AAA Texas 500
Texas Motor Speedway
Sunday, Nov. 3 | 3 p.m. ET
SECOND-HALF SAVVY: William Byron has been successful during his sophomore NASCAR Cup Series season, but he has ramped up his efforts during the second half of the year. Not only did Byron collect his first Cup Series top-five finish in the July Daytona race, but he has collected four more top-five finishes since then. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native scored back-to-back top-five finishes for the first time in his Cup career with a fifth-place finish at Kansas Speedway and a second-place finish last weekend at Martinsville Speedway. In those same 16 races, only four other Cup drivers have more top-five finishes, and Byron has an average finish of 12.0, fifth-best across the field.
FRONT OF THE FIELD: Not only has Byron collected five pole awards in 2019, including being a part of all seven front row sweeps for Hendrick Motorsports, but he has also led 225 laps, almost four times more than he did his rookie season (61). The 21-year-old driver has also improved his number of laps running in the top five and top 10 throughout the season. Of the five races Byron has spent the most time running in the top 10, only one race occurred during 2018 and ranks third overall (spring Richmond with 263 laps) while the other four are all from his second Cup season (fall Martinsville, Charlotte 600, Chicagoland and fall Kansas). Of the five races Byron has spent the most time within the top five, all of them occurred this season (Daytona 500, spring Texas, fall Dover, Charlotte 600 and fall Martinsville).
MARTINSVILLE MERIT: While Martinsville Speedway hadn’t been kind to Byron throughout his Cup Series career, this past weekend the driver of the No. 24 turned the page on his success at the 0.526-mile paved oval. Starting 11th Sunday afternoon, Byron moved his way through the field and found himself in contention for the lead throughout the entire race. In fact, of the 500 laps, Byron spent 499 of them running within the top 10, 352 laps racing within the top five, and 104 laps running second and battling for the lead – the most ever for Byron in a Cup Series race. Restarting on the outside row with 24 laps to go, he battled for the top spot remaining on the back bumper of the leader as the laps wound down. Hoping to secure his first Cup Series win, Byron ultimately crossed the finish line in second, collecting his fifth top-five finish of the season.
TOUGH TO BEAT AT TEXAS: Since the start of his NASCAR career, Texas Motor Speedway has statistically been one of Byron’s best tracks. He became the youngest driver to ever win a Truck Series race at Texas in June 2016. Across seven starts, Byron has finished inside the top 10 six times, with an average finish of 3.5 in Trucks and 8.0 in Xfinity. His average finish of 10.6 in Cup in the “Lone Star State” has him ranked seventh all-time at Texas.
KNAUS KNOWS: This weekend, No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus will call his 34th Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway from on top of the pit box. In his 33 previous races, Knaus has won seven times at the “No Limits” track, with the most recent win coming in the spring race of 2017. In his career as Cup crew chief, Knaus’ seven wins at Texas ranks fourth for tracks he has the most wins at behind Dover International Speedway (11), Martinsville Speedway (nine) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (eight).
BYRON ON TEXAS: “We had a great race there in the spring though. We weren’t in position to win that early on in the season but we were in the top five most of the day before finishing sixth. I think this time we’ll have a great opportunity to go in there and have a great run.”
BOWMAN IN THE ‘LONE STAR STATE’: The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet will make his ninth start in the Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Bowman’s best finish came in 2016 when he piloted the No. 88 machine to a 13th-place finish. Earlier this year, the team had to start at the back of the field after being forced to a back-up car following qualifying. Bowman went on to finish 18th in the spring. The Tucson, Arizona, native has two starts at Texas in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, starting from the pole position in both events in 2013.
1.5-MILE STATS: Bowman has made nine starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season and owns an average finish of 9.7. In June, he captured his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory at Chicagoland Speedway after rolling off fifth. He is one of 13 active drivers with a win on a 1.5-mile track.
IVES IN TEXAS: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 10th time for the No. 88 team at Texas this weekend. The Bark River, Michigan, native has three top-five finishes and four top 10s at the track, with a best finish of second coming in the spring of 2016 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. The crew chief has four starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the track and has one win (Chase Elliott, 2014), two top-five finishes and four top 10s. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of two wins, one pole award and nine top 10s at Texas.
BOWMAN ON POTENTIAL AT TEXAS: “Our intermediate program at Hendrick (Motorsports) is pretty good. I feel like we are able to work on our cars throughout the weekend and continue to improve throughout the race. Earlier this year, we had a really good car in Texas. We had a pit road penalty in the race that kind of threw off our strategy. I am looking forward to unloading on Friday and seeing what this Valvoline Chevrolet can do.”
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT TEXAS: At Texas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports’ 10 pole positions are the most all-time, and its nine wins are tied with Roush-Fenway Racing for the most all-time. In addition, the organization has 38 top-five finishes, 70 top 10s and 2,409 laps led at the venue. In the past 14 races at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports has visited Victory Lane six times, the most of all teams in that span. In each of the past 26 races, at least one Hendrick Motorsports driver has finished inside the top 10, which is the longest streak all-time at Texas.
TEXAS IN THE PLAYOFFS: A Hendrick Motorsports driver has won four of the last seven races at Texas during the playoffs, and its five overall playoff race wins at the track are the most by any team. The second closest are Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing with three.
IMPROVEMENT ON 1.5-MILE TRACKS: Comparing Hendrick Motorsports through nine 1.5-mile track races in 2018 and 2019, the organization has improved in virtually every category. In 2019, the organization has two more poles, the same number of wins, seven more top-five finishes, 12 more top 10s and 409 more laps led.
LAST EIGHT: Over the last eight races of 2019, Hendrick Motorsports’ three runner-up finishes and 17 top-10 results are the most of all teams in that span. Its two pole positions are tied for the most in the series. The organization has secured a win and eight top-five finishes in the last eight races, with at least one driver finishing in the top 10 in all eight and at least two drivers finishing in the top 10 in five of eight. Additionally, its drivers have led laps in eight of the last 10 races.