LOCATION: LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 14 OF 36) TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, JUNE 2 (FS1/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Chase ElliottHometown Dawsonville, Georgia Age 23 Resides Dawsonville, Georgia
3rd in standings
2 pole positions
5 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
400 laps led
6 pole positions
38 top-five finishes
65 top-10 finishes
1,643 laps led
0 pole positions
1 top-five finish
5 top-10 finishes
65 laps led
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, May 31, at 3:15 p.m. local time in the media center at Pocono Raceway.
SO FAR IN 2019: Halfway through the regular season, Chase Elliott has led a total of 400 laps – leading in seven of the eight races after going the first five races of the season without leading a single lap and currently the fourth most laps led by a driver this season. He has started from the pole position in two of the last six races (Bristol, Dover). In the first 13 races of the season, Elliott has collected five top-five finishes, six top-10s and averages a starting position of 12.4 and finishing position of 9.6. Last weekend’s fourth-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway moved him to third in the driver point standings.
KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE: The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has collected four straight top-five finishes (Talladega – first; Dover – fifth; Kansas – fourth; Charlotte – fourth). It marks the longest top-five streak of the 23-year-old driver’s NASCAR Cup Series career. His longest previous streak was two races in August 2018 (Bristol – Darlington).
CHARLOTTE RECAP: Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team ran a strong race on NASCAR’s longest night, earning a top-five finish in each stage and a fourth-place finishing result. The race was Elliott’s fourth consecutive top-five effort and moved the No. 9 NAPA driver to third in the NASCAR Cup Series standings
POCONO STATS: Elliott is set to make his seventh start at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend. He is currently on a streak of four top-10 finishes at the “Tricky Triangle”, second longest streak by track behind only Michigan (six-race streak). In his first six starts at the Pennsylvania track, the 23-year-old driver has collected one top-five finish and five top-10s. Elliott averages a starting position of 12.7 and a finishing position of 12.0. During his rookie start at Pocono in June 2016, he led 51 laps en route to a fourth-place finish, his best finish at the venue.
NO STRANGER TO POCONO: Besides his six starts in the Cup Series at the track, last season, Elliott made his Pocono NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in the No. 23 Chevrolet, starting 10th and collecting a runner-up finish in the 100-lap event. He has also made two ARCA Series starts at the Pocono. In his first visit to the track in June 2013, Elliott started 32nd and went on to lead 21 laps before collecting his first ARCA win.
ENGINE, ENGINE, NO. 9: This weekend, Elliott could become the third driver to win with the No. 9 car number. The No. 9 car number currently ranks fourth for the most wins at Pocono Raceway with six victories. His dad, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, garnered five of those wins and Kasey Kahne collected the most recent win with the No. 9 in June 2008.
GUSTAFSON AT THE TRICKY TRIANGLE: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 29th Pocono race from atop the pit box at the 2.5-mile triangle this weekend. In his previous 28 starts with five different drivers (Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Casey Mears and Kyle Busch), Gustafson has collected two wins – with Gordon in June 2011 and August 2012 – and garnered six top-five finishes and 16 top-10s.
HOME SWEET HOME: As the Cup Series heads to Pocono, there are four members of the No. 9 team that call the Keystone State home – car chief Josh Kirk (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania), engineer Matt Barndt (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), primary truck driver Dave Ott (St. Marys, Pennsylvania) and co-truck driver Heath Edler (Williamsport, Pennsylvania).
BEHIND THE BRAVES: Last week, Elliott, an avid Atlanta Braves fan, joined MLB.com’s Ricky Mast and former Braves World Series champion and current director of alumni relations Greg McMichaelon “Behind the Braves”, the official Atlanta Braves podcast to talk racing and baseball. Click here to listen to the full episode. They also chatted about the upcoming NAPA AUTO PARTS night (Wednesday, May 29) where the first 15,000 fans through the gate will receive a Braves/NAPA cap designed by Elliott.
No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina Age 21 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
15th in standings
2 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
3 top-10 finishes
123 laps led
2 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
7 top-10 finishes
184 laps led
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
10 laps led
600 IN THE REARVIEW: Charlotte-native William Byron captured his second NASCAR Cup Series pole last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and followed it up with a solid run in the illustrious 600-mile Memorial Day weekend event. Leading the initial 23 laps of the race, Byron maintained a top-five running order well into the 400-lap race. As the race transitioned into night, the handling of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 began to get aggressively tighter but Byron was able to fight on and secure a track-best finish of ninth – his third top-10 finish of the season.
WHAT SOPHOMORE SLUMP?: With one-third of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season officially complete, Byron has been making major strides during his sophomore season at the highest level of NASCAR competition. After collecting his second Cup Series pole award this past weekend at his hometown track, Byron has shown a steady increase through the 13-race stretch of 2019. Compared to the same point last season, Byron has improved his average starting position from 19.5 in 2018 to 11.5 including two Cup Series poles. He has also improved his average finishing position from 20.8 to 16.0 and increased his laps led count from 31 (61 total laps in all of 2018) to 123 so far this season. The sophomore driver also has completed 99.7 percent of all possible laps run, with only one DNF (season opener at Daytona). Additionally, Byron has scored three top-10 finishes, compared to one top-10 finish at this point last season and four total top-10 finishes all season. Byron’s improvements in 2019 have correlated in the Cup Series’ driver point standings as well where the driver of the No. 24 is now sitting 15th within the cutoff point for the NASCAR Playoffs.
HENDRICK AUTOGUARD RETURNS: The colors of Hendrick Autoguard will return to Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet for this weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway. Hendrick Autoguard is a premier vehicle protection program available at Hendrick Automotive Group dealerships, which includes additional individualized maintenance products like tire and wheel protection, paintless dent repair, oil change program, mechanical repair service contract, flexible maintenance, and others. The program affords customers numerous options to get the maximum value from their vehicle with the highest level of service in the industry. All Autoguard vehicle protection programs are available as single products or value-packaged for additional savings. For more, visit the Hendrick Autoguard website.
PREVIEWING POCONO: Byron heads to Pocono Raceway for the sixth time in his racing career – a track that has been good to him across many different series. Making his debut at the “Tricky Triangle” in 2016, Byron first competed at the track in June in the ARCA Series race, where he qualified third and left with a solid top-10 finish. The experience proved valuable, as he won the pole in his first Truck Series start at the track and dominated by leading 44 out of 60 laps before capturing the win. After that, Byron also collected a solid top-15 finish in his lone Xfinity Series start before moving up to the Cup Series full time. With two Cup Series starts last season at Pocono, Byron had solid days in both races, but ultimately collected his Cup Series-best finish of sixth in the July race after leading 10 laps.
LUCK IN NUMBERS: The No. 24 has been no stranger to success at Pocono Raceway in the past. Four-time champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon earned six wins at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania, track – the most of any Cup Series driver – while driving the No. 24 Chevrolet. With those six wins by Gordon, the No. 24 is tied for the third-most wins by a car number at the “Tricky Triangle.” If Byron can pick up the win this weekend, he would be the second driver to win at Pocono in the No. 24 as well as become the fifth driver to collect their first Cup Series win at Pocono Raceway.
KNAUS KNOWS: Heading to the “Tricky Triangle” for the 36th time in his Cup career as a crew chief, Chad Knaus leads active Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs in best finishes at Pocono Raceway. With three wins at the 2.5-mile triangular track, Knaus swept both races in 2004 and then captured the win again from the pole in the spring of 2013.
MEET BYRON: Byron fans will have multiple opportunities to meet the driver of the No. 24 this weekend at Pocono Raceway. On Friday, Byron will make a surprise appearance at the track. Fans interested should follow the driver’s Twitter account for details. On Sunday, Byron will stop by Pocono Raceway’s “Tricky Triangle Club” in the Chalet Village at 11 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session. Tickets to Byron’s Q&A and access to the “Tricky Triangle Club are available here.
No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Driver Jimmie JohnsonHometown El Cajon, California Age 43 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
14th in standings
1 pole position
1 top-five finish
6 top-10 finishes
68 laps led
36 pole positions
225 top-five finishes
358 top-10 finishes
18,771 laps led
3 pole positions
11 top-five finishes
20 top-10 finishes
740 laps led
CHARLOTTE REWIND: Last weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jimmie Johnson, and the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet team scored their sixth top-10 of the season when they started 15th and finished the 600-mile event in eighth. Johnson and the team fought handling issues and the No. 48 driver tagged the wall with less than 10 laps to go in the race while closing in on the top five. The damage proved to be minimal as Johnson was able to hold on for a solid finish to claim his 22nd top-10 finish at the track.
ONE YEAR AGO: Last season, this race marked Johnson’s 600th NASCAR Cup Series start. After starting 15th, Johnson finished eighth – leading two laps with an average running position of 9.48 throughout the 400-mile event. Johnson also boasts three wins, 11 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s at the Pennsylvania track.
LAST WIN AT POCONO: The El Cajon, California, native’s last win at the “Tricky Triangle” was June 9, 2013, when Johnson dominated the 400-mile event by leading 128 of 160 laps.
ON THIS DATE: Historically, in the last four races won on June 2, Johnson has claimed one of those victories. In 2002, the driver of the No. 48 machine won the race at Dover International Speedway after starting 10th and leading 188 laps. Johnson claims three of Hendrick Motorsports organization’s 17 wins at Pocono.
STARTING STRONG: The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevy has a history of starting inside the top 10 at the Pennsylvania track. In his 34 starts he has taken the green flag inside the top 10 a total of 19 times, making his average starting position 11.1 at the track. With his top-10 starts, eight of them are on the front row.
MEENDERING EXPERIENCE AT POCONO: Crew chief Kevin Meendering will be making his first Cup Series start at Pocono this weekend, but the Grand Rapids, Michigan, native finished in the top 10 in all three Xfinity Series starts at with JR Motorsports at the “Tricky Triangle”. Meendering was also the lead engineer of the No. 88 machine for the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. “sweep” of both Pocono races in 2014, with former crew chief Steve Letarte.
ICYMI JJxALO CAR SWAP DROP: Jimmie Johnson Racing released several “JJxALO Car Swap in Bahrain” videos on Johnson’s YouTube channel last week. The series of videos can be seen here.