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Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Indianapolis Road Course

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
Sunday, July 31, 2022
2.439-Mile Road Course
2:30 PM ET
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (22 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: 4th

No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

ANOTHER TOP-FIVE FOR NO. 5: Last weekend at Pocono Raceway, Kyle Larson crossed the finish line seventh but was credited with a fifth-place result after the first and second-place finishers were disqualified following post-race technical inspection. The top-five finish was Larson’s ninth in 21 races this season and he trails only Ross Chastain (10) in that statistical category.

REARVIEW MIRROR: Last year on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Larson led a race-high 28 laps and built a 4.5-second lead before a caution waved with eight laps to go in the scheduled distance of 82 laps. In overtime, he recovered from late-race contact and a trip into the grass to finish third.

KING OF THE ROAD: Larson won three road course events in 2021, the most ever during a NASCAR 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.

OLD MAN LARSON: Three drivers have won races in NASCAR’s premier series on their birthday: Cale Yarborough (twice), Kyle Busch (twice) and Matt Kenseth. Larson will celebrate his 30th birthday on Sunday.

THREE FOR KYLE: There have been 10 road course events since the start of the 2021 season and Larson was victorious in three. The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet also posted six top-three finishes during that span – the most of any competitor.

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.

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

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

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

VIEW FROM THE TOP: Chase Elliott continues to grow his NASCAR Cup Series point standings lead with only five races left in the regular season. Currently, he has a 105-point advantage over second-place driver Ross Chastain. In addition to leading the regular season standings, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has the most playoff points with 25, thanks to his five stage wins and series-leading four victories. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has spent a lot of time at the front of the field, leading a series-high 658 laps in 2022, which is also a career-best mark for the 26-year-old through 21 events.

INDY ROAD COURSE REWIND: In the inaugural race for the Cup Series on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in 2021, Elliott drove to a fourth-place result after starting third and leading 14 laps. That same weekend he also competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event and finished fourth.

9 IN 22: The driver of the No. 9 is one of only three Cup Series drivers to finish inside the top 10 in all three road course races this season – Chastain and Austin Cindric are the others. Elliott has garnered fourth, eighth and second-place efforts at Circuit of The Americas, Sonoma Raceway and Road America, respectively. He has earned the third-most points on serpentine tracks in 2022 with 104, trailing only Ryan Blaney (115) and Chastain (106).

ROAD COURSE CONQUEROR: Elliott has proven his road-racing prowess, leading all active drivers with seven wins on road courses. He’s also third on the all-time list with road course victories, trailing only NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine) and Tony Stewart (eight). Elliott has victories across five different road courses, the most in series history. In 22 Cup Series starts on road courses, Elliott has an average finish of 7.45, which is not only the best among active drivers, but ranks second all-time among drivers (five or more starts) behind NASCAR legend Fireball Roberts (nine starts). He is also tied with Kyle Busch for the most laps led on road courses among active drivers with 404.

KEEP IT ROLLING: The 2020 Cup Series champion is currently riding a streak of five consecutive top-two finishes, which in addition to a career-best mark for Elliott is also a series-best in 2022. In his five most recent starts, he’s amassed three victories and two runner-up finishes. He also has six consecutive top-10 finishes, which matches a career-best mark, stands as a season-best for the points leader and is presently the longest active streak in the series.

SINGLE DIGITS: Elliott’s impressive average finish of 9.95 this season is best among his fellow Cup Series competitors and puts him as the only driver in the single digits. His nearest competitor is Chastain with an average finish of 12.19.

ALAN THE ACE: Crew chief Alan Gustafson’s impressive resume continues to grow as he is currently second for the most wins by an active crew chief with 37 and is only one victory away from tying Rodney Childers. Gustafson leads all active crew chiefs with seven road course victories.

HOME SWEET INDIANA: No. 9 team engineer Tom Gray hails from Indianapolis. He attended Purdue University and majored in mechanical engineering technology. Gray has worked at Hendrick Motorsports since the spring of 2008 and has been a race engineer for Mark Martin, Gordon, and most recently Elliott. To him, the biggest accomplishments of his racing career so far are winning the Brickyard 400 with Gordon and becoming a NASCAR champion with Elliott.

24 WILLIAM BYRON

Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle

Standings: 9th

No. 24 Acronis Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

21 DOWN, 15 TO GO: So far in the 2022 season, William Byron has scored two wins, four top-five finishes, five top-10s, with 611 laps led – the second most by a NASCAR Cup Series driver this season – across 12 of the 21 races. He also has three stage wins and 13 playoff points accumulated – the third-most by any driver. The 24-year-old is also currently ninth in the driver point standings, locked into the Cup Series playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

HISTORY MAKER: While this is only the second time that the Cup Series has competed on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Byron has made history at IMS before. Taking it back to 2017, Byron made his first trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While battling for a championship he would earn, Byron became the youngest driver to win a major race at the historic 2.5-mile oval at 19 years, 7 months and 23 days.

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?: Byron would love to kiss the bricks again this weekend, and if he does, he will add to the already lengthy legacy the No. 24 has at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dating back to 1994, Jeff Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 before going on to win the crown jewel event four more times – the most by a car number at IMS. On Sunday, the Cup Series will compete on the Indianapolis Road Course for the second time and Byron has the chance to extend the history of the No. 24 if he were to capture the checkered flag. A win would also bring the No. 24 closer to the total win mark set by a car number in the Cup Series – currently fifth with 97 wins behind the No. 3 with 100 wins and the No. 2 with 101 wins.

ROAD RESULTS: During his Cup Series career, Byron has been working to step up his road course racing skills. In the last seven road course races to hold qualifying, Byron has won the pole for three of them (Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL 2019, Road America and Indianapolis Road Course 2021). He also has five top-10 finishes in the last 13 road course races. In the three road course races this year, Byron finished 12th at Circuit of The Americas, ninth at Sonoma Raceway, and 16th at Road America.

FUGLE FILES: Along with the rest of the Cup Series field, crew chief Rudy Fugle made his first start at the Indianapolis Road Course in last year’s inaugural event. Fugle and the No. 24 team captured the pole position for the race and remained within the top-five for most of the event. However, in the closing laps, corner curbing came up, resulting in an on-track incident that collected Byron and left him with a 33rd-place finish. In total, Fugle has ten Cup Series starts on road courses, three starts in the 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.

CAN HE DO IT AGAIN?: This Saturday, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Super Late Model for Wilson Motorsports for the ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Indianapolis Raceway Park for the Circle City 100. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native is coming off his sixth straight win in a late model – a victory in his first-ever start at the Slinger Nationals. In addition to that win, Byron has two victories at New Smyrna Speedway, one at Hickory Motor Speedway, one at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and one at Berlin Raceway this year.

BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA: Traveling to Indianapolis for this Sunday’s Cup Series race, one crew member of the No. 24 team calls Indianapolis Motor Speedway their home track. Joining the team for the 2022 season, engineer Ryan Kelly hails from Avon, Indiana, just over 10 miles away from the track. An engineering graduate of Purdue University of Indianapolis, Kelly interned at Andretti Autosport, collecting two Indy 500 wins, before transitioning to his role in NASCAR.

WELCOME, ACRONIS: On Tuesday, it was announced that Acronis would extend its partnership with Hendrick Motorsports through 2025. The extension features two primary races with Byron and the No. 24 team, including this Sunday at the Indianapolis Road Course as well as the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway in September. With its unique combination of automation and integration, Acronis offers complete cyber protection. Its solutions safeguard data, applications, systems and productivity against loss, theft and downtime – from cyberattacks and hardware failures to natural disasters and human error. Hendrick Motorsports protects its data, applications, systems and overall racing operations by utilizing Acronis for cyber protection, security, backup, anti-ransomware and disaster recovery. For a better look at Byron’s No. 24 Acronis Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, click here.

48 Alex Bowman

Age: 29 (April 25, 1993)

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Resides: Concord, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Greg Ives

Standings: 11th

No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

DOUBLE DOWN: Alex Bowman will pull double duty at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. He will run in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro entry on Saturday and the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday. While this is the first time Bowman will get behind the wheel of the No. 17 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, he is no stranger to extra seat time, running for Spire Motorsports at Circuit of The Americas in March and Sonoma Raceway in June in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

TURNING LEFT AND RIGHT: Bowman has the ninth-best average finish of active drivers on road courses in the Cup Series, with an average finish of 14.91 after 22 starts. The No. 48 driver matched his career-best road course result with a second-place showing at COTA in March – this finish came after making laps the day before in the Truck Series. His other road course runner-up finish came at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in 2019.

POWER OF THE POINTS: In the season’s three races that have featured left and right turns, the Tucson, Arizona, native has scored 97 points. That total is good for sixth-best among the field in Sunday’s race and second only to Chase Elliott in the Hendrick Motorsports quartet.

IVES ON THE ROAD: In his eight years atop the pit box, Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Ally Racing team, has made 24 starts on road courses in the Cup Series. In those appearances, he has tallied three top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and has an average finish of 12th. The Bark River, Michigan, native also has five starts as a crew chief in the Xfinity Series, garnering two top-five results and three top-10s.

BEST FRIENDS: Through 21 races this season, Bowman and primary sponsor Ally have donated a total of $110,800 to Best Friends Animal Society and their network partners in the race markets the Cup Series has visited. This Sunday, the No. 48 Ally Chevy will have the Humane Society of Indianapolis on the decklid to support the network partner for the race at Indianapolis.

FIVE TO GO: With just five races left in the 2022 Cup Series regular season, Bowman is currently scored 11th in the points standings, 10 markers ahead of 12th place. The 29-year-old driver has one win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, three top-five finishes, nine top-10s, and an average finish of 15.19.

HOME SWEET HOME: No. 48 team car chief Ty Sipes hails from Bloomfield, Indiana, which is located approximately one hour and 45 minutes southwest of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Growing up on a small hobby farm, Sipes gained experience racing at local tracks. In 2010, he started working on a small sprint car team traveling in the USAC Series. He earned his mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University in 2012 and later got an opportunity to work with Kasey Kahne’s World of Outlaws sprint car team. He joined Hendrick Motorsports during the latter part of the 2014 season and got his first NASCAR Cup Series win at his home state track in 2017 on the No. 5 team of Kahne.

EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: For its 2022 NASCAR 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.

SADDLING UP AT INDY: Hendrick Motorsports will be making its second Xfinity Series start of the season with Alex Bowman driving the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro in Saturday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. The organization has 26 wins in the series with Tony Stewart recording the last win to date at Daytona International Speedway in 2009. Earlier this month, Kyle Larson finished second at Road America in the team’s first Xfinity start in 13 years. William Byron will be behind the wheel at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 20. Kevin Meendering is serving as the team’s crew chief.

LEADING THE WAY: With eight wins through 21 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2022, Hendrick Motorsports has earned the most victories so far this season. It is the only four-car team to see each of its drivers win a race this season. The organization’s 1,578 laps out front lead all teams in the series by 136 circuits. Teammates Chase Elliott and Byron rank 1-2 in laps led this year.

STILL STREAKING: Elliott’s win at Pocono Raceway extended his top-two streak to five races and marks the first time in his Cup Series career he has had five consecutive races of results in the top-two positions. Since 1986, six of the last eight times a driver recorded five straight finishes of second or better have involved a Hendrick Motorsports driver. Tim Richmond (1986), Jeff Gordon (1998) and Jimmie Johnson (2006) each had five-race streaks. Gordon (1996) and Larson (2021) each had a six-race top-two run.

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 28 percent of road courses events (25 wins in 88 races).

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

ONE SHY: Of the serpentine layouts that Hendrick Motorsports has competed on, Indianapolis Road Course is the only one that the organization has yet to win at. The 25 road course wins have come across seven venues: Watkins Glen (nine), Sonoma Raceway (seven), Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL (three), Riverside International Raceway (three), Circuit of The Americas (one), Daytona International Speedway Road Course (one) and Road America (one).

FREQUENT VICTORS: The Concord, North Carolina-based team has been strong on road courses in recent years. Over the last 17 road races, Hendrick Motorsports has tallied 10 wins with Elliott notching all seven of his road victories in that time. Larson has accounted for the 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. Larson also accomplished this with his victory in 2021 at Sonoma.

