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      Alex Bowman eyes another top-10 result at Michigan International Speedway

      © 2019 Rusty Jarrett / NKP

      Consumers Energy 400
      Michigan International Speedway
      Sunday, Aug. 11 at 3 p.m. ET


      ALEX BOWMAN

      MICHIGAN PERFORMANCE: Bowman has eight previous NASCAR Cup Series starts at Michigan International Speedway. His best finish at the track came earlier this season when he crossed the finish line 10th. The Tucson, Arizona, native has four starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at MIS. In the series, he earned one pole (2016), one top-five finish and three top-15 results at the track. In 2015, the driver made one start at the Michigan-based track in the Truck Series and finished 11th after 100 laps. He made one start in the ARCA Series event in Michigan, starting third and leading 12 laps before finishing second.

      © 2019 Logan Whitton / NKP

      ALEX BOWMAN: “I’m looking forward to Michigan. We raced really well there earlier this year. We were running in the top five. The last green-white-checkered we were stuck on the bottom and couldn’t really go anywhere. But, it’s a fun place. I think the aero package obviously changed it quite a bit. It’ll be interesting to see how everybody has learned each and every week we take that package to the racetrack. I am ready to see what it’s like going back there versus the first time and see if guys have figured out new stuff or changed their approach. I thought our car drove really well there last time. We were a little down on single-car speed, but it turned into a good race for us. So, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

      IVES HEADS HOME: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will make his 10th NASCAR Cup Series start as crew chief at his home track of Michigan International Speedway this weekend. In his nine previous starts calling the shots, he has one top-five finish and four top 10s. Ives’ best finish of second came in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel. In 2013, Ives was a crew chief at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and captured the victory in the spring event at Michigan with driver Regan Smith. Ives’ drivers have led 20 laps in the Xfinity Series at the two-mile track and have an average finish of 3.5. He was a race engineer for the No. 48 team between 2006 and 2012. During that time, the team captured six top-10 finishes and three second-place starting positions at Michigan.

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      WILLIAM BYRON

      FRONT ROW FREQUENCY: Continuing to improve in all aspects during his sophomore season, this past weekend William Byron started on the outside pole at Watkins Glen International. It marked the eighth time he has qualified on the front row this season, which leads all NASCAR Cup Series drivers in 2019. It was the fifth time Hendrick Motorsports has swept the front row starting positions and the No. 24 team has been a contributing factor in all five. It was also the third time that Byron and teammate Chase Elliott, who won the pole at Watkins Glen, have shared the front row this season (Bristol Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway and Watkins Glen International).

      © 2019 Gavin Baker / NKP

      HEATING UP IN THE SUMMER: Riding a hot streak during the summer months of the 2019 season, Byron currently has the fourth-highest average finishing position in the series, 10.83, over the last six races. In those six races, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has collected two top-five finishes and three top-10s. The driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has solidly maintained his 12th position in the driver point standings throughout those six races and now holds a 60-point gap above the cutoff line with only four races remaining before the playoffs begin. In fact, in the last 10 races, Byron has gained 75 points on the cutoff line, improving his cushion in every race but two during that span.

      WHAT SOPHMORE SLUMP?: Just 22 races into the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, Byron has exceeded his total of laps led, poles and top-10 finishes from his rookie of the year campaign in 2018. So far during his sophomore season, Byron has led 180 laps, collected three poles and earned seven top 10s, including finishing inside the top 10 in three of the last six races. In his rookie year, Byron led 61 laps, did not capture a pole and finished in the top 10 four times across 36 starts.

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

      MICHIGAN MINUTES: Returning to Michigan International Speedway for the second time in 2019 and for the second time with crew chief Chad Knaus atop the pit box, Byron is optimistic about his chances for improvement this weekend. In June, the sophomore driver qualified 21st but was running inside the top five when his Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 swung loose under a competitor, causing him to spin. Byron tried to regain as much track position as he could in the closing laps but restarting in the bottom lane halted his momentum, leaving him with an 18th-place finish. Before this year’s race, he had five NASCAR starts at Michigan International Speedway across all three series at the two-mile, D-shaped oval with a best starting position of 14th and a track-best finish of 13th, both coming in the rain-shortened Cup event last June. In his lone Xfinity Series start at Michigan, he qualified fourth and ended the race in the runner-up position, and in his one Gander Outdoor Truck Series start at the track, he started third and finished fourth.

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      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MICHIGAN: At Michigan International Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has collected eight wins, 11 pole positions, 52 top-five finishes and 100 top 10s along with 2,494 laps led.

      TRIPLE DIGITS: Michigan is one of seven tracks where Hendrick Motorsports has accumulated 100 or more top-10 finishes. The list is led by Martinsville and Pocono, as the organization owns 126 top-10s at each track. 

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      FEELING HOT, HOT, HOT: Hendrick Motorsports is the only team with multiple wins in the last six races. Including race wins, the organization has won four of the last five stages in 2019. Of Chevrolet’s last eight wins, Hendrick Motorsports has accounted for six.

      THREE OR MORE SINCE ’94: Chase Elliott’s win last weekend at Watkins Glen was the third of the season for Hendrick Motorsports. That extended the organization’s streak, which began in 1994, to 26 consecutive seasons with at least three wins. It marks the longest stretch all-time by a team. The second-longest streak of 21 belongs to Petty Enterprises from 1957-77. The next closest active streak of seasons with at least three wins belongs to Team Penske with six.

      CREW CHIEF CREDIT: Two of the organization’s crew chiefs are among the winningest currently active in the series. No. 24 crew chief Chad Knaus holds the top spot with 81 wins. After last weekend’s win at Watkins Glen, No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson sits fifth with 25 wins, just one victory shy of tying Rodney Childers and Adam Stevens for third among active crew chiefs.

      PLAYOFF POSITIONING: All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are currently in position to make the 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at the end of the regular season. Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman have essentially locked in their spots by finding Victory Lane and rank eighth and 11th, respectively, in the point standings. William Byron is currently 12th, with Jimmie Johnson in 16th.

      Vie Hendrick Motorsports