Alex Bowman’s maiden Monster Energy Series victory Sunday night in Chicago coupled with the good showings from his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates – Jimmie Johnson, William Byron and Chase Elliott – was certainly an encouraging sign for the championship organization as it heads into Daytona Beach.
The four drivers have combined for 12 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s. Elliott, the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet leads the team with six top-five finishes. Elliott and the seven-time Cup champion Johnson each have seven top 10s while Bowman has tallied six. All by Bowman has won at least one pole position. Bowman (Chicago) and Elliott (Talladega, Ala.) have race wins.
Elliott’s victory at Talladega in May is encouraging for the team, as that marked the first time the series has used a tapered spacer in place of a restrictor plate at one of the two “big tracks.” This week will feature the same tapered spacer at Daytona.
Even though Elliott, Bowman and Byron have won pole positions at Daytona International Speedway, the famed high banks haven’t been the most productive of venues for the three youngest members of the Hendrick team. Bowman is the only member of that trio with a top-10 finish (10th place in this summer race last year) in 16 combined starts among them. The veteran champion Johnson, however, has three victories at Daytona – two Daytona 500 wins (2006 and 2013) and scored a Daytona victory sweep in 2013 while also claiming the 400-mile race win.
He’s crashed out in four of the last six Daytona races, but paced the team this February with a ninth-place finish in the Daytona 500.