First Data 500
Sunday, Oct. 27 | 3 p.m. ET
150 STARTS: Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway marks Bowman’s 150th NASCAR Cup Series start. In the last 149 starts, Bowman has one win (Chicago, 2019), 10 top-five results and 24 top 10s. The 26-year-old has two pole wins, which include leading the field to green in the 2018 Daytona 500. Since piloting the No. 88 machine for Hendrick Motorsports, the driver has led 460 laps. In the last two seasons, Bowman has qualified for the Cup Series playoffs and has advanced to the Round of 12 both years. There have been nine drivers to capture a victory in their 150th start, and Bowman looks to move that number to 10 this weekend.
“Making my 150th Cup Series start this weekend is pretty special,” Bowman said. “I have had a lot of ups and downs in my career, but so thankful that it led me to Hendrick Motorsports. Working alongside my 88 team and all of the amazing people back on the Hendrick Motorsports campus is an honor. I am very happy to be making this milestone start with (Hendrick Motorsports owner) Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and his organization.”
To commemorate Bowman’s milestone start, the team will carry a special decal honoring this accomplishment. Read more and check out the decal here.
BOWMAN AT MARTINSVILLE: The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet will make his eighth start in the Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. Bowman has one top-10 finish at the Virginia short track, which came back in the spring of 2018 when the team finished seventh. Earlier this year, the 26-year-old driver finished 14th after the team battled a loose-handling vehicle during the event.
IVES STATS: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 10th time for the No. 88 team at Martinsville this weekend. The Michigan native has one top-five finish and three top 10s at the track, with a best finish of fourth coming in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of six wins, three pole awards and 12 top-10 finishes at Martinsville.
BOWMAN ON SHORT TRACKS: “I feel like we still have some work to do on our short-track program. We went to Richmond earlier this year trying to get a car that turned better in the center and it did. The car lacked forward drive, which made it to where it didn’t have a good balance. I think we know what we need to change going into this weekend’s race in Martinsville. Having the best compromise between turn and drive at a place like Martinsville is going to be key.”
SOPHOMORE SEASON SUCCESS: While William Byron’s first NASCAR Cup Series playoff run may have come to an end after last weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway, the sophomore driver has nothing to hang his head over with four races remaining in the 2019 season. Aside from advancing to the Round of 12 in his first Cup Series playoff appearance, Byron has won five pole awards in 2019, tied for the series lead, with two coming in the last eight races. In the last seven races, the driver of the No. 24 has finished in the top 10 four times, including two top-five finishes. All four of Byron’s career Cup Series top-five finishes have come in the last 15 races.
LEADING THE FIELD: The 21-year-old driver has led laps in six of the last seven races, including the last four consecutive events. That marks the longest active streak for consecutive races led (four) over six other Cup Series drivers, including Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who is tied for second with two consecutive races with laps led.
MARTINSVILLE MINUTES: Since attending his first Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in 2006 as a fan, Byron has since moved through the NASCAR ranks and is now poised to make his sixth start at the “paperclip,” his fourth in the Cup Series. In those previous three Cup Series starts at the 0.526-mile track, Byron has a best starting position of 11th, which came in last year’s fall race. However, luck hasn’t always been on the Charlotte, North Carolina, native’s side, with a best finish of 20th in the 2018 spring race. Byron has two other Martinsville starts, both coming in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2016, when he qualified seventh for both events and raced to a third-place finish in the spring and an eighth-place result in the fall.
BYRON ON MARTINSVILLE: “I was watching the fall Martinsville race back from 2017 and 2018. Last year’s race was relatively calm but the year before, that race was absolutely crazy. There was a lot of action, and as a fan it was fun to watch. I think it will be more like that this year with very close racing and tempers on edge. There’s really only one way to get around that place and that’s right on the curb. You just try to keep it stuck to the curb all day and hopefully that pays off.”
KNAUS’ KNACK FOR MARTINSVILLE: Calling the shots on top of the pit box for the 39th time at Martinsville Speedway, No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus is ready to add another grandfather clock to his collection after this weekend’s race at the “paperclip.” Collecting nine wins already, the second-highest amount at one track in his career (11 wins at Dover), his most recent win at the Virginia short track came in the fall of 2016.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MARTINSVILLE: At Martinsville Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports owns 24 wins, the most all-time by any team on a single track. The organization has also earned its most top-five finishes (79) and laps led (9,290) at Martinsville, and its 126 top 10s there are tied for its most at a single track. It is one of 15 venues where Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams in NASCAR Cup Series wins.
DOMINANCE ON DISPLAY: Starting with its first win at the track in April 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has won 34 percent of the races at Martinsville (24 of 71). It has won at least one race at Martinsville Speedway in 19 of the 36 seasons since and gone on a three-race win streak at the track on four different occasions. The organization has swept the top-two finishing positions five times and had at least one car finish in the top 10 in 64 of 71 races since April 1984.