led laps in 11 of them – tied for the second-most with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. His 570 laps led is the most by a driver this season and he is currently on a streak of three consecutive races with at least one lap led – tied for the fourth-longest active streak. He also continues to spend the most laps running in the top-10 (2,516) as well as the most laps running within the top-five (1,687).

SIMILAR IN STYLE: This Sunday’s race at WWTR will mark Byron’s 31st start on tracks 1 to 1.37 miles in length (Dover Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway and Phoenix Raceway). In his previous 30 starts, the 24-year-old driver has collected one pole award, five top-five finishes, 10 top-10s with 82 laps led.

GOING TO GATEWAY: While this weekend’s race will mark the first time that the Cup Series has raced at the track located just outside St. Louis, it will not be the first time that Byron has visited the Illinois-based facility. In 2016, Byron competed at this track in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. During that race, he started third and led 47 of the 160 laps before being collected in a late race on-track incident that resulted in a 17th-place finish.

THE RUDY RUNDOWN: While many in the Cup Series will be experiencing the venue for the first time, crew chief Rudy Fugle is one of a few that has prior experience at the 1.25-mile oval. The Livonia, New York, native has eight prior starts at the track, with six coming in the Truck Series and two in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His drivers have collected two top-10 finishes – with a best finish of sixth – all while leading 258 laps. One of those six starts was with Byron, where the duo led almost one-third of the race before settling for a 17th-place finish from an on-track incident.

RAPTOR® TOUGH: Returning for this weekend, Byron will race the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Sunday’s event. 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

CONQUERING CHARLOTTE: Last Sunday, Alex Bowman crossed the finish line at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 10th after evading several on-track incidents, including one on the first green-white-checkered attempt. His top-10 result marked his ninth front-running finish this season. Through 14 races, Bowman is eighth in regular season points, 74 markers behind leader and teammate Chase Elliott.

BACK TO WHERE IT BEGAN: The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Illinois this weekend as the field takes on WWTR for the first time. Last time Bowman was in the Prairie State, he took home his first Cup Series win at Chicagoland Speedway in June 2019 in the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro. Since then, the Tucson, Arizona, native has tallied six more wins, including primary sponsor Ally’s first Cup Series win at Richmond Raceway in April 2021.

FRONT RUNNER: Bowman continues to be a model for consistency this season. The 29-year-old driver has nine top-10s in the 2022 Cup Series season – more than any other year in his Cup career through 14 races. In his career-best season of 2021, he tallied his ninth top-10 in the 18th race of the season at Pocono Raceway. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is also tied with 2021 Cup Series champion and teammate Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, and Kyle Busch for the most top-10 results in the last six events with five.

THERE AT THE END: With a mark of 11.71, Bowman still holds the second-best average finish in the Cup Series. Only Kyle Busch has a better average result at 11.21. The winner of the spring race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway also follows Busch in most top-10 finishes in the Cup Series, garnering nine and 10 placements, respectively.

SLINGING DIRT: This Friday at Tri-City Speedway, Bowman will make another start for Alex Bowman Racing with the World of Outlaws. Fielding and driving the No. 55 Ally sprint car in Illinois for his own team, he continues to refine his racing skillset this season.

NEARING 100,000: Hendrick Motorsports needs to lead just 98 miles in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race to cross 100,000 miles led in the sport’s top series. This would be achieved by leading 79 laps at WWTR this weekend. The four-car team has led 1,445.43 miles in the 14 points-paying races held thus far in 2022.

INAUGURAL TRIUMPHS: Sunday’s race marks the first Cup Series race at the 1.25-mile track. In the last six races on new tracks for the Cup Series, Hendrick Motorsports has won four times. Three of those wins came last year with victories for Chase Elliott at Road America and Circuit of The Americas and Kyle Larson grabbing the win at Nashville Superspeedway.

VARIETY PACK: Hendrick Motorsports has gone to victory lane at more racetracks than any other active team. Its series-best 285 Cup wins have been spread across 31 different venues.

PRAIRIE STATE LOOK BACK: Prior to Sunday’s race at the Madison, Illinois, track, the Cup Series has raced 21 times in the state of Illinois with 19 of those starts coming at Chicagoland Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports won at that 1.5-mile track three times with Alex Bowman winning in the last event held there in 2019.

