CONCORD, N.C. -- William Byron and Alex Bowman aren't competing for a NASCAR Cup Series Championship this season but that doesn't mean the teammates won't race aggressively at Phoenix Raceway this weekend.
Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott make up half of the Championship 4 field and have the chance to bring Hendrick Motorsports its record-extending 14th Cup Series title. While the Nos. 24 and 48 teams are out of the championship hunt, they understand that supporting their teammates while racing for a win doesn't have to be mutually exclusive.
“We have two teammates in there, we have a guy we just had some controversy with, so I don't expect us to race (anyone) any different, as well as our teammates any different, than we have all year,” No. 48 crew chief Greg Ives said. “For a position to win the race, it really comes down to whoever wants to go for second, right? In the end, we're never going to put ourselves in a situation to ruin those guys’ opportunity to win a championship because we know, at some point, we’ll be in that same scenario and want to get raced exactly how they would.”
Ives and Alex Bowman are celebrating a career-best year together. After Bowman’s wild victory at Martinsville Speedway last weekend, the pair are now looking for their fifth win of the year at Bowman’s hometown track.
“In in the end, we're just going to go out there have a nice calm, clean race, hopefully a fast car, and kind of let the driving and the speed dictate itself.”
No. 24 crew chief Rudy Fugle also is looking to add another win to his résumé to cap off his impressive first year in the Cup Series. Fugle and driver William Byron earned one win at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February and posted 12 top-five results and 20 top-10s.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished as a team this year,” Fugle said. “I had a lot to learn coming in and everyone helped to get me up to speed. We won a race so early on and showed consistency throughout the rest of the year. This team as a whole, William included, has grown so much in just a short time to have a career-best year. There will be more to come; our chance will come.”
No matter the outcome, both crew chiefs are proud to have been part of a historic season for Hendrick Motorsports. Their wins and on-track performances contributed to the organization’s 2021 success, including breaking the Cup Series all-time wins record in May, finishing 1-2-3-4 at Dover International Speedway in the spring and handing Chevrolet it’s 800th win. Above all, they are excited to support the Nos. 5 and 9 teams as they race for Hendrick Motorsports’ first back-to-back title in over 10 years.
“We would love to be heading to Phoenix in the hunt for a championship but we’re glad to have two teammates in the hunt representing Hendrick Motorsports,” Fugle said. “We’ll all four be strong Sunday.”
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season finale will start on Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. ET and air on NBC.