Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 173 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: His best finish in four starts is 26th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose said, "I'm really focused on trying to end our year on a high note, and I think we've got a shot at it this weekend. Of course we'd like to be able to get a win on an oval this season, but considering all the changes we've had the past couple months, I'll be happy with a solid top-10 finish."
LOOKING BACK: Ambrose finished 18th at Phoenix. "We struggled with the handling of our Black & Decker Ford all day," said Ambrose. "We just couldn't seem to hit on anything that made a big difference. I have to give my guys credit though, they never gave up and kept making adjustments all day to try and make the car better. On a positive note, we were able to avoid all the crazy on-track incidents and bring our No 9 machine home in one piece."
ETC.: Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer said, "I've had a couple of weeks to work with Marcos now, and so far I really like what I see. He's determined to run well and win races and anything less is unacceptable. That's the kind of drive and determination that makes a good race car driver. I'm definitely looking forward to 2013 and getting to work with the 9 team more."
31 JEFF BURTON, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 233 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: Finished 10th a year ago for his sixth top-10 finish in 13 starts. Finished second in the 2009 event.
LOOKING AHEAD: Burton is glad this "frustrating" season is about to come to a close. "I am ready for this year to end so we can focus our efforts on 2013," said Burton. "I love racing, but it is time to stop so we can restart for 2013. This type of year grinds you down. Having a positive attitude goes a long way, but at the same time you need to be a realist and understand what is going on."
LOOKING BACK: It was a long, long weekend for Burton and the 31 team. He crashed on both Friday and Saturday forcing the team to spend the entire weekend rebuilding race cars. Burton started last because of the two accidents. He rallied to finish 13th. "Just a solid effort from the 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team," said Burton. "We wrecked two cars and for these guys to come back and give this kind of effort was amazing. Just a great rebound and all the credit goes to the crew."
ETC.: Burton believes the future at RCR is going to be a bright one. "I feel really good about what we've done structurally for 2013 compared to 2012," said Burton, "We have a better plan and the people in correct roles who can execute the plan. I'm very encouraged about everything we have going on at RCR."
1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 247 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: Three top-10 finishes in 10 starts. Set the qualifying record in 2003 with a lap of 181.11 miles per hour.
LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray said, "It's hard to believe that we are down to the final race of the season. I am looking forward to the Homestead-Miami race; I really enjoy racing there since they reconfigured the track. Hopefully we can finish out the season strong with a good run in our Bass Pro Shops Chevy."
LOOKING BACK: McMurray finished 23rd at Phoenix. "We fought with the balance of the Bass Pro Shops/Allstate Chevy all day," said McMurray. "The guys did a great job in the pits, but the long green flags runs didn't play into our strategy. We'll continue working hard as we head to the final race of the season."
ETC: McMurray has only three top-10 finishes this season. That is one less than 2011 – a year that car owner Chip Ganassi called "pathetic." But McMurray believes "all the changes we have made this year have been good ones and we have high hopes for the new car we will be running in 2013."
43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 260 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: Finished fourth in the 2010 race. He did not compete in last year's event.
LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola said, "I kind of wish the season wasn't ending. We've really hit on some good team chemistry with Todd Parrott (crew chief) and the guys since we started working together two months ago and the results have been showing on track. We've had some fast cars and really good runs and we'll look to do even better at Homestead, maybe even with a win."
LOOKING BACK: Despite being involved in the incident triggered when Jeff Gordon slammed into Clint Bowyer on purpose, Almirola was able to limp across the finish line in 16th place. "We started out really, really good and then took two tires on one of those stops (about midway in the race) and started going backwards," said Almirola. "Our car never handled the same after that. Still, we were running good when the 24 wrecked the 15."
ETC.: Parrott points out "we've had some good results on the mile-and-a-half's with Aric. So I think we can end the season with a bang. Homestead is a good track for Aric. It's fast with multiple grooves and you can run all over the place. And the banking varies for each groove, so you can run different lines and see where your car runs best."
47 BOBBY LABONTE, Chevrolet
Team: JTG Daugherty Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 338 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: Four top-10 finishes in 13 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Labonte feels the team has made a lot of headway in the past five or six races, and that it has a lot of momentum as it heads to Homestead. "Every time now we hit the track we feel good about our chances of running in the top 15 or better," said Labonte. "We feel good about the future of this team."
LOOKING BACK: Labonte dodged the wrecking cars in front of him on the last lap of the Phoenix race to finish 15th. "We survived today and are glad to leave here with the car in one piece," said Labonte. "It was wild there at the end. We came a long way from our starting spot (30th). The guys worked hard all day and we are leaving PIR with a top-15 finish. All in all, a good day."
ETC.: Labonte is delighted that Bobby Hutchens has come on board as the team's general manager. "I can't say enough about Bobby Hutchens," said Labonte. "He is a point of direction for us. The point man you might say. He makes sure we cross our t's and dot our i's. He helps put things in place like making sure cars are done and the guys don't have to work too late. It feels good to have good management in place. The atmosphere is really good right now."
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 25th, 391 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: One win and four top-five finishes in 11 starts. His two poles are tied for the best at the track.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch said, "Homestead is one of the weirdest tracks for me because of all the excitement that has happened through the years there as well as all of the disappointments. If you look at my past history at Homestead it's either a top-five or a win, or a DNF, a parts failure or wreck. It seems like it's been win or bust there."
LOOKING BACK: Busch rallied in the final 100 laps to finish eighth despite being involved in the last-lap wreck. "We had a great run going until a loose lug nut put us a lap down," said Busch. "We definitely had a car that was capable of winning, but you can't afford those kinds of mistakes. However, we did battle back to notch our second straight top-10 finish (a first for the team). That was a wild ending. I just stayed on the gas to get to the finish line. I did smack the wall pretty hard. I kept on going and was able to nudge (Paul) Menard for eighth."