CONCORD, N.C. – This weekend, Hendrick Motorsports’ drivers head to Bristol Motor Speedway to compete on the 0.533-mile track.
In his previous six starts at the track, Chase Elliott has led 128 laps and collected two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He hopes that this Sunday will bring an exciting race, and one he could capitalize on.
“I really enjoy racing at Bristol,” the driver expressed. “I think it’s one of the coolest places we go to just environment-wise and then racetrack-wise. Just a lot of fun. Short-track racing in general is fun. I’ve enjoyed it. We’ve had some OK runs there. Feel like we had a really good car there last fall and had a realistic shot that I didn’t do a very good job of capitalizing on. I think it’s been kind of hit-or-miss.”
All Hendrick Motorsports drivers think the environment at Bristol is just one of the aspects that make the race so exciting for the drivers and fans. Another one of those aspects is speed.
“The atmosphere is great at Bristol,” William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro said. “The cars are fast, and it feels really fast inside the car. I would say all of that stuff just contributes to the overall atmosphere there. It’s just a really fun track to go to as a driver. It’s challenging but also very rewarding to be able to get around there fast.”
With the atmosphere and high speeds on the track, it makes for a challenging race according Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
“Bristol is challenging for everybody no matter what your experience level is and the amount of times that you’ve been there and how many short track races you run so, it’s a challenge for everybody”.
Last week at Texas Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson had the fastest time in all three rounds of qualifying and captured the pole. He capped off the weekend with a top-five finish. Looking ahead, Johnson hopes to continue that momentum at Bristol this weekend.
“I’m really so proud of our organization as a whole for the performance last week in Texas - running well in practice, the first pole for Ally, leading a bunch of laps and finishing with a solid top-five,” the driver said.
This Sunday’s race will mark the eighth start of the season for the Hendrick Motorsports drivers. Johnson’s 34 starts at the half-mile track make up two wins, one pole, 12 top-five finishes, and 20 top-10 finishes.
And past success at Bristol has him wanting to continue last weekend's momentum.
“We have some momentum heading into Bristol, which as of late has been one of my better tracks. It’s one of the most physical tracks we run and you have to stay on top of things while there is just chaos everywhere.”
Speaking of past races at Bristol, crew chief for the No. 48 Ally Chevy, Kevin Meendering shared his approach to this weekend which was to learn from previous races. Wanting to gain more insight for his first Bristol appearance as the No. 48 crew chief, Meendering had to crack open the archives.
“We will look at a lot of past history and back to the 2015 notes,” Meendering said. “The short tracks don’t seem to change and are less aero sensitive. Jimmie’s had some strong runs at Bristol the last few times there, so we have a lot of good notes to look back on.”
Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy, has a similar approach to the weekend. He looked back at 2018’s race to gain insight on what this Sunday could have in store for the No. 88 team.
“I can absolutely carry over what we learned at Bristol last year and put that to use this weekend,” Bowman said. “It is a strong racetrack for us. Last fall we went down a lap due to an issue and were still able to bounce back and get a top-10 finish. I think Bristol can be a great place for us and I am really looking forward to getting back there this weekend.”
Be sure to tune in Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on FS1 to catch our teammates in action.