CONCORD, N.C. – Over the past few weeks, Hendrick Motorsports has begun to find its rhythm on the racetrack.
A Hendrick Motorsports driver has led laps in each of the past four races, amassing a total of 85 laps led during that span after the organization led just two laps in the prior six races. Thanks to Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports has notched a stage win in each of the past two races – the organization’s only stage wins this season.
Two weeks ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates’ combined average finish was 10th, the organization’s third-best mark of the season. Then last week, when three Hendrick Motorsports teammates finished in the top 10 for the first time this season, their average finish was 8.25 – the organization’s best mark of the year.
“Any time all four of us are running better is a good week for us,” Alex Bowman said after the Pocono race.
Bowman and teammate William Byron both scored career-best NASCAR Cup Series finishes at Pocono with their third- and sixth-place results, respectively.
Byron’s career-best sixth-place finish last weekend at Pocono marked the 23rd time a Hendrick Motorsports driver age 20 or younger has finished sixth or better in a race – a NASCAR Cup Series record. In the last 272 races, a driver age 20 or younger has finished in the top six a total of 12 times, every one of whom drove the No. 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports.
Rolling off the grid 38th, Byron tied the lowest starting position of a driver age 20 or younger to finish inside the top six in a race since 1952, and he now leads the Cup Series rookie of the year standings by 71 points.
Bowman, meanwhile, has now amassed four top-10 finishes in the last six races, tying him for the second-highest total in the Cup Series during that span. He nearly notched a fifth, finishing 11th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Of the 19 tracks on which Bowman has raced this season, he has earned a career-best finish at 14 of them. Eight of his 11 career top-10 finishes have come in the last 16 races – and all 11 of his top-10s have come in his 31 starts driving for Hendrick Motorsports.
“We continue to see high spots or things that are very motivating for us,” said Jimmie Johnson, who ranks third all-time in wins earned through a driver’s first 600 Cup Series starts.
After scoring fifth- and seventh-place finishes the last two weekends, Elliott has compiled some impressive statistics as well. He has two stage wins and a total of 38 stage points in that span, both of which are the most among all drivers in the past two weeks. Elliott’s average running position (4.06) over those two races also leads all drivers. The driver of the No. 9 has earned 100 points over the last two weekends, ranked second only to Kevin Harvick, who has amassed 103.
Perhaps most importantly, Hendrick Motorsports currently has three drivers in playoff position – Elliott, Johnson and Bowman – which is tied for the second-most among all teams in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“When you start the year off like we have, we have asked a lot of people to step up and work that much harder every week, and good runs like this kind of make it worth it for them,” Bowman said. “So, obviously a win would be much better, but to have all four of us have pretty solid days, it hopefully shows them that all their hard work is worth it because we've come a long way from where we started.”