NASCAR Cup Series Championship
Sunday, Nov. 7 | 3 p.m. ET
TAKING THE WHITE FLAG: Down to the final race in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron has one more chance to improve his already career-best stats this year at the highest level of competition in the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. So far, Byron has collected one win (Homestead-Miami Speedway), two pole awards (Road America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – most by a driver this season), four top-two finishes, 12 top fives and 20 top 10s all while leading 425 laps and collecting four stage wins. In his Cup career, these are the most top-two finishes, top fives, top 10s, laps led and stage wins the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has collected in a single season.
VENTURING TO THE VALLEY OF THE SUN: Heading to a place where he has found success in every level of NASCAR competition, Byron will return to Phoenix Raceway for the eighth time in his Cup career. Across his seven Cup Series starts at the 1-mile oval, Byron has a track-best finish of eighth from March of this season. In fact, Byron currently holds a three-race top-10 streak at Phoenix. The 23-year-old driver also has two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix on his résumé, both coming in 2017, when he started on the front row and finished in the top four in both races, including a win in November. With that victory, he became the youngest winner ever at Phoenix in the Xfinity Series at 19 years, 11 months and 13 days.
DYNAMIC DUO OUT WEST: In 2016, Byron was behind the wheel for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the 1-mile oval with crew chief Rudy Fugle atop the pit box. The duo won the pole and went on to lead 112 laps. Unfortunately, an engine failure while Byron was leading with 10 laps to go ended his night early and his chances to advance on to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – where they ended up finding redemption and winning.
RUDY’S PHOENIX PERFORMANCE: Heading to Phoenix Raceway for the second time in his Cup Series crew chief career, Fugle’s first outing earlier this season resulted in an eighth-place effort with the No. 24 team. Aside from that lone Cup Series start, Fugle has eight Truck Series starts under his belt at the 1-mile oval. In those eight races, Fugle has four pole awards and his drivers have led a total of 471 laps. While Fugle has only one win Phoenix (Erik Jones, 2013), he also has two runner-up results, three top-five finishes and six top 10s. In fact, Fugle’s drivers have finished worse than ninth only two times, including the race with Byron that they dominated before an engines failure resulted in a 27th-place finish.
RAPTOR® TOUGH: After making its debut a couple weeks ago at Kansas Speedway, the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will once again hit the track, this time for this weekend’s race at Phoenix Raceway. RAPTOR® is a durable protective coating and bed liner that is designed to tolerate the toughest climatic conditions and can be applied to a wide range of substrates from steel, wood, concrete and plaster to plastics and composites. Resistant to common fuels, U.V., scratches and stains, RAPTOR® is available at local paint distributors, auto parts stores and can also be purchased from online retailers.
BYRON TALKS GOING BACK TO PHOENIX: “When we went to Phoenix earlier this season, it was a good experimental race for us. It was still early on in the year, and we were still getting Rudy (Fugle) up to speed in the Cup Series. I think we learned a lot that race, but unfortunately not a ton will apply when we go back this weekend. With everything we’ve learned throughout the year, the car will be set up completely different and the track will handle differently, as well. The good thing is we will have practice this time around. With this being the final race, you know everyone will bring their best equipment, but we will have the time to really dial it in before the race. You just don’t want to cross the fine line of dialing yourself in or dialing yourself out.”
FUGLE ON WHAT THE NO. 24 TEAM HAS ACCOMPLISHED THIS SEASON: “It’s crazy to think that this is the last race of the season and that my ‘rookie’ year is coming to a close. I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished as a team this year. I had a lot to learn coming in and everyone helped to get me up to speed. We won a race so early on and showed consistency throughout the rest of the year. This team as a whole, William included, has grown so much in just a short time to have a career-best year. There will be more to come; our chance will come. We would love to be heading to Phoenix in the hunt for a championship but we’re glad to have two teammates in the hunt representing Hendrick Motorsports, as well. We’ll all four be strong Sunday.”
CHAMPIONSHIP FOCUS: On Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports will field two championship contenders – Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson – in the title-deciding NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Phoenix Raceway. It will be the first time the team has placed two drivers in the Championship 4 since NASCAR went to its current playoff format in 2014. Hendrick Motorsports holds the all-time records for Cup Series championships (13) and different drivers to win a title (four). Jimmie Johnson (seven championships), Jeff Gordon (four), Elliott (2020) and Terry Labonte (1996) have all won Cup trophies for the organization.
BOWTIE 40TH: Chevrolet has secured the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series manufacturer championship, marking its milestone and record-extending 40th. With one race remaining in the season, Chevy teams have won 18 of 35 points-paying events. In 2021, Hendrick Motorsports has delivered 16 of the 18 Chevrolet victories (89%) and contributed 83% of the points toward the manufacturer title. Since Rick Hendrick founded the team in 1984, 279 of Chevy’s 551 wins (51%) have come from his stable.
IN THE DUST: Entering Sunday’s Cup Series season finale at Phoenix Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports holds the track records for wins (11), pole positions (12), top-five finishes (50), top 10s (92) and laps led (2,904). Elliott clinched the 2020 Cup Series championship with his win there last November.
GO TIME: Hendrick Motorsports has won five of the nine 2021 Cup Series playoff races – including each of the last four – and eight of 14 dating back to last year. It has recorded at least one playoff win in 17 straight seasons (since the playoffs began in 2004) and notched 52 combined wins in playoff races, which is the most. A Hendrick Motorsports driver has won in each of the last six playoff elimination races, including Elliott’s title-clinching performance at Phoenix in 2020.
STAGING AREA: With 27 stage wins thus far in 2021, Hendrick Motorsports is tied with Joe Gibbs Racing (2019) for the most ever in a single Cup Series season. The team will have an opportunity to break the record Sunday at Phoenix.
TOP-TWOS: With one race remaining, Hendrick Motorsports has recorded 32 top-two finishes in 2021, which is tied with JGR (2019) for the most in a single season in NASCAR’s modern era (since 1972). Hendrick Motorsports has swept the first and second positions in seven races this year, including a string of four straight 1-2 finishes.
YEAR TO REMEMBER: The 2021 season has been one of the most memorable in the history of Hendrick Motorsports. In May, the team finished 1-2-3-4 at Dover International Speedway, won Chevrolet’s milestone 800th race at Circuit of the Americas and at Charlotte Motor Speedway broke Petty Enterprises’ long-standing record for Cup Series wins. With one event remaining on the calendar, Hendrick Motorsports has recorded 16 points-paying victories, which is its second-most in a single season (18 in 2007). It became the only team since 1972 to win six consecutive points races – and seven overall including Larson’s non-points NASCAR All-Star Race victory. With its entire four-car stable contributing to the 2021 total, Hendrick Motorsports is the first team in Cup Series history with four race winners under the age of 30 in a single season.