CONCORD, N.C. -- As the Hendrick Motorsports teams prepare for Sunday’s playoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, No. 48 crew chief Greg Ives knows his team must be aggressive and manufacture enough playoff points to transfer to the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, is 12th in the playoff standings and 52 points below the bubble heading to the ROVAL. While the gap to the cutline is significant, Ives is confident in his driver after they scored a runner up finish in September 2019 and an eighth-place finish in October 2020 at the ROVAL in his last two trips to the Charlotte, North Carolina track.
“I think we always have pressure on us to win,” Ives said. “No matter if it’s a cutoff race, the first race of the season or it’s after your third win, it doesn’t matter; we are always in that position of trying to win races. If you look at the points deficit, it’s a pretty lofty one and you’d have to have a really strong day of running in the top two and winning stages, so our mindset is going and trying to win.”
In the last two races at the ROVAL, Bowman and Ives rallied back from unfavorable situations to create their success at the 2.28-mile venue. Ives stated the challenges his team overcame will foster confidence for the No. 48 team as they get ready for the elimination race.
“When you look at the finishing positions, they don’t really tell you the tale of the race, either,” Ives said. “I think one time we did some alternate strategies to try and get there. Another time we had to go to a backup car, Alex wrecked on the first lap and we were able to come back strong and finish well. There was a lot of adversity in those finishes that I feel like will bide us well for what we have to do on Sunday.”
While strategy will be key for Sunday’s race, Ives also has faith in Bowman’s road course abilities. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevy has claimed two top-five finishes and seven top-10s across his 18 road course starts. Bowman also has tallied 107 points at the ROVAL, the fourth best among active Cup Series drivers.
“Going out there and winning is key. That’s the number one goal no matter what situation you are in, and here it is definitely dire to make that happen to transfer on to the next round,” Ives said. “I feel like we are up to the challenge and I feel like Alex has a tendency to find that little bit more or that extra percentage that we need to get it done.
“I am excited for the team; I am excited for us to get that opportunity and see what we have to show for it.”
Tune in this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC to see Bowman, Ives, and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers take on the Charlotte ROVAL in the elimination race in the Round of 12.