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      William Byron looking forward to ‘unpredictable’ Talladega

      © 2019 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      GEICO 500
      Talladega Superspeedway

      Sunday, June 21 | 3 p.m. ET

      WILLIAM BYRON

      LOOKING AT THE LAST FOUR: With Byron’s top-10 finish on Sunday, he is currently on a two-race streak of finishes within the top 10 and has posted three top 10s in the last four Cup Series races, including eighth-place finishes at Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.

      © 2019 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      ‘DEGA DETAILS: Making his fifth Talladega start in the Cup Series on Sunday, Byron will try to change his luck at the 2.66-mile track. In all four previous races, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native had solid runs but only has a track-best finish of 20th (October 2018) due to the unpredictability of superspeedway racing. He looked poised to grab the victory last fall after winning Stage 1 and leading the field for 13 laps. However, while leading with 30 to go, an ill-timed push from behind sent Byron around and ended his day early.

      KNAUS DIGS ‘DEGA: With a skill for superspeedway racing, crew chief Chad Knaus is set to call his 39th Talladega race in the NASCAR Cup Series when the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE hits the track Sunday. Racking up six pole awards at the 2.66-mile venue, including a streak of four in a row in his first four races as a Cup Series crew chief, Knaus also has two wins at Talladega, all coming with Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team. Knaus kept that momentum going with Byron and the No. 24 team last year. In both showings, they were in contention for the win until incidents late in the going ended their races early.

      BYRON TALKS TALLADEGA: “I’m excited to get to Talladega. We always have fast cars as an organization. Talladega last year was really good for us as a team. We were leading and got pushed sideways, which ended our day. I think though that this weekend will be a good opportunity for us to do well. It is unpredictable but you have to do what you can to try and stay in contention and be there at the end. You really look past your windshield during the race so to speak. You mainly watch the car running two spots ahead of you more than anything. This weekend will be no different. You have to watch the cars ahead to try and spot potential wrecks before they happen to give yourself more reaction time. If we can do that and keep our nose clean, we’ll be in a really good spot to grab the win.”


      Chad Knaus talks William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, returning to the No. 24 & more
      Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Chad Knaus, crew chief of Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 24 car, discusses the difference between a young Jimmie Johnson and William Byron, how NASCAR has evolved during his time in the sport, his experience working as a crew chief when he was just a teenager and whether he ever wanted to become a driver.
      Watch Part 2 of Jeff’s interview with Chad

      ALEX  BOWMAN

      ABOVE AVERAGE: In the first 12 races of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, Bowman has the sixth-best average running position of 11.24. The No. 88 pit crew’s stops this year have been quick each week, as well. The team ranks fourth on the list of pit crews with an average four-tire stop time of 14.031 seconds.

      BOWMAN AT ‘DEGA: Bowman will make his 10th Talladega start in the Cup Series on Sunday. The No. 88 driver’s best finish of second at the track came during the 2019 spring event after leading seven laps. He has led 33 laps total at the superspeedway and has two top-10 finishes. In 2013, Bowman made one start at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and finished 13th after rolling off 14th.

      © 2019 John K Harrelson / NKP

      LEADING LAPS: Bowman has led four races for a career high 369 laps so far in 2020. In just 12 events, the 27-year-old driver has led 169 laps more than he did in 2019 and is currently ranked fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series in laps led this season.

      STAGE POINTS: In 2020, Bowman has won four stages in 12 races. The Tucson, Arizona, native has captured 126 stage points this year, which is fourth overall in the NASCAR Cup Series.

      IVES IN ALABAMA: On Sunday, crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the 11th time at Talladega for the No. 88 team. The Bark River, Michigan, native has one win with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015 after leading 67 laps, three top-five finishes and five top-10 results at the track. Ives’ drivers have an average start of 6.3 at the 2.66-mile facility. In 2017, the crew chief’s team started from the pole position and in 2018, Bowman led 26 laps to bring home an eighth-place finish. In total, Ives’ drivers have led 168 laps and have completed 88.9% of the total laps in 10 events. The crew chief’s resume includes one win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the superspeedway with Regan Smith in 2013. Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006-2012. During that time, he was a part of two wins, two pole awards and seven top-10 finishes at Talladega.

      IVES HAS SUPERSPEEDWAY SUCCESS: Ives has earned two of his four points-paying Cup wins at superspeedways. In 2015, he visited victory lane twice with Earnhardt – once at Daytona and once at Talladega. Ives won a Duel qualifying race at Daytona in 2015 and 2016 with Earnhardt and has four superspeedway pole awards in the Cup Series, including three at Daytona.

      BOWMAN ON HIS TALLADEGA EXPERIENCE: “Talladega is a track where we have been pretty good at in the past. I feel like any time Hendrick Motorsports goes to a superspeedway, we are solid. Last year in the spring we were really fast and had a great car. We came up short by one spot to Chase (Elliott), but that just shows how great these Hendrick Motorsports cars are at Talladega.”

      Rick Hendrick on his early days in NASCAR and the driver who surprised him most
      After racing for him for 23 full-time seasons, Jeff Gordon sits down with fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick to discuss Hendrick Motorsports’ beginnings, what surprised them about Jimmie Johnson, big risks paying off and more.
      Part 2 | Part 3

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      MEGA ‘DEGA: Hendrick Motorsports is the all-time leader in every major statistical category at Talladega Superspeedway. In NASCAR Cup Series competition, the team holds the track records for wins (13), pole positions (13), runner-up finishes (14), top fives (58), top 10s (88) and laps led (2,843). Hendrick Motorsports’ most recent Talladega victory was April 2019 with Chase Elliott.

      EIGHT AGAIN: Seven different drivers have contributed to Hendrick Motorsports’ 13 Talladega wins: Jeff Gordon (6), Jimmie Johnson (2), Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers, Terry Labonte and Ken Schrader. Last month, Elliott became the eighth driver to visit victory lane for car owner Rick Hendrick at the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval – a new record for the most drivers to win for any team at any NASCAR Cup Series racetrack. A first-place finish Sunday at Talladega by William Byron or Alex Bowman would equal the mark.

      NOT A TYPO: A Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has led in each of the last 36 NASCAR Cup Series races held at Talladega Superspeedway, representing the longest active streak.

      AS OF LATE: Hendrick Motorsports has scored at least one top-10 finish in the last six Cup races held at Talladega and has won a stage in each of the last two events there. The team qualified 1-2-3-4 at the track last October and has earned 10 Talladega pole positions in the last 10 seasons (since 2010).

      2020 TOP-10 STREAKS: Hendrick Motorsports has placed at least one of its four cars inside the top 10 in the last 11 NASCAR Cup Series races and put two or more in the top 10 in four straight. Elliott, Byron and Johnson have each posted three top-10 finishes in the last four events.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports