HAMPTON — Ahead of Sunday’s Ambetter 400 NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has won 16 races at the track, the most of any car owner.
Hendrick won last year’s races at AMS with William Byron, who won the March race, and Dawsonville native Chase Elliott, who won the July race.
Other Hendrick riders who have won at AMS include Darrell Waltrip (1989), Ken Schrader (1991), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2011), Jerry Nadeau (2000), Jimmie Johnson (2004, 2007 sweep, 2015). , 2016) and Kasey Kahne (2014).
Wood Brothers is second in all-time AMS wins with 12, Joe Gibbs Racing is third with 11 and Richard Childress Racing is fourth with nine.
2023 has brought success, controversy for Hendrick
At four races in 2023, Hendrick drivers were successful on track while the team faced penalties and fines for modifying louvers, which are parts that redirect air through the hoods.
On Wednesday, NASCAR hit Hendrick Motorsports with a total of $400,000 in fines, four race bans from four Crew Chiefs, 100 point deductions and 10 playoff points for each driver (excluding the injured Chase Elliott or his replacement Josh Berry).
Hendrick is appealing the fines and penalties to Chad Knaus, the team’s vice president, who said Friday that Hendrick did not attempt to break NASCAR rules.
Byron said Saturday it gives the team extra motivation not just this weekend but for the rest of the season.
“Obviously the points are something we brace for early in the season,” he said. “The cars are extremely fast; We obviously had the pace last week to win anyway, so we expect that to continue… I’m really looking forward to getting out on track now. If anything, it just goes to show that we’re not there yet and have more to prove; we still have more to achieve. It’s a dangerous thing, isn’t it? Our goal is to win every week and we will keep pushing for it.”
A look back at how Hendrick riders have fared this season
Byron has won back-to-back races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway.
If he wins Sunday, he will become only the sixth active driver to win three or more consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races and 25th all-time.
“It’s good to get two in a row in the last few weeks,” Byron said. “I have the feeling that we are on the right track. That was a good race track for us last year.”
Byron is the defending spring race champion at AMS and edged out Ross Chastain by 0.145 seconds last March – the fourth-closest result of the series in Atlanta.
Byron has led 240 laps this season and sits 29th in the points standings.
Alex Bowman is the only rider with four consecutive top 10 finishes this season.
In four starts this season, Bowman has posted two top fives and four top 10s. He leads the series this year with a 6.3 average and is 23rd on points.
Kyle Larson has led 270 laps this year, more than any other driver in the Cup Series. He is 32nd in the points standings with two top five finishes.
Berry, coming on for an injured Chase Elliott, is not eligible to score this year and has a top-10 finish.
In Saturday’s qualifying, Larson led the Hendrick contingent with a ninth place while Byron qualified 11th. Bowman starts Sunday 15th and Berry 21st.
“I think Josh was great,” Byron said. “He’s at a very big deficit with this car, it’s unlike anything you’re going to drive. There are so many things he needs to learn and I think he’s done a great job.”