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      Axalta Flames take on Talladega as NASCAR Playoffs roll on


      © 2019 John K Harrelson / NKP

      1000Bulbs.com 500
      Talladega Superspeedway

      Monday, Oct. 14 | 2 p.m. ET


      WILLIAM BYRON

      ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO: The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 12 kicked off last weekend at Dover International Speedway, and William Byron and the No. 24 team left the track with a 13th-place finish. The 21-year-old driver currently finds himself eighth in the driver point standings, sitting on the playoff cut line tied with ninth place in his first playoff appearance. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native will have two more chances to lock himself into the Round of 8, starting with Talladega Superspeedway this weekend and Kansas Speedway the following weekend. While a win would allow him to automatically advance, he has the opportunity to grab a spot based on points depending on how the next two races play out.

      © 2019 Nigel Kinrade / NKP

      ‘DEGA DETAILS: Making his fourth NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, Byron is looking to change his luck at the 2.66-mile track. In his previous three Cup races, Byron has had solid runs, including leading a total of 19 laps, but has a track-best finish of 20th due to the unpredictability of superspeedway racing. Aside from those three Cup races, Byron has one NASCAR Xfinity Series start as well one NASCAR Truck Series start at Talladega.

      KNAUS’ KNACK: With a skill for superspeedway racing, crew chief Chad Knaus is set to call his 38th NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega when the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 hits the track this weekend. While Byron and Knaus’ first showing together at Talladega didn’t yield the results they would have liked, Knaus has had previous success at the Alabama track with two wins at the venue.

      AT IT AGAIN WITH AXALTA: For the second consecutive weekend, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the final superspeedway race of the season at Talladega. In three superspeedway races so far in 2019, Byron has had Axalta on board twice. The first time was the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, where he became the second-youngest pole winner for the Daytona 500 and led 44 laps with an opportunity for a possible win before a late-race incident. He also ran a special patriotic version of the iconic Axalta flames at Daytona in July, where once again Byron was positioned for a possible race win, but weather shortened the race, leaving Byron in the runner-up position. After this weekend, Axalta Coating Systems will have two more races on the No. 24 car in 2019, both coming in November at Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

      “it is fun to show up at those tracks knowing you’re going to have an extremely fast car”

      William Byron

      BYRON ON SUPERSPEEDWAY RACING: “I’m not a huge fan of plate racing, but it is fun to show up at those tracks knowing you’re going to have an extremely fast car. This year especially, Hendrick Motorsports has had some of the best cars at superspeedway races, and we’ve shown that with good qualifying and good results especially at Daytona for the No. 24 team. We can lean on that once again this time. I just need to try stay disciplined with my teammates so we can stay at the front of the field and keep momentum going. It seems like lately you really have to work with your teammates to make up any ground through the field. As long as we can do that, and try our best to stay out of trouble, we should have a good chance at a good result.”

      Around the Track: Jeff Gordon and William Byron
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      ALEX BOWMAN

      PLAYOFF STANDINGS: Following his third-place finish at Dover on Sunday, Bowman now sits seventh in the playoff standings. The No. 88 team is currently 17 points above the cut line going into the second race in the Round of 12 this weekend in Talladega. Earlier this year the Tucson, Arizona, native earned 53 points at the 2.66-mile superspeedway after finishing second to teammate Chase Elliott. It marked the second-most points scored by any driver in the event. In the spring, only four of the 12 playoff drivers finished inside the top 10. So far in the 2019 playoffs, Bowman has an average finish of 8.5, which ranks fifth-best. Only two drivers have finished inside the top five at both the Charlotte road course and Dover, and Bowman is one of them.

      © 2019 Rusty Jarrett / NKP

      BOWMAN STATS AT ‘DEGA: The driver of the No. 88 machine will make his ninth career Cup Series start at Talladega on Sunday. Bowman’s best finish of second at the track came earlier this year after the team qualified ninth and led seven laps. In the fall of 2018, Bowman started the event in the seventh position and finished 33rd after a late-race incident. He has led 33 laps at the superspeedway and owns two top-10 finishes. Back in 2013, Bowman made one start at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and finished 13th after rolling off 14th. He made one start in the ARCA Series at the track in 2012 and finished 32nd.

      IVES IN ALABAMA: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 10th time for the No. 88 team at Talladega this weekend. The Bark River, Michigan, native has one win at the track with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015 after leading 67 laps in addition to two top-five finishes and four top-10 results. Ives’ drivers have qualified well at the venue with an average starting position of 6.8. In 2017, the crew chief’s team started on the pole and led seven laps en route to a seventh-place finish. In total, Ives’ drivers have led 168 laps and have completed 92.5 percent of the total laps run in nine events. The crew chief’s resume also includes a win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the superspeedway with Regan Smith 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 two wins, two pole awards and seven top-10 finishes at Talladega.

      BOWMAN ON APPROACHING TALLADEGA AS A PLAYOFF DRIVER: “Honestly, it is probably just a little more stressful this go around. I feel like we’ve obviously done a good job as a company and Chevrolet to run well at these tracks. Our superspeedway cars are always really good, but we’re still at the mercy of everyone else. It is really just the unknown of what can happen on the track. We just have to be smart in a stressful environment. I think the easiest thing to do is stay out front all day. There isn’t really anywhere to hide, but you always have guys that try to run in the back and there is still a chance to get taken out anyway.”

      Around the Track: Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman
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      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT TALLADEGA: Hendrick Motorsports has a history of record-breaking performances at Talladega Superspeedway. The organization owns the all-time record at the track in each of the following categories: wins (13), poles (12), runner-up results (14), top-five finishes (58), top 10s (87) and laps led (2,809).

      SEVEN MAKE 13: Hendrick Motorsports’ 13 Talladega wins are accounted for by seven different drivers, which tie for the organization’s most at a single track. Jeff Gordon owns the most wins with six, Jimmie Johnson captured two, and Brian Vickers, Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ken Schrader and Terry Labonte won one apiece.

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      THE LAST FIVE: All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers have earned three top-10 finishes in the past five races. During that span, the organization has amassed one win, one pole, one runner-up result, five top-five finishes, 12 top 10s, 83 laps led and an average finish of 12.35. The 12 top 10s are the most of all multi-car teams in the last five races.

      SUPERSPEEDWAY SUCCESS: Hendrick Motorsports holds the record for the most superspeedway wins all-time with 27 and also holds the record for the most pole positions at superspeedways with 32. In each of the last two superspeedway races, the organization has held two of the top-three finishing positions. That includes Elliott and Bowman finishing one-two at Talladega and Byron and Johnson finishing two-three at Daytona.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports