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      Alex Bowman and William Byron aim to improve playoff positioning at Richmond

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      Federated Auto Parts 400
      Richmond Raceway
      Saturday, Sept. 21 | 7:30 p.m. ET


      ALEX BOWMAN

      BOWMAN IN RICHMOND: The 26-year-old driver of the No. 88 machine will make his eighth start at Richmond Raceway on Saturday night. Out of 2,802 laps run at Richmond in his seven starts at the track, the Tucson, Arizona, native has completed 99.1 percent of them. Bowman has three starts at the 0.75-mile track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he qualified a career-best second at the venue and finished ninth in 2016 for JR Motorsports. In 2011, he made one start at the track in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, qualifying fourth and finishing fifth after 100 laps.

      LOOKING AT POINTS: Following last weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where the No. 88 team finished sixth, Bowman now sits 11th in the playoff points grid. The driver gained six points on the cut line following Sunday’s event. The Round of 12 will be set following next weekend’s event at the Charlotte road course. In 2018, Bowman gained 71 points between the events at Richmond and the “Roval,” sending him to the Round of 12.

      RICHMOND STATS FOR IVES: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will make his eighth start on top of the pit box for the No. 88 team at Richmond this Saturday. The Bark River, Michigan, native earned his best finish of fifth with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015 at the track during the fall event. Ives has four starts in the Xfinity Series at Richmond, in which all four times his drivers finished inside the top five (Chase Elliott finished second in both events in 2014 and Regan Smith finished fifth and third in 2013). Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006 until 2012. During that time, he was a part of three wins, one pole award and seven top-10 finishes at Richmond.

      BOWMAN TALKS RICHMOND: “Richmond is one of those tracks that we have struggled at in the past. We need to get stage points this weekend and help increase our position in the point standings before going into next weekend’s race. We didn’t finish great in the spring after battling a tight car throughout the race and having another issue there at the end. Greg and this Nationwide team have been working hard to get our short-track program better and better, so hopefully we unload fast on Friday.”

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      WILLIAM BYRON

      ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO: Scoring stage points and a top-10 finish in last Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, William Byron’s efforts gained him 16 points in the playoff standings, propelling him from 13th to ninth. With two races remaining in the first round, he now sits 13 points above the cut line.

      LOOKING BACK IN THE REAR-VIEW: Continuing to improve week after week, Byron’s last 11 races have proven to be some of his best across his Cup career. Dating back to the end of June at Chicagoland Speedway, he’s started from the pole once, collected three top-five finishes and six top 10s, resulting in an average finish of 11.5. In fact, all of his Cup Series top-five finishes and six of his 13 Cup career top 10s have come in the last 11 races. Not to mention, in the last two races (the final race of the regular season and the first race in the Round of 16) Byron ranks fourth in points earned with 74, leading his Hendrick Motorsports teammates.

      READY FOR RICHMOND: Making his fourth Cup Series start at Richmond Raceway, this weekend’s race will mark a return visit for Byron and the Chad Knaus-led No. 24 team during the 2019 season. In the spring, the sophomore driver started the race 13th, and despite fighting an ill-handling Chevy, was able to cross the finish line in the 13th position after running in the top 15 all race long. Aside from his three Cup Series starts, Byron has made two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the short track, both in 2017, earning a best starting position of sixth and finish of seventh in the fall. He has one other start under his belt at Richmond in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2015, winning the pole and finishing sixth.

      KNAUS’ KNACK: Returning with Byron and the No. 24 team to Richmond for the second time, crew chief Chad Knaus will call the shots on top of the pit box for the 39th time in his career at the Virginia venue. With three previous victories at the short track, Knaus leads all active crew chiefs for most wins at Richmond. He also has collected two pole awards, seven top-five finishes and 15 top 10s at the 0.75-mile oval.

      BYRON ON WHAT HE LEARNED FROM THE RICHMOND SPRING RACE: “Richmond always has a lot of tire fall-off, so trying to manage your tires for a 100-lap run seems pretty typical there. You have to have short-run speed to build a buffer and get away from the car behind you but then still find a way to hold on to that track position during the long runs and not give it all back. We had a good long-run car in the spring, I think, we just gave up too much on the short runs to make up a lot of ground.”

      Around the Track: Jeff Gordon and William Byron
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      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT RICHMOND: At Richmond Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports owns 10 wins, 17 poles, 59 top-five finishes, 109 top 10s and 4,034 laps led. It is one of 13 tracks where the organization has scored double-digit wins and one of seven tracks where it owns at least 100 top 10s. The 17 poles are tied for Hendrick Motorsports’ third-most at a single track, and the Virginia venue is among five tracks where Hendrick Motorsports has led over 4,000 laps.

      SHORT-TRACK STRONG: On short tracks, the organization holds the active record of 50 wins with 10 different drivers. The all-time record for most different winners on a short track is 11 by Junior Johnson and associates. 

      TEAMMATES IN THE TOP 10: On six different occasions this season, at least three Hendrick Motorsports drivers have finished the same race inside the top 10. That feat was most recently accomplished last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, when three teammates all finished inside the top seven and Johnson narrowly missed joining them in the top 10 with an 11th-place result. All four drivers earned top-10 finishes in the same race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

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      PILING UP POLE POSITIONS: After securing just two poles in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed eight poles this year with nine races remaining in the season. It’s the sixth-highest total the organization has earned in a single season, tied with the 1998 campaign. Hendrick Motorsports’ record for poles came in 1986 with 16, followed by 12 in 2007 and 2009, 11 in 2008 and 2012, 10 in 1995, and nine in 1996 and 2004.

      1,000 ON THE DOT: In 2019, Hendrick Motorsports has more than doubled its total of laps led from a season ago. Last year, the organization’s drivers tallied 497 laps led. Last weekend brought the 2019 total to 1,000 laps up-front with nine races remaining in the season.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports