CELEBRATING TIM RICHMOND: Back in June, Alex Bowman and Hendrick Motorsports partner Axalta unveiled the No. 88 Axalta throwback paint scheme that will run this weekend at the track labeled “Too Tough to Tame.” The Tucson, Arizona, native has been outspoken about being a fan of the late Tim Richmond and has always wanted to drive a throwback of Richmond’s most iconic scheme, the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy from 1986 and 1987. The red and gold colors will be featured on the No. 88 Chevrolet this weekend and can be seen in this video.
BOWMAN ON HIS THROWBACK LOOK: “Running this Tim Richmond scheme is so amazing. These iconic Axalta colors look great on this Chevrolet and I can’t wait to get this car on track. We have had a week off to dig back into the notebooks and get ready for Darlington. We qualified well there last year, but didn’t get the result we needed. I know this No. 88 team can get the car dialed in and ready to go for Sunday. The last time Tim ran at Darlington for Hendrick Motorsports, he won, so maybe that will bring our team some luck this weekend.”
BOWMAN’S RUN AT DARLINGTON: The driver of the No. 88 Axalta machine has three previous starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington. Bowman rolled off the grid fourth in last season’s event at the track “Too Tough to Tame.” The 26-year-old has one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the venue, where he started 13th and finished 17th.
IVES VS. ‘THE LADY IN BLACK’: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will make his fifth NASCAR Cup Series start calling the shots for the team at Darlington Raceway. In his four previous starts, he has one top-five start and one top-10 finish at the 1.366-mile track. Ives’ best finish of eighth came back in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel. In 2013 and 2014, Ives was a crew chief at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and claimed a win at Darlington with Chase Elliott in 2014 after rolling off second and leading 52 laps. The Michigan native also has a seventh-place finish at the venue with Regan Smith in 2013. As a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006-12, Ives was a part of one win (2012) and four top-five finishes at Darlington.
RICHMOND WAS GREAT AT DARLINGTON: Richmond piloted the No. 25 red and gold paint scheme for Hendrick Motorsports in all of the driver’s 37 starts with the team. The late driver’s first trip to Victory Lane came back in 1986 at Pocono Raceway in his 13th start with the organization. He gave Hendrick Motorsports its first victory at Darlington Raceway after starting from the pole in 1986. Richmond led 186 laps that day en route to the win. It was the first of 11 the organization has earned at the short track.
LOOKING BACK AT THE LAST EIGHT: With the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series regular season winding down, William Byron has continued to show major improvements during his sophomore campaign. Since the Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway in late June, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has finished second once (Daytona International Speedway in July) and has collected two top-five finishes and four top 10s. His average finish during that span of eight races is 11.75, helping him to gain 46 points on the playoff cutoff line.
MAGIC PLAYOFF NUMBERS: With only two races left in the 2019 regular season, Byron has the potential to lock himself into his first Cup Series playoffs after this weekend’s race at Darlington Raceway. While a race win would automatically ensure his spot, the sophomore driver has a couple of other options to secure his place in the Cup Series championship hunt. Currently 75 points above the bubble spot, as long as Byron collects 50 points during the race he’ll be officially locked in. If it’s a repeat winner or someone already within the top 16, Byron needs to collect only 38 points once the checkered flag waves Sunday night in order to lock in a playoff berth.
THROWBACK FIT FOR TOM CRUISE: This weekend at Darlington Raceway, Byron will drop the hammer when the green flag waves, piloting a No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard/City Chevrolet Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that can’t be missed. Sporting neon green and yellow on board the car, he will channel his inner Tom Cruise, paying homage to his character Cole Trickle from the movie “Days of Thunder.” With Hendrick Autoguard, the premier vehicle protection program available at all Hendrick Automotive Group dealerships, serving as the primary partner for the No. 24 team during Darlington Raceway’s “Throwback Weekend,” it was a natural fit for the “Days of Thunder”-inspired scheme that was unveiled early this month and puts City Chevrolet back on the racetrack. While the movie draws heavy inspiration from Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and his operation during the 1980s, there are some modern-day similarities that can be drawn between the current pairing of crew chief Chad Knaus and his young driver. In fact, Trickle recorded his first victory at Darlington Speedway, a feat Byron would like to accomplish Sunday night.
DIGGIN’ DARLINGTON: Returning to “The Lady in Black” for the second time in his Cup career and the third time overall, Byron is looking to capitalize on his previously strong showings at Darlington Raceway. Last year, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native qualified 10th and ran within the top 10 for most of the race until under 50 laps remaining when engine issues ended his day early. Prior to last year’s showing, the 21-year-old driver raced at the 1.366-mile track in 2017 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, starting sixth and crossing the finish line in fifth, the highest finishing Xfinity Series regular.
TIED FOR SECOND: Byron is one of five 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. However, six drivers have scored their first Cup win at Darlington, and Sunday the No. 24 driver hopes to add his name to the list.
BYRON ON HIS THROWBACK SCHEME: “I’m really excited about our throwback scheme this year. Obviously, the Cole Trickle throwback from ‘Days of Thunder’ is going to look really cool on track and under the lights. It fits us as a team as a whole really well especially with it being City Chevrolet and Hendrick Autoguard on board. It makes for a perfect fit. I’m definitely a fan of the movie and I’ve seen it a number of times. My dad actually just watched it for the first time a few weeks ago when I told him what we were doing. It’s a great movie and it’s really good for fans outside of the sport because it’s so encompassing of what NASCAR is about. It pretty much covers all the bases, so I feel like it’s a pretty good representation of what the sport is like.”
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT DARLINGTON: In Hendrick Motorsports’ 179 starts at Darlington Raceway, the organization has claimed 14 wins, 45 top-five finishes, 75 top 10s, seven pole positions and 3,175 laps led at the 1.366-mile oval. Its 11 Southern 500 wins are the most all-time, led by Jeff Gordon’s six, which are the most by a driver. Five different drivers have won the Southern 500 for Hendrick Motorsports, which is tied for the record.
STRONG SHOWINGS AT THE SOUTHERN 500: Since 2003, Hendrick Motorsports has paced the way in the NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington. Its 21 top-five finishes and 31 top 10s at the South Carolina venue in that span are the most in the series, and its five wins and four runner-up results are tied for the most. The organization ranks third in laps led at the track since 2003 with 1,011.
SEPT. 1 SUCCESS FOR TEAM 24: The last two times the Southern 500 was held on Sept. 1 – the date it will be run this season – the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team captured the checkered flag. The first of those wins came in 1996, when Gordon started second and found Victory Lane for the third consecutive time at Darlington. The next time came in 2002, when the NASCAR Hall of Famer started third and led 125 laps to capture his fifth Southern 500 win.