CONCORD, N.C. -- As the Hendrick Motorsports teams prepare for this Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, No. 48 crew chief Greg Ives said the pressure to perform well at the half-mile track is paramount for the team transfer into the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
No. 48 driver Alex Bowman currently is tied for 12th with 2,053 points and is on the bubble after finishing 26th at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 5 and 12th at Richmond Raceway last Saturday. Ives reminded his team that running the cleanest race possible this weekend is how the No. 48 crew will advance to the Round of 12.
“My thought is that if you go out there and execute, have good pit stops, don’t have any loose wheels, vibrations, great restarts, and keep your car clean, you are probably going to transfer on,” he said on SiriusXM. “That’s our goal and I haven’t been quiet about it either. It all comes down to executing the races and finishing where we should.”
Bowman has 10 starts at “The Last Great Colosseum,” tallying one top-five finish and two top-10s. His career-best finish at Bristol was in April 2018 when notched a fifth-place finish. Even though the Cup Series raced on dirt at Bristol earlier this year, Bowman had to overcome a stuck fourth gear, which relegated him to a 22nd-place finish.
“It’s going to be a tough night, for sure,” Ives said. “I am just going to go out there and get as many points as I can in both stages and try to finish as high up as we can and if we do that, the points are going to shake out and we’ll be moving on.”
Ives looked back on his wins at Dover International Speedway and Richmond Raceway earlier this season to help prepare for this weekend’s race, knowing that how Bowman runs at the end of the race will be crucial. He added that the preparation for Bristol will help calm the team’s nerves and give them a better shot at executing a flawless race.
“I try not to treat Bristol, the cutoff race for playoff round one, as anything different than when I was trying to win Indy,” Ives said. “We had a car capable of running toward the front and had a flat tire, or at Dover when we made a pit call and had a pit stop to get out in front and (we were) able to get that win, or Richmond.
“Those are situations where you have the same preparation, same expectations, same butterflies.”
Tune in this Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN to see Ives, Bowman and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports teams take on Bristol.