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      Bowman heads to home track as Byron closes in on Cup Series rookie of the year


      ©Phil Cavali Photography

      RACE INFO: Can-Am 500 from ISM Raceway | 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday Nov. 11

      RETURNING HOME: Alex Bowman returns to his home state this weekend when the NASCAR Cup Series competes at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. The 25-year-old grew up approximately 124 miles from the one-mile track in Tucson, Arizona, where his father still owns a body shop. Bowman began his career racing West Coast sprint cars before transitioning to stock cars and ultimately NASCAR.

      HOME TRACK STATS: Bowman has six previous Cup Series starts at ISM Raceway, with his best finish of sixth coming back in 2016. That same year, the No. 88 team won the pole position (Bowman’s first career pole) for the 324-lap event, and Bowman led a total of 194 laps in the race. While running in the second position, Bowman was involved in an incident on the first overtime attempt at the conclusion of the race. He ultimately finished sixth, representing the fourth-best finish of his career. Earlier this year, the No. 88 team qualified fourth and finished 13th at the one-mile facility. Bowman has six starts at ISM Raceway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with his best finish of eighth coming in 2017.

      IVES AT ISM RACEWAY: Greg Ives has called the shots seven times as the No. 88 team crew chief at ISM Raceway. The crew chief’s ISM Raceway résumé in the Cup Series includes one win with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015, two top-five finishes and four top-10s. The Michigan native has also been atop the pit box for four events at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports, claiming two top-five results and three top-10s.

      ©Phil Cavali Photography

      ROOKIE OF THE YEAR TITLE LOOMS: William Byron will have a great chance to clinch NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year honors this weekend. The 20-year-old driver leads by 116 points in the standings over Bubba Wallace and will clinch the title if he finishes the race with a 61-point lead. Byron is on a roll of earning NASCAR rookie of the year titles to this point, going back-to-back-to-back in the Xfinity Series in 2017, the Camping World Truck Series in 2016 and the K&N Pro Series East in 2015. He would join Erik Jones as the second driver to win rookie of the year honors in the Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series in three consecutive seasons, and would join Jeff Gordon (1993), Kyle Busch (2005) and Chase Elliott (2016) as the fourth Hendrick Motorsports driver to win the title.

      IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN: Byron has a strong history of performing well at ISM Raceway. In the March Cup race, he started 11th and led 15 laps en route to a 12th-place finish. Byron started on the front row in both of his NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track in 2017, winning there in November and finishing fourth in the spring. Byron is the youngest winner ever at ISM Raceway in Xfinity at 19 years, 11 months and 13 days. In 2016, he led 112 laps in the Truck Series race before an engine failure. A win this weekend isn’t out of the question for the Cup rookie, and it has been done before by two drivers in their respective rookie seasons – Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch – who both won in the fall race at the one-mile track. The No. 24 Chevrolet also has a good history at ISM Raceway, visiting Victory Lane twice in the spring race with Gordon behind the wheel (2007 and 2011).

      WINNING CREW CHIEF: Championship-winning No. 24 team crew chief Darian Grubb has recorded one win at ISM Raceway, which came in March 2012 with Denny Hamlin.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports