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      Alex Bowman and William Byron look to keep playoff runs alive in Kansas elimination race

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      Hollywood Casino 400
      Kansas Speedway

      Sunday, Oct. 20 | 2:30 p.m. ET


      ALEX BOWMAN

      PLAYOFF STANDINGS: Following his 37th-place finish at Talladega on Monday, Bowman now sits ninth in the playoff standings. The driver of the No. 88 machine is currently 18 points out of the eighth position with one race remaining to advance to the Round of 8. Earlier this year, Bowman earned 42 points at Kansas Speedway after leading 63 laps, his third-most in a race.

      BOWMAN STATS IN KANSAS: Bowman will make his ninth Cup Series start at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. His three top 10s at the venue are tied for his most at a single track. Earlier this season, the Tucson, Arizona, native qualified fifth and led 63 laps en route to a second-place finish at the 1.5-mile facility. He had the second-best average running position of sixth and spent 181 laps inside the top five, which was the most for a driver in that event. The 26-year-old driver has one top-five finish and three top 10s at Kansas. He made one start at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series back in 2013 and finished 11th at the end of the 200-lap event. Additionally, he made two starts at Kansas in the ARCA Series and brought home the win in both races including from the pole in 2012.

      © 2019 Logan Whitton / NKP

      1.5-MILE TRACK STATS: Bowman has made eight starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season and owns an average finish of 9.6. In June, he captured his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory at Chicagoland Speedway after rolling off fifth. Bowman is one of 13 active drivers with a win on a track that length. 

      KANSAS STATE OF MIND FOR IVES: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 10th time for the No. 88 team at Kansas Speedway this weekend. The Bark River, Michigan, native has two top-five finishes and five top 10s at the 1.5-mile oval. Earlier this season, Ives led the team to a second-place finish after leading 63 laps at the venue. Ives’ drivers have completed 99.9 percent of the total laps run in their starts at Kansas. The crew chief’s resume also includes one top-five finish and two top 10s at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In 2013, the crew chief’s driver led 81 laps en route to a third-place finish. 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 two wins, two pole awards and eight top-10 finishes at Kansas.

      POINTS, POINTS, POINTS: In the Round of 12, Bowman and the No. 88 team have secured 18 stage points, which is the fourth-highest amount of stage points secured among playoff drivers. The 26-year-old driver earned 53 total points between the races at Dover International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway in the Round of 12, the sixth-highest total among the 12 playoff drivers.

      BOWMAN ON KANSAS: “I can’t wait to get to Kansas this weekend. I feel like I gave that one away in the spring. I know that car we are taking there is really good. That’s one of my favorite tracks, regardless of everything. I am looking forward to getting there and it definitely is a race that puts on a great show. This track is probably the best place to showcase the current rules package.

      “At the end of the race earlier this year, we had all of those cautions. Some guys took tires and some stayed out. We were on much older tires than the guys we were racing, so that definitely didn’t help us. I went to the bottom behind a lapped car, lost the nose and had to lift. That ultimately gave Brad (Keselowski) the opportunity to get around me. He was faster than we were at that point, just based on him being on fresher tires. I would have liked to put up a better fight than I did.”

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      WILLIAM BYRON

      RECAPPING THE ROUND OF 12: With only one race remaining in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, William Byron heads to Kansas Speedway this weekend looking for redemption. While the sophomore driver has scored the second-most stage points (20) in the Round of 12, a 13th-place finish at Dover and a 33rd-place finish at Talladega have left him sitting 12th in the Cup Series playoff standings, 27 points below the cut-off line. This weekend’s race will be Byron’s final chance to keep his playoff dreams alive in his Cup playoff debut, with his surest chance to advance to the next round being a win on Sunday.

      LEADING THE FIELD: In the NASCAR Cup Series, Byron currently holds the longest active streak of races with at least one lap led at three. The 21-year-old driver is just ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and competitor Kurt Busch, both of whom have led laps in two consecutive races.

      © 2019 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      TOUGH LUCK AT KANSAS: With three previous NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway, luck has not been on Byron’s side at the 1.5-mile oval. While running solidly within the top 10 at the end of the 2018 spring race, the No. 24 driver was collected in a multi-car incident with 14 laps to go, ending his night with a 33rd-place finish. In the fall of 2018, Byron felt like he had one of the best cars he had driven all season, but a mechanical failure 55 laps in resulted in a 38th-place finish. In the spring event this season, Byron was running second when an issue on pit road during green-flag stops forced a 20th-place result.

      EARLY KANSAS SUCCESS: Byron saw success at Kansas early in his career. In his first two NASCAR national series starts at the 1.5-mile track – one in the Xfinity Series and one in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series – he started from the pole position in both races and finished no worse than fourth. In his debut at the track in 2016, just his fifth Truck Series start, Byron started from the top spot, led 34 laps and collected his first Truck Series win, which kick-started the most successful season by a rookie in the history of the series.

      TALLADEGA TIMES: Qualifying third for this past weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, Byron went on to capture his second career Cup Series stage win during the opening segment Sunday before rain postponed the rest of the race until Monday afternoon. Remaining in contention at the front of the field when the race restarted, Byron was battling for the lead with 26 laps to go when an untimely push from behind turned the No. 24 Chevy and ended his day early with a 33rd-place finish.

      BYRON ON KANSAS: “I think it will be interesting to see how things play out with how our mile-and-half packages have evolved just throughout the year, whether it continues that trend this weekend or whether it reverts back to how it was in the spring at Kansas. I’m just interested to see how that is since the cars have come a long way since that race. I’m also interested to see with it being an elimination race, I think it will open things up for different strategies. It’s a bit of an unknown at this point.”

      Around the Track: Jeff Gordon and William Byron
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      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT KANSAS: Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with seven wins, five runner-up results, 33 top-five finishes, 58 top 10s and 1,233 laps led. Its five poles at the track are tied for the most, and its drivers’ average finish of 13.3 is the best of all teams.

      1.5-MILERS: Hendrick Motorsports owns an all-time record total of 59 wins at 1.5-mile tracks, and its drivers’ average finish of 11.38 on the track length in 2019 leads all teams. Three Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won at 1.5-mile tracks. Jimmie Johnson has earned 28 wins, the most all-time, and Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott have one apiece.

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      2019 VS. 2018: Through eight races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2019, Hendrick Motorsports has improved its stats in virtually every category compared to the same starts in 2018. This year, the organization owns two more poles, one more win, six more top-five finishes, 11 more top 10s and 441 more laps led. The drivers have also bettered their average start by more than six positions and average finish by more than nine positions, scoring 393 more points than 2018 in the process.

      PILING UP POLE POSITIONS: After securing just two poles in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed 10 poles this year, the most of all teams in 2019, with five races remaining in the season. It’s the fourth-highest total the organization has earned in a single season, tied with the 1995 campaign. Hendrick Motorsports’ record for poles came in 1986 with 16, followed by 12 in 2007 and 2009, and 11 in 2008 and 2012.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports