Sunday, Mar. 8 | 3:30 p.m. ET
WINNER, WINNER: Last Sunday, Alex Bowman and the No. 88 team claimed the victory at Auto Club Speedway after leading 110 of the 200 total laps. The 26-year-old driver won the first stage in a dominating fashion and took second in Stage 2. With over a five-second gap between Bowman and the second-place competitor, Bowman brought home his second NASCAR Cup Series win and his first at the 2-mile speedway.
AXALTA ON BOARD: This weekend marks the first event of the 2020 season in which the Axalta colors will adorn Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports announced their partnership extension last month, which will go through the 2027 season.
WELCOME HOME: Bowman, a Tucson, Arizona, native, has nine starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway. His best finish of sixth came in the 2016 event when the No. 88 team started from the pole position and led a race-high 194 laps. Bowman’s average running position during that event was 1.9 and he spent 272 laps running inside the top two. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has six starts at the 1-mile track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Bowman’s best qualifying effort of fifth came in 2014 and 2017. In the fall event in 2017, Bowman claimed his best finish of eighth. In 2011, Bowman ran the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event at Phoenix Raceway, where he started ninth and led 23 laps en route to a second-place finish.
2020 STATS: In the first three races this season, Bowman has earned 33 stage points, which is the sixth-most points earned so far this season by a driver. The No. 88 team has earned five top-10 finishes in stages this year and Bowman has led the most laps in 2020 with 113. He has one win (Fontana, California) this season and is locked in the NASCAR playoffs.
IVES IN PHOENIX: For the 11th time in his crew chief career in the NASCAR Cup Series, Greg Ives will call the shots for the No. 88 team this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. The Michigan native claimed the victory in the 2015 fall event at the track with Dale Earnhardt Jr. after leading 22 laps. Ives led Bowman to a pole win at the track in 2016 and the No. 88 Chevrolet led 194 laps en route to a sixth-place finish. Ives has four starts at the venue as a crew chief in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with a best finish of fourth place coming in 2013 with driver Regan Smith. From 2006-12, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of four wins, one pole award and 11 top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway.
BOWMAN ON HIS VICTORY: “Bringing home the win in the third race of the season is a great way to start the year. Greg (Ives) and the guys brought a hot rod last week and it showed from the start of the first practice. This team has worked extremely hard over the offseason and it is great that it is showing so early in the season. Win No. 1 with Hendrick Motorsports was great, but the second win is even better!”
BOWMAN ON PHOENIX HOSTING THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE THIS SEASON: “I think it’s important, but at the same time, last year it was the second-to-last race, so it was still really important. It’s easy to say one place is more important than another, but we go 100% every week and there really isn’t a non-important race. I’m looking forward to getting there. We struggled there last year, so hopefully we’ve improved on that quite a bit.”
STACKING STAGE POINTS: While the results may not reflect the speed William Byron has shown in the first three races of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, another statistic does – stage points collected. Through the early part of the year, Byron has collected 22 stage points so far, ranking him eighth in comparison to the rest of the Cup Series field.
VENTURING TO THE VALLEY OF THE SUN: Heading to a track where he has found success in every level of national NASCAR competition, Byron will return to Phoenix Raceway for the fifth time in his Cup career. Across his four Cup Series starts at the 1-mile oval, Byron has a track-best finish of ninth (fall of 2018) with 15 laps led. The 22-year-old driver also has two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix on his resume, both coming in 2017, where he started on the front row and finished in the top four in both races, including a win that November. With that victory, Byron also became the youngest winner ever at Phoenix Raceway in the Xfinity Series at 19 years, 11 months and 13 days. In 2016, Byron was behind the wheel for the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Series race at the 1-mile oval, where he led for 112 laps and was in the hunt to make the final four of the playoffs before an engine failure ended his night early.
KNAUS’ PHOENIX PROWESS: For the 35th time as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief, Chad Knaus will sit atop the pit box at Phoenix Raceway. With four wins at the 1-mile oval, all coming with Jimmie Johnson, Knaus ranks second among active Cup crew chiefs, just one behind the top spot. He also has three pole awards at Phoenix Raceway with the No. 48.
BYRON ON NEW DYNAMIC WITH START/FINISH LINE CHANGE: “If you’re further back you’re still in the corner when the field goes green, so it makes it tough to get through the gears without spinning the tires. If you’re up front, it’s kind of the same thing, as well. Being the leader on the restart has a pretty good advantage because they’re able to time it. I think it’s about being in the right spot when you get into Turn One especially with the traction compound on the track. It’s tough because it gives you a different grip sensation in each lane.”
LAP LEADERS: Hendrick Motorsports has led the most laps in the first three races so far this season with 220. Alex Bowman has led for 113 of those laps, while Chase Elliott has led for 93 laps. They are the top-two lap leaders this season. It also marks the most laps led through three races for Hendrick Motorsports since 2015, when the organization led with 300. That year, the team won nine times and led for a total of 1,176 laps. Overall, Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with a total of 2,653 laps led in the history of the track.
DOMINANCE IN PHOENIX: Out of the last 30 races at Phoenix Raceway, the organization has the most wins with nine, leading the next-closest team by three victories. Hendrick Motorsports also has the most poles of all time (10), wins of all time (10), second-place finishes (nine) top-five finishes (47) and top-10 finishes (84). Jimmie Johnson has the most wins at this track of all time with four.
WIN STREAK ALIVE AND WELL: With Bowman’s win in Fontana, California, last Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports is tied with Petty Enterprises for the most seasons with a victory with 36. Bowman’s win also marks the 35th season in a row that Hendrick Motorsports has won a race, which is the longest streak of all time.