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      William Byron and Alex Bowman optimistic as they return to Pocono Raceway

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      Gander RV 400 at Pocono Raceway
      Sunday, July 28 at 3 p.m. ET

      ALEX BOWMAN

      ‘TRICKY TRIANGLE’ STATS: Bowman is set to make his eighth career Cup Series start at Pocono Raceway this weekend. The Tucson, Arizona, native earned his best start (10th) and best finish (third) at the track last July. The driver also has one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the Pennsylvania track, starting and finishing 10th in 2016. He made two “Tricky Triangle” starts in the ARCA Series back in 2012, when he finished third in both events.

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      2019 AT A GLANCE: Bowman and the No. 88 Nationwide team sit 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 20 events in 2019. This season, the 26-year-old driver has one win (Chicagoland Speedway), four top-five finishes and six top 10s. Since the April event at Talladega Superspeedway, he has led more than 180 laps.

      POCONO CREDENTIALS: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 10th time at Pocono Raceway this weekend. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s résumé includes three top-five finishes. Ives’ best result at the track came back in 2016 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished runner-up in the 160-lap event. Last year at the Pennsylvania track, he led Bowman to the driver’s best finish of the 2018 season, taking the checkered flag in third at the July race. Before moving to the No. 88 team, the crew chief was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team between 2006 and 2012. During that time, the team captured 11 top-10 finishes and one pole award at the track.

      EYES ON THE POINTS: Since the 600-mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, Bowman and the No. 88 Nationwide team have captured 225 points, which is the fifth-most earned in that span in the Cup Series. He is currently ninth on the list of drivers who have earned the most stage points since that May 26 race, collecting 47 extra points.

      BOWMAN ON POCONO: “I think Pocono is one of my favorite places to go. We typically are really fast there. We had a top-five run going earlier this year before we lost fourth gear there toward the end. It is an interesting racetrack. There is a big compromise in all three corners there. Trying to keep the car from being loose into Turn 3, but still turning off of Turn 3 is super key with how long that straightaway is. It is a very technical place.”

      Around the Track: Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman
      Alex Bowman opens up about 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

      PLAYOFF HUNT CONTINUES: With another solid race under his belt, William Byron once again gained points toward his mission of locking into the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. After New Hampshire, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is now 61 points above the cutoff in 12th place, the best position of his Cup career so far. In fact, over the last eight races, he has gained 76 points on the bubble spot.

      BYRON ON POCONO: “We had a really good car at Pocono Raceway earlier this year and I felt like we were really close. We just didn’t have the winning strategy, we went more for the stage points last race. I think this time, going back, we’ll be able to control our race a little bit differently. I was honestly a couple moves away from getting a better finish last time so I’m really optimistic for this weekend. Hopefully we can build off what we did there in June.”

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      TIED FOR SECOND: Byron is one of three Cup Series drivers who have finished second in a race in 2019 but have yet to capture the checkered flag. He is also ranked third among the Cup field for most laps led (180) without a win.

      PREVIEWING POCONO: In advance of his fourth Cup Series start at Pocono Raceway, Byron is optimistic for what the weekend will hold. Earlier this year, he collected his second pole award of the season at the “Tricky Triangle” before going on to lead 25 laps and earning a ninth-place finish. After three-career starts, Byron is ranked seventh for the best average finish all-time (11.0) at the 2.5-mile speedway. With two top-10 finishes, Pocono is statistically one of his best tracks in the Cup Series. He also has a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory at Pocono, that he won in 2016 after leading 44 of 60 laps.

      NO TRICKING KNAUS: Making his 37th start as a Cup Series crew chief at the “Tricky Triangle,” Chad Knaus leads active Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs in best finishes at Pocono Raceway. With three wins at the 2.5-mile triangular track with driver Jimmie Johnson, the crew chief swept both races in 2004 and then captured the win again from the pole in the spring of 2013. Earlier this season, the seven-time champion crew chief called the shots for Byron during their first trip together to Pocono Raceway, collecting their second pole award of the season, leading 25 laps and scoring a ninth-place finish.

      Around the Track: Jeff Gordon and William Byron
      William 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 POCONO: Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with 17 wins at Pocono Raceway, with the four most recent coming as season sweeps in 2013 (Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne) and 2014 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.). In addition, the organization is the all-time leader in each of the following categories at Pocono: pole positions (13), top-five finishes (69), top-10 finishes (125) and laps led (3,277). Hendrick Motorsports has also earned at least two top 10s in each of the past 26 visits to Pocono Raceway. There have been three of the team’s drivers in the top 10 in 17 of those races.

      ‘TRICKY TRIANGLE’ STREAKS: The record for the most consecutive victories at Pocono Raceway is claimed by Hendrick Motorsports. The organization posted a five-race win streak that began with Jeff Gordon in August 2012 victory and ended with Earnhardt in August 2014. The first four of the five straight races were won by four different Hendrick Motorsports drivers, a feat that has been accomplished on just one other occasion — by Carl Keikhafer Racing at Martinsville Speedway from 1955-1956.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports


      Around the Track: Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick
      After racing for him for 23 full-time seasons, Jeff Gordon sits down with fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick to discuss Hendrick Motorsports’ beginnings, what surprised them about Jimmie Johnson, big risks paying off and more.