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      Axalta flames back on William Byron’s No. 24 as NASCAR travels to the Monster Mile

      © 2019 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Hendrick Motorsports

      RACE INFO: Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway | Noon ET on Monday, May 6

      WILLIAM BYRON

      © Axalta Coatings / Phil Cavali Photography

      ‘MONSTER MILE’ MERIT: Across his entire racing career, driver William Byron has made the trip to Dover International Speedway on six different occasions, his first being in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he started on the pole and led 57 laps before finishing in the ninth position. Graduating to the top three national tiers of NASCAR starting in 2016, Byron once again captured the top spot in qualifying at Dover, this time in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, leading 80 laps and finishing 11th. The next season in the Xfinity Series, Byron would race at the concrete one-mile oval twice with the best of the two starts occurring in the fall when he qualified first, led 62 laps and finished third. Competing as a rookie in the Cup Series last year, Byron made two more starts at the track nicknamed the “Monster Mile,” with his best qualifying effort of 17th and finish of 14th both coming in the spring event.

      KNAUS’ DOVER DOMINATION: In his sophomore Cup Series season, Byron has a valuable asset in No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus. In 36 races as a Cup Series crew chief at Dover, Knaus has an impressive 11 wins, 17 top-five finishes and 24 top 10s. Knaus also leads all active crew chiefs in overall career wins at 81. The next closest crew chief, Paul Wolfe, has 28 Cup Series wins.

      BYRON’S DAY IN ‘DEGA: After qualifying 25th for last weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, Byron had a strong run going throughout the 188-lap event, including finishing third in a one-two-three Hendrick Motorsports sweep of Stage 2. However, with a five-lap shootout to end the race, Byron initially got shuffled to the rear of the pack on the restart and was maneuvering his way back toward the front when he was involved in an on-track incident on the backstretch of the final lap, leaving him with a 21st-place finish.

      Jeff Gordon and William Byron (Part 3)
      In the final segment of his interview with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron discusses his biggest influence, his interests outside of racing, and how he balances school and the Cup Series.

      ALEX BOWMAN

      TALLADEGA REWIND: The No. 88 Nationwide team had a great showing at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend, bringing home a runner-up finish behind teammate Chase Elliott. Alex Bowman rolled off ninth for the 500-mile event last Sunday. The driver quickly began collaborating with his Chevrolet teammates in the draft working the inside and outside lanes. At the conclusion of Stage 1, Bowman was scored in the second position and earned nine valuable stage points. The Nationwide machine led the field from Lap 61 until Lap 68 and then settled into third as the top lane gained more momentum. Bowman would advance one position at the end of Stage 2 to finish second once again. During the final stage, Bowman and Elliott worked together in the draft. After the field took the white flag, a multiple-car incident on the backstretch brought out the caution, freezing the field and earning Bowman a second-place finish.

      © Axalta Coatings / Phil Cavali Photography

      CAREER BEST: Last Sunday’s runner-up result at Talladega marked Bowman’s career-best finish in the NASCAR Cup Series. His previous best result came at Pocono in 2018 when he finished third. The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has four career top-five finishes in the Cup Series, which he earned at Talladega Superspeedway, Pocono Raceway, Charlotte Motor Speedway (road course) and Bristol Motor Speedway.

      IVES AT DOVER: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the ninth time for the No. 88 team in Dover this weekend. The Michigan native has one top-five finish and three top 10s at the track. Ives’ drivers have an average start of 11.6 and an average finish of 16.0 at the track. The crew chief’s résumé includes two top-five finishes and three top 10s at the venue in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Both top-five results came in 2014, when Ives led Elliott to two second-place starting positions and 19 laps led before taking the checkered flag inside the top five. Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006 until 2012. During that time, he was a part of four wins, four pole awards and 10 top-10 finishes at Dover.

      BOWMAN AT THE MONSTER MILE: Bowman will make his seventh start in the NASCAR Cup Series at Dover International Speedway this weekend. Last spring, the No. 88 Nationwide team finished 23rd at the track after starting 15th. The 26-year-old driver led 26 laps in the spring event last year at the Delaware-based facility. The Tucson, Arizona, native has six starts at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Bowman earned two top-five finishes at the one-mile track, both of which came with JR Motorsports in 2016. The driver led 33 laps in the spring event that year and crossed the line third. Bowman also ran an ARCA Series race at the track in 2011 and finished 23rd after suffering an engine failure after 132 laps.

      BOWMAN TALKS DOVER: “Dover is tough, for sure. It is physically demanding on your body and your car throughout the 400 laps. There is a lot of elevation change getting into the corner. The track changes from run to run with how the rubber lays down. It is interesting how that works being a concrete track, but the track is just ever-changing.”

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      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      DOVER DOMINANCE: Hendrick Motorsports holds many all-time records at Dover International Speedway. The organization currently leads all teams with 231 starts, 20 wins, 15 runner-up results, 65 top-five finishes, 105 top 10s and 6,689 laps led at the track. Hendrick Motorsports’ nine pole positions are the second-most at the track. Since 2009, Hendrick Motorsports has won in all but two seasons – 2011 and 2016 – at Dover.

      TWENTY-PLUS CLUB: An organization has won 20 or more times at a single track just three times in NASCAR Cup Series history, and Hendrick Motorsports owns two of the three feats. The organization’s 20 wins at Dover rank third-most behind Junior Johnson and Associates’ 21 wins at Bristol in second. Hendrick Motorsports’ 24 wins at Martinsville are the most all-time by a team at a track.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports