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      NASCAR Playoffs open at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      South Point 400
      Las Vegas Motor Speedway
      Sunday, Sept. 15 | 7 p.m. ET

      WILLIAM BYRON

      PLAYOFF BOUND: Solidifying his position in the Cup Series playoffs, Byron is the third-youngest driver in series history – at 21 years, 9 months, and 17 days – to make his first playoff start. In the 2019 playoffs, he is the youngest driver competing in the 16-driver field and became the ninth different driver that Hendrick Motorsports has taken into the playoffs, which leads all organizations in series history.

      © 2019 Logan Whitton / NKP

      LOOKING BACK IN THE REAR-VIEW: Dating back to the end of June at Chicagoland Speedway, the last 10 races have been some of sophomore driver William Byron’s career best. In those races, he’s started from the pole once and collected three top-five finishes and five top 10s, resulting in an average finish of 11.9. In fact, all of his Cup Series top-five finishes and five of his 13 career Cup top 10s have come in the last 10 races leading into the 2019 playoffs.

      FEELING LUCKY: This weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway marks not only the first race of the Round of 16 in the playoffs but also Byron’s fourth start at the 1.5-mile track. This race will be a repeat trip for the Byron-Chad Knaus pairing after scoring a 16th-place finish at the venue in just their third start together as driver and crew chief earlier this year. During that spring race, the No. 24 driver led 21 laps – the fourth-most laps he’s led during his career in a Cup Series race. Aside from his starts in the Cup Series, Byron has two previous starts in the “City of Lights,” one in the Xfinity Series where he raced to a 14th-place finish, and one in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, qualifying 10th and ending the race with a fifth-place finish.

      KNAUS’ POSTSEASON PROWESS: Gearing up for the start of the 2019 playoffs, Knaus is set to make his 16th appearance in the playoffs – the only Cup Series crew chief to make an appearance in every season of the playoffs’ existence. While it will be the veteran crew chief’s first time entering the 10-week stretch with Byron behind the wheel, Knaus is no stranger to playoff success, collecting 29 victories – the most of any crew chief by 20 wins – as well as seven championships, all coming with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.

      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.


      ALEX BOWMAN

      SECOND TIME’S A CHARM: After last weekend’s event at Indianapolis, the regular season is now complete. Bowman locked the No. 88 team into the playoffs after his win at Chicagoland Speedway in June. It marks the second year in a row that the Tucson, Arizona, native has clinched a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. So far this season, Bowman has captured one win, four top-five finishes and seven top 10s. The No. 88 team has led 182 laps since April and has completed 98.2 percent of the total laps completed.

      TAKE THE LEAD: The No. 88 team has a great record on 1.5-mile tracks this season. Bowman has led 159 laps on tracks that length in 2019 and is third on the list of drivers leading over 100 laps thus far. Bowman led 63 laps at Kansas Speedway, eight laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway and 88 laps en route to his win at Chicagoland Speedway.

      © 2019 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      BOWMAN AT LAS VEGAS: The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has five previous starts in the Cup Series at Las Vegas. The driver’s best qualifying effort of ninth came in the fall race in 2018 and his best finish of 11th came earlier this season at the speedway. In his lone start at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2013, Bowman finished eighth after qualifying 18th for the 200-lap event.

      1.5-MILE TRACK SUCCESS: Bowman captured his first career win in NASCAR at the 1.5-mile track in Charlotte in 2017 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His first Cup Series victory came at 1.5-mile Chicagoland earlier this season after leading 88 laps. The driver is one of four at Hendrick Motorsports to capture his first career Cup Series victory at a track that length. In the last four races on 1.5-mile tracks, Bowman has one win, one second-place finish (Kansas) and one seventh-place finish (Charlotte).

      VEGAS STATS FOR IVES: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives has called the shots six times at Las Vegas with two different drivers. The Bark River, Michigan, native earned his best finish of fourth with Dale Earnhardt Jr. back in 2015 at the track. The crew chief has one active win in the playoffs with Earnhardt in 2015 at ISM Raceway. Ives has two starts in the Xfinity Series at Las Vegas, which include one top-five with Chase Elliott in 2014 and one top-10 with Regan Smith in 2013. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of three wins and four top-five finishes at Las Vegas.

      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.”


      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      PLAYOFF POSITIONING: Hendrick Motorsports currently has three drivers competing in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, marking a series-best 12th season in which the organization has sent at least three to the playoffs. It is also the 14th consecutive year that Hendrick Motorsports has at least two drivers in the playoffs, which is also the most of all organizations. William Byron, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are the first-, second- and fifth-youngest drivers competing in this season’s playoffs.

      Rick Hendrick on his interests outside of racing, getting star-struck & more
      Jeff Gordon wraps up his conversation with Rick Hendrick as Mr. H dives into his love of music, driving with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise, and discusses how important Gordon has been to Hendrick Motorsports’ success.
      Part 1 | Part 2

      PLAYOFF DRIVERS: Byron became the ninth different driver Hendrick Motorsports has taken to the playoffs, the most of all organizations in series history. He joins a list that includes Elliott, Bowman, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports