CONCORD, N.C. – Restrictor-plate racing awaits as the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 12 heads to Talladega Superspeedway.
And over the years, Hendrick Motorsports has made its mark on restrictor-plate races.
The organization leads all active teams in restrictor-plate races in wins (24), sweeps of the top-two finishing positions (nine), poles (31), top-five finishes (104) top-10s (170) and laps led (4,598).
As the Hendrick Motorsports teammates head to Talladega, check out some of the key facts, figures and moments from the organization’s history at the venue.
- The 2018 season marks the 13th consecutive season in which Hendrick Motorsports has sent at least two drivers into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, the most of all organizations. Hendrick Motorsports has placed at least three drivers in the playoffs in 11 different seasons, also the most of all teams.
- The organization has accumulated 42 wins during the playoffs, the most all-time. A Hendrick Motorsports driver has made the Championship 4 in two of the four seasons in the current format, and won the championship in seven of the 14 seasons with a playoff system. Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman qualified for this year's playoffs. However, Johnson's 2018 championship run was cut short after he was eliminated following the Charlotte race. Elliott's most recent victory at Dover International Speedway automatically advanced the driver to the Round of 8, which will begin Oct. 28 at Martinsville Speedway.
- Bowman became the eighth different driver that Hendrick Motorsports has taken to the playoffs, the most of all organizations in Cup Series history. He joins Elliott, Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch on the list.
- At Talladega Superspeedway, Hendrick Motorsports has 12 wins, 12 pole positions, 56 top-five finishes, 84 top-10s and 2,752 laps led, all of which are the most all-time at the track. Hendrick Motorsports’ most recent Talladega win came in 2015 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his way to Victory Lane in the May race after qualifying fourth.
- Six different Hendrick Motorsports drivers have contributed to the organization's 12 wins at Talladega Superspeedway – Gordon (six), Johnson (two), Brian Vickers, Earnhardt, Ken Schrader and Terry Labonte. That's the most all-time, ahead of Ranier Racing's five different drivers to find Victory Lane at the 2.66-mile oval.
- The organization has won 10 of the last 14 restrictor-plate poles in which qualifying was held. Hendrick Motorsports owns the streak of most consecutive front-row starts on restrictor-plate tracks with seven from 2014-2016. Hendrick Motorsports has also swept the front row in qualifying in four of the last five plate races and owns a total of six front-row sweeps in qualifying at Talladega.
- Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway, Elliott captured his second career NASCAR Cup Series win and clinched a spot in the Round of 8 in the process. Starting the day in ninth, Elliott overcame an early uncontrolled tire violation and utilized a strategy call by the No. 9 team to stay on the track during a late caution to take the lead. He held that lead through multiple restarts to ultimately capture the victory in overtime.
- Since the start of the playoffs in 2017, Elliott owns the second-best average finish in playoff races (9.0) among NASCAR Cup Series drivers. In the 14 playoff races in which the 22-year-old driver has competed since 2017, he has collected one win, eight top-five finishes – four of which are runner-up results – and 10 top-10s. Elliott has led a total of 421 laps in those 14 races en route to his 9.0 average finish.
- Elliott continues his strong showing in the last 11 races, winning twice, leading 246 laps and finishing inside the top 10 nine times including finishes of sixth or better in the last three races. Elliott and the No. 9 team’s momentum in the last 11 races continues to build with an average finish of 8.4 (tied for the second best) – significantly better than the team’s 14.4 average finish during the first 19 races of the season. Elliott and Kevin Harvick lead all drivers over the last 11 races with six top-five finishes. The third-year driver’s nine top-10s over the last 11 races are tied for second-most among all competitors.
- In his first NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega Superspeedway, Byron had a great race going, which included leading the field multiple times, before he was collected in a multi-car incident with fewer than 25 laps to go, ending his day. He spent 47 percent of the laps he raced at Talladega in the top 10 prior to the Lap 166 incident that left him 29th. However, his 14 laps led earned him a spot in the record books as the youngest Cup driver (20 years, 5 months, 0 days) to lead double-digit laps at a restrictor-plate track.
- In the No. 24 Chevy, Gordon earned 12 victories at restrictor-plate tracks, the most of any driver all-time and the most for any car number all-time, and six of those came at Talladega. Of 11 drivers who earned their first win at the 2.66-mile oval, two of them – Ken Schrader and Brian Vickers – were Hendrick Motorsports drivers, so it’s certainly not out of the question that Byron could earn his first win this weekend. Hendrick Motorsports is also tied for first among teams who have sent the most drivers to Victory Lane, winning at Talladega with seven different drivers.
- With six races remaining in the 2018 season, Byron continues to hold the lead in the battle for the NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year title. The driver of the No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 leads the rookie standings by 120 points over Bubba Wallace.
- Johnson won the pole position at Talladega Superspeedway in his very first start at the 2.66-mile track on April 21, 2002. He’s sixth on the all-time list for most wins on restrictor-plate tracks behind former teammate and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon, who has 12 wins. Johnson has five wins on plate tracks – two at Talladega Superspeedway and three at Daytona International Speedway.
- The last win Johnson recorded at Talladega was on April 17, 2011, when Johnson beat competitor Clint Bowyer by an eyelash. Johnson’s 0.002-second win remains tied for the closest finish in NASCAR history since the integration of electronic scoring.
- Bowman has six previous starts at Talladega Superspeedway in the NASCAR Cup Series. Earlier this season, the 25-year-old driver finished eighth after qualifying 11th at the track. The No. 88 team led 26 laps during the 188-lap event in the spring.
- In the last two restrictor-plate races this season, there have been only two drivers to finish inside the top 10 in both events. Bowman finished eighth at Talladega in the spring and 10th at Daytona in July. In 2018, Bowman captured the pole for the Daytona 500 and has been one of three drivers to lead the field in all three plate races. With 40 total laps led at restrictor-plate tracks this season, Bowman leads all Chevrolet drivers and ranks fourth among all drivers.
- With Elliott earning his first two Cup Series wins at Watkins Glen and Dover, Hendrick Motorsports now holds the record for the most first-time Cup Series winners with nine. If William Byron or Bowman wins at Talladega, it will extend the record to the 10th time a driver has recorded his first career Cup Series win while driving for Hendrick Motorsports.