|Alex Bowman led most laps in fall Phoenix race driving No. 88.|
“Last month we had a two-day test at Phoenix, so we got some laps on the track. Testing was fun – we had a good opportunity to gather some data and learn some things. Phoenix is a good track for us. We have certainly had a great car at Phoenix the last several times. We are going to try to keep on chipping away and grabbing some points. I am looking forward to the next several weeks and I’m excited to get in the Axalta car – that car is awesome.”
RECENT WINNER: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Phoenix in November 2015 after a rain-shortened event. The wet weather didn’t put a damper on Earnhardt, who led 22 laps en route to his 26th career NASCAR Cup Series victory and his third at the track. The 42-year-old driver earned his first two Phoenix wins back-to-back, going to Victory Lane in November 2003 and November 2004 when the one-mile tri-oval hosted one Cup event per season. By virtue of his three wins, Earnhardt ranks third on the all-time wins list at Phoenix behind Kevin Harvick (eight) and teammate Jimmie Johnson (four).
OFF-SEASON TESTING: The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native got behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevy during the offseason for a two-day NASCAR test at Phoenix International Raceway on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The No. 88 Axalta team was able to collect valuable data and give Earnhardt a chance to get more laps under his belt after he was approved to return to competition in December 2016.
AXALTA “FLASH POINT” SCHEME: Phoenix marks the first of 13 races where Axalta Coating Systems will be the primary sponsor for Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet SS. The new “Flash Point” paint scheme, designed by artist Sam Bass, will make its on-track debut this weekend. The No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS incorporates bright, neon yellow and red colors to create an eye-catching paint scheme.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Earnhardt, a three-time winner at Phoenix, has experienced a resurgence lately at the short track. In his last seven races at the facility, the driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS has earned one win, five top-five finishes and six top-10s. The only one of those seven events in which he finished outside of the top 10 was when the series visited the short track in March 2015 and a blown right-rear tire ended his day on lap 180. Earnhardt is ranked 10th among all active competitors with a driver rating of 88.7 from 2005-2016. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. He ranks fourth among his competitors for completing the most green-flag passes since 2005 with 959 and ranks sixth in laps led with 259.
HOME TRACK: Phoenix International Raceway is the home track for No. 88 jackman Nick Covey, who grew up in Glendale, Arizona. He joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2009 and has been a member of the No. 88 team for six years. Covey played football for the University of Nebraska, where he was a linebacker from 2005 to 2009. Away from the racetrack, he says his focus is on his wife and his children, who play baseball.