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      NASCAR gears up for Brickyard 400 on Fourth of July weekend

      Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400
      Indianapolis Motor Speedway

      Sunday, July 5 | 4 p.m. ET


      THE LAST FIVE: With momentum on their side, William Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team have not finished outside the top 15 in the last five NASCAR Cup Series races. Of those five starts, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has racked up three top-10 results, including a season-best finish of seventh on Sunday at Pocono Raceway. With an average finish of 9.8 in the last five races, Byron ranks third-best in the Cup Series.

      © 2020 Matt Thacker / NKP

      BACK AT THE BRICKYARD: With two Cup Series starts in the illustrious Brickyard 400, Byron has had Sunday’s race circled on his calendar. While weather dampened his rookie season start at the 2.5-mile track, Byron rebounded in last year’s race, qualifying 29th and racing his way to a personal-best fourth-place finish at Indianapolis in the Cup Series.

      HISTORY MAKER: Byron made his first trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2017 with the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While battling for a championship, he became the youngest driver to win a NASCAR race at the historic track at 19 years, 7 months and 23 days and the third-youngest driver in any racing series to win on the oval.

      WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?: If Byron ends up kissing the bricks on Sunday, he will add to the already lengthy legacy of the No. 24 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Currently, the No. 24 car number ranks first overall in Brickyard 400 wins at the historic track with five – all coming from Jeff Gordon – dating back to the inaugural race in 1994. If Byron were to capture the win, he would extend the lead that the No. 24 has over the second-ranked No. 48, also of Hendrick Motorsports, which has four wins currently.

      KNAUS’ INDY INSIGHTS: Returning to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 19th time atop the pit box, Chad Knaus leads all Cup Series crew chiefs in Brickyard 400 wins with four. No other crew chief, past or present, has more than two. Knaus won three of four Indy races from 2006-2009 with driver Jimmie Johnson and another in 2012. In addition to his four wins as a crew chief, Knaus visited victory lane at IMS one time as a member of Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 team in 1994 during the inaugural running of the Brickyard 400.

      ALL-STAR RACE VOTING: For the first time in Cup Series history, the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race will be held on the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway, and Byron is looking to lock himself in. Last year, the driver of the No. 24 battled his way into the main event by winning the first stage of the Open qualifying race in a stellar last-corner pass. However, if Byron isn’t able to lock himself in to the All-Star Race before July 15 by winning a points-paying Cup Series race, he will have three chances during the Open qualifying race by winning one of the race stages, or receiving the fan vote. Fans can place their vote once per day with votes shared on social media counting double at NASCAR.com/fanvote until noon ET on Tuesday, July 14. The winner of the fan vote will be announced immediately following the conclusion of the Open qualifying race on Wednesday, July 15.

      BYRON ON BUILDING OFF A STRONG RUN AT IMS LAST YEAR: “I’m really excited for the Brickyard 400 to be on July Fourth weekend, even though it’ll be hotter than when we are normally there. The Brickyard is a marquee race at a marquee racetrack. This is another race that I’ve been looking forward to this season, not only because of how special the race is, but seeing what our team can do. Last year we had a really strong race overall and finished fourth. We’ll see how we unload this weekend, but I think we will have a good chance to contend for the win. We want to win every weekend, but this would just be an awesome race to win in general.”

      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


      BOWMAN IN INDY: Alex Bowman will make his fifth start at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The Tucson, Arizona, native also has two starts (2013 and 2015) in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the historic track.

      © 2020 Matt Thacker / NKP

      BEST AVERAGE: Over the last five races, Bowman, driver of the No. 88 ChevyGoods.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, is 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series with an average finish of 13.4. The sixth-year Cup Series driver has the sixth-best average running position overall in 2020 at 11.6. So far this season, the No. 88 pit crew has an average four-tire pit stop of 14.16 seconds, which is seventh-best among teams.

      LEADING LAPS: Bowman, 27, has led 381 total laps in 15 events this season, which is fifth-best in the NASCAR Cup Series. The No. 88 team has four stage wins in 2020, which is second overall. Bowman has captured 142 stage points this season.

      IVES AT THE BRICKYARD: Greg Ives has called the shots for the No. 88 Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway five times since joining the team as crew chief in 2015. The Bark River, Michigan, native’s Brickyard résumé includes a best finish of 13th, which came in 2016 with Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon behind the wheel. Ives also has two starts in the Xfinity Series at Indianapolis, which include one top-15 result when Chase Elliott finished 12th in 2014 after starting fifth. As a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006-2012, Ives was part of four wins at the Brickyard with driver Jimmie Johnson.

      BOWMAN ON LEARNING AT IMS: “Indianapolis is one of those tracks where we continue to learn each time we go there. We haven’t had great finishes at the track, but I think we make gains each time. Greg (Ives) and the guys have been putting in a ton of work both at the track and away from the track. I know that we will have a car that can contend for a win when we arrive.”

      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


      ’YARD WORK: Hendrick Motorsports won the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994 and never looked back. The team has posted an all-time record 10 NASCAR Cup Series victories at the world-famous venue, which is twice the next-best total (Joe Gibbs Racing). Hendrick Motorsports holds the track records for top-five finishes (27), top 10s (42) and laps led (1,030). It has never gone more than three Brickyard races without a posting a win.

      KISS THE BRICKS: Three different Hendrick Motorsports drivers have scored wins in the last eight Cup Series races held at Indianapolis: Jimmie Johnson (2012), Jeff Gordon (2014) and Kasey Kahne (2017). A Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has led the most laps in four of the last nine races there.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports