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      Flames of Independence scheme returns to No. 24 for NASCAR finale at Homestead


      © 2019 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      Ford EcoBoost 400
      Homestead-Miami Speedway
      Sunday, Nov. 17 | 3 p.m. ET


      WILLIAM BYRON

      NOT DONE YET IN 2019: While there is still one race remaining in William Byron’s sophomore NASCAR Cup Series season, the difference a year has made for the driver of the No. 24 is enormous. In 2018, Byron’s best finish was a sixth-place result compared to two runner-up finishes in 2019 (Daytona 2, Martinsville 2). He collected four top-10 finishes during his rookie campaign compared to five top-five finishes and 13 top 10s so far this season. He has also nearly quadrupled his laps led from 61 in 2018 to 233 in 2019. Byron has collected five pole awards during his sophomore campaign, including being involved in all seven Hendrick Motorsports front-row sweeps, en route to improving his average starting position of 17.6 from a year ago to 12.5. He’s also improved his average finishing position nearly eight full spots from 22.1 to 14.2. Making the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the first time this year, Byron advanced to the Round of 12 and now sits ninth in points – the highest of the Hendrick Motorsports cars – compared to 23rd in the points standings at the end of last year.

      AXALTA’S FLAMES OF INDEPENDENCE: For the final race of the 2019 Cup Series season, Axalta Coating Systems will return to Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. However, Axalta Racing announced that they would change things up a bit for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As a special thank you to fans, the Axalta Flames of Independence scheme that Byron raced in the July race at Daytona International Speedway will return to close out the 2019 season. Still sporting the iconic Axalta flames, the No. 24 will instead have a pearl-white base coat with red and blue ombre flames traveling down the sides of the car. 

      HEADING TO HOMESTEAD: Heading into the final race of the season, Byron is set to make his second Cup start at Homestead-Miami Speedway. During last year’s event, he suffered a flat tire in the closing stages of the race, leaving him with a 24th-place finish. Despite misfortune during his Cup Series start, the sophomore driver has two other starts under his belt at the track in NASCAR – one in the Xfinity Series and one in the Truck Series. In 2017, he started sixth and went on to finish third, locking up the Xfinity Series championship in the process. In 2016, he started on the pole for the Truck Series race and led 31 laps en route to the win at the 1.5-mile speedway.

      BYRON ON HOMESTEAD: “I love Homestead. It was instantly my favorite track. It wasn’t my favorite when we tested there because it was so hot. When I went there and ran the truck race though and won, it instantly became one of my favorites. I love the progression of the track and finding the balance of being aggressive versus saving the right side of your car. It’s just a really cool race. I’m really excited to go back to Homestead this weekend and see how it compares to my previous races there. I think it should be a really fun race overall.”

      MILE-AND-A-HALF METRICS: Across 10 races at 1.5-mile tracks this season, Byron has an average finish of 12.3 – ranking 10th overall in the Cup Series. In the last seven 1.5-mile track races, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native’s average improves to 12.0 – the seventh-highest average.

      Chad Knaus on his ‘unicorn’ track, his history on the No. 24 and more
      In the second half of his interview with Jeff Gordon, Chad Knaus opens up about how having a family has helped him build a better team on Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 24 car, his difficulties at Chicagoland Speedway, how his TV work allows him to “get away from racing” and his memories painting the iconic Axalta Rainbow scheme.
      Watch Part 1 of Jeff’s interview with Chad


      ALEX BOWMAN

      WELCOME TO MIAMI: Bowman has four starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 26-year-old driver’s best finish of 16th came in 2016 while he was filling in behind the wheel of the No. 88 machine for Earnhardt. Out of 1,069 total laps in those four events, Bowman has completed 99.2 percent. The Tucson, Arizona, native has one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the 1.5-mile track. In 2016, Bowman drove the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports and brought home a 14th-place finish after qualifying eighth in the Xfinity race.

      1.5-MILE TRACK STATS: So far this season, Bowman has the third-best average finish in the Cup Series, 9.3, on tracks measuring 1.5 miles in length. It is the best average of all Chevrolet drivers. In the last seven races on 1.5-mile tracks, Bowman’s average finish is 7.0, which leads the series. All five of his best finishes on tracks of that length have come in the last seven events. Exactly half of his 10 career top-10 finishes have come on 1.5-mile tracks this season. Bowman was the first Chevrolet driver to get a win at a 1.5-mile facility this season when he claimed the victory at Chicagoland Speedway in June.

      IVES AT MIAMI: For the fifth time in his NASCAR Cup Series crew chief career, Greg Ives will call the shots for the No. 88 team this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s best finish at the track came in 2016 with Bowman behind the wheel when the team finished 16th. Ives’ best qualifying effort at the track came in 2015 when Earnhardt qualified ninth for the 267-lap event. The crew chief’s resume includes two starts in the Xfinity Series at the Florida-based facility, where his best finish of 17th came in 2014 with Chase Elliott. From 2006-2012, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of two pole awards, two top-five results and four top 10s.

      CAREER YEAR: It is safe to say that the 2019 season has been Bowman’s best campaign to date. The 26-year-old captured his first Cup Series victory in June at Chicagoland after leading 88 laps. This season, he has more than doubled his total of three top-five finishes from 2018, securing seven in 2019 with one race remaining. The driver has currently tied his number of top-10 finishes from a year ago with 11. Last season, Bowman led 71 laps, while this year he has totaled 200 laps led, tying his season-best from back in 2016. At the end of 2018, Bowman’s average finish was 17.0. This season, he is on track to have an average finish of 14.5 or better. Not only did he qualify for the Cup Series playoffs once again this season, he was able to advance to the Round of 12 for the second straight time. 

      BOWMAN ON FINALE: “Going into this weekend is a little bittersweet. With this being Nationwide’s final race on our Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, we definitely want to go out and try to get them one final win. This 88 team hasn’t given up. We may not be racing where we want to be on track, but this team keeps digging. The Hendrick Motorsports team back at the shop has been working hard on our cars for this weekend, so hopefully we can unload with some speed and get it done on Sunday to finish out the 2019 season strong.”

      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


      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT HOMESTEAD: Hendrick Motorsports has earned two wins, three pole positions, 15 top-five finishes, 31 top 10s and 543 laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The organization’s first win at the 1.5-mile track came courtesy of Jeff Gordon in 2012, when he led the final 13 laps of the race en route to Victory Lane. The most recent Hendrick Motorsports win at the Florida venue came in the 2016 season as Jimmie Johnson clinched his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series title. At least one Hendrick Motorsports driver has finished inside the top 10 at Homestead for 17 consecutive races, the longest streak all-time at the track. The last Homestead race without a top-10 finisher from Hendrick Motorsports was in 2001 when Terry Labonte led the organization to the checkered flag in 11th.

      WINNING THE LAST RACE: A Hendrick Motorsports driver has won the final race of a season on six different occasions. The first season-finale win belonged to Geoffrey Bodine at Riverside in 1984 and the most recent belonged to Johnson at Homestead in 2016.

      1.5-MILE TRACK SUCCESS: Hendrick Motorsports’ 59 wins on 1.5-mile tracks are the most all-time in the NASCAR Cup Series. In 2019, the organization’s average finish of 12th on tracks of that length ranks second only to Joe Gibbs Racing, which holds an average finish of 10.9.

      SEASON IN REVIEW: With just one race remaining in 2019, Hendrick Motorsports has won four times this season, the organization’s 28th season with at least four wins. Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one race in each of the past 34 seasons, which is the all-time record for consecutive years with a victory. Overall, it’s the 35th different season in which the organization has found Victory Lane, with Petty Enterprises the only team to beat that feat with 36 seasons. The 2019 season began with the organization becoming the first-ever to qualify 1-2-3-4 for the Daytona 500, capturing its record 13th Daytona 500 pole in the process. The organization has won the pole in 36 percent of the Daytona 500s in which it has competed, including five straight. By the time the playoffs rolled around, the organization fielded three drivers in the playoffs for the third straight season.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports