Pocono Organics 325 in partnership with Rodale Institute
Saturday, June 27 | 3:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, June 28 | 4 p.m. ET
SHIFTING MOMENTUM: While the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season may not have started like William Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team hoped, they have diligently worked to build positive momentum. During the first seven races this year, Byron had one top-10 finish, three top 15s and led four laps en route to an average finish of 22nd. In the last six races, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has collected three top 10s, five top 15s and led 22 laps, all while holding a 13.5 average finishing position. Even with the unfortunate luck early this season, Byron is sitting 14th in the driver point standings compared to 15th at the same point in 2019.
KEEPING THE STREAK ALIVE: Byron has one of the best chances to capitalize on this weekend’s doubleheader at Pocono Raceway, which is one of his best tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Byron is riding a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes at the “Tricky Triangle” dating back to the July race during his 2018 rookie season. This three-race top-10 stretch is the longest for Byron at any track. The third-year driver is tied for second on the list of longest active top-10 finishes at Pocono behind Kyle Busch who has seven consecutive top-10 results there.
PREVIEWING POCONO: In his four Cup Series starts at Pocono, Byron has one pole award coming in the June race last season, as well as one top-five finish and three top-10s. He led 35 laps in two of those events. With a personal track-best finish of fourth during his last trip to Pocono Raceway, Byron holds a 9.25 average finish, which ranks second-best all-time behind Erik Jones, who has an 8.33 average.
PAST POCONO WINNER: Byron isn’t a stranger to victory lane at Pocono. After starting from the pole in 2016, he dominated the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race, leading 44 out of 60 laps before capturing the checkered flag.
NO TRICKING KNAUS: Making his 38th and 39th starts as a Cup Series crew chief at Pocono Raceway, Chad Knaus leads active Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs in best finishes there. With three wins at the 2.5-mile triangular track, Knaus swept both races in 2004 and captured the win again from the pole in the spring of 2013 with Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team. Last year, he called the shots for Byron during their first two trips together to Pocono. In June, the duo captured the pole position, led 25 laps and scored a ninth-place finish. Despite starting at the rear of the field in late July, Knaus and Byron utilized pit strategy to put the No. 24 in contention, scoring a fourth-place finish.
AXALTA’S HOMEBASE: Byron has extra motivation during this weekend’s doubleheader at Pocono Raceway, racing in primary sponsor Axalta’s backyard. With its headquarters located less than 100 miles from the “Tricky Triangle” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third-year driver will pilot the iconic Axalta flames for both races this weekend.
BYRON TALKS DOUBLEHEADER: “I think, overall, it’s going to be a fun weekend. I really enjoy racing at Pocono. I think it’s one of those racetracks we go to that’s cool to race at but is also really tough to get around. The restarts are really difficult and usually pretty treacherous. It’s important to have good, clean and consistent restarts there. You also need a good long-run car that turns well to make speed. Now adding in back-to-back races there, I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to bring a new challenge, and I think we’re up for it. We’ve ran well at Pocono in the past, so this is a chance for us to really capitalize.”
KNAUS ON BACK-TO-BACK: “I’m excited for the doubleheader and the challenges it’s going to bring. I do think though that with us in a new normal of no practice and no qualifying that it almost makes this weekend’s doubleheader a bit easier. We don’t have to worry about the mileage on pieces and parts of the car as much as we would have. Of course, there will be some parts of the car that we’ll go over more closely no matter what just because of how rough Pocono is and the amount that these bodies shift over bumps. I think the biggest challenge will be the strategy aspect not just for the best outcome on Saturday but to set yourself up for a good result in Sunday’s race as well. Honestly though, I’m just really excited to get to the track and see how this whole thing works out. Pocono is a track I love going to and has always been one of my favorites.”
BOWMAN STATS AT THE ‘TRICKY TRIANGLE’: Bowman is set to make his ninth and 10th Cup Series starts at Pocono Raceway during doubleheader events this weekend. The Tucson, Arizona, native earned his best start (10th) and best finish (third) at the track in July 2018. He has completed 99.4% of the total laps at the 2.5-mile track. Bowman has one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania, venue, starting and finishing 10th in 2016. The 27-year-old driver also has two starts in the ARCA Series at the track in 2012, when he finished third in both events.
2020 STANDINGS: After 13 races this season, Bowman and his No. 88 team are sitting in eighth place in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings. The Chevrolet driver has one win (Fontana), two top-five finishes and four top 10s. Following Monday’s event at Talladega Superspeedway, Bowman has led 381 laps in 2020 and has led laps in six out of 13 events. He has captured four stage wins thus far and has an average running position of 11.24, which is sixth in the series in 2020.
POCONO RACEWAY CREDENTIALS: Ives has called the shots for the No. 88 team at Pocono Raceway 10 times since joining the team in 2015. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s resume includes three top-five finishes and four laps led. Ives’ best result at the track came in 2016 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished runner-up in the 160-lap event. Before moving to the No. 88 team, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 team between 2006 and 2012. During that time, the driver Jimmie Johnson captured 11 top-10 finishes and one pole award at the track.
BOWMAN ON POCONO: “Pocono is a really fun track. It is one of my favorite tracks we go to. We are typically really fast there. This track is an interesting track because there is a big compromise in all three corners. It is definitely one of the more technical places that we go to. … Pocono is a tough place to pass cars. One of the keys is to qualify decent, but since we aren’t qualifying, we need to hope we get a good draw. The track is really a one-groove track, and since it doesn’t widen out a lot, it is tough to get by cars. Hendrick Motorsports is building some fast cars right now and I know when we go to Pocono this weekend, that is what we will have.”
IVES TALKS PREPARING FOR A DOUBLEHEADER: “The Pocono doubleheader will be the first for the Cup teams, so there is a lack of knowing how it all will play out. The Xfinity cars did have a doubleheader at Homestead a few weeks ago, so we are able to pull from JR Motorsports’ experience there. When preparing you have to assume the worst scenarios so that you have what you need on the hauler. Experience is always the best knowledge when approaching these types of races, and we are getting a condensed course on that as it unfolds. As we have seen with the weather lately, that always can take your plans and make you adjust quickly.”
12 AND COUNTING: Alex Bowman’s seventh-place performance Monday at Talladega Superspeedway extended Hendrick Motorsports’ run of consecutive Cup races with at least one top-10 finish to 12, the longest active streak. The last time the organization did not put a car in the top 10 was the 2020 DAYTONA 500 in February.
CHIPPING AWAY AT 70K: Hendrick Motorsports is quickly approaching 70,000 laps led in the NASCAR Cup Series. Its 69,820 laps led since 1984 is the all-time record and nearly 10,000 more than any other team. After 13 races in 2020, the organization has led 931 laps, which is more than it posted through 13 races in 2018 and 2019 combined. Hendrick Motorsports, which has led laps in every race this season, needs to lead 180 more laps to reach the 70,000 mark. There are 270 laps up for grabs during this weekend Pocono Raceway doubleheader.
NOT EVEN CLOSE: In NASCAR Cup Series competition at Pocono Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports is the all-time leader in wins (17), pole positions (13), top-five finishes (70), top 10s (126) and laps led. The organization’s 3,270 laps led at the 2.5-mile triangular track is nearly twice the total of the next-best team (Team Penske has 1,641).
LUCKY SEVEN: Seven different drivers have won NASCAR Cup Series races for Hendrick Motorsports at Pocono: Jeff Gordon (6), Jimmie Johnson (3), Tim Richmond (3), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2), Geoff Bodine, Terry Labonte and Kasey Kahne. The all-time record for different winners by a team at any Cup racetrack is eight, which was set by Hendrick Motorsports earlier this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway.