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      Round of 12 kicks off in Dover as NASCAR Playoffs ramp up for William Byron and Alex Bowman

      © 2019 Rusty Jarrett / NKP

      Drydene 400
      Dover International Speedway

      Sunday, Oct. 6 | 2:30 p.m. ET


      READY FOR THE ROUND OF 12: After locking himself into his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series playoff one month ago, driver William Byron has now raced his way through the first round and solidified his position in the Round of 12. Sitting 11th in the driver points standings after last weekend’s race, Byron is currently just five points below the cutoff line with three races to make up the ground (Dover International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway). In the same three races earlier this season, the sophomore driver collected 79 points, ranking eighth among the current playoff drivers.

      © 2019 Rusty Jarrett / NKP

      DOVER DIGEST: Set to make his fourth NASCAR Cup Series start at Dover, and second of the 2019 season, Byron is ready to get behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on the one-mile concrete oval. The 21-year-old qualified on the front row alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott and led five laps in the rain-delayed race in May en route to a career track-best eighth-place finish. Before his previous Cup starts, Byron had four other starts at the “Monster Mile,” his first being in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East where he started on the pole, led 57 laps and finished ninth. Graduating to the top three national tiers of NASCAR starting in 2016, Byron once again captured the top spot in qualifying at Dover, this time in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, leading 80 laps and finishing 11th. The next season, Byron would race at the concrete one-mile oval twice in the Xfinity Series, with the best of the two starts occurring in the fall when he qualified first, led 62 laps and finished third.

      FRONT-ROW FAMILIARITY: Byron owns the most front-row starts of any driver in the NASCAR Cup Series this season with 10. He added to that total last weekend with his pole at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.

      TIED FOR SECOND: Byron is one of four Cup Series drivers who have finished second in a race in 2019 but have yet to capture the checkered flag. He ranks third among the Cup field for most laps led (210) without a win.

      KNAUS’ DOVER DOMINATION: Returning to Dover for a second time with veteran crew chief Chad Knaus on top of the box, Byron is hoping to build off his visit in the spring after qualifying on the front row and racing to an eighth-place finish. Aside from that solid showing earlier this season, as a Cup Series crew chief, Knaus has an impressive 11 wins, 17 top-five finishes and 24 top 10s at the one-mile oval in 36 starts. Knaus leads all active crew chiefs with 81 total career wins. The next closest crew chief owns 28 Cup Series wins.

      BYRON ON DOVER: “The main thing is trying to keep track position all race long. It’s a track that’s really hard to pass, so in the spring we unfortunately got stuck in the back at one point and it took almost the whole race to climb back up to the front. We had a really good car then, so I expect to unload with another fast one this weekend. Hopefully we can get a good starting position and keep the track position the entire race.”

      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.


      HELLO ROUND OF 12: Following his second-place finish at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course on Sunday, Bowman claimed a spot in the Round of 12. It is the second season in a row that the driver of the No. 88 Chevy has made it to the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. At each of the next three tracks, Bowman finished as the runner up earlier this season. The Tucson, Arizona, native and Elliott are the only two drivers to finish in the top five in each of the three races on the Round of 12 tracks earlier this season. Bowman scored the second-most points at the three tracks earlier this year, earning 143 points total. 

      BOWMAN IN DOVER: The driver of the No. 88 machine will make his eighth career start at Dover on Sunday. Bowman’s best finish of second at the track came earlier this year after the team qualified fifth and led 16 laps. Back in the spring of 2018, Bowman led 26 laps at the one-mile speedway. The driver has six starts at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He earned two top-five finishes, both of which came with JR Motorsports in 2016. The driver led 33 laps in the spring event that year and crossed the line third. Bowman also ran an ARCA Series race at the track in 2011 and finished 23rd after suffering an engine failure after 132 laps.

      IVES STATS AT THE ‘MONSTER MILE’: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 10th time for the No. 88 team at Dover this weekend. The Bark River, Michigan, native has two top-five finishes and four top 10s at the track. The crew chief’s resume also includes two top-five finishes and three top 10s at the venue in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Both top-five results came in 2014 when Ives led Elliott to two second-place starting positions and 19 laps led before taking the checkered flag inside the top five. 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 four wins, four pole awards and 10 top 10s at Dover.

      BOWMAN ON ADVANCING TO THE ROUND OF 12: “It is great to be able to advance to the next round of the playoffs. Charlotte was rough, that’s for sure. This team never gave up and continued to make the car better and ultimately we finished second. The three tracks in the Round of 12 were really good to us in the spring. We finished second at each track and we have the notes to hopefully get us one spot further on Sunday.”

      BOWMAN ON DOVER: “Dover is a track that is more physically demanding than you would think. There is a lot of elevation change getting into the corner. Depending on how the rubber is laying down, the track changes from run to run. This is a track that is ever changing.”

      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 AT DOVER: At Dover International Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has accumulated 20 wins, 67 top-five finishes, 108 top 10s, 10 poles and 6,851 laps led at the one-mile oval. A single organization has won at least 20 times at a track just three times in history, and Hendrick Motorsports owns two of those achievements. The organization’s 20 Dover wins are its second-most behind its 24 at Martinsville Speedway, which are the most all-time at any track. Since 2009, the organization has won at Dover in all but two seasons (2011, 2016).

      100 FOR THE WIN: This weekend marks the 100th race at Dover International Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has a history of finding Victory Lane on the 100th race at a track, starting with Jeff Gordon at Daytona International Speedway in February 1997, then Jimmie Johnson at Darlington Raceway in March 2004 and this April at Talladega Superspeedway with Chase Elliott.

      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

      ROUND OF 12 RINGERS: The three tracks that make up the Round of 12 in the playoffs are Dover, Talladega and Kansas. At those three venues in 2019, Hendrick Motorsports leads the Cup Series in poles (one), runner-up results (three), top-five finishes (six), top 10s (eight), laps led (334) and average finish (9.83). The organization’s one win is tied for the most.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports