CONCORD, N.C. – Will the Irish Hills be smiling on Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at Michigan International Speedway?

The quartet of drivers – Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman - certainly hope that will be the case on Sunday afternoon. 

Last year’s race at the 2-mile track saw the organization come oh-so-close to victory. The trio of Byron, Larson and Elliott combined to finish second, third and eighth, respectively, led 156 of 200 laps and capture a stage victory. In the end, Byron narrowly lost to Ryan Blaney by .077 seconds and was passed for the lead with eight laps remaining. 

"I’m trying to rewrite history this weekend and hopefully be able to finally pull out the win with how close I’ve been before," Byron said.

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This weekend is also a homecoming for No. 48 crew chief Greg Ives, a native of Bark River, Michigan, which is approximately 439 miles from the venue. The 42-year-old earned his engineering degree from Michigan Tech before joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2004. From there, he served as a shop mechanic for the No. 24 team until 2006 when he moved into a race engineer position on the No. 48. Ives would occupy the role through the 2012 season, contributing to five consecutive titles with driver Jimmie Johnson. For 2013, he moved to JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series as a crew chief. After two years atop the pit box, Ives' success prompted a return to Hendrick Motorsports in 2015 as the crew chief for the No. 88 - now No. 48 Cup Series team. 

"It’s always nice to go home and get to race in front of your family and friends," Ives said. "There is a little extra pressure having everyone there supporting you – you naturally want to perform on any given weekend but having your support system watching adds that extra bit but it makes the success you have feel that much better. 

"Knowing that Ally and Chevy are based in Michigan sweetens the pot – we have a lot of reasons to go out there and put on a show and I know our team is capable of contending for a win."

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As for his driver, Bowman has earned two top 10s in "The Great Lakes State." Both of those finishes came in 2019 – his second full-time season at Hendrick Motorsports. The 29-year-old has shown speed on a 2-mile layout before, highlighted by a dominating performance at Auto Club Speedway in 2020 for his second victory in the Cup Series. 

A driver who is no stranger to success here is Larson, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion. From 2016 to 2017, he won three straight races at the facility while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. His three wins are the most he has at any one venue and the 30-year-old has back-to-back third-place finishes here. The Elk Grove, California, native’s one victory to date in the 2022 season came at the other 2-mile track on the schedule, Auto Club Speedway – giving “2-mile” Kyle five wins on tracks of that length. 

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Elliott pulls into Michigan with a 125-point lead with four races left in the regular season. While his run of five straight top-two finishes was snapped at the road course of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the high-speed venue of the Irish Hills stands as one of his best in the series. The 26-year-old’s 7.7 average finish at Michigan is the best all-time (among drivers with at least three starts) and he has top 10s in 10 of his 11 starts. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native also has three runner-up finishes at this facility – two of which came in races that Larson won. 

Elliott's crew chief has visited victory lane at this intermediate track before. Alan Gustafson has two wins atop the pit box - with Mark Martin (in 2009) and Jeff Gordon (in 2014) - at the D-shaped oval. The veteran pit boss has 37 career wins and is one victory away from tying Rodney Childers atop the wins list for active crew chiefs.

While Elliott has led the most laps this season, Byron is second in that category with 611 circuits out front. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native's runner-up showing last year was his best result to date at Michigan. Over the last four races at the 2-mile track, his 9.0 average finish is seventh-best in the series. 

"Michigan (International Speedway) is a tricky track," Byron said. "You have to manage drafting on the straightaways but also the feeling that you’re always on the limit of grip. It’s almost like Daytona (International Superspeedway) but with characteristics of a mile-and-a-half track."

In its history, Hendrick Motorsports has eight wins at the Brooklyn, Michigan, venue. Gordon leads the way with three, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. picked up two victories for the organization. Martin, Ricky Rudd and Jimmie Johnson each scored one victory at this facility. 

Tune in to watch the 23rd race of the Cup Series season on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).