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Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Texas

Texas Motor Speedway
Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022
1.5-Mile Oval
3:30 PM ET
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (30 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: 4th

No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media at the Texas Motor Speedway media center on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 10:30 a.m. local time.

FIVE GUYS: Kyle Larson and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team finished fifth on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway and advanced into the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The 2021 Cup Series champion enters the three-race round in fourth, 21 markers behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate and points leader Chase Elliott. Larson is 10 ahead of the cutoff position heading into Sunday’s 500-mile race at Texas Motor Speedway.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Last year at Texas, Larson won the non-points All-Star event in June before leading 256 laps – including the final 218 – to capture the 334-lap points-paying race on the 1.5-mile layout in October. The victory earned him a spot in the Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway, which Larson ultimately won to secure his first Cup Series championship.

HIGH FIVE: Larson led 34 laps at Bristol en route to his 11th top-five finish of 2022. The Elk Grove, California, native is tied with Elliott atop the standings in that statistical category through 29 races this season.

TEXAS TERRY: With 12 victories while driving for the 14-time Cup Series championship organization, Larson is tied with Terry Labonte for fourth on Hendrick Motorsports’ all-time wins list. Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon leads the charge with 93 victories while seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson has 83. Current teammate Elliott is third with 17.

WILD CARD ROUND: The Round of 12 consists of races on three very different tracks – 1.5-mile Texas, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway and the 17-turn, 2.32-mile road course layout on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. In his last three points-paying starts on these tracks, Larson has two victories (Texas and the Charlotte ROVAL in 2021) and a fourth-place finish (Talladega in April).

ANIMAL STYLE: In 2021, Larson became only the third driver to win the Texas playoff event on the way to the championship. Hall of Famer Tony Stewart accomplished the feat in 2011 while Johnson did so during his 2007 and 2013 championship campaigns. Along with his victory in this event last year, Larson has four top-five finishes and five top-10s in 14 points-paying starts at the Texas venue and has paced the field 330 times.

HOME RUN: Larson and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team will wear their “home” white uniforms at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Home races occur in markets where there are Hendrick Automotive Group dealerships nearby, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to two 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.

A HERO RIDES ALONG: Through the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and The NASCAR Foundation’s “Honor a Cancer Hero” program, Johnny Mills’ name will appear above the driver-side door of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Texas. Brenda Nieto nominated her brother, who survived colon cancer in February but was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer in April. Mills, who resides in southern California, is an addiction counselor who is a big NASCAR and Larson fan.

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

PLAYOFF UPDATE: For the seventh consecutive year Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team have advanced to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The regular-season champion sits atop the standings, 31 points above the cutoff line for the Round of 8. Elliott has been in the playoffs every full-time season he’s raced in the Cup Series. The previous two seasons he advanced to the Championship 4, earning a Cup Series title in 2020. Elliott has six total victories in the playoffs, with the most recent coming in the 2020 season finale at Phoenix Raceway when he captured the championship.

SEVEN IN ‘22: Last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, the 26-year-old scored a runner-up finish for his series-best seventh top-two effort of the season. This marks the third consecutive season Elliott has had seven or more top-two results. He scored eight in his 2020 championship season and nine in 2021. Six of his seven top-two finishes earned so far in 2022 have come in his last 13 starts.

TEXAS STATS: Elliott has made 11 Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway in points-paying events. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has garnered two top-five finishes, six top-10s and led a total of 44 laps in those starts. He collected his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at the 1.5-mile track in April 2014. In five Xfinity Series starts there, Elliott accumulated three top-five finishes and five top-10s.

1.5-MILERS: This weekend at Texas, Elliott will make his 72nd start on a 1.5-mile track in the Cup Series. In his previous 71 races on this track length, Elliott has led 1,063 laps. Along with three victories (Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2022, Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2020 and Kansas Speedway in 2018), he has collected 23 top-five finishes – eight of which are runner-up results – and 38 top-10s on 1.5-milers. This season, he’s earned the second most points (216) on 1.5-mile tracks, trailing only Ross Chastain (258).

GUSTAFSON AT TEXAS: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson is set to call his 34th Cup Series points-paying race at Texas. In his previous 33 starts at the track, the Ormond Beach, Florida, native has eight top-five finishes and 17 top-10s with 348 laps led. His best finish of second came in 2014 with Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. This season marks Gustafson’s 15th playoff appearance, second only to Hendrick Motorsports’ Chad Knaus. The duo is also 1-2 in most wins by crew chiefs in the playoffs – Knaus with 29 and Gustafson with 12. Six of Gustafson’s playoff victories have come with Elliott.

NAPA IS BACK: This weekend, NAPA AUTO PARTS is back on board the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Texas. This marks the sixth time in points-paying events that the Atlanta-based company has been the primary partner at the Lone Star State track for Elliott in the Cup Series. Earlier this year, NAPA reached a multi-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports that will continue its 26-race majority sponsorship of Elliott and the No. 9 team.

HONOR A CANCER HERO: On Sunday, Elliott and the No. 9 team will honor breast cancer survivor Becky Muse from Rancho Palos Verdes, California, as part of the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and The NASCAR Foundation’s “Honor a Cancer Hero” program. Muse’s name will replace Elliott’s above the driver-side door for the Cup Series race in Texas.

24 WILLIAM BYRON

Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle

Standings: 5th

No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

ON TO THE NEXT: With the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 16 coming to a close last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, William Byron locked himself into the next round early on in the race, advancing to the Round of 12 for the third time in his Cup Series career. With points reset for Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, Byron now sits fifth, six points above the cutoff line.

ONE AND ONLY: In the first round, Byron was the only playoff driver to not suffer an issue. He was also one of the three drivers – Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin were the others – to finish in the top 10 of all three races. He finished eighth at Darlington Raceway, sixth at Kansas Speedway and third at Bristol.

PIT ROAD PROWESS: In the first three races of the 2022 playoffs, the No. 24 pit crew had an average four-tire pit stop time of 10.821 – third-best in the field in the same timeframe. The No. 24 pit crew consists of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Landon Walker (fueler), Ryan Patton (tire carrier), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer) and Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer).

FRONTING THE FIELD: The 24-year-old continues to hold the statistic of leading the second-most laps so far this season with 671 – behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who has led 719. Those 671 laps led by Byron are not only his most in a single Cup Series season but have come across 15 races.

1.5-MILE MOMENTUM: Byron is no stranger to success on mile-and-a-half tracks during his Cup Series career. Since the start of 2021 through the 2022 season so far, Byron has two wins, one runner-up finish, five top-fives, and 10 top-10s on 1.5-mile tracks. In fact, Byron is currently on a nine-race streak of races led on 1.5-milers that started back at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last fall – the most of any driver in that time span. Meanwhile, in 2022, Byron has collected 187 points on this style of track – the seventh-most in the field.

TRUCKIN’ IT IN TEXAS: Byron’s success at Texas started almost seven years ago in his first race at the 1.5-mile oval with crew chief Rudy Fugle on the pit box. Starting from the sixth position, the then-NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie led six laps before capturing the checkered flag to become the youngest to ever win a Truck Series race at Texas.

LONE STAR-SIZED STATS: Texas is a track that the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has always run well at throughout his entire NASCAR career, even if the statistics don’t always reflect that. In seven Cup Series points races at the Lone Star State track, Byron has three top-10 results, including a track-best finish of second last fall. Byron also has five other starts at the 1.5-mile oval, with an average finish of 3.5 in two Truck Series starts and 6.0 in three NASCAR Xfinity Series races.

FUGLE HAS ‘NO LIMITS’: Sunday marks crew chief Fugle’s second Cup Series points-paying event at Texas. Last fall, Fugle and the No. 24 team battled for the win in the final stage before crossing the finish line in the runner-up position. However, Fugle has 18 other starts at Texas, with all but three coming in the Truck Series. He has visited victory lane at the “No Limits” track five times in the Truck ranks – the most for him at any track on the circuit – most recently in 2019 where he swept both races, first with Kyle Busch in March and then in June with Greg Biffle. Of those five wins, one includes a victory with Byron in June of 2016. In his 15 Truck Series starts, Fugle’s drivers have also racked up seven top-five finishes, 11 top-10s with 493 laps led.

RAPTOR® TOUGH: Ready to take on the Fort Worth, Texas, venue, 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.

HONORING BARBARA WELLNITZ: The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and The NASCAR Foundation have partnered together for the third time to recognize those who have battled cancer by auctioning off the space above the driver-side door to honor a cancer hero. For this Sunday’s race, Byron will have the name of Barbara Wellnitz riding on board his No. 24 Chevy, who was nominated by her son Paul Wellnitz. Known to always be the first to lend a helping hand, Wellnitz valued her family above everything and her favorite days were spent with making them happy. She was a NASCAR fan, especially of the No. 24 car, since the early 1990’s and passed that fandom on to her son. Unfortunately, Wellnitz lost her battle to cancer but was able to be reunited in the afterlife with her high school sweetheart and husband of 53 years who passed away just after her initial diagnosis.

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

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media at the Texas Motor Speedway media center on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 10:45 a.m. local time.

ROUND UP: In last Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Alex Bowman locked himself into the Round of 12 in the second stage by way of points. He started the race in third and finished the first and second stage in sixth before being caught up in an on-track incident on lap 277. This is Bowman’s fifth appearance in the Round of 12 in his Cup Series career.

POINT MAN: After making it through the elimination race at Bristol, Bowman and the No. 48 Ally Racing team are currently scored 10th with 3,007 points, six points below the cutoff line for the Round of 8 and 33 markers behind the leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott. This Sunday, the Tucson, Arizona, native heads to Texas Motor Speedway – a 1.5-mile venue. In six starts on circuits of that length this season, Bowman is tied with Ross Chastain for the most top-10 results with five. As a result of his consistency, he has racked up the fourth-most points on 1.5-milers with 196. Only Martin Truex Jr. (199 points), Elliott (216 points) and Chastain (258 points) have tallied more.

WON IN SIX: In the last six races held on tracks 1.5 miles in length, Bowman took home hardware at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In that race, he won stage one en route to Ally’s fifth win in the Cup Series, punching his ticket to the 2022 Cup Series playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. In the most recent 1.5-mile race held two weekends ago at Kansas Speedway, he led a race-high 107 laps on his way to a fourth-place finish.

TEXAS REWIND: Last time Bowman competed at Texas, he took home a sixth-place finish in the 2022 All-Star Race. His sixth-place result marked his fourth straight top-eight finish in the non-points-paying race.

DUAL TOP FIVES: Bowman will make his 13th Cup Series start at the Lone Star State venue on Sunday. In his 12 previous points races there, the No. 48 driver has two top-five finishes and two top-10s, with matching fifth-place finishes in the fall races of 2019 and 2020. In both races, Bowman took home a third-place finish in the second stage before crossing the finish line in the top five.

IVES ON 1.5-MILERS: Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, heads to the Fort Worth, Texas, facility this weekend to make his 14th and final points-paying appearance atop the pit box at the 1.5-mile track. In his previous 13 starts, the 43-year-old crew chief has five top-five finishes and six top-10s, with his best result of second coming in April 2016 with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

HUMANITARIAN HONOR: On Wednesday, Bowman was named the Halifax Humane Society’s Humanitarian of the Year. The 29-year-old driver was nominated for his continued support of saving homeless animals with the help of the primary partner of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Ally, and Best Friends Animal Society. Bowman will accept the award in December at the Halifax Humane Society’s FurBall Gala held in Daytona Beach, Florida.

PAYING TRIBUTE: For Sunday’s race, Bowman’s No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will carry the name of Kenneth Chase above the driver-side door as part of the “Honor a Cancer Hero” program through the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and The NASCAR Foundation. Chase was a big fan of all the Hendrick Motorsports drivers and bonded with his grandson (and the person who nominated him) Brendon Harmon through the sport. Chase passed away from cancer in 2020.

LEADING THE WAY: With nine wins through the 29 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 all of its drivers win a race this season. The organization is also the only one to have multiple drivers with at least two wins – Chase Elliott (four), Kyle Larson (two) and William Byron (two). On top of that, Elliott and Byron rank 1-2 in laps led this year.

FOUR SCORE: For the second straight season and third time in nine seasons, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers have reached the Round of 12 of the NASCAR playoffs. The quartet of Alex Bowman, Byron, Elliott and Larson did this in 2021. In the first year of the elimination-style playoff – 2014 – the foursome of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne each advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

1.5-MILE MUSCLE: In the season’s six races at 1.5-mile layouts, Hendrick Motorsports has notched the win three times. In March, Bowman and Byron won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, respectively. Elliott took the victory at Atlanta in July. On top of that, all four drivers – Elliott (second), Bowman (fourth), Larson (sixth) and Byron (seventh) are in the top seven in points scored on that track length.

TEXAS TRENDS: The Rick Hendrick-owned organization has 10 points-paying wins at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnson accounts for seven of those and he also holds the track record for most all-time Cup Series wins. Gordon, Larson and Terry Labonte each have one win at the 1.5-mile venue. Over the past 18 points-paying races at the Fort Worth, Texas, facility, the team has a series-best seven wins.

PLAYOFF BOSSES IN FRONT OF BIG HOSS: In 17 playoff races at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports has won a Cup Series-best six times. Johnson is responsible for five wins, while Larson’s win last year in the Round of 8 stands as the other victory.

1-2 STEP: In 2021, at the track known for “No Limits,” Larson and Byron placed first and second in the event and combined to lead a whopping 93% of the laps run. The team’s 311 laps led fell just one short of matching the track record for laps led by a single team.

RECORD SETTERS: Hendrick Motorsports has posted a series-best 53 wins in the playoffs – 20 more than the next closest organization. Johnson has the most wins with 29. Among the current driver lineup, Elliott tops the board with six wins, followed by Larson with five and Bowman has one. Nine different drivers have won a playoff race for the team, which is the most in the Cup Series ranks. The company has won a race in the playoffs in 17 seasons and that mark is also the most among all Cup Series teams.

QUOTABLE /

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on lessons learned during last season’s playoffs: “Be clean and let the other teams make the mistakes. Honestly, if you can just finish you don’t have to do anything crazy in the first couple rounds. Don’t take yourself out of stage points or a good finish and you can advance. Once you get to the Round of 8, that’s obviously when you need to get some top-five finishes or a win. You just don’t want to take yourself out of any race or get any DNF or anything like that where you put yourself in a must-win situation because winning is really difficult to do. You just want to keep yourself in contention every race.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the challenges of setting a car up for Texas Motor Speedway: “Texas (Motor Speedway) is definitely a different style intermediate track with less banking in (turns) one and two and a tighter corner radius than (turns) three and four. It’s actually fun to try to set up a car because the ends are so different. With some hotter temperatures this weekend compared to when we were there for the All-Star Race and with the groove widening out with resin or whatever they spray, 500 miles is a long race but I hope it can be a pretty fun day.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Texas: “I’d love to go to Texas (Motor Speedway) this weekend and have a good, solid run and start this round off on a high note. We didn’t get to run the full All-Star Race earlier this year, but I still feel like we got enough track time to have good notes as we head back there. We just need to put a good weekend together and execute a solid day. If we can do that, then we have as good a shot as anyone to get a win and lock ourselves into the next round.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparing for the Round of 12: “This is going to be a tough round, but we know what we need to do to keep our playoff run going. Execution and putting together three solid races is going to be key. Each of these races in this Round of 12 has its own unique set of challenges. There isn’t really much room for error, but if you make a mistake, you have to regroup quickly and do what you can to maximize the day and get as many points as you can. Our group is really good at that and I think we are fully capable of advancing.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on preparation for Texas: “I’m interested to see how racing at Texas (Motor Speedway) goes this weekend. We’ve always had speed there but I think in the spring we just were a little off on our setup since it was the first time at Texas in the Next Gen car. Our mile-and-a-half program is the one I think we needed to work on the most this season but I think, especially after Kansas (Speedway) a few weeks ago, that we’ve really improved on those style of tracks. With how this round shapes up there’s a lot of emphasis on Texas and leaving there with as many points as possible and that will be our goal, just like how we did last round. As long as we have a good Saturday, I think we’ll be in a good place for the race and then it’s all about execution on Sunday.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what he expects at Texas this weekend: “I think we have some good notes heading into this weekend’s race at Texas (Motor Speedway). We learned a lot from Kansas (Speedway) a couple weeks ago, and with us using the same tire as we did for that race, a good portion of those notes should translate. The biggest difference is going to be how much hotter it is and where the resin is applied on the track. From what we’ve been told, the resin is being applied like it was for the All-Star Race earlier this year, so we have those notes as well. Just with the heat and tire compound though, I think handling is going to play a much bigger factor this weekend than it did for the All-Star event. We’ve really focused on that this week, so we hopefully unload close to where we need to be and focus more on fine-tuning than anything.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on being named the 2022 Halifax Humane Society’s Humanitarian of the Year: “It is really cool to be nominated for the award. Helping animals is a big passion of mine and something that I really value. Without Ally and Best Friends Animal Society helping me get the money and resources to Best Friends network partners across the country, none of this would be possible. I am honored to receive this award, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Hopefully we can win a few more races before the season ends and get even more money to the pets who need it.”

Bowman, on what it takes to make it to the Round of 8: “Our team is really focused on taking it one race at a time. We did that in the Round of 16 to get to where we are now. The crew is really fired up right now and all of us are putting in the time to give ourselves the best chance of success. Greg (Ives) is really focused and leading us really well right now. I think that if we continue to pay attention to the small details and stay focused on one race at a time, we can go really far this postseason. We have Texas (Motor Speedway) circled right now and that’s all that matters.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on advancing to the Round of 12: “Despite the mechanical issues, we had a fast car in Bristol and glad we made it to the next round of the playoffs. Our team has worked hard to give Alex (Bowman) really fast race cars and Alex has been locked in on performing and the team is feeding off of his energy. We have a lot of momentum right now and I told the team we don’t have to hit home runs. We just need to get on base and maximize the results. Texas (Motor Speedway) is the next race we all have our focus 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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