QUOTABLE /

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course: “From what I remember of Indy (Motor Speedway Road Course) from last year, the restarts were really intense because turn one is a really wide and deep braking zone, so you can get four or five-wide before it narrows down in the corner. You have to find the confidence to brake deep so you don’t get bombed and that is difficult. It’s nice that it doesn’t have any elevation. It’s a fast-paced, ‘flowy’ type road course.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing for stage points at road courses or pitting before stage ends: “At Sonoma (Raceway), we started on the pole and built a lead. We stayed out (instead of short pitting) to win the stage and I thought we could have the ability to get through traffic – we had the entire race left to get back to the front. We had our (wheel) issue so we didn’t see how it would ultimately play out. We may not have gotten back to a winning position but we probably could have gotten back to a top-five position. Now, with that data point, we raced a few weeks later at Road America where we had to ‘flip’ the stages (short pit) to maintain track position to have a shot to win. We stayed in the top four and finished third – sort of with a shot to win. That is the general landscape for road course strategy moving forward.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing on the Indianapolis Road Course: “I feel like that’s probably been one of my worst road courses, personally. Never really felt like I got a hold of the track last year. I ended up kind of by happenstance running the Xfinity Series race last year as a sub in. It was unfortunate circumstances there, but I was grateful to have run that race because I was really bad on the Cup side until I got some extra reps, so I think that was helpful. So going back, I need to do some homework this week on how to be better up there because I do not feel very good about that track and just never got in a good groove there last year at all and was never really on offense. I felt like I was on defense more than I was making moves and moving forward. That’s not a place you want to be, especially at those tracks or anywhere for that matter. It’s certainly something I want to improve at and I want to put some effort into this week to try to do that.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what makes the Indianapolis Road Course unique: “It’s super flat and there aren’t really any elevation changes at all. Probably the biggest thing that stands out, there’s a big brake zone, especially into turn one. To really set the corner up, you’d obviously have to be wider, but you can really shortcut somebody and there’s not a big exit that follows so that makes restarts and entry into that turn super hectic. All the road courses are unique, but I think Indy (Motor Speedway Road Course), with it being super flat with flat corners and the high-speed brake zone into one is what kind of sets it apart.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the team’s preparation for road course races this season: “I feel like to start this season with the Next Gen car we really struggled at road courses, especially compared to the year before. We were able to test at Watkins Glen (International), though, and I think that really helped us start to turn the page on our road course program. We’ve been able to build that notebook with each road course so far this year. I think we have really made strides to make that package better and put all the pieces together like we need to. The first focus for the weekend is qualifying and making sure we set ourselves up with a good run to get good track position and just work from there. Our focus for not only this weekend, but races moving forward, is to really execute every aspect of a race weekend from start to finish in preparation for the playoffs.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what challenges the Indianapolis Road Course brings compared to other road courses: “I think this weekend’s road course race at Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) will be a little bit more about survival than other road course races. There’s a lot more run off areas there and they have changed the curbing in some places around the track to try avoid what happened last year. With the Next Gen car, it’s going to be critical to minimize running over those to keep the underwing intact and not tear up the diffuser. The other big thing will be managing the transition areas of the track from the road course sections onto the oval – similar to how the (Charlotte Motor Speedway) ROVAL is set up. We haven’t run a course like that this year with this car or this tire. I think that if you can keep your car in one piece throughout the weekend, and can manage your usual pit strategy and track position on a road course, you’ll be in a good position. You have to be around at the end, though, to be able to capitalize on that.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing in the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series at the Indianapolis Road Course: “We have been lucky to get the opportunity to make extra laps this weekend which just helps come time for the Cup race on Sunday. COTA (Circuit of The Americas) was a great example of how it can help us – running the Spire (Motorsports) truck and taking notes on the track helped in our efforts on Sunday so I am eager to get out there and get some practice in. Our team is doing everything we can to get better and this is another opportunity for us to maximize our weekend.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the strength of the road course cars at Hendrick Motorsports: “Hendrick Motorsports has done a great job of making sure we have the best equipment every weekend and it has shown at road courses. Going back to COTA (Circuit of The Americas), we had a great car and had tons of speed, just got caught up in someone else’s mess. Road America was another place where we had a ton of speed and capitalized on points so I think this Sunday at Indy (Motor Speedway Road Course) will be more of the same. We will do everything we can to get the car ready, Alex (Bowman) is going to drive in the Xfinity race to get extra practice. I feel confident we will have a solid weekend and build some momentum as we head towards the playoffs.”



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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