Elliott, Bowman facing must wins Sunday in Martinsville

Hendrick Motorsports at one point this season, had the top speed in NASCAR. Now, we’re closing the season and HMS is trying to get one of their drivers to the Championship 4 for the first time since 2016. It’s likely going to take a win though.

Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott both sit below the cut line and are each 25 points back.

“For us, we need to go win, and that’s really kind of the bottom line,” Elliott said after a bad finish in Texas. “I’m not even going to look at the points because it really just doesn’t matter. If you can’t win races and win them consistently in this series, then you’re not going to win the championship anyway. We need to go there with the mindset of trying to win and put ourselves in the best position to do that, and be comfortable in it, and hope things go our way.”

Alex Bowman agrees. Although, he does have two top five finishes this round too, which gives him some hope.

“I view it like we should have run better all year and accumulated more playoff points,” Bowman said. “We’ve run third and fifth the last two weeks and only lost points or stayed about the same. So, it comes down to we needed more playoff points throughout the year. I think last week we were capable of winning and fell a little short. This week, in some different circumstances, we were capable of winning.”

They do head to a track where the organization is normally at their best on too. Martinsville, is a place where HMS earned their first ever victory back in 1984. They’ve won 24 times there overall, most among all tracks that they’ve ever raced on.

The 24 wins at the track were earned by five different drivers on the team. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have nine wins apiece, Darrell Waltrip captured the checkered flag four times and both Geoff Bodine and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have each visited Victory Lane once. Johnson earned the organization’s most recent win at the track in October 2016.

The organization’s drivers have scored 80 top-five finishes and 127 top-10s and led 9,195 laps at Martinsville since 1984 — all three of which are Hendrick Motorsports records at any track.

Now that they have their speed back again, watch out. While Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing make the most sense to produce a winner on Sunday, HMS may have something to say about it. JGR/Penske took four of the top five finishing spots in the spring race last year, four of the top five in the October race a year ago and four of the top five back in June. They’ve also won six of the last seven races on the Virginia paperclip as well.

HMS can end those streaks.

Elliott has four top 10 finishes in his last five Martinsville starts. He was fifth this past Spring. He was runner-up to Brad Keselowski in last year’s spring race too while William Byron was runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. in last year’s playoff race.

Byron, led 30 laps that day. Byron also came home eighth in June.

Bowman was seventh and 14th respectively in the two spring race starts with HMS. He was sixth in June too.

Johnson, may only have one top five in his last 12 Martinsville starts, but he does have nine wins, 19 top five finishes and 24 top 10’s in 36 overall tries on the paperclip. He’s showing more and more speed this year compared to years past and was 10th in June to give HMS all four cars with a top 10 showing. He even led 70 laps that night. 

Can either Elliott or Bowman win? They need to in order to make the Championship 4.

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