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      Alex Bowman ready to take on Watkins Glen: ‘Our road course stuff is really strong, so it should be fun’

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      GoBowling at The Glen
      Watkins Glen International
      Sunday, Aug. 4 at 3 p.m. ET


      ALEX BOWMAN

      WATKINS GLEN PERFORMANCE: Bowman has three previous NASCAR Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen. His best finish at the track came in August 2018 when he finished 14th with the No. 88 team. In 2013, he made one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the 2.45-mile road course and finished 13th after qualifying 19th.

      © 2019 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      ROAD COURSE CAREER: Since 2018, the driver has averaged a finish of 10.25 on road course events in the NASCAR Cup Series. This number ranks sixth on the list of average finishes for drivers on a road course since last season. The 26-year-old hasn’t finished outside the top 14 in a road course event since June of last year. Bowman’s best road-course finish of fourth came at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval” in September 2018. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy has captured five top-10 stage finishes in road course events since last season, which ranks him second behind three drivers tied for first with six top-10 stage finishes in that span.

      STATS AT THE GLEN: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the fifth time at the New York-based road course this weekend. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s résumé includes three top-15 finishes. Ives’ best result at the track came back in 2015 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th after starting seventh in the 90-lap event. Last year at Watkins Glen, Ives led Bowman to a 14th-place finish. The crew chief has two starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the track, capturing one top-five finish and two top 10s. Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 team from 2006-2012 and captured one pole (2009), two third-place finishes and four top 10s at Watkins Glen.

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS CAREER NUMBERS: Since Bowman’s first start with Hendrick Motorsports at New Hampshire in 2016, the driver has made 67 starts and has two pole wins (Phoenix in 2016, Daytona 500 in 2018). The Tucson, Arizona, native claimed his first Cup Series victory at Chicagoland Speedway back in June. The driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet has claimed seven top-five finishes, 20 top 10s and 453 laps led with Hendrick Motorsports in that span.

      BOWMAN ON WATKINS GLEN: “Even though the tracks are pretty different, I think Watkins Glen is probably a little easier than Sonoma from a driver’s standpoint. I am excited to get there and unload a fast car that Greg (Ives) and the guys have put together. I know our road course stuff is really strong, so it should be fun.”

      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

      HEATING UP IN THE SUMMER: Collecting his second NASCAR Cup Series career top-five finish this past weekend at Pocono Raceway, William Byron’s success in the summer months hasn’t slowed down. In the last five races, the sophomore driver has the second-best average finish in the Cup field, 8.8, which includes two top-five finishes, three top 10s and four top 15s. In those five races, he has continued to put ground between himself and the playoff bubble spot, now holding a 62-point gap in 12th in the point standings with only five races remaining before the playoffs begin.

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      WATKINS GLEN WHIZ: This weekend’s race will mark Byron’s second NASCAR Cup Series start at Watkins Glen and his fourth NASCAR national series start at the road course. In his three previous national starts at the 2.45-mile track, Byron has never finished outside the top-10 running order. Last year, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native had one of the best races of his Cup rookie season, qualifying 16th and racing to a solid eighth-place finish at Watkins Glen. Previous to his Cup start, he made his Watkins Glen debut in the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race, starting second and finishing seventh. He raced at the venue in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2017, qualifying 17th and crossing the line 10th.

      KNAUS WANTS WATKINS GLEN WIN: This weekend’s race marks the third track of four this season where No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus has yet to claim a victory, with only the Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval” remaining this year. Calling the shots for 17 races at the 2.45-mile road course, third with Jimmie Johnson in 2012 is the closest Knaus has come to taking home a checkered flag. In those 17 starts, the veteran crew chief has two poles (2004 and 2009), three top-five finishes and seven top 10s. As an extra incentive, if Knaus is able to secure his first victory at The Glen this upcoming weekend, it will come the day before he celebrates his 48th birthday.

      RUNNER-UP RESULT: 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 is also ranked third among the Cup field for most laps led (180) without a win.

      BYRON ON ROAD COURSES: “Before Sonoma we got the chance to drive the Chevy cars out at Spring Mountain. It was helpful for me to work on hitting my marks and being consistent every lap, but it really helped us with overall communication. Chad (Knaus) could really understand better what I was talking about with the car and what I needed, and I think it paid off in Sonoma. We wanted to put a lot of importance into the road course races this year because it’s really like every other race. You can win the race and lock yourself into the playoffs just like the others. I don’t think a lot of guys really prepare completely for them since there’s so few road courses on the schedule, but I think that’s starting to change with the Charlotte ‘roval’ being added into the playoffs. There’s now more of an importance on road courses and we want to make sure we’re as ready as we can be.”

      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

      HENDRICK AT WATKINS GLEN: In 33 races at Watkins Glen, Hendrick Motorsports has seven wins, six pole positions, 19 top-five finishes and 37 top 10s. Chase Elliott earned the organization’s most recent victory at the road course when he won the event last season to capture his first career NASCAR Cup Series trip to Victory Lane.

      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.

      ROCKING THE ROAD COURSES: Hendrick Motorsports owns the all-time record for the most wins (16), poles (17), top-five finishes (58), top 10s (104) and laps led (1,512) on road courses.

      Vie Hendrick Motorsports