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Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Michigan

Michigan International Speedway
Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022
2-Mile Oval
3:00 PM ET
Location: Brooklyn, Michigan
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (23 of 36)
Radio: SiriusXM logo PRN logo

5 KYLE LARSON

Age: 30 (July 31, 1992)

Hometown: Elk Grove, California

Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels

Standings: 5th

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No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

FOUR TO GO: With four races to go in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season, Kyle Larson sits fifth in the driver standings – 154 points behind leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott. Playoff points will be awarded to the top 10 drivers in the standings following the Aug. 27 Daytona International Speedway event with 15 markers awarded to first place, 10 to second, eight to third, seven to fourth, and so on. The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is only 29 points out of second position entering this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway.

SOCAL WIN: In the second race of the 2022 season at Auto Club Speedway, the 2-mile track in Fontana, California, the 2021 Cup Series champion led 28 of the 200 laps to capture his first victory of the season. It was Larson’s first of nine top-five finishes so far in 2022 which rank second behind Ross Chastain (10).

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: On Aug. 28, 2016, at Michigan, Larson started 12th and led 41 of 200 laps en route to his first Cup Series victory. Overall, in 13 starts, the 30-year-old driver has three wins, six top-five finishes, seven top-10s and has led 220 laps at the Brooklyn, Michigan, venue. Larson’s three victories occurred consecutively from August 2016 through August 2017.

HIGH FIVE: Larson has 17 Cup Series wins on 14 different tracks with two tracks appearing on his resume more than once – and both are the only 2-mile tracks on the Cup Series schedule. Larson has three victories in the Irish Hills of Michigan and two at Auto Club. Those five wins are tied for second-most in the Cup Series by an active driver on a 2-mile track. The Elk Grove, California, native trails only Kevin Harvick who has six.

PACING THE FIELD: Larson has led 291 laps in 13 of 22 races in 2022. His number of races led trails only Ryan Blaney (18) in that statistical category.

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 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

LEADER OF THE PACK: With only four races remaining in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season, Chase Elliott continues to grow his point standings lead. Currently, he has a 125-point advantage over second-place driver Ryan Blaney. Over the last four races, the driver of the No. 9 has earned a series-high 197 points, over 50 points more than the nearest driver. In addition to leading the regular season standings, Elliott has the most playoff points with 25, thanks to his five stage wins and series-leading four victories. He’s also accumulated eight top-five finishes and a series-best 15 top-10s. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has led 658 laps in 2022, another series-high as well as a career-best mark for the 26-year-old through 22 events.

IRISH HILLS REWIND: Last season, Elliott lined up second at Michigan International Speedway and won the first stage of the 200-lap race. He followed that up with a fourth-place run in the second stage before ultimately taking the checkered flag in eighth place. In all, he paced the field for 68 laps on the day, extending his laps led total to 144 at the track.

MICHIGAN NUMBERS: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native currently holds the best all-time average finish (7.73) of drivers with three or more starts at Michigan. He has placed inside the top 10 in 10 of his 11 career Cup Series starts at the 2-mile oval. The 2020 Cup Series champion has also collected three top-five finishes in the Irish Hills, all of which were runner-up results.

RUNNER-UP FINISHERS: Elliott is in good company as one of five drivers with the most runner-up finishes at the Brooklyn, Michigan, venue before their first win at the track. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon also earned three second-place results before capturing his first win on the Irish Hills oval (1998). In addition to Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte each have three runner-up results without a win at Michigan.

2-MILERS: This weekend, Elliott is set to make his 18th Cup start on a 2-mile track (Auto Club Speedway and Michigan). In his 17 previous Cup Series starts on tracks of that length, Elliott has earned four top-five finishes – including three runner-up efforts – and 13 top-10 finishes.

GUSTAFSON AT MICHIGAN: Alan Gustafson is set to call his 34th Michigan Cup Series race from atop the pit box on Sunday. In his previous 33 starts at the venue with five different drivers (Elliott, Gordon, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Casey Mears), Gustafson has collected two wins (Martin in 2009 and Gordon in 2014), five top-five finishes and 17 top-10s, with 370 laps led. For the 2014 victory, Gustafson’s team started from the pole position. Gordon’s qualifying lap that weekend still stands as the fastest-ever qualifying speed that did not occur at a superspeedway.

RETURN OF UNIFIRST: This weekend at Michigan, 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 of Elliott and the No. 9 team. This will mark the third and final time that UniFirst’s colors will adorn the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 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: 9th

No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the NASCAR Cup Series, will be available in the Michigan International Speedway media center at 11:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, Aug. 6.

22 IN 22: So far in the 2022 season, with four races remaining in the regular 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 22 races. He has three stage wins and 13 playoff points accumulated – the third-most by any driver. Byron is currently ninth in the driver point standings, locked into the Cup Series playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

MICHIGAN MINUTES: With nine NASCAR national series starts at Michigan International Speedway under his belt, Byron will be adding one more to his resume this Sunday. Of those nine races, seven came at the Cup level where he has a track-best starting position of third (August 2019) and a track-best finish of second coming last year. In the last four races at the Brooklyn, Michigan, track, Byron has an average finish of 9.0 – seventh-best of active drivers. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native also has one NASCAR Xfinity Series start at the 2-mile D-shaped oval, where he qualified fourth and ended the race in the runner-up position. He also has one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, where he started third and finished fourth with crew chief Rudy Fugle on top of the box.

CLOSE CALLS: Sunday will mark Fugle’s second Cup Series event at Michigan. In his first premier series showing last year, the Livonia, New York, native and the No. 24 team powered their way to a runner-up finish at the 2-mile track. Aside from that one Cup Series start, Fugle has eight other national series starts at the D-shaped oval, with seven of them coming in the Camping World Truck Series. In the Truck Series, he has six top-five finishes and six top-10s. To further break it down, Fugle has finished second on three occasions, third once, and in the fourth position two times, with his only finish outside of the top-four coming in 2019. In fact, Fugle’s Truck Series drivers have an average starting position of 5.4 and an average finishing position of 4.6 in the Irish Hills. This weekend, though, he hopes to continue his success by capturing his first checkered flag at the Michigan venue.

BACK TO HIS ROOTS: Last Saturday, Byron climbed 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. Byron led the first 31 laps before Erik Jones got by him on a restart. The two remained in a tight battle for the rest of the race, with Byron coming up just short of the win in the runner-up spot. In eight Super Late Model races in 2022, Byron has six wins. His next race for Wilson Motorsports is next Wednesday at Berlin Raceway, where he scored a win earlier this year.

LIBERTY U IS BACK: For Sunday’s race at Michigan, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Featuring a white base with navy flames and red accents, the Liberty University No. 24 will be sure to stand out on track. Liberty University has a long history with Byron starting back in 2014 in the late model ranks. Liberty University has been Training Champions for Christ since it was founded in 1971. Located in the mountains of Central Virginia, Liberty is a liberal arts institution with 17 colleges and schools that offers more than 600 degree programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, on campus and online. Working on an undergraduate degree in strategic communication, Byron is now in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program. For a better look at Byron’s Liberty University paint scheme, click here.

48 Alex Bowman

Age: 29 (April 25, 1993)

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Resides: Concord, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Greg Ives

Standings: 12th

No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

OH SO CLOSE: Alex Bowman notched a runner-up finish in the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race last Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. Bowman has raced in NASCAR’s other premier series this season, having run the No. 7 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Circuit of The Americas in March and Sonoma Raceway in June.

2-MILE WINNER: Bowman is one of 10 active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series with a win at a track of 2 miles in length. The 29-year-old driver etched his name on this list after taking home his second career victory at Auto Club Speedway in March 2020. Since then, he has tallied five more wins: Richmond Raceway (April 2021), Dover Motor Speedway (May 2021), Pocono Raceway (June 2021), Martinsville Speedway (October 2021) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March).

2022 RECAP: Through 22 races in the 2022 Cup Series season, Bowman is currently ranked 12th with 541 regular season points. Across those appearances, he has totaled one win (Las Vegas), three top-five finishes, nine top-10s and six playoff points.

HEADING HOME: Crew chief Greg Ives returns to his home track this Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. The 42-year-old Cup Series veteran hails from Bark River, Michigan, which is approximately 439 miles around Lake Michigan to the 2-mile venue. Prior to becoming a crew chief for Hendrick Motorsports, Ives earned a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Tech and landed an interview shortly after the 2004 DAYTONA 500. He joined the No. 24 team of four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon as a shop mechanic, putting in extra hours on the setup plate and volunteering at the track whenever the team was within driving distance. On the same day Ives found out he would be a first-time father, he was offered a traveling position as the race engineer for the No. 48 team led by legendary crew chief Chad Knaus. His arrival coincided with driver Jimmie Johnson’s historic run of five consecutive Cup championships. In seven years with the No. 48 team (2006-2012), Ives was part of 42 wins, 113 top-five finishes and 21 pole positions.

ALLY’S BACKYARD: Michigan is what the full-season primary sponsor of Bowman and the No. 48 team consider to be its home track. Ally Financial is based in Detroit, roughly 78 miles east of the venue. Ally Detroit Center, formerly One Detroit Center, is a skyscraper located in the downtown area overlooking the Detroit Financial District. The 43-story tower is the tallest office building in the city and the second-tallest building in the state.

HOMETOWN TRACK: Front-tire changer Scott Brzozowski hails from Sterling Heights, Michigan, which is just outside of Ally’s home base of Detroit. Brzozowski started out as a member of the No. 24 over-the-wall crew before moving to the No. 88 team in 2015 and then moving with the group to the No. 48 before the 2021 season.

LEADING THE WAY: With eight wins through 22 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 119 circuits. Teammates Chase Elliott and William Byron rank 1-2 in laps led this year.

MICHIGAN MOJO: The Rick Hendrick-owned organization has won eight times and led a series-best 2,658 laps at Michigan International Speedway. Five drivers have victories at the Irish Hills track – that mark is tied with three other teams for the most different drivers to win by organization at this venue. Jeff Gordon has the most wins for the team at three, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. with two. Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson each won once at the 2-mile track.

REVISITING LAST YEAR’S RUN: The four-car team combined to lead 156 of the 200 laps in last season’s race at Michigan. Kyle Larson led a race-high 70 circuits, while Elliott paced the field for 68 laps and Byron led 18 laps. Byron and Larson took second and third, respectively, while Elliott scored a stage win. The driver of the No. 24 held the lead late before getting passed by race winner Ryan Blaney with eight laps to go.

RUNNING 1-2: Elliott and Larson have finished 1-2 seven times in their Cup Series careers, with five of those finishes coming in 2021 – their first year as teammates. Prior to that, Larson finished first and Elliott came in second in back-to-back Michigan races in August 2016 and June 2017.

CREW COUNT: Entering this weekend’s race, three of Hendrick Motorsports’ crew chiefs rank in the top five for most wins by an active driver-crew chief pairing. Elliott and Alan Gustafson have teamed up for 17 wins, which ranks second. Larson and Cliff Daniels’ 11 wins together is fourth on the list, while Bowman and Greg Ives’ seven wins rank fifth. With 37 wins at the Cup Series level, Gustafson is also one victory shy of tying Rodney Childers for the top spot on the wins by an active crew chief board.

2-MILE POWER: On the current Cup Series schedule, there are two 2-mile tracks: Michigan and Auto Club Speedway in California. As an organization, Hendrick Motorsports has 20 wins combined – which is tied with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing for the most victories at both venues. In this year’s race at Auto Club, Larson won for his fifth victory at a 2-mile facility.

QUOTABLE /

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on if racing will be similar to Auto Club Speedway earlier this year: “I feel like the runs haven’t been quite as big as they were earlier in the year. I’m sure we will be able to draft, but the runs were huge at California. I don’t know if they’ll be quite that big at Michigan, and there will be less lane options when you get to the corner this weekend (compared to Auto Club Speedway).”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what he is expecting at Michigan International Speedway: “I think this weekend’s race has potential to go a couple different ways. Passing could be difficult – we’ll see what the resin does on the track. Certainly, we’ve come a long way as a sport since California. Michigan (International Speedway) tends to lean toward more straight forward racing, but the runs and the draft could be impactful.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the team’s outlook as we get closer to the playoffs: “You have to be at the top of your game heading into the playoffs. We can’t let setbacks like last week get to us. We have to keep focusing on what we can control and having good execution and just keep improving. I need to make sure I’m doing my job inside the car. Those are the things we’re focusing on to make sure we’re peaking at the right time.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on how to finish the regular season off on a high note and looking ahead to Michigan: “I try not to attach that to the finishing position. You’ve got to say ‘Hey, how did we do in preparation for the race? How did the car run? How did we execute the race? How did we execute the pit stops?’ You can do all that really well and finish bad because you get crashed or something happens. So, I’d say after Nashville (Superspeedway), knowing with two wins we were going to be in the playoffs, from then on we just tried to set out some goals to try to be prepared for the playoffs. Developing things on the pit crew side and trying to improve the cars and making sure we’re in as good of shape as possible is really what we’re doing. I don’t think that Michigan (International Speedway) is one where we’re going to really use the setup in the playoffs, but I certainly think we can learn and apply some things. Texas (Motor Speedway) comes to mind a little bit. But really, we’re just trying to be the best we can be when it matters.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on wanting to rewrite history at Michigan: “Michigan (International Speedway) is a tricky track. You have to manage drafting on the straightaways but also the feeling that you’re always on the limit of grip. It’s almost like Daytona (International Superspeedway) but with characteristics of a mile-and-a-half track. It’s basically a hybrid track. Timing passes is also a major factor as well as it’s a very momentum-heavy track. Last year, we were leading on the last restart, but I blocked the run coming from the high lane and lost momentum and that took us out of contention with how few laps were left. I’ve been really close to winning a few times at Michigan (International Speedway). I’m trying to rewrite history this weekend and hopefully be able to finally pull out the win with how close I’ve been before. This is also an important track for manufacturers, and I would take a lot of pride to be able to go out there and get the win for Chevrolet.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on why he loves racing at Michigan: “I really enjoy racing at Michigan (International Speedway). I feel like the whole weekend is just good, hard racing. It helps that there is usually always such a good fan showing, especially with the always packed infield of campers. I think the more fans in attendance, the more excitement it brings on race day and that’s a situation we thrive in. The racing isn’t quite pack racing, but there are some drafting elements, especially when it comes to making passes. You still need to have your car handling well, though, to make up any track position. It’s not extremely easy to pass, so you usually tend to see big moves made, especially on the restarts. It’s a race that tends to have pit strategy take place too, especially late in the going, just to make up that ground that is hard to do during a long run. I think it’s just a well-rounded type of racing and I’ve come so close to winning there so many times that this is a race I’ve had circled for this year.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his mindset heading to Michigan: “I feel like we have had our struggles recently getting the finishes we are capable of getting. Our team does a great job of putting in the work during the week and getting the little details right. We just keep getting caught in other people’s messes. Greg (Ives, crew chief) did a great job of putting me in a good position to make a late-race push for the front in Indy (Motor Speedway Road Course) and then we were taken out of the race, so it’s been frustrating because our car was better than where we finished. Our team has a lot of fight, and this weekend will be no different – we will put a good strategy together and try to be there at the end on Sunday.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on heading to his home track this Sunday in Michigan: “It’s always nice to go home and get to race in front of your family and friends. There is a little extra pressure having everyone there supporting you – you naturally want to perform on any given weekend but having your support system watching adds that extra bit but it makes the success you have feel that much better. Knowing that Ally and Chevy are based in Michigan sweetens the pot – we have a lot of reasons to go out there and put on a show and I know our team is capable of contending for a win.”



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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