OUT FRONT: Through the first 14 races in 2022, Hendrick Motorsports has led the most laps in the Cup Series with 1,280 circuits out front. The second- and third-place teams just eclipse that mark when combined. This is the first time in eight seasons that the 14-time Cup champions have led over 1,200 laps at this point in the season.

WHERE THE WINS STAND: With 12 races left in the regular season, Hendrick Motorsports has five wins in 2022 – the most in the series. The organization is the fastest to have its entire four-car lineup win in one season as it achieved that in the first 11 races of the season. William Byron’s two wins lead the way for the squad.

FINISHING TOUCHES: Hendrick Motorsports has the most top fives (16) and top 10s (30) in the 2022 Cup Series season. Larson has a team-best six top-fives, while Elliott and Bowman are tied for the team lead with nine top-10 finishes.


Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparing for the inaugural WWTR race: “I’ll watch some (NASCAR Camping World) Truck Series races on YouTube – probably the most recent truck races and maybe some old Xfinity races. It looks like a cool track and I’m sure Cliff (Daniels, crew chief of No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1) and the team have been using every tool and resource possible to ensure we have a good package when we unload there.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparing for the first race at the Madison, Illinois, track: “The trucks just raced there last year or the year before, and I have been watching that race today. We also have data from a wheel-force tire test a few weeks ago, so we have data and in-car cameras from that – all OEM’s do. That data is super valuable just to help understand our simulation tools and how those match up to what we saw on the track data. Then we try to understand the nuance of the track and compare it to similar tracks we’ve been to with a Next Gen car, which would probably be Phoenix (Raceway). Fortunately, we do have the 50-minute practice on Friday to really tune on the car. It’s not a lot of time, but it’s enough to get a good feel for things.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on heading to the 1.25-mile oval for the first time: “I think anytime you head to a new track it’s tough. You can do everything to try to prepare, but you’re not really going to know until you make those first laps in practice. We’re getting a little more track time than we do at most tracks so that will help give us an opportunity to try to figure some things out ahead of Sunday. There are a lot of unknowns, but I’m looking forward to heading there and seeing what we can do.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on racing at the St. Louis-area track: “We’re just going to have to be prepared to adapt. We’ve been looking at our notes from Phoenix (Raceway) and Richmond (Raceway) and trying to put them together as we’ve been anticipating what to expect. I don’t really think anybody is going to be able to hit it right off the truck, so that’s where you’re going to have to be able to adapt and adjust. Whoever does a good job of that is going to be fast. Chase always does great at providing feedback and telling us what he needs out of the car, so hopefully we’ll be in a good position heading into Sunday.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his thoughts for this weekend: “I don’t know what to expect this weekend really. I think Gateway will race similar to how Phoenix (Raceway) does. We had some speed there earlier this year so I think we have a good starting point, plus we have a full 50-minute practice this Friday to really feel things out. It’s been a few years since I’ve raced there, and when I did, we had a good race going and led a bunch of laps. The last few weeks we haven’t gotten the results we’ve wanted despite leading laps and running up front. This weekend is a good chance for us to turn that around heading into the summer stretch of the season.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what he thinks it will take to win on Sunday: “Gateway may be a mile-and-a-quarter long but it races more like a short track with long straightaways. So far this season with the Next Gen car, we have been fast on those style tracks so that gives us confidence heading into this weekend. It’s a unique track that’s tough to figure out and those are the challenges I enjoy as a crew chief. I think it’s safe to say that track position is going to be a major factor this weekend and that pit stops are going to be a major key to that. We’ve really improved on pit road the last few weeks, so that gives me confidence as well. You always go to the race track wanting to win, but with this being the first Cup Series race there, everyone wants to be able to say that they were the winner of a inaugural event.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his consistency this season: “I am happy that we have been able to finish in the top 10 as much as we have, but I think we are capable of more. Our goal was to be more consistent this year and we are achieving that – now we need to stay consistent and move our aim to higher finishes. We have been close to the front at the end of races and have been able to make a few passes when it counts. Just need to find a way to be in the front of the pack and contend for more wins. I am proud of the effort every week from our guys, and we will continue to work hard and try to knock off a few more wins this year.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on how he is preparing for the race at the Illinois-based track: “Our short track package is pretty good – we have run well at Richmond (Raceway) and Martinsville (Speedway). We will lean on our notes from those tracks and what I have learned from conversations with Rudy (Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1). He has run there in the (NASCAR Camping World) Truck Series and though they aren’t Cup cars, it helps us with how the track will progress through the race and what to expect the racing to look like as the day goes on.”

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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