AGREEMENT, NC – On Saturday night, the NASCAR Cup Series will race at Daytona International Speedway as the 2022 regular season comes to an end. Heading into “The Sunshine State” all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers have already earned a spot in the Cup Series playoffs.
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Since its grand opening in 1959, Daytona’s main racing facility has hosted a second Cup Series race each summer. The track itself has a steep gradient of 31 degrees in the corners and 18 degrees in the tri-oval portion of the circuit with a six-degree slope on the straights. With the high banking comes pack style racing as drivers will compete for a position inches away from their competitors.
The four-car team has already seen the track’s response to the Next Gen Cup Series car in the season-opening DAYTONA 500. In February, Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 led Hendrick Motorsports with a 10th – place finish. Since then, the organization has won twice with the 2022 superspeedway rules package — both at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with Elliott taking the win in July and William Byron taking the win in March. Amid three top-10 finishes in April’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, Hendrick Motorsports led 70 laps.
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Last summer’s trip to the World Center of Racing resulted in a top-10 placing for both Alex Bowman and Elliott. The 2020 champion paced 36 laps around the field and took a stage win in the opening stage.
While Kyle Larson’s night ended a lap earlier in last season’s Daytona race, at the event, the Elk Grove, California native claimed the regular season championship. Later that fall, he would win his first Cup Series title at Phoenix Raceway. Larson is fresh off his second win of 2022 in this race and is second in the points standings. As for Byron, the 24-year-old driver is Hendrick Motorsports’ most recent driver to have tasted victory on the Daytona oval configuration. During his summer visit to the track in 2020, Byron led 24 laps en route to his first-ever Cup Series win.
All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers will have won a race in 2022, putting the quartet each into the Cup Series play-offs. Larson’s win at Watkins Glen International gives the organization three drivers with at least two wins this season – Elliott (four) and Byron (two) being the others. Each team will try to build momentum towards the playoff opener at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, September 4.
The trip to Daytona is also a homecoming for crew chief Alan Gustafson, who grew up near the legendary Ormond Beach, Florida location. After graduating from Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, Florida, Gustafson enrolled at the nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to study mechanical engineering before coming to North Carolina in 1996. The No. 9 team leader has yet to win a points-paying race on the oval layout, but he does have a 2020 road course win with Elliott and two Duel wins with Elliott (in 2017 and 2018). He also has five posts in Daytona, of which Elliott delivers three.
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As an organization, Hendrick Motorsports has won 15 point-paid races on Daytona’s high-slope oval, dating back to their first win at the famed track in 1986. Jeff Gordon racked up six wins, with Jimmie Johnson taking three wins and Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored two wins for the team. Tim Richmond, Geoff Bodine and Darrell Waltrip each racked up one World Center of Racing win during their careers, with Byron being the only active Hendrick Motorsports driver to win on the 4.1-mile circuit.
Here’s what you need to know to see this weekend’s action.
WHAT TIME IS PRACTICE AND QUALIFICATION?
There will be no training for the Cup Series this weekend. Qualifying for one car starts at 5:05 PM ET on Friday 26 Aug.and will be broadcast on US network. Qualifying will consist of two laps with the top 10 drivers from the first lap advancing to compete for pole position.
Byron will be 21st driver on lap one, while Bowman will go 28th. Elliott and Larson will be the last two drivers to complete a lap on the first lap, 36th and 37th respectively.
WHAT TIME IS THE RACE?
The main event of the 400-mile Cup Series is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Saturday 27 Aug.and will be broadcast on NBC. Peacock will also provide the race and exclusive post-race coverage after the race.
CAN I LISTEN ON THE RADIO?
Both races continue MRN radio and SiriusXM NASCAR radio (Channel 90).
CAN I STREAM ONLINE?
Yes. Download the NBC Sports app for online coverage. Fans can also follow the action on Twitter by following @TeamHendrick.
FIVE FAST FACTS TO DAYTONA
Data provided by Racing Insights
4: Pole positions earned by crew chief Greg Ives on superspeedways – two of which came with Bowman. They also started front row in February’s DAYTONA 500.
9.5: Elliott’s average finish in Daytona and Talladega in the last eight races. This figure gives the Dawsonville, Georgia resident the best average finish on that stretch on superspeedways among drivers with more than two starts.
12: Number of wins achieved by Larson since the start of 2021. This figure is double that of the next driver – Elliott with six.
17: Number of Consecutive Seasons Hendrick Motorsports has had at least two drivers in the playoffs, the most of all organizations.
611: Rounds led by Byron this season. The 24-year-old driver is second in this category.