Byron leads Hendrick Motorsports in Texas qualifying
FORT WORTH, Texas – William Byron will lead the Hendrick Motorsports quartet to the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The organization had three of its four playoff drivers qualifying in the top 10, but the driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was the best of them all. Byron will start third thanks to a 188.805 mph lap in the final round of group qualifying. This is his third top-four finish in the last seven races.
Chase Elliott will start sixth in the #9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Kyle Larson, who is the defending race winner, lines up ninth in the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Alex Bowman qualified 17th in the #48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Ally for the 500 mile race in Texas.
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Brad Keselowski took pole position for Sunday’s race.
In the combined group workouts, Bowman placed third, Byron was sixth, and Larson came in 10th. The No. 48 driver was second on the 10-lap average chart, Byron was fourth and Elliott was fifth in that class.
With points reset at the start of the Round of 16, Elliott is back atop the leaderboard and +31 at the cut line. Larson is fourth in the standings (+10 at the cut line), while Byron is fifth (+6 at the cut line). Bowman enters the round in 10th and is just below the cut-off line at -6.
“I think we’re probably all looking at Texas (Motor Speedway) as a good opportunity to hopefully get a win and stay locked in and not have to worry about the next two races,” Larson said during a press conference before training.
The Round of 16 consists of races at Texas, Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. It is widely considered the greatest wildcard round of the playoffs.
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“It’s an uncomfortable round with Talladega (Superspeedway) being such an unknown and kind of a wild card,” Bowman said before the Cup cars hit the track. “A lot can happen at (Charlotte Motor Speedway) ROVAL and at this place a lot can happen too. Definitely a tough grouping of race tracks when it comes to being able to control your own destiny or work on your car racing after unloading.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes, but I think we’re in a really good position as a race team and can have a good run here.”
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The Rick Hendrick-owned organization has 10 paid wins in Texas. Jimmie Johnson has seven and he also holds the record for most all-time Cup Series wins. Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Larson each have a win at the 1.5 mile site. In the last 18 points-paying races at the Fort Worth, Texas facility, the team has won the best seven series.
In 17 Texas playoff races, Hendrick Motorsports has won the Cup Series record six times. Johnson is responsible for five wins, while Larson’s win in the Round of 16 last year is the other victory. In last year’s playoffs, the organization led 93% of the rounds (311 of 334) with Byron second to the eventual series champion.
Hendrick Motorsports has done well on 1.5-mile tracks this season. During the six races of the season on this type of track, the team won three times. In March, Bowman and Byron won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, respectively. Elliott picked up the win in Atlanta in July. On top of that, all four drivers – Elliott (second), Bowman (fourth), Larson (sixth) and Byron (seventh) are in the top seven in terms of points scored on that length of track.
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The 334-lap race will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 25, with coverage on USA Network, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).