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      NASCAR Cup Series visits DAYTONA Road Course for first time

      © 2019 Rusty Jarrett / NKP

      GoBowling 235
      DAYTONA International Speedway Road Course

      Sunday, Aug. 16 | 3 p.m. ET

      ALEX  BOWMAN

      LEFT AND RIGHT AT DAYTONA: Alex Bowman, along with the rest of the drivers in the field, will make his first NASCAR Cup Series start on the DAYTONA Road Course on Sunday. The Tucson, Arizona, native has 10 Cup Series starts on road courses with a personal best average finish on the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval of 3.0. The No. 88 team captured a fourth-place roval finish in 2018 and was runner-up last season to teammate Chase Elliott.

      © 2020 Getty Images

      IVES AT A ROAD COURSE: Crew chief Greg Ives has 12 starts on road courses in the NASCAR Cup Series but this weekend will be his first at Daytona. The Bark River, Michigan, native has two top-five results and five top 10s at road courses in the series. Last year, the crew chief called the shots for Bowman’s second-place result at Charlotte.

      AXALTA ON BOARD: This weekend’s race on Daytona International Speedway’s road course marks the third event of the 2020 season in which the Axalta colors will adorn Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. The leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings and Hendrick Motorsports announced an extension back in February that will take their partnership through the 2027 season. 

      STAGE PERFORMANCE: The No. 88 team has four stage wins this season, which is tied for third overall in the series. Bowman has captured 163 stage points in 2020, which is the sixth-highest number of points earned by drivers. The driver of the Axalta Chevrolet is running better than what his finishing positions show. Bowman’s average running position is 12.24, but his average finish is 18.05, which is a difference of 5.81.

      PIT ROAD WARRIORS: The No. 88 pit crew ranks sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series with an average four-tire stop time of 14.107 seconds after 22 events this season. The team includes fueler Jacob Conley, tire carrier Rowdy Harrell, jackman Dustin Lineback and tire changers Scott Brzozowski and Devin DelRicco.

      BOWMAN ON COMPETING ON A NEW TRACK: “The good thing about this weekend is that none of the drivers really know what to expect. It is really more of a level playing field. We have been in the simulator this week just trying to learn more about the configuration and speeds in the corners. I think we have some strengths that we can bring from the roval, so we just need to capitalize on that on Sunday.”

      IVES ON DAYTONA PREPARATIONS: “We are preparing the best way we know how for the DAYTONA Road Course. It is going to be strange, but we are doing the same thing we did when we were preparing to go to the roval for the first time. We went into that race thinking there would be a lot of cautions, especially going into turn one for the first time, but everything was good. Main difference here is at the roval we had practice.”


      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

      WILLIAM BYRON

      FINAL FOUR: With only four races left in the regular season, William Byron is looking to lock himself into the playoffs for the second time in his three-year NASCAR Cup Series career. Gaining 28 points on the playoff bubble over the last four races, the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE went from two points below the cutoff line to 26 points above it and 16th in the standings.

      © 2020 Matt Thacker / NKP

      CLOSE COMPARISON: When the race goes green Sunday afternoon, it will mark the first time that Byron – or anyone else in the field – will have made a Cup Series lap at the newly revamped DAYTONA Road Course. While the 3.56-mile circuit will bring a lot of unknowns, Byron’s prior success at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s roval bodes well for the 22-year-old driver. With two starts at his home track road course, Byron had his best run there last season after capturing the pole and scoring a solid sixth-place finish.

      BECOMING A ROAD-COURSE RINGER: Despite a limited background in road racing, Byron has become accustomed quickly. In June 2019, he raced to his first career Cup Series stage win at Sonoma Raceway after qualifying second. Byron followed it up in August at Watkins Glen International, qualifying second and running in the top five before an incident left him with a 21st-place finish. In fact, of six stages run on road courses last season, Byron finished in the top 10 in five of them.

      BYRON ON THE DAYTONA ROAD COURSE: “I am a bit more optimistic on how this race is going to turn out. I was at Daytona for the 24-hour race this past year. I feel like even that time gives me a good idea of what the track looks like and what the car needs to feel like based on the things I heard and saw. I know some guys have made laps on that road course in sports cars, which may give them a bit of an advantage. There are simulation tools that I can use to prepare and get better for this race. I’m just really excited about this race, overall.”

      BYRON ON HIS ROAD-COURSE RACING STYLE: “When it comes to road-course racing, I feel like I try to find a nice balance between aggression and consistency. When I need to make fast laps, I am super aggressive by using the curbs, getting as much as I can out of the apex of the corners and using aggressive braking to pass guys. Once the race kind of goes on and the pace mellows out though, I settle in and work more on consistency lap after lap. If you just constantly push, push, push, it is extremely hard on the tires. You have to push when you’re trying to pass someone and then set your own pace from there.”

      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

      NEW TRACK, WHO D-I-S: For the first time in its history, the NASCAR Cup Series will go fender-to-fender on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course on Sunday. Since 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has seen victory lane 37 times in Cup competition on the iconic 2.5-mile DIS oval, including eight prestigious DAYTONA 500s. The team has won 14 points-paying Cup Series races at Daytona, along with 16 DAYTONA 500 Duel qualifying events and seven non-points Clash at DAYTONA exhibitions.

      KINGS OF THE ROAD: Hendrick Motorsports owns the all-time record for NASCAR Cup Series road-course wins with 18, which is six more than second-place Joe Gibbs Racing. Six different drivers have delivered at least one road-course victory for team owner Rick Hendrick: Jeff Gordon (nine), Chase Elliott (three), Tim Richmond (three), Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Rudd and Geoff Bodine. Gordon holds the Cup Series record for most road-course wins by a driver, all coming with Hendrick Motorsports.

      GOING RIGHT: In 2019, Hendrick Motorsports was sporty on road courses. In three road races last season, the team led 162 of 289 laps (56%) and won two races, two pole positions and four of six stages. Elliott posted road-course victories at Watkins Glen International and Charlotte Motor Speedway, where teammates Alex Bowman, William Byron and Johnson finished second, sixth and ninth, respectively.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports