1FIVE FOR 5: Last Sunday at Dover Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson led 39 laps en route to a runner-up finish. That marked his fifth top-five finish of 2024, tops in the NASCAR Cup Series. Larson continues to lead the points standings, 15 markers ahead of the competitor in second place.

ON THE POINT: The 2021 Cup Series champion has topped the points standings after six of 11 races in 2024. He is the only driver to lead after three consecutive events and his current streak is at four.

OUT FRONT: Larson has led at least one lap in eight of 11 races this season for a total of 570 – 35 more laps out front than the nearest competitor. He has led 2,476 of 7,293 laps raced on 1.5-mile tracks – which is 34% – since joining Hendrick Motorsports and last year he led 184 laps at Kansas Speedway, 87 more than second place in that statistical category. 

STAGE LEFT: The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has six stage victories through 11 races this season. If Larson wins a stage this weekend at Kansas, he will become the first driver to win seven stages through 12 races during a season in NASCAR’s premier series. The Elk Grove, California, native has won 32% of all stages run on 1.5-mile tracks in the Next Gen car (11 of 34).

MILE-AND-A-HALF MUSCLE: With wins in two of the last four races on 1.5-mile tracks, Larson is one of four drivers with multiple victories in the Next Gen era on tracks of this length. Since 2022, he has the most wins (three) and second-most points (592) on this track length behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron (600). This season, Larson has a win on a 1.5-miler (Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March), led the most laps (258) – 205 more than the next competitor – and scored the second-most points (86).

STREAKING: Larson has posted a top-10 finish at Kansas in all four starts in the Next Gen race car at the 1.5-mile track. His streak of five consecutive top-10s at the Midwest track is tied with one other driver for most among active drivers. If he secures another top-10 this weekend, it will tie his personal career-best of consecutive top-10 finishes at a single track (Phoenix Raceway). Over 18 starts at the Kansas City, Kansas, track, Larson has one win (October of 2021), seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. His 639 laps led at this track are his fourth-most at any Cup Series track on the schedule and among all drivers at the 1.5-mile facility.

STANDBY: Last week at Dover, it was announced that Kevin Harvick would be the standby driver for Larson if the 31-year-old driver was unable to participate in practice at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Friday, May 17, because of commitments with the Indianapolis 500. Due to NASCAR rules, there are no other scheduled plans for Harvick to fill in for Larson the remainder of the weekend. 

HENDRICKCARS.COM IS HOME: This Sunday’s race is a home race for the HendrickCars.com team. The Kansas City, Kansas, area has three Hendrick Automotive Group dealerships. Respectively, the No. 5 driver and crew can be found in their white firesuits this weekend. For every HendrickCars.com home race this season, there is a unique hat released the week of the race and only available for sale on the trackside merchandise haulers or available to win on HendrickCars.com. Less than 100 of each limited-edition hat will be available to the public. This week’s Kansas-themed hat will be revealed Thursday and can be seen here
FOUR IN FIVE: The No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team has been on a heater over the last five NASCAR Cup Series races. Driver Chase Elliott has propelled the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to four top-five results, including a win last month at Texas Motor Speedway. In the premier series’ most recent race (at Dover Motor Speedway), the 2020 Cup Series champion started 29th and rallied to a fifth-place result, earning top-10 finishes in each stage. Elliott’s average finish in those five races is 5.80, the best among the Cup Series field.

RUNNING STRONG: Elliott has posted impressive numbers in 2024. After 11 races, he sits third in the points standings, just 33 markers behind the leader, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. Elliott has secured one win (Texas) and is in a six-way tie that includes teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman for the second-most top-five finishes (four). He ranks fourth in laps run in the top five (954) and top 10 (1,893). Additionally, Elliott holds the second-best average finish (10.27) and the fourth-best average running position (10.80) among series regulars. 

KANSAS RUNDOWN: This weekend, the Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway, where Elliott won in the fall of 2018. He led 44 laps en route to the win. Across his 16 premier series starts at the 1.5-mile oval, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has six top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and 249 laps led. He’s finished seventh or better in eight of his last 11 starts at the 1.5-mile venue, including seventh and sixth-place results last season. Elliott’s six top-five results are tied for his second-most at a track (with Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway) on the Cup circuit and his 10 top-10s are also tied for his second-most (with Dover and Michigan International Speedway).

1.5-MILE PERFORMANCE: In 80 career Cup Series starts on mile-and-a-half tracks, Elliott has three victories (Kansas in 2018, Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2020 and Texas earlier this year), 23 top-five finishes – eight of which are runner-up results – and 39 top-10s. He’s paced the field for 1,080 laps on this track length in his Cup career. This season on 1.5-mile tracks, Elliott is tied for the second-best average finish with Byron (6.50) and has the third-most points earned (75).

NEXT GEN NUMBERS: Since the introduction of the Next Gen car in 2022, Elliott has earned six wins, placing him in a three-way tie for the fourth-most victories. In that span, he holds the best average finish (12.38), just ahead of Byron. 

GUSTAFSON AT KANSAS: On Sunday, Alan Gustafson will call his 33rd Kansas race in his 20th season as a Cup Series crew chief. In his previous 32 starts at the track with five different drivers (Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Elliott and NASCAR Hall of Famers Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon), Gustafson has accumulated two wins – one with team vice chairman Gordon (2014) and one with Elliott (2018) – 10 top-five finishes, 18 top-10s and 367 laps led. 

FOUR TIRES FAST: On lap 84 at Texas, the No. 9 pit crew laid down the fastest four-tire pit stop (9.076 seconds) of the 2024 season, according to data from Racing Insights. The over-the-wall squad has remained the same since 2018 and currently holds the fastest average four-tire pit stop time (10.750 seconds) this season. The 2021 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew award-winning group is comprised of Chad Avrit (rear-tire changer), Jared Erspamer (tire carrier), John Gianninoto (fueler), Nick O’Dell (front-tire changer) and T.J. Semke (jackman).

BACK HOME: Semke, the No. 9 jackman, hails from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, less than 40 miles from the track in Kansas City, Kansas. Semke was a part-time bounty hunter before stepping on the football field at the University of Kansas in 2012. The 31-year-old was a defensive lineman for the Jayhawks for three years. Semke signed with Hendrick Motorsports in October of 2016 and joined the No. 9 team in 2018.
24 IN ’24: William Byron’s 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season has been impressive. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native is tied for the series lead in wins (three), is in a six-way tie for second in top-five finishes with Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman (four) and a two-way tie for the most top-10s (seven). He’s spent 708 laps running in the top five (ninth-most) and 1,526 laps in the top 10 (sixth-most). Byron is also fifth in average finishing position among series regulars (12.09) and sixth in the 2024 Cup Series points standings after 11 races. 

NEXT GEN DUO: Since the Next Gen Cup Series car was introduced in 2022, Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle have a series-leading 11 wins. Byron also has the second-best average finish (13.11) behind Elliott in the Next Gen car. Overall, Fugle and Byron rank fourth for the most wins by an active driver and crew chief pairing with 12 victories. 

1.5-MILE MAGIC: Byron is no stranger to success on mile-and-a-half tracks during his Cup Series career. Since the start of 2021 (not counting races on Atlanta Motor Speedway after its reprofiling for 2022), he has three wins, two runner-up finishes, 10 top-fives and 18 top-10s in 25 races on 1.5-mile tracks. In the Next Gen car, Byron has two wins (second to teammate Kyle Larson’s three) and has collected 600 points on mile-and-a-half tracks – the most of all drivers. He also has five consecutive top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks – the longest active streak by a driver – and eight top-10s in his last nine races on that track length. This season alone, Byron is tied for the sixth-most points on 1.5-milers (63), tied for the second-best average finish (6.50) with Elliott and is one of only two drivers to finish in the top 10 in both of those races. 

MIDWEST MOJO: Byron has 12 Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway. While he faced bad luck in his first three races there, he has turned that around. In his last nine starts at the 1.5-mile track, Byron has collected one pole award, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s (second-most among all drivers in that span). It is also the track where Byron has the most top-10 finishes in his premier series career (seven), tied with Martinsville Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. 

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE KANSAS: Looking to make his seventh start as a Cup Series crew chief at Kansas, Rudy Fugle’s six Cup Series races at the Midwest track have resulted in one pole award, one top-five finish, four top-10s and 101 laps led with the No. 24 team. Aside from those six Cup Series starts, the Livonia, New York, native has 12 previous starts at the 1.5-mile oval, with 10 coming in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series. In those 10 Truck Series starts, Fugle’s drivers have started from the top spot four times, led 391 laps, collected two wins (2016 and 2018), five top-five finishes and six top-10s. His 2016 win came with Byron, who captured his first Truck Series victory in their fourth start together.

PIT ROAD PROWESS: After 11 races in the 2024 season, the No. 24 pit crew has been one of the best on pit road. The five-person crew ranks third for the fastest average four-tire pit stop (10.980 seconds). The No. 24 pit crew consists of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer), Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer), Ryan Patton (tire carrier) and Landon Walker (fueler). 
DOVER DOWNLOW: Alex Bowman made his 300th start in the NASCAR Cup Series last weekend at Dover Motor Speedway. The 31-year-old driver spent the majority of the race in the top 10. Approaching the end of the second stage, Bowman raced from the runner-up position, competing for the stage win with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. Upon the checkered flag at the “Monster Mile,” Bowman finished eighth for his second straight top-10 result.

MOVING UP THE STANDINGS: Following the 11th race of the season, Bowman gained a spot in the Cup Series driver points standings, currently ranking ninth, 108 points behind the leader, Larson. Bowman has four top-five finishes this year, placing him in a six-way tie for second with teammates Chase Elliott and William Byron. It is also the driver of the No. 48’s most top-fives through 11 races in a season. The Tucson, Arizona, native has also earned six top-10s, which ranks tied for third-most in the series with two competitors and it is also his second-most top-10 results at this point in a season (his most are seven in 2022). Bowman holds the eighth-best average finish (13.64) among drivers who have started every points-paying race.

CRUNCHING KANSAS NUMBERS: Kansas Speedway has been one of Bowman’s strongest tracks in the Cup Series. In 16 starts, he has three top-five finishes, including a runner-up finish in the spring of 2019. These results place the 1.5-mile track in a four-way tie (alongside Bristol Motor Speedway, Circuit of The Americas and Las Vegas Motor Speedway) for housing Bowman’s second-most top-five finishes at a single venue in the Cup Series behind Dover (five). Bowman’s eight top-10 finishes are his most at any track on the schedule. Additionally, he has led the field for 183 laps at “The Sunflower State” track, his third-most laps led at any track, trailing only Charlotte Motor Speedway (228) and Phoenix Raceway (195). 

THROWBACK REVEALED: On Tuesday, Ally released the No. 48 team’s scheme for the “Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR” at Darlington Raceway. The No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will compete at the South Carolina track on Sunday, May 12. The blue and yellow scheme pays tribute to the early seasons of the championship-winning, NASCAR Hall of Fame duo of driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. The scheme celebrates this iconic car number’s past and the success that has followed during Hendrick Motorsports’ 40th anniversary in the sport’s premier series. 

PIT ROAD ALLIES: The Ally Racing pit crew moved up a spot to claim the sixth-fastest average four-tire stop this season (11.186 seconds). The five-person crew is composed of Andrew Bridgeforth (rear-tire changer), Jacob Conley (fueler), Brandon Grier (tire carrier), Allen Holman (jackman) and Donnie Tasser (front-tire changer).

CLOSE TO HOME: Conley, the team’s gasman, is from Omaha, Nebraska, and considers both Kansas Speedway and Iowa Speedway his home tracks on the circuit. Both tracks are approximately two and a half hours from his hometown. The 34-year-old played four years of collegiate football at Doane University in Crete, Nebraska, before being recruited by the Hendrick Motorsports pit crew department. Conley has been with the 14-time championship-winning organization for 12 years and this year marks his eighth season with the No. 48 team. Outside of racing, Conley enjoys spending time with his wife, three kids and two rescue dogs.

FIRST LAP RETURNS: Ally’s First Lap program returns this weekend in Kansas. In its second year, the program focuses on introducing motorsports to new fans. In honor of May being Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Ally will host members of the National Association of Asian American Professionals’ Kansas City chapter this weekend at the track. These first-time race-goers will receive a tour of the garage and the No. 48 hauler, an exclusive pre-race experience, meet Bowman and other Hendrick Motorsports key personnel and much more. 

/Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what he looks for at Kansas Speedway: “Kansas (Speedway) is a track where I’ve run well since my first trip there. You can run the wall, which is the line I prefer. The tire fall off means you are searching all over the track for grip.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what have been the keys to success at Kansas for the team: “We’re excited to go back to Kansas (Speedway). It’s a place that Kyle (Larson) always runs really well and our team seems to click really well at an intermediate track of that style. You can move around. There’s a lot of lanes. Kyle does a good job of running by the wall and it is just a lot of fun to watch. Hopefully, we can make the right adjustments throughout the weekend, keep up with the track, watch Kyle move all over the place and have a good, fun race. It will certainly be about executing at the end. There always seems to be a late-race yellow and if we can put ourselves in position, hopefully we will have a good day.” 
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what makes Kansas a good track to race at: “I enjoy going to Kansas (Speedway). I think that the track has really aged well since they did the repave. It’s a place that offers some room to race and has some different lanes to choose from. That is really all you can ask for from a driver’s perspective is just to have some options, so we’re not all married to the same spot all the time on track.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the team’s gains on mile-and-a-halfs: “Mile-and-a-half tracks are certainly a place that we needed to improve upon and yeah, so far, so good. Kansas (Speedway) has been a strong track, historically for us. Hopefully, we can take the improvements we’ve made over this season at the mile-and-a-halfs, apply them to Kansas, get a really good result, be competitive and race at the front all day. Even though we’ve been good there, I certainly don’t take it for granted. We’ll work hard at it.”
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Kansas: “Kansas (Speedway) is a place where you spend a lot of time running up against the wall, which is always a risk. I feel like it’s a track that has had a lot of great finishes lately due to tire fall off and how easily the balance of cars can change throughout the run. Restarts are intense and you can really fan out to pick up positions. At the same time, you don’t want to go too hard early on, so you can save some of what you have to have something left on the long run. I think that’s why the finishes end up being so close in the end because you see a lot of late-race charges from those who saved.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the importance of the next stretch of races: “Starting this weekend, the upcoming stretch of races before the two-week break are all a build up to the playoffs. These are all mainly mile-and-a-half or high-speed tracks that you will then see again in the playoffs. You want to make sure you’re continuing to learn and grow and getting better, so you’re bringing your best cars when it counts. At the same time, this stretch of races has new tracks but also tracks with repaves, so there are still a lot of unknowns. Some setups may transfer over some weeks, but the races in the next month hold the most opportunities for notes that will carry over after the summer stretch.”
Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the roots of his success at Kansas: “Kansas (Speedway) was one of the first intermediate tracks I got to race at way back in the ARCA (Menards Series). I got a lot of laps there and for whatever reason, have been pretty naturally successful there right off the bat, even in the (NASCAR) Cup (Series) car. Obviously, we haven’t won there, but we’ve had a lot of good days there. I’m looking forward to getting back to Kansas. It’s a fun racetrack that I enjoy going to.”

Blake Harris, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the team’s momentum heading to Kansas: “I think our team has had some good intermediate runs this year. Our No. 48 Ally Racing team has carried mostly good momentum the past couple of months and we don’t expect anything different this weekend at Kansas (Speedway). I’d say Kansas is easily one of Alex (Bowman)’s top-five (performing) tracks. I know he really enjoys going there, has had some good runs and led some laps. We expect to go compete in the top five this weekend and aim for a shot to win.”

-Hendrick Motorsports-