Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Road America

Road America
Sunday, July 3, 2022
4.048-Mile Road Course
3:00 PM ET
Location: Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (18 of 36)
Radio: SiriusXM, PRN

Age: 29 (July 31, 1992)
Hometown: Elk Grove, California
Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Kevin Meendering
Standings: 6th

No. 5 HendrickCars.com Patriotic Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the NASCAR Cup Series and the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, will be available in the Road America media center following Xfinity Series qualifying on Friday, July 1.

ANOTHER TOP-FIVE FOR NO. 5: Last weekend at Nashville Superspeedway, Kyle Larson rallied back from a pit road speeding penalty to finish fourth – his seventh top-five finish of 2022. The 29-year-old driver, who now sits sixth in the point standings, trails only Ross Chastain (eight) in top-five finishes this season.

LOOKING BACK: In last year’s race at Road America, Larson qualified second and finished 16th after a late-race spin with less than six laps to go in the 62-lap event. The 2021 Cup Series champion finished third in stage one and fourth in stage two.

KING OF THE ROAD: Larson won three road course events in 2021, the most ever during a Cup Series season. Victories at Sonoma Raceway in June, Watkins Glen International in August and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in October were integral during his 10-win championship season.

ROAD COURSE RINGERS: Only two Hendrick Motorsports drivers have scored more wins on road courses than Larson. On serpentine layouts in the Cup Series, the all-time winningest driver is NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon with nine while Chase Elliott has crossed the line first on seven occasions.

FOUR FOR FIVE: Saturday will mark Larson’s first start in the Xfinity Series since he won at Bristol Motor Speedway in August 2018. The driver of the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Camaro has won four of his last five starts in the Xfinity Series, capturing victories in the aforementioned Bristol event, Daytona International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2018.

DOUBLE DUTY: Kevin Meendering will be atop the pit box for the No. 5 and No. 17 HendrickCars.com teams this weekend. No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels is out for three more Cup Series races after the team inadvertently lost its right-front wheel during the final stage of the Cup race at Sonoma Raceway. Meendering currently serves as the competition development manager for Hendrick Motorsports and will be atop the box for the No. 17’s two other Xfinity races.

YOUR CAR NEEDS: This weekend, Larson will drive the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Patriotic 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.

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

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

MUSIC CITY MAGIC: Last Sunday on the 1.33-mile concrete oval of Nashville Superspeedway, Chase Elliott scored his 15th career NASCAR Cup Series victory. Elliott led the final 39 laps of the race to earn his second win of the 2022 season. His first came in May at Dover Motor Speedway, another concrete track. This marks the fifth consecutive season that the 26-year-old driver has visited victory lane more than once.

TOP DOG: Following last week’s win at Nashville, Elliott not only continues to lead the regular season point standings, but now sits atop the projected playoff standings. He currently has two wins on the year, 13 playoff points and 513 laps led. He’s one of five drivers to score multiple wins this season, and his laps led and playoff points are both top marks for Elliott through 17 events.

ROAD AMERICA REWIND: The Wisconsin venue was the site of Elliott’s second of two wins during the 2021 season, both coming on road courses. Elliott took to the 4.048-mile road course in 34th but moved through the field quickly, ending the first stage in the 10th position. He finished stage two 15th after pitting under the green flag. Staying out during the stage break, he reset for the final stage in second and took the lead for the first time on the day a few laps later. Getting shuffled back to fifth after pitting under a caution, he used his fresh tires to retake the lead with 17 to go. He would remain there, taking the checkered flag with over a five-second lead. This remains the deepest starting position in the field for an eventual road course Cup Series race winner.

9 IN 22: Across two road course starts in 2022, Elliott and the No. 9 team have finishes of fourth at Circuit of The Americas and eighth at Sonoma Raceway. Those account for two of Elliott’s series-leading 11 top-10 efforts on the year (tied with Kyle Busch and Ross Chastain). He is one of only four drivers to finish inside the top-10 in both road racing events.

IN GOOD COMPANY: Elliott has proven his road-racing prowess, leading all active drivers with seven wins on road courses. He’s also third on all-time list of drivers in that category, trailing only NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has victories across five different serpentine layouts, which is the most in series history. In 21 Cup Series starts on that track type, Elliott has an average finish of 7.71, which is not only the best among active drivers, but third all-time among drivers (five or more starts), behind NASCAR legends Fireball Roberts and Buck Baker. He’s only 0.01 away from tying Baker. His seven stage wins on road courses are also the top mark in the series.

WINNING COMBO: Elliott and crew chief Alan Gustafson are the longest active driver/crew chief pairing at Hendrick Motorsports and it’s for good reason. Together, they’ve earned 15 Cup Series wins, which is the third-best among active driver/crew chief pairings in the series. Those victories also account for nearly half of Gustafson’s wins at the Cup level. The veteran crew chief has accumulated 35 wins total – second-most among active crew chiefs – with four different drivers (Elliott, Gordon, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch).

AG’S ROAD COURSE PERFORMANCE: At Road America, Gustafson will call his 43rd road course race from atop the pit box. In those starts, he has led his team to seven wins – a series-high among active crew chiefs – with 15 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s.

BIG 10 FOR NAPA: Sunday’s victory at Nashville was the 10th for NAPA AUTO PARTS as a primary partner for Elliott and the No. 9 team as well as the third straight for the Atlanta-based company. In addition to Nashville, NAPA was also on Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet when he earned the checkered flag at Dover earlier this year and at Road America last July.

Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle
Standings: 9th

No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

2022 SEASON STATS: So far in the 2022 season, William Byron has scored two wins, four top-five finishes, five top-10s, with 570 laps led – the most by a NASCAR Cup Series driver this season – as well as three stage wins and 13 playoff points accumulated. He is also currently ninth in the driver point standings, locked into the Cup Series playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

TO THE FRONT: With 17 races complete in 2022, Byron has led laps in 11 of them – the fifth-most by a driver this year. He has also spent the seventh-most laps running in the top-10 (2,571) as well as the third-most laps running within the top-five (1,689). The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has also picked up 13 playoff points – tied with Ross Chastain and teammate Chase Elliott for the most by any driver so far this season.

ROAD RESULTS: During his Cup Series career, Byron has been working to step up his road course racing skills. In the last six road course races to hold qualifying, Byron has won the pole for three of them (Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in 2019, Road America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in 2021). That stat is tied for the second-most among active drivers. He also has five top-10 finishes in the last 12 road course races which is ranked as the seventh-most in that stretch. In fact, in two road course races this year, Byron finished 12th at Circuit of The Americas and ninth at Sonoma Raceway.

RETURNING TO ROAD AMERICA: While this is the second consecutive year that the Cup Series will race at Road America, both Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle have been to the Wisconsin-based road course prior to 2021 in their NASCAR careers. Fugle called the shots on top of the pit box at Road America in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015 while Byron’s start also came in the Xfinity Series, but in 2017, where he raced to a sixth-place finish. The duo competed together at the inaugural Cup Series event last year, scoring the win in stage one, a runner-up result in stage two and were poised for a great result but late-race contact forced him off track, resulting in a 33rd-place finish.

FUGLE FILES: In 2022, the NASCAR Cup Series has raced on two road courses – Circuit of The Americas and Sonoma Raceway. Fugle and the No. 24 team scored a 12th-place finish at COTA and a ninth-place effort at Sonoma. In total, Fugle has nine Cup Series starts on road courses, three starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and seven in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In those seven Truck Series starts, the Livonia, New York, native has one win (Erik Jones, 2015), three top-five finishes, and five top-10s. One of those seven truck starts was also with Byron, where the duo raced to a 10th-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2016.

RAPTOR® TOUGH: Ready to take on Road America, Byron will be back behind the wheel of 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: 10th

No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Alex Bowman has showed promise on road courses this season, finishing second at Circuit of The Americas after contact with another car sent him off track on the final lap. The Tucson, Arizona, native ran inside the top-10 at Sonoma Raceway until running off-course to avoid an accident that resulted in a 16th-place finish. Through his 21 NASCAR Cup Series starts on road courses, Bowman has the 10th-best average finish among active drivers at 15.05.

2022 SO FAR: With 17 Cup Series events in the books, the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is ranked 10th in the regular season points standings after garnering 461 points, 125 markers behind teammate and points leader Chase Elliott. So far, Bowman has tallied one win (Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March), three top-five finishes, nine top-10s (most in his Cup Series career at this point in the season) and has an average finish of 13.5.

DYNAMIC DUO: Bowman and crew chief Greg Ives currently have the fifth-most wins as a pair in the NASCAR Cup Series. Taking home trophies in seven different races, their most recent triumph occurred at Las Vegas. Together, the duo has also notched 27 top-five finishes and 66 top-10s across their 171 starts together thus far.

RIPPING ON DIRT: Continuing to refine his racing skills, Bowman will head to Indianapolis Raceway Park on Friday for Alex Bowman Racing as the crew chief and driver of the No. 55 Ally sprint car.

HEADING HOME: This Sunday, race mechanic Reuben Kauffman and lead engineer Chais Eliason will return to their home track. Kauffman hails from Loganville, Wisconsin, which is just 130 miles from the 14-turn circuit. Eliason, who is from Duluth, Minnesota, will travel to his home venue for the first time this weekend.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Hendrick Motorsports will be making its first NASCAR Xfinity Series start since 2009 this weekend at Road America. The organization has 26 wins in the series with Tony Stewart winning in the last start made at Daytona International Speedway. Kyle Larson will pilot the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro on Saturday, Alex Bowman will drive the car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course on July 30 and William Byron will be behind the wheel at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 20. Kevin Meendering will serve as the team’s crew chief for the three races.

EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: For its 2022 Xfinity Series races, Hendrick Motorsports will field the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro – the same number Ricky Hendrick drove in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. That number has won 39 times in Xfinity Series history and two of the four drivers to win in it – Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte – would go on to win in the NASCAR Cup Series with the Rick Hendrick-owned organization. You can see renderings of the Xfinity Series paint scheme here.

LEADERS OF THE PACK: The 2022 Cup Series season has seen Hendrick Motorsports win six times in 17 races. That total leads all Cup teams by three wins. The four-car organization has led 30 percent of the laps this season, which is 1,374 in total and 276 more circuits in front than the next closest team. Teammates Byron and Chase Elliott rank 1-2 in laps led this season.

RULERS OF THE ROAD: At 25 wins, Hendrick Motorsports has the most all-time triumphs on road courses in Cup Series history. The two closest teams in this statistic have combined for only 21 wins.. Since their inaugural season in 1984, the organization has won 29 percent of road courses events (25 wins in 87 races).

COUNTING ‘EM UP: Seven different drivers have accounted for the 25 road course wins in team history. Jeff Gordon leads the way for the team with nine victories (which are also the most among all drivers) followed by Elliott with seven. Tim Richmond and Kyle Larson are tied for third on the list with three wins apiece. Geoff Bodine, Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Rudd each tallied one victory.

ROAD TESTED: In addition to road course wins, Hendrick Motorsports stands at the top of the board on road courses in the following stats: Poles (22), top-five finishes (76), top-10s (134), laps led (2,072) and stage wins (13).

FREQUENT VICTORS: The Concord, North Carolina-based team has been strong on road courses in recent years. Over the last 16 road races, Hendrick Motorsports has tallied 10 wins with Elliott notching all seven of his road victories in that time. Larson has accounted for organization’s additional three wins in that span.

SWEEP SENSATIONS: In the era of stage racing, there have been two times – both by Hendrick Motorsports – when one driver swept every road course stage and won the race. Elliott was the first to do so in his 2019 win at Watkins Glen International. Larson also accomplished this with his victory in 2021 at Sonoma Raceway.


Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on pulling double duty at Road America: “There are some big differences between the Cup and Xfinity cars, like braking points and sequential shifting in the Cup car versus an H-pattern in the Xfinity car. But getting more track time is worth it while getting an additional race with Kevin (Meendering) calling the shots will help our communication.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on heading back to Road America: “I’m excited to get back to Road America. I thought last year’s event was really good. For me, I was always partial to having the Fourth (of July) race at Daytona, but the crowd was really good and the energy was super high, and I think we need to have an energetic race on the Fourth. That’s a big weekend for our country. It’s a race inside our sport that I think is deserving of a lot of energy too, because we are a sport that’s going on this time of year and that needs to be a big event. I felt like the people up there welcomed us with open arms and brought a lot of energy. Anytime you have energy at the track, it makes it fun for everybody involved – whether you’re working inside the sport, you’re a driver, you’re another a fan there, it just makes for a better event, better environment. Last year, I felt was a great example of that. I hope that’s the case again this weekend. I hope the results are the same this weekend and everybody has a big time.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what makes Road America hard to prepare for: “Road America is different. I love the track. It’s a great visual road course. Braking zones are the first thing that come to mind there, though. You need to be good in those. There’s some really big braking zones that are difficult. The car needs to be able to change direction well and have stability at the same time. You can’t swing the back to change directions. If you do that, then there’s more that the driver has to manage. There’s also the course intricacies that you have to prepare for. There’s a few tight 90 degree corners, the carousel, the kink – a high-speed left. That’s what makes it so difficult. There are so many styles of corners there that make it harder. I think stability in the braking zones and consistency out of the car are the biggest things to hone in on. You key in on one area and want the front tires to be responsive and follow his hands. If we can do that without the back sliding, then that’s ultimately the best thing. We’ll try to do that this weekend at Road America. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his thoughts for Road America this weekend: “I’m excited to head to Road America. I’ve always enjoyed racing there in both series. I feel like it’s one of my strongest road courses that we race at. I finished sixth there in the Xfinity Series in 2017 and, while the Cup race didn’t end the way we wanted, we had a strong run going there all day with a stage one win and a second-place finish in stage two. We have some notes to work off of for this year’s race but the Next Gen car adds an element of unknown still. We’ve really had to work on our road course package this year, and I think we’re starting to get in a better place after Sonoma (Raceway). We just have to keep it moving in the right direction and I think we have a good chance of doing that at Road America this weekend.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparing for Road America: “Road America presents it’s own set of challenges compared to other road courses we run at. It’s the longest course we compete on and it’s also the heaviest-braking road course on the schedule. We don’t have a ton of notes heading into this race since last year was the first Cup Series race there. But we had a good race, and the No. 9 won, so we have a good starting point. Plus we’ve had two Next Gen road course races already this year. We have more notes going into this weekend than in the past especially since we’re using the same tire as we did at COTA (Circuit of The Americas). I think some trends will stay the same as well, including that you want to make sure you’re good in the braking zones but also you want to have more grip and drive off in the slower corners of the course. That gives you better lap times.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on rebounding from the Ally 400: “It is always frustrating to not be able to finish a race – just hurts a little more when it’s the Ally 400. Our guys do a phenomenal job of forgetting a bad week and refocusing for a good week and I know we will do that this week for Road America. Greg (Ives, crew chief) will put together a game plan, our guys will build a fast No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and be ready for the green flag this Sunday.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his confidence heading to another road course: “Alex (Bowman) is working really hard on his end to make sure he is studying his notes, prepping for the weekend and leaving no stone unturned for road courses – Road America is no different. We didn’t get a chance to compete in Nashville, so the No. 48 team is focused on putting our best foot forward and bouncing back in a strong way at Road America. Our guys have put together a great No. 48 Ally Chevy and I am confident that we will run well this Sunday. Adding that we will pit in the opposite direction this weekend, our pit crews have also been putting in the time to get ready for an unusual set of circumstances. We just have to go out there and do our best at what we can control and be there at the end for a shot at winning.”

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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