CONCORD, N.C. – The opening race of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs has arrived, and Hendrick Motorsports teammates are ready to tackle Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Take a look below to see how the organization stacks up at the 1.5-mile track and some key items to look out for this weekend.
- This year marks the series-best 12th season in which the organization has sent at least three to the playoffs. It is also the 14th consecutive year that Hendrick Motorsports has at least two drivers in the playoffs, which is also the most of all organizations. William Byron, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are the first-, second- and fifth-youngest drivers competing in this season's playoffs.
- A driver for the organization has made the Championship 4 in two of the five seasons with the elimination format. Hendrick Motorsports owns 43 wins in the playoffs, which is just one win shy of doubling the second-most wins of 22 by Joe Gibbs Racing, and accounts for 29 percent of the playoff races run.
- In 2019, Hendrick Motorsports has nearly doubled its total of laps led from a season ago. Last season, the organization's drivers tallied 497 laps led, while this year they have already totaled 982 laps up front with 10 races remaining.
- Elliott has made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons in his Cup Series career – he still remains the youngest driver to make his first playoff start (2016 - 20 years, 9 months, 21 days). Last season, he advanced all the way to the Round of 8 for the second consecutive season, and he finished only two positions away from advancing to the Championship 4. Elliott’s 10-race 2018 playoff run featured two wins, seven top-10s and 105 laps led. Those two wins are tied for the most among all drivers in the last eight playoff races run.
- This weekend, Elliott is set to make his sixth NASCAR Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his previous five starts, he has collected one top-five finish and two top-10s. He is currently tied with Martin Truex Jr. for the most stage top-10s at the Las Vegas track with eight. Earlier this season at the venue, he finished ninth – giving him and the No. 9 team their first top-10 finish of the season.
- Solidifying his position in the Cup Series playoffs, Byron is the third-youngest driver in series history – at 21 years, 9 months, and 17 days – to make his first playoff start. He became the ninth different driver that Hendrick Motorsports has taken into the playoffs, which leads all organizations in series history.
- This weekend’s race at Las Vegas marks not only the first race of the Round of 16 in the playoffs but also Byron’s fourth start at the 1.5-mile track. The race will be a repeat trip for the Byron-Chad Knaus pairing after scoring a 16th-place finish at the venue in just their third start together as driver and crew chief earlier this year. During that spring race, the No. 24 driver led 21 laps – the fourth-most laps he’s led during his career in a Cup Series race. Aside from his starts in the Cup Series, Byron has two previous starts in the “City of Lights,” one in the Xfinity Series where he raced to a 14th-place finish, and one in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, qualifying 10th and ending the race with a fifth-place finish.
- Jimmie Johnson had a strong run going at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday until he was involved in a multiple-car incident while running fifth, ending his day and the opportunity to earn a playoff berth. This year is the first NASCAR Cup Series playoffs since its inception in 2004 that Johnson will not be a contender.
- Although the No. 48 driver will not be eligible for the Cup Series championship in the 2019 season, his track record for the final 10 races of the season speaks for itself. He has recorded 29 wins in the playoffs, more than any other driver, en route to his record-tying seven championships. Teams are heading to Las Vegas, a 1.5-mile track. Johnson has more 1.5-mile track wins than any other driver with 28. He also has the most wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with four. Of the last five wins in playoff races scored by a non-playoff driver, two of them were scored by Johnson. He recorded wins at Texas in both 2014 and 2015 in the closing races of the season while he was no longer eligible to become the series champion.
- Bowman locked the No. 88 team into the playoffs after his win at Chicagoland Speedway in June. It marks the second year in a row that the Tucson, Arizona, native has clinched a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. So far this season, Bowman has captured one win, four top-five finishes and seven top-10s. The No. 88 team has led 182 laps since April and has completed 98.2 percent of the total laps completed.
- Bowman captured his first career win in NASCAR at the 1.5-mile track in Charlotte in 2017 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His first Cup Series victory came at 1.5-mile Chicagoland earlier this season after leading 88 laps. The driver is one of four at Hendrick Motorsports to capture his first career Cup Series victory at a track that length. In the last four races on 1.5-mile tracks, Bowman has one win, one second-place finish (Kansas) and one seventh-place finish (Charlotte).
With these stats in mind, be sure to catch the drivers in action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.