Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Atlanta

Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
1.54-Mile Oval
3:00 PM ET
Location: Hampton, Georgia
TV: Fox logo
Event: NASCAR Cup Series race (2 of 36)
Radio: SiriusXM logo PRN logo

5 KYLE LARSON

Age: 31 (July 31, 1992)

Hometown: Elk Grove, California

Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels

Standings: T-6th

No. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

DAYTONA RECAP: On Monday during the rain-delayed DAYTONA 500, Kyle Larson was involved in a multi-car incident on lap 192 but recovered to finish 11th in the 200-lap race. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, who led seven laps in the season-opening event, is tied for sixth in the points standings and 17 markers behind the leader (Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron).

ALMOST IN ATLANTA: At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Larson has led the most laps (423) of Cup Series drivers without a victory. He also has two runner-up finishes at “The Peach State” venue – in 2017 and 2021. Atlanta is eighth among tracks where Larson has led the most laps.

STARTING STRENGTH: Larson has started in the top 10 in 10 of the last 11 races on drafting-style tracks (Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Atlanta). His streak of 10 consecutive was snapped last weekend at Daytona when he posted the third-fastest qualifying time but started 17th in “The Great American Race” after finishing ninth in the first Duel at Daytona race on Thursday night.

SINCE JOINING HENDRICK: Larson, who began racing for Hendrick Motorsports in 2021 and delivered the Concord-based organization its record 14th Cup Series title later the same year, has amassed 17 Cup victories over that span. Byron, winner of last weekend’s DAYTONA 500, now sits second in that statistical category with 10.

HIGH LIMIT RACING: The 2024 High Limit Racing Series began with a weather-delayed event on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at East Bay Raceway Park in Florida. Larson, the inaugural series champion in 2023, won the season-opening event. He will compete for the Midweek Money Series championship in the No. 57 entry sponsored by HENDRICKCARS.COM.

CLIFF’S NOTES: No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels and Larson have teamed up for 16 wins since Larson joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2021 – the third-best total among active driver and crew chief pairings. Daniels and Larson have teamed up to accomplish those wins in 101 races while the best active combination has posted 19 victories in 174 starts.

HENDRICKCARS.COM IS HOME: With Hendrick Automotive Group operating nine dealerships in the Atlanta area, Larson and the No. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM crew will wear their white “home” fire suits for the first time in 2024. For its home races (15 total this season), sponsor HENDRICKCARS.COM releases a unique cap, which are for sale trackside and available to win on HENDRICKCARS.COM. Less than 100 of each limited-edition hat will be made available to the public the week of the race. This week’s ATL hat was released today and can be found here.

ATLANTA AUTOMOTIVE NEEDS & BEYOND: The extended Atlanta market is home to nine Hendrick Automotive Group dealerships including Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Duluth, Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Buford, Rick Hendrick Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM Duluth, Gwinnett Place Honda, Rick Hendrick Buick GMC, Mall of Georgia Mazda, Mall of Georgia MINI and Honda of Newnan. By visiting HENDRICKCARS.COM, customers not located in Georgia can choose from any of Hendrick Automotive Group’s 93 dealerships nationwide. Shopping 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.

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

Age: 28 (Nov. 28, 1995)

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

Standings: 4th

No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

SETTING THE STAGE: In Monday’s DAYTONA 500, Chase Elliott claimed the very first stage victory of the NASCAR Cup Series season, capturing a coveted playoff point in the process. While the 28-year-old driver earned a 14th-place finish in the 500-mile event, he led 13 laps on the day and earned enough points to leave the track fourth in the Cup Series points standings.

WINNER WINNER NO. 9: This weekend, NASCAR’s premier series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway, Elliott’s home track. In the 2022 summer race at “The Peach State” track, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native drove to the win after starting from the top spot and sweeping the first two stages. In all, Elliott led 96 of 260 total laps en route to the popular victory. That day, he became the second Georgia-born driver to win at Atlanta, joining his father Bill Elliott, who is a five-time Cup Series victor at the track.

CHASE IS TOPS: Since the reconfiguration of Atlanta before the start of the 2022 season, Elliott leads all Cup Series drivers in average finish (6.67) on the 1.54-mile track across three starts (he missed last year’s spring race due to injury). In fact, since the start of 2022, the Hendrick Motorsports driver has led a total of 125 laps at the Hampton, Georgia, oval.

DRAFTING STRONG: Elliott is one of only two drivers with multiple victories on drafting-style tracks since the introduction of the Next Gen car in 2022, second only to Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron (with three). In addition to his win at Atlanta, the six-time National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award winner emerged victorious at Talladega Superspeedway in October of 2022. For his career, he has three wins on drafting tracks, first earning a triumph at Talladega in April of 2019.

AG IN GA: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 28th Atlanta Cup Series race in his 20th full-time season atop the pit box. Gustafson has two wins at the track – the first he earned on the old configuration with Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon in 2011 and the second with Elliott in 2022. Gordon, a four-time Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer, led 146 of 325 laps en route to his historic 85th victory, which placed him third on the all-time Cup Series wins list. Across 27 starts, Gustafson has 419 laps led, five top-five finishes and 11 top-10s with five different drivers (Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Gordon and Elliott).

DYNAMIC DUO: Elliott and Gustafson are in their ninth season together and are currently the longest active driver and crew chief combo in the Cup Series garage. The duo is ranked second among active pairings with 18 points-paying victories. Gustafson and Elliott earned their first Cup Series title in 2020 and the team captured the regular-season championship in 2022.

HOME GAME: Four of Elliott and the No. 9 team’s partners are based in Georgia, with NAPA Auto Parts, Hooters, Kelley Blue Book and Coca-Cola all headquartered in Atlanta. This weekend, the No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 makes its 2024 debut for its first of three races this season. Get a look at all the angles of the Hooters Chevrolet here.

WHEN CHASE WINS, YOU WIN: Fans can visit Hooters on Mondays after Cup Series races this season and ask their server for free fried pickles (with a drink purchase) when Elliott and the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team finishes in the top 10. If the No. 9 team wins, customers receive 10 free wings with any 10-wing purchase. Get more details at hooters.com/racing.

24 WILLIAM BYRON

Age: 26 (Nov. 29, 1997)

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle

Standings: 1st

No. 24 Raptor High Heat Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Raptor High Heat Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media in the Atlanta Motor Speedway media center on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 10 a.m. local time.

DAYTONA 500 CHAMP: William Byron won the 2024 DAYTONA 500 to become the latest champion of “The Great American Race” at Daytona International Speedway. Before the race, Byron had to start at the rear of the field for going to a backup car from damage sustained in his eighth-place finish in the second Duel at Daytona race. The 26-year-old driver overcame that and scored stage points in both stages. On the final restart with four laps to go, Byron lined up second and controlled the inside lane. He surged to the point position and then held off a host of challengers in the closing laps, including Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman, for the victory. The win also came on the 40th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports’ first start. It is Byron’s 11th victory in the NASCAR Cup Series and his second Cup Series points win at Daytona.

KING OF THE QC: Byron’s victory in the DAYTONA 500 saw him become the first Charlotte, North Carolina, native – NASCAR’s hub – to win the crown jewel race. There have been 19 winners of the prestigious race from North Carolina, but none hailed from the Queen City before Byron’s win.

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER: With his win at Daytona, Byron continues to extend the history and legacy of the No. 24. The iconic car number is third on the all-time list with 104 Cup Series wins, trailing only the No. 43 (200 wins) and the No. 11 (231 wins). Four of the No. 24’s wins have come in the DAYTONA 500 – Byron in 2024 and team vice chairman and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in 1997, 1999 and 2005. All of Byron’s 11 premier series wins have come in the No. 24, while Gordon accounts for 93 wins in the number.

TWO FOUR SANDWICH: Byron has nine Cup starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with four occurring on the 1.54-mile track after its reconfiguration prior to the 2022 season. He has two victories in those four starts and has paced the field a series-high 171 times over that span. Byron was the first winner on the newly configured track in March of 2022 and the most recent in July of 2023.

DRAFT DAY: When it comes to drafting-style tracks (Daytona, Atlanta and Talladega Superspeedway), Byron normally runs upfront. He has four wins on this type of track – Monday’s DAYTONA 500, his first Cup Series victory at Daytona in August of 2020 and two wins at Atlanta. He has also led 230 laps at drafting tracks since the start of the 2022 season. In fact in the Next Gen era (since 2022), Byron (three) and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott (two) are the only repeat winners on drafting-style tracks.

STREAKING: Byron’s five straight top-10 finishes on drafting tracks is the longest active streak in the Cup Series. It also marks the longest streak by a Hendrick Motorsports driver since Ken Schrader had five straight in 1994 and 1995. During this stretch, Byron has won twice (Atlanta 2023 and the 2024 DAYTONA 500) and posted a runner-up finish (Talladega in October of 2023).

NEXT GEN DUO: Since the introduction of the Next Gen Cup Series car in 2022, Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle have a series-leading nine wins. The duo leads Hendrick Motorsports teammates driver Kyle Larson (seven wins) and crew chief Cliff Daniels (six wins).

RUDY RUNS THE ATL: Sunday will mark Fugle’s sixth race at Atlanta in the Cup Series and his fifth after the track’s reconfiguration. In four starts since the beginning of 2022, the crew chief of the No. 24 Raptor High Heat Chevrolet has led Byron to two victories. Fugle has seven additional national series starts with six of those coming in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series. In those six Truck Series events, he has a pair of wins, four top-five finishes, five top-10s and a pole.

RAPTOR® TOUGH: At Atlanta, Byron will sport a special paint scheme with the No. 24 Raptor High Heat Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. RAPTOR® is a durable protective coating that is designed to tolerate the toughest climatic conditions and can be applied to a wide range of items, including truck beds, lawnmowers, outdoor furniture and more. With 16 pre-mixed colors available, it’s easy to personalize anything you want to protect. RAPTOR® is available at local paint distributors, auto parts stores and online retailers. For a better look at Byron’s No. 24 Raptor High Heat Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, click here.

48 ALEX BOWMAN

Age: 30 (April 25, 1993)

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Resides: Concord, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Blake Harris

Standings: 2nd

No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

CAREER-BEST D500 FINISH: Alex Bowman missed the front row for the start of the DAYTONA 500 for the first time in seven years but still holds the record for the most consecutive front-row starts (2018-2023) in the event. Bowman finished third in the first Duel race to earn the seventh spot on the grid for the 66th running of “The Great American Race.” At the end of the 500-mile race, the 30-year-old driver raced neck-and-neck with Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron for the lead. Ultimately, the No. 48 team was scored as the runner-up, which was both Bowman’s second consecutive top-five finish and a career-best result in the iconic race.

DRAFTING SUCCESS: Bowman has two second-place finishes on drafting-style tracks without a win, tied for the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. He finished second to a Hendrick Motorsports teammate both times – first to Chase Elliott at Talladega Superspeedway in April of 2019 and most recently to Byron in Monday’s DAYTONA 500. The No. 48 team is hoping to draft a successful race strategy for this weekend in “The Peach State.”

STRONG START: In their second year together, Bowman and crew chief Blake Harris are looking to better their fast start from the 2023 season. Last year, the pair opened with a fourth-place run in the exhibition Clash at the Coliseum and then three straight top-10 finishes to open the points-paying part of the schedule – including a fifth-place result in the DAYTONA 500. This year, the No. 48 team placed sixth in the Clash before Monday’s second-place finish at Daytona International Speedway.

ATLANTA ARCHIVES: The Tucson, Arizona, driver finished in the top five in the last two races at Atlanta Motor Speedway on the old configuration. Since the track was repaved and reconfigured just ahead of the 2022 season, Bowman has one top-10 finish at the 1.54-mile track.

“WIN YOUR WHEELS” SPEEDSTAKES: Ally is constantly looking for ways to be an Ally to No. 48 fans and what better way than rewarding Ally Nation fandom with a new car – specifically a special edition Chevrolet Camaro! To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports, a limited line of Hendrick Motorsports 40th Anniversary Edition Chevrolet Camaro street cars will be sold exclusively through select Hendrick Automotive Group Chevrolet dealerships. One lucky fan will win a 40th Anniversary Edition Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE. Enter to win at Ally.com/sweepstakes/nascar or visit the Ally Fan Zone at select tracks, the next being at Phoenix Raceway. The promotion will end Sept. 20, 2024.

FIRST LAP: This Sunday, Ally Financial, the Official Consumer Bank of NASCAR and primary sponsor of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team, will bring its First Lap program to Atlanta for the first time. The program, which is in its second year, focuses on introducing motorsports to new, diverse fans with track tours, driver meet-and-greets and other customized experiences. This weekend, Ally will be hosting Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Atlanta. LISC is the nation’s leading community development investment organization that focuses on creating and supporting inclusive communities of opportunity across the United States.

HENDRICK
MOTORSPORTS /

Hendrick Motorsports

2024All-TimeAtlanta
Races11,34670
Wins1*302*17*
Poles0246*5
Top 52*1,234*65*
Top 102**2,114*102*
Laps Led2479,781*3,642*
Stage Wins1**995**

*Most **Most (tie)

FABULOUS 40: In 2024, Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Among the categories that the Rick Hendrick-owned organization holds the NASCAR Cup Series record for are all-time wins (302), poles (246), laps led (79,781) and championships (14). With its win in the 2024 DAYTONA 500, the organization has now won at least one race in each of the last 39 seasons.

1-2 FINISH IN DAYTONA: William Byron and Alex Bowman finished first and second in the 2024 DAYTONA 500 and the result came on the 40th anniversary to the day (Feb. 19) of Hendrick Motorsports’ first start. This was the fourth time in team history that Hendrick Motorsports swept the top-two spots in “The Great American Race” and the win is the ninth in the event for the organization (which is tied with Petty Enterprises for the most wins by a team in the DAYTONA 500). The Rick Hendrick-owned team also became the first to win the Harley J. Earl Trophy in five decades.

SIGN OF THE FUTURE: In three of the last six instances that Hendrick Motorsports has won the DAYTONA 500, the driver that was victorious in the event went on to win the championship in the same year. Team vice chairman Jeff Gordon accomplished this in 1997 and Jimmie Johnson did it in 2006 and 2013.

PEACH STATE POWER: Hendrick Motorsports has seen eight of its drivers win at Atlanta Motor Speedway – the most among all organizations. Gordon and Johnson each won five times at the Georgia oval. Byron has two wins at Atlanta. Darrell Waltrip, Ken Schrader, Jerry Nadeau, Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott have one victory apiece. Gordon (23 years, 7 months and 8 days) and Byron (24 years, 3 months and 20 days) stand as the second and fourth-youngest Cup Series winners in track history.

GEORGIA ON THEIR MINDS: Hendrick Motorsports has been to victory lane 17 times at Atlanta. The total is the most among all Cup teams and is the fifth-most for the organization at any track. Martinsville Speedway (28), Dover Motor Speedway (22), Charlotte Motor Speedway (21) and Pocono Raceway (19) are the only venues where Hendrick Motorsports has more wins.

DRAFTING DOMINANCE: Hendrick Motorsports has 33 all-time wins on drafting tracks (Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Atlanta), which is 13 more than the next-best teams. Three of those victories have come at the 1.54-mile Georgia venue since its reprofiling ahead of the 2022 season. The team also has 16 wins at Daytona and 14 at Talladega.

RECONFIGURATION ROUNDUP: Since Atlanta reconfigured to a drafting track ahead of the 2022 season, Hendrick Motorsports has found great success. Over the last four races there, the Concord, North Carolina, team has the most wins (three) and led the most laps (301). Byron and Elliott swept the 2022 Cup races and Byron won the rain-shortened summer race in 2023. Since the reprofiling, Byron and Elliott rank first and third, respectively, in laps led and have led 29% of the laps run.

NEXT GEN NUMBERS: Hendrick Motorsports has been strong on drafting tracks in the Next Gen era. Since 2022, the organization has the most wins (five), top-10 finishes (19) and laps led (584) on that track type. In addition, Byron and Elliott are the only repeat winners on drafting tracks in the Next Gen era.

WINNER WINNER: With 22 Cup Series wins, Hendrick Motorsports is the winningest team in the Next Gen car. Three of the team’s drivers rank in the top five in victories. Byron is first (nine wins), Kyle Larson is second (seven wins) and Elliott is in a five-way tie for third (five wins).

QUOTABLE /

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing on superspeedways: “One of these (drafting-style) races it will all come together for us. Our cars are definitely showing speed – we just need to make it to the end with track position. Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) and the entire Hendrick Motorsports organization have done a great job with strategy and putting us in position. I hope it continues this weekend.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on last weekend and speedway racing: “I thought we did a good job of executing the race to get the car upfront. We just lost track position at a crucial time on Monday, but who knows. If we had kept it, we could have been in the eye of the storm and been involved in the “big one” in a bigger way. We’ll go into Atlanta (Motor Speedway) with the same mindset of executing well the entire race to give Kyle (Larson) the best opportunity to battle for the win.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway after the DAYTONA 500: “I wasn’t a huge fan of that when we just had one event there, but I think having two events (at Atlanta Motor Speedway), it has a really nice balance to it. I think it’ll be a nice mix because the weather, with what it’s going to be in February versus what it’s going to be when we come back in the playoffs is going to be totally different. And I think you’ll be surprised at how different the race might look between those two. So, I think the big thing is just having two events and I feel like that is a positive. There’s been a lot of work and a lot of effort put in at the track for not just the competitors but for the spectators too. Personally, I’m a little biased, but I think they deserve two races and I’m looking forward to going there twice.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on takeaways from Daytona International Speedway heading into another drafting-style race weekend: “Daytona (International Speedway) was smooth. Our Chevrolet had a lot of pace and drove really well. The execution was good by everybody and the team and strategy and Chase (Elliott). I think getting back in that groove of drafting and how to exploit good finishes from that was good. I think we learned a few things we can apply to Atlanta (Motor Speedway). It’s pretty different from Daytona. The biggest unknown for Atlanta is the surface. The surface is new, so you kind of expect that the first year it’s going to be okay, but that it should kind of consistently lose grip and get slicker. So what kind of race are we going to see? That’s the biggest question.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on how it feels to be a DAYTONA 500 Champion: “It’s still pretty surreal and it’s starting to set in now just experiencing all the different things that come with being a DAYTONA 500 winner. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You don’t know if you’re ever going to have a chance to win that race again. It’s made for a short week this week to get ready for the next race but I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Byron on what he thinks this year has in store for the No. 24 team: “We need to continue the course we’ve been on. Last year was really valuable, getting to Phoenix (Raceway) and having a chance to race for a championship. This year, the hunger and drive are really high. We have a lot more to accomplish. This is a good start and we have a lot to be proud of but we want more. We always want more and that starts this weekend in Atlanta.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on if winning the DAYTONA 500 has set in yet: “It’s amazing. What a race. I can’t believe it. It’s a special one especially to see all the excitement from everyone involved. It just means so much. We haven’t won this race at Hendrick Motorsports in 10 years, so it’s a big deal. I’m proud of William (Byron), I’m proud of my guys and just everyone here. It still really hasn’t set in after a couple of days.”

Fugle on what he expects for this weekend at Atlanta: “Overall, the track has given up a lot of grip since the repave. It’s a whole different animal. Its got a lot of character already and the cars are lifting a lot. I think we will have a little less, if not the same, amount of grip from the summer. Either way, it’s going to be hard to drive. The cars were hard to drive in the summer and it made for some awesome racing. It reminded me of the late 2000’s Daytona (International Speedway) where you had the packs and big drafts but it was impossible to stay wide open all the way around and two wide. I think it will be a lot like that this weekend.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his strong start to the 2024 season: “Last week at Daytona (International Speedway), I think the No. 48 team really showed that we have what it takes and are ready for 2024. Blake (Harris) and our Ally team put together a fast car and we executed a great race strategy – the timing just didn’t workout for us in the end. We still had a strong finish and we plan to carry that momentum to the next drafting-style track this weekend at Atlanta (Motor Speedway) with another fast Chevy. Our heads are held high.”

Blake Harris, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the No. 48 team’s momentum heading to Atlanta: “We have good momentum right now. We’re sitting better in points (second) than we were compared to last year. The No. 48 team is starting off as good, or better, than last year and we’ll try to carry our momentum from Daytona (International Speedway) into Atlanta (Motor Speedway). We had a really strong spring race (in 2023) but didn’t have the finish to show for it. We got shuffled trying to make some moves in the last couple laps. We were strong in the second race too. Alex (Bowman) drove into the top five several times and then just ended up getting crashed without the finish that we wanted. Hendrick Motorsports has really fast cars in Atlanta. Our company has won three of the last four races there since the repave, so our team has this one circled as a track that we want to go back to and run strong at.”

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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