Alex Bowman Returns To Las Vegas Looking For Another Win; Hendrick Motorsports Is Ready
Story By: HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS – CONCORD, NC – Last year, Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman took home his only win of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season in the spring race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevy started 13th and won the first stage on his way to victory lane. His win solidified his position in the 2022 playoffs.
All told on 1.5-mile tracks in 2022, Bowman earned a win, two top-five finishes, four top-10s and led 123 laps.
ALEX BOWMAN: No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
FONTANA IN THE REARVIEW: Alex Bowman and the No. 48 Ally Racing team took home another top-10 finish at Auto Club Speedway (ACS) last Sunday, taking the checkered flag in eighth. He started from the fourth position at the 2-mile venue after qualifying was canceled due to rain. He finished the first stage in fourth and the second stage in eighth en route to his second straight points-paying top-10 finish. The Tucson, Arizona, native is the first Hendrick Motorsports driver since Kasey Kahne (in 2017) to open the season with back-to-back top 10s.
BIG FOUR-EIGHT: Through the first two points-paying events in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Bowman is off to a red-hot start with new crew chief Blake Harris. In his two starts at Daytona International Speedway and ACS, the 29-year-old driver has garnered one top-five finish, two top-10s, 29 laps led, an average starting position of 2.50 and an average finishing position of 6.50 – his best marks through two races. Furthermore, Bowman is one of just four Cup Series drivers to finish in the top 10 in both races, with Ross Chastain, Daniel Suárez and Joey Logano joining the short list.
NOTHING BUT 10’S: Bowman has 11 top-10 stage finishes at Las Vegas, which places him 10th among all time at the 1.5-mile venue. Last year, he won the first stage before scoring the victory in an overtime finish.
WON IN THREE: The 29-year-old driver is no stranger to winning quick in the Cup Series, scoring wins in the third race of the season on multiple occasions. Bowman won the third race of the 2020 season at Fontana in March and did that again at Las Vegas in March 2022. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip and teammate William Byron have also accomplished this feat of winning the third race of the season for Hendrick Motorsports.
SAVE THEM ALL: Bowman and primary partner Ally are teaming up this year to bring back the Best Friends Animal Society donation effort. This week, the duo will make charitable contributions to the SPCA of Northern Nevada, which serves the local community in Las Vegas. Bowman and Ally will donate $4,800 to Best Friends and the SPCA of Northern Nevada. Ally will increase its donation to $10,000 if the No. 48 team wins on Sunday.
KYLE LARSON: No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
AT THE BEGINNING: The NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March of 2021 marked the first win for Kyle Larson with team owner Rick Hendrick at Hendrick Motorsports. The victory was also the first for No. 5 HendrickCars.com crew chief Cliff Daniels atop the pit box. Larson led 103 of the 267 laps in the race and finished 3.15 seconds ahead of the second-place competitor at the checkered flag. The win sparked the beginning of a career-best 10-win, championship season for the No. 5 team.
BACK FOR SECONDS: Larson returns to the 1.5-mile Las Vegas track looking to build on his past success. He has two wins at Las Vegas – one in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series in 2018 and his Cup Series victory in 2021. In March of 2022, he led 27 laps and finished second to teammate Alex Bowman in the Cup Series race. This Sunday, Larson competes to score his third national series win and second with the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team at this track.
LARSON AT LAS VEGAS: The Elk Grove, California, native has made 13 Cup Series starts at the intermediate track. He has the fourth-best average finish – 11.15 – among all drivers with at least four starts at the facility. Along with his win, he has five top-five finishes, nine top-10s and 251 laps led. The 2021 Cup Series champion’s nine top-10 finishes are tied for his third-most at any one track. In four starts with Hendrick Motorsports, Larson has led 225 laps on the West Coast track – the most by any one driver since the start of 2021. It is also one of eight tracks that he has led at least 200 laps on while driving for the 14-time Cup Series champions.
TAKE THE STAGE: Larson has two stage wins at Las Vegas, which is tied for the fourth-most among all drivers. In addition, his 14 top-10 stage results rank as the sixth-most among all drivers.
INTERMEDIATE TRACK SUCCESS: The last time Larson raced on a 1.5-mile track, he visited victory lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway in October of 2022. The 30-year-old driver ranked second in most points earned (261) on this track length in 2022 – just 35 markers behind Ross Chastain. Since joining Hendrick Motorsports ahead of the 2021 season, Larson holds the best marks on 1.5-mile tracks for wins (five), stage wins (13), laps led (1,642) and average finish (7.69). His three runner-up finishes and 13 top-10s are tied for the most in the series in that span of time. (The above statistics do not include Atlanta Motor Speedway in ’22 since that track used the superspeedway drafting package following its reconfiguration.)
WESTERN BOUND: With two wins at Auto Club Speedway and a win each at Las Vegas, Phoenix Raceway and Sonoma Raceway, Larson has five victories on the West Coast. That places him fifth among active drivers with left coast victories. Four of those triumphs have come in the last 13 races out West.
CHASE ELLIOTT: No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
CALI REWIND: Last weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series’ final visit to the 2-mile layout of Auto Club Speedway (ACS), Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team had their work cut out for them after rain washed out qualifying for Sunday’s race. Starting in the 33rd position, Elliott and the team made gains throughout the race, finishing the first two stages 10th and seventh, respectively. He took the checkered flag in second for his best finish at the Fontana, California, venue.
LET’S GO TO VEGAS: Elliott has 12 Cup Series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with three top-five finishes, five top-10s and 178 laps led. His best finish on the 1.5-mile oval was a runner-up finish in September of 2021. In this race last year, Elliott finished inside the top 10 in each of the first two stages and ultimately scored a ninth-place result.
CENTER STAGE: Elliott has three stage wins at Las Vegas in the Cup Series, which is second among active drivers behind Martin Truex Jr. He’s also second to Truex Jr. on the list of drivers in top-10 stage results at the track with 18.
TOPS AT TOP TWOS: In addition to his series-leading five wins since the start of 2022, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native also tops the category of top-two finishes with nine. Elliott most recently added to that tally last weekend with his runner-up finish at ACS.
1.5-MILERS: Elliott will make his 73rd start on a 1.5-mile track this Sunday in Las Vegas. In his previous 72 races on this track length, he’s led 982 laps. The 2020 Cup Series champion has two career victories on mile-and-a-half ovals, most recently scoring a win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the spring of 2020. Along with his two wins, Elliott has collected 22 top-five finishes – eight of which are runner-up results – and 36 top-10s on 1.5-milers.
BETTIN’ ON ALAN: This weekend, No. 9 crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 24th race at Las Vegas from atop the pit box. In his previous 23 races at the 1.5-mile oval, Gustafson has garnered six top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and 187 laps led.
NON-TRADITIONAL WIN: Last July, Elliott and Gustafson scored a victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile track that was reconfigured prior to the 2022 season. With the debut of superspeedway-style racing on the Georgia oval last year, the track is no longer considered a traditional 1.5-mile oval.
WILLIAM BYRON: No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING: William Byron’s results in the first two races in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series don’t quite depict how strong the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has been. In the four stages run this year, he has finished no worse than 14th. In fact, he’s run 182 laps in the top 10 – ninth-best in the field – and 74 laps in the top five – the 10th-most.
1.5-MILE MOMENTUM: Byron is no stranger to success on mile-and-a-half tracks during his Cup Series career. Since the start of 2021, he has one win, one runner-up finish, four top-fives, and 10 top-10s on traditional 1.5-mile tracks. In fact, three of those top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks came in 2022. On this style of track in 2022 – not counting Atlanta Motor Speedway after its reconfiguration – Byron scored 234 points, which was the fourth-most.
TURNING THE LUCK AROUND: Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway marks Byron’s 11th Cup Series start at the venue. Out of those 10 previous starts, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has a track-best finish of fifth (March 2022). In the last four races at the Nevada-based track, he has one top-five finish, two top-10s, with 40 laps led and an average finish of 11.00. Byron has finished within the top 10 at the end of a stage at Las Vegas 12 times – tied for the eighth-most times among active drivers.
VIVA LAS RUDY: Returning to Las Vegas for the fifth time with the Cup Series, crew chief Rudy Fugle is confident heading to a venue that he has had success at before. In his four Cup Series showings, Fugle has one top-five finish and two top-10s, with his best finish with the No. 24 coming in the spring of 2022 (fifth). Aside from those four starts, the Livonia, New York, native has called the shots for 10 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series races and one NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas. He has collected one win (March 2019) with Kyle Busch, four top-five finishes, six top-10s, three pole awards and 238 laps led. With Byron in the Truck Series in 2016, the duo qualified 10th and raced to a fifth-place finish at the 1.5-mile venue.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL INTERMEDIATE WIN: While Atlanta is no longer classified as a traditional 1.5-mile track with the use of the superspeedway package and the prevalence of drafting, Byron led 111 laps at the Georgia venue last spring. The victory marked his third win in the Cup Series.