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      Alex Bowman looks to keep climbing playoff standings as NASCAR visits Chicagoland

      © 2019 Logan Whitton / NKP via Hendrick Motorsports

      RACE INFO: Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway | Sunday, June 30 at 3 p.m. ET

      ALEX BOWMAN

      BOWMAN IN CHICAGO: Bowman is set to make his fifth start at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday. The Tucson, Arizona, native has two top-10 finishes at the 1.5-mile track. In 2016, Bowman piloted the No. 88 machine to six laps led after qualifying 17th. In his last appearance at the track, the driver had a qualifying position of 15th and took the checkered flag in 10th to earn his second top-10 finish at the Illinois venue. The 26-year-old driver has made three starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the track, earning an average start of 13.0 and an average finish of 19.7. Back in 2012, the driver made his first and only start in the ARCA Series at Chicagoland, finishing eighth after 100 laps.

      © 2019 Rusty Jarrett NKP

      1.5-MILE STATS: On 1.5-mile tracks this season, Bowman has two top-10 finishes and four top 15s. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy finished in the runner-up position at Kansas last month and finished seventh at Charlotte. The No. 88 team has an average finish of 10.6 and an average start of 13.8 on the track length so far this season.

      BOWMAN ON CHICAGO: “Last year this No. 88 team brought a great car to the track. We unloaded pretty good and was really fast right off the truck. We missed it a little bit there for the race, but still got a nice top-10 out of the day. The last two 1.5-mile tracks that we have gone to this season, we have done the same thing. We unload pretty good and the guys just continue to make great changes throughout the weekend.”

      TRENDING TOWARD TOP 10s: In his 133 starts in the NASCAR Cup Series, Bowman has 19 top-10 finishes. The 26-year-old has three top 10s at Kansas and two top-10 finishes at Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chicagoland and Talladega. The driver is tied for the second-longest active streak of top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks with two.

      IVES STATS: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots four times at Chicagoland Speedway for Hendrick Motorsports. The Michigan native has two top-10 results at the track. Ives’ drivers have completed 99.9 percent of the total laps run during those four events. 

      Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman
      Alex Bowman discusses his long journey to Hendrick Motorsports, the adversity and injuries he had to overcome along the way, and going “from the couch to the playoffs.”

      WILLIAM BYRON

      BYRON TO THE FRONT OF THE STAGE: Byron’s front-row qualifying effort last weekend at Sonoma Raceway added to his impressive sophomore season run. The driver is tied for the most poles in 2019 with three but now leads all drivers this season with seven front-row starts. In fact, Byron has started within the top three positions in five of the last six races. He has led laps in the last six races, as well, which ranks him second to teammate Chase Elliott, who holds the longest active streak with seven. Byron has finished inside the top 10 in seven of the last eight stages, including his first stage win at Sonoma, and has gained 44 points on the current playoff bubble, putting him 14th in the point standings with 10 races left in the regular season.

      CHICAGO CREDENTIALS: Making the trip to the Windy City for this weekend’s race, Byron will make his second career Cup Series start at Chicagoland Speedway. Currently, the sophomore driver has made one start at the 1.5-mile oval in each of NASCAR’s top three national series. In all three races, Byron has shown speed, qualifying in the top 10 each time, with his best effort of eighth coming in the Cup and Xfinity Series. However, various issues have hindered the young driver’s finishes. Last year, a tight-handling Chevy resulted in a 20th-place finish in the Cup race, while transmission issues in the 2017 Xfinity race relegated him to a 33rd-place result. In his Chicagoland debut in 2016, an on-track incident early on during the Truck Series race ended his day in the 30th position.

      BYRON TALKING TRACK: “Chicago is really rough and probably the closest to Atlanta of the tracks we have raced at so far this year. I’m excited to see where we are now to where we were earlier in the year with this being a low-grip track. It’s always hot there, so we can count on that. The name of the game is always trying to stay hydrated for this type of race. With tire wear being a factor, we need to manage aggression level as well. With the way the car slides around there, you really have to manhandle the car. It’s more about managing your car and not putting yourself in a bad spot. I feel like it’s going to be a really interesting show there this weekend.”

      SPEED IN SONOMA: Making his second career NASCAR Cup Series start at Sonoma Raceway this past Sunday, Byron kicked off the weekend by qualifying a track-best second. When the green flag dropped for Sunday’s 90-lap race, Byron immediately took over the top spot and raced out to a substantial lead. With the No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 pacing the field for the first 21 laps, Byron picked up his first stage win of his Cup career as well as a valuable playoff point. From there, the No. 24 team played pit strategy to maximize their points accumulated, capturing a top-three finish in Stage 2. However, in the closing laps, the handling of Byron’s Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 went away, swinging to the tight side, resulting in a 19th-place finish.

      Jeff Gordon and William Byron
      Byron talks about his unconventional start in racing, how he has managed to progress through the NASCAR ranks so quickly and how iRacing prepared him for the Cup Series.
      Watch Part 2 and Part 3 of Jeff’s interview with William.

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      TEAM HENDRICK AT CHICAGO: At Chicagoland Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has two wins, four pole positions, 22 top-five finishes, and 34 top 10s. Mark Martin most recently visited Victory Lane for the organization at the track in 2009. Hendrick Motorsports has led laps in 17 of the 18 races run at Chicagoland and had at least one car finish in the top 10 in all but two of the 18 races.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports