Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022
2.32-Mile Road Course
2:00 PM ET
Location: Concord, North Carolina
Event: NASCAR Cup Series (32 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
No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
HISTORIC PERFORMANCE: In October 2021, Kyle Larson entered the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL event 22 points ahead of the cutoff position heading into the final race of the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The Elk Grove, California, native and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team overcame an alternator issue to lead the final eight laps en route to victory on the serpentine layout. Along with his wins at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International last year, Larson became the first driver in Cup Series history to win three road course races in one season.
ONE TO GO: Last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, Larson started second and finished 18th in the final superspeedway event of 2022. The reigning Cup Series champion sits sixth in the point standings, 18 markers above the cut line heading into the final race of the Round of 12.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: In 2018, Larson entered the Round of 16 elimination race at the Charlotte ROVAL 17 points ahead of the cutline. He won stage one and led a race-high 47 laps that day but was involved in a multi-car accident on a restart while running second with six laps to go. Driving a car with heavy suspension damage, Larson was able to bounce off the wall in the final turn to grab one final position and finish 25th. The result landed him in a three-way tie for the final playoff position and the 2014 Cup Series rookie of the year advanced to the next round with the tiebreaker advantage.
STILL ACTIVE: With his win at Watkins Glen International in August, Larson now has four career road course victories and trails only Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott (seven) among active drivers. The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has five stage wins on road courses, which is also second to Elliott’s seven stage victories on that track type. Larson’s two stage wins at the Charlotte ROVAL are tied for the most in the Cup Series.
FIVE FOR FIVE: Since 2020, there have been 25 playoff races with Larson victorious in five of them – one more than Elliott who sits second in that statistical category – while competing in only 15 of them. Last year, the driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet won half of the 10 playoff races including the finale at Phoenix Raceway to capture the 2021 Cup Series championship.
5 MORE: Larson has won 12 times since joining Hendrick Motorsports at the beginning of last year. Second and third during that span are Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Elliott with five and seven wins to their credit.
HOME TEAM: This weekend, Larson and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team will wear their “home” white uniforms at the Charlotte ROVAL. Home races occur in markets where there are Hendrick Automotive Group dealerships nearby, and the Charlotte area is home to 23 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.
9 CHASE ELLIOTT
Age: 26 (Nov. 28, 1995)
Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia
Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia
Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
LOCKED IN: With his win last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Chase Elliott is locked into the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with one race remaining in the Round of 12. This is the sixth consecutive season the driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has advanced to the Round of 8. The previous two seasons he moved on to the Championship 4, earning his first career Cup Series title in 2020 after capturing the victory at Phoenix Raceway. Elliott’s Talladega win was the first victory for a playoff driver in the 2022 postseason. As of now, he has earned 46 playoff points that will carry into the next round when the points reset.
ROVAL READY: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has an impressive résumé at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL with two wins in four Cup Series starts on the serpentine track. Elliott scored back-to-back victories there in 2019 and 2020. He’s led a total of 64 laps on the Charlotte ROVAL – second-most behind teammate William Byron – and his average finish of 5.0 leads the series. Last season, Elliott started the race in the eighth position, won the first stage, finished second in stage two and came back from an on-track incident to take the checkered flag in the 12th position to advance to the Round of 8.
LEFTS AND RIGHTS: Elliott has three top-five finishes and four top-10s out of five road course races this season, both marks are tied for the most in the series. The 2020 Cup Series champion drove to a fourth-place result at Circuit of The Americas, scored an eighth-place result at Sonoma Raceway, finished runner-up at Road America and fourth at Watkins Glen International. He also has a series-high two poles on tracks that turn left and right this year, leading the field to green at Road America and Watkins Glen. His average finish of 6.8 on road courses, 91 laps led and 178 points earned are also bests in the series on that track type this season.
WHERE IT STARTED: Elliott’s first career Cup Series victory came on a road course. He led 52 of 90 laps en route to victory in 2018 at Watkins Glen. The 2022 regular-season champion earned another win at that same track the very next year. It was his fifth career Cup Series victory and second road course win.
GETTING IT DONE: The 26-year-old leads all active drivers with seven wins on road courses. He’s also third on the overall list of drivers 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 24 Cup Series starts on road courses, Elliott has an average finish of 7.67, 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 (2.78 average finish in nine starts).
GUSTAFSON THE GREAT: No. 9 crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his fifth Charlotte ROVAL Cup Series race from atop the pit box this Sunday. In four races on the serpentine track – all with Elliott – the Ormond Beach, Florida, native has two victories and three top-10s with 64 laps led. Gustafson leads all active crew chiefs with seven road course victories in 45 races. All seven of his road course wins have come with his current driver. In all, the 2020 Cup Series championship-winning crew chief has 17 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s on road courses with 490 laps led.
WINNING WAYS: Following his win at Talladega last weekend, Gustafson has moved closer to the top spot for victories by active crew chiefs. His 38 career Cup Series wins are second to only Rodney Childers (40). Gustafson now has 13 playoff victories to his name, most among active crew chiefs.
24 WILLIAM BYRON
Age: 24 (Nov. 29, 1997)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle
No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
GAME TIME: The second race in the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs took place at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend. Following a 12th-place finish, William Byron is ranked 10th, 11 points below the cutoff line. However, an appeal is set to be heard this week regarding the 25-point penalty assessed to Byron last Tuesday following the race at Texas Motor Speedway.
PLAYOFF POWER: In the first five races of the Cup Series playoffs, Byron has an average finish of 7.2 – second-best to Denny Hamlin (5.6). He has finished eighth at Darlington Raceway, sixth at Kansas Speedway, third at Bristol Motor Speedway, seventh at Texas and 12th at Talladega.
UP FRONT: Byron continues to hold the statistic of leading the second-most laps so far this season with 714 – behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who has led 773. Those 714 laps led by Byron are his most in a single Cup Series season. In fact, in the playoffs alone so far, the 24-year-old driver has led 102 laps – seventh-most in the Cup Series field in that time span.
ROAD RINGER?: With four previous starts at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, Byron is prepared for his fifth start at the 17-turn course. His strong runs there include the pole position in 2019 and two sixth-place finishes in 2019 and 2020. In fact, Byron has led a total of 80 laps at his hometown road course – the most among the Cup Series field. He also has collected 116 points in his starts at the Charlotte ROVAL – tied for seventh-most among all drivers.
FUGLE FILES: This Sunday’s race will mark crew chief Rudy Fugle’s second start on this layout. In his first showing at the venue, Fugle and the No. 24 team qualified 11th and led 30 laps before an untimely caution late in the race shuffled the running order, leaving them with an 11th-place finish. As a crew chief on road courses, Fugle has 12 Cup Series starts, 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.
HOME SWEET HOME: Cutting his teeth in the racing world in Charlotte, North Carolina, Byron is one of only a handful of drivers who was born and raised in the “home of NASCAR.” After visiting U.S. Legend Cars International headquarters in Harrisburg, North Carolina with his father in 2012, Byron found himself behind the wheel for the first time the next year competing in the Young Lion Division. Winning 33 of the 69 legend car events he ran across the United States in 2013, Byron went on to lock up the U.S. Legend Young Lions National championship and the Thursday Thunder Young Lion championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Progressing to the Legend Car Pro Division the next season, Byron also signed with JR Motorsports’ developmental program at the same time. From that point on, Byron hasn’t slowed down any as he climbed the racing ranks before ultimately making it to the top level of NASCAR as a Cup Series rookie in 2018.
HOME TRACK FEEL: In addition to Charlotte Motor Speedway being the home track of Byron, three other members of the No. 24 team also claim this as their home track. Mechanic Jacob Bowman (from Pilot Mountain), fueler Landon Walker (from North Wilkesboro) and jackman Spencer Bishop (from Pinehurst) are all from North Carolina.
VALVOLINE RETURNS: Valvoline will be the primary sponsor of Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at the Charlotte ROVAL this weekend. This will be the final race that the Valvoline colors will be onboard Byron’s No. 24 in the 2022 season. Valvoline Inc. (NYSE: VVV) is a leading worldwide marketer and supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services, with sales in more than 140 countries. Established in 1866, the company’s heritage spans more than 150 years, during which time it has developed powerful brand recognition across multiple product and service channels. Valvoline ranks as the No. 3 passenger car motor oil brand in the DIY market by volume. To learn more, visit www.valvoline.com.
48 Noah Gragson
Age: 24 (July 15, 1998)
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina
Crew Chief: Greg Ives
Standings: Alex Bowman – 12th
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
NO. 48: Noah Gragson became the 48th driver to start for Hendrick Motorsports last Sunday when he filled in for Alex Bowman at Talladega Superspeedway. Bowman was unable to compete due to concussion-like symptoms sustained in a single-vehicle incident at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 25. Gragson will make his 15th start in the NASCAR Cup Series this Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL – his first on a road course in the series.
WINNER, WINNER: Gragson leads all drivers in the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season with seven wins. The No. 9 JR Motorsports driver won four straight races in September, which tied the record for consecutive wins in the Xfinity Series set by Sam Ard in 1983.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: In Xfinity Series races where Gragson turned left and right, the Las Vegas native has placed inside the top 10 in 17 of his 20 appearances. In fact, he has finished in every position in the top 10 except for first.
ROVAL RINGER: Gragson has finished inside the top 10 in all three of his Xfinity Series starts at the Charlotte ROVAL, including a runner-up finish in 2020.
ATOP THE BOX: In four starts as a crew chief at the Charlotte ROVAL, Greg Ives has never finished outside the top 10. At the serpentine layout, Ives and Bowman combined for an average finish of 6.0 on the 17-turn layout. His best result was a runner-up finish in the 2019 race.
ALL PAWS ON DECK: Each week of the 2022 Cup Series schedule, Bowman and Ally team up to donate $4,800 to a Best Friends Animal Society network partner in each race market they visit, accompanied with a decal that bears the name of the recipient of the donation. This weekend, the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have two network partners on the decklid to raise awareness for the partner’s that are receiving the donation. The Lake Norman Humane Society and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care and Control division will bookend the Ally Racing logo on the No. 48 decklid. Bowman and Ally have upped their donation efforts with $4,800 going to the Lake Norman Humane Society and $9,600 going to the CMPD Animal Care and Control.
LEADING THE WAY: With 10 wins through the 31 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2022, Hendrick Motorsports has earned the most victories so far this season. This is the organization’s 12th 10-win season – the most among all Cup Series teams. The four-car team is the only one to see all of its drivers win a race this season as well as the only one to have multiple drivers with at least two wins – Chase Elliott (five), Kyle Larson (two) and William Byron (two). On top of that, Elliott and Byron rank 1-2 in laps led this year.
WINDOW OF HOPE: Each of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers in Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL will participate in the Window of Hope pink window net program started by Kurt Busch. The program shows support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Following the race, each participating driver will sign their window net and it will be auctioned off through The NASCAR Foundation with proceeds benefiting Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute’s Project PINK.
RULERS OF THE ROAD: At 26 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% of road course events (26 wins in 90 races).
COUNTING ‘EM UP: Seven different drivers have accounted for the 26 road course wins in team history and those seven winners are the most for a Cup Series team on road courses. Jeff Gordon leads the way for the team with nine victories (which are also the most among all drivers) followed by Elliott with seven and Larson has four. Tim Richmond had three wins followed by Jimmie Johnson, Geoff Bodine and Ricky Rudd with one victory apiece.
STUDYING THE TRENDS: In the last 19 road course races, the Concord, North Carolina-based organization has won 11 times. Only one team has more all-time wins on road courses (13) than the number of wins Hendrick Motorsports has scored in the last 19 races on serpentine layouts.
ON A ROLL AT THE ROVAL: Hendrick Motorsports has won the last three races at the Charlotte ROVAL. Elliott won back-to-back races at the 17-turn layout in 2019 and 2020 and Larson earned the victory in 2021. In fact, the last two race winners have gone on to win the Cup Series championship after their triumphs at the North Carolina venue.
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.
ELIMINATION DOMINATION: In the last eight cutoff races in the NASCAR playoffs, Hendrick Motorsports has won seven times. The team has won at least one elimination race in the last four postseasons (not counting this season).
MR. OCTOBER: The Rick Hendrick-owned organization has won the last five October races dating back to last season. The team’s 38 career wins in October stand as the second-most in one month – June is the company’s winningest month with 39 victories. Ten drivers have won in the month – the most of all teams with three of the team’s four active drivers posting wins.
RECORD SETTERS: Hendrick Motorsports has posted a series-best 54 wins in the playoffs – 21 more than the next closest organization. Johnson has the most wins with 29. Among the current driver lineup, Elliott tops the board with seven wins, followed by Larson with five and Alex Bowman has one. Nine different drivers have won a playoff race for the team, which is the most in the Cup Series ranks. Entering this year’s playoffs, the company has won a race in the postseason in 18 seasons and that mark is also the most among all Cup Series teams.
Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on if he races differently since he is above the cutoff line: “I don’t think so – well, maybe a little bit. You may look at a situation and think risk versus reward and maybe hold back on a move early in the race. Our road course program has been really good and I hope it carries over to this weekend. I’ve been above the cut line several times before here and have had some crazy races and results.”
Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the uniqueness of the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL: “The (Charlotte) ROVAL is substantially different compared to the other road courses on the circuit because you have the addition of the banking. There are a lot of different suspension components that we have to look at differently with this car. There were maybe a lot of similarities to a ROVAL setup last year compared to a Sonoma (Raceway) setup. It’s a much different look now for this weekend – it’s almost not a road course setup. I was joking earlier that it’s almost dune-buggy style – you have the banking, you have big elevation changes. There is a lot more happening with the suspension geometry and the travel of the car that we have not encountered anywhere else this year.”
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what the win Talladega Superspeedway does for the team heading into the Charlotte ROVAL: “At Talladega (Superspeedway), we really just wanted to have a solid day and try to get as many points as we could. Honestly after that second stage, I was super happy with our day. Regardless of what happened from there, I thought we had done a really good job. We had gained some good stage points and that was going to keep us in a position, we had hedged our bet to have a pretty solid points day regardless of how the finish ended up. To have the win on top of that was just icing on the cake. Now we can try to have a good weekend here at the (Charlotte) ROVAL. Gives us an opportunity to short those stages and not have to go for stage points and hopefully we have enough pace to fight for the win.”
Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on how the win at Talladega affects how the team approaches the Charlotte ROVAL: “We always try to win. That just goes without saying. For us, it’s just about bonus points. It’s the biggest thing that we can do to put ourselves in a better position going into the next round. Our road course program has not been exactly where we’ve wanted it to be. We’ve been good, we’ve had shots to win and we haven’t been able to win. So focusing on trying to improve that, continuing to learn there, trying to get some bonus points and solidifying our position moving forward.”
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his approach to the playoffs so far: “Rudy (Fugle) and I have been taking it one week at a time in the playoffs. We’re not worrying about races past the one that comes up next. I think it’s been working pretty well so far since we have the second-best average finish in the playoffs right now. I think when you start worrying too far in advance, that’s when mistakes happen. We’ve done a good job of showing up, having speed and executing a good race while minimizing any mistakes. Would we like to be in a better position heading into a cutoff race? Yeah, of course. We can’t worry about the what ifs. We just need to go out and do our jobs the best we can.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what he expects at the Charlotte ROVAL: “Even though we tested at the (Charlotte) ROVAL in the Next Gen car, I’m not sure there’s much that’s going to translate from that test since it was so long ago and we’ve made so many changes to the car since then. I think the biggest unknown will be in regard to tires. We’ll be running road course tires for the race. With part of the track being on the oval, we don’t know what to expect from tire fall off and grip levels in that part of the track. Same with our set up, the infield and the oval have such different characteristics and need such different things, you almost have to pick and choose which portion you think is most important. If anything, we can pull notes from the Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) road course race earlier this year, but that’s about the closest we have right now before we get on track Saturday.”
Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on having Noah Gragson as his driver at the Charlotte ROVAL: “The whole team wants to continue our playoff run with Alex (Bowman) behind the wheel, but that will not happen. Despite that, our goal remains the same from an owner’s championship – we will show up to give our all to win. Noah (Gragson) did a great job filling in for Alex last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway and we will prepare him to do the same at the (Charlotte) ROVAL.”
Ives, on Bowman’s recovery: “Our main priority is to make sure Alex is back to 100% before he gets back in the No. 48 Ally Chevy. We are committed to his long-term health and trust the process. There is no doubt he is working hard and doing everything he can to return when the time is right.”