By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore
Capsules for all drivers competing in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Matt Kenseth remains atop the Sprint Cup standings after the first five races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He leads former points leader Jimmie Johnson by four points, and is 29 points ahead of third-ranked Kevin Harvick.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 27 career starts, 1 wins, 5 top-fives, 9 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in fall 2012. Finished first in this race last year and was eighth in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kenseth is still looking to widen the gap between himself and Jimmie Johnson in the standings. Kenseth gained just one point over Johnson Saturday night at Charlotte, from a three- to four-point edge, the smallest edge Kenseth has had over another driver thus far in the Chase. Given the unpredictability at Talladega, we could see a big shakeup in the standings if Kenseth or Johnson (or both) have a bad day and potentially wreck out. Here's Kenseth's thoughts on Sunday's race: "Most people if they have a legitimate shot and they are still in the (Chase) mix go there really tentative and make plans and try to hang in the back and try to do all this stuff and try to minimize the damage. I think that's good because I really try to approach it the opposite -- I try to approach it as an opportunity. If the guys we're racing and are trying to beat are being real careful and want to ride in the back and all that, then I look at that as an opportunity to try to hopefully lead some laps, get some bonus points and be in the mix and if you do come out unscathed maybe have a shot to win. That's kind of how we'll go there is just go there and approach it like another race. Go race hard and hopefully thing work out for us."
LOOKING BACK: Kenseth led just one lap but still held on to finish third at Charlotte on Saturday night.
ETC.: Kenseth has completed 94.3 percent (4,823) of the 5,116 total laps contested in 27 career starts at Talladega. His average start is 20.9, while his average finish is 17.6. He has four DNFs there.
48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Jimmie Johnson remained in second place in the standings for the third straight week after Saturday's race at Charlotte. He lost one point to series leader Matt Kenseth, going from three to four points back, and leads third-ranked Kevin Harvick by 25 points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 23 career starts, 2 wins, 6 top-5s, 10 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2006 and spring 2011. Finished 17th in this race last year and was fifth in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Johnson returns to Talladega, a track where he has had some of the worst luck of his racing career, with a virtually unheard of eight DNFs (more than 33 percent of his 23 career starts). He knows what can happen Sunday and is cautious. Here's his thoughts: "Honestly, I'll be anxious to get out of there. I'm just ready for it to happen; and go on, and race from there. Last year, I don't think we finished a restrictor plate race; and this year we've had two wins; and I think the other was in the top 5. So, I hope this trend of top 5 finishes stays alive in Talladega. That's what we're going to need. After Talladega, at that point, you can really race individuals. I think up until Talladega, you're still racing the field and anything can happen and anybody has a chance. But leaving Talladega, you can really narrow-in on who is left and what that spread is in points."
LOOKING BACK: Johnson led the second-most number of laps at Charlotte on Saturday (130), but couldn't catch winner Brad Keselowski, ultimately finishing fourth.
ETC.: Johnson has completed 93.9 percent (4,098) of the 4,364 total laps contested in 23 career starts at Talladega. His average start there is 10.1 and his average finish is 17.1. He has eight DNFs there, the most of any track on the circuit.
29 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Kevin Harvick remained in third place in the Sprint Cup standings for the second consecutive week. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to close in on either points leader Matt Kenseth, who he trails by 29 points, or second-ranked Jimmie Johnson, who Harvick follows by 25 points. Harvick leads fourth-ranked Jeff Gordon by seven points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 25 career starts, 1 wins, 6 top-fives, 10 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2010. Was 11th in this race last year and a career-worst 40th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick crashed out after just 47 laps in the spring race, finishing a career-worst 40th at Talladega. He's looking to change things up this Sunday, knowing time is running out for him to close the gap on points leaders Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson. Here's his thoughts on the No. 1 key for Sunday's race: "Don't wreck. That's the perfect strategy. How you do that I don't know, but I'm hoping we have the luck we need to make sure that we don't have any major issues this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Harvick followed up his win at Kansas with a solid sixth-place finish at Charlotte.
ETC.: Harvick has completed 94.8 percent (4,493) of the 4,740 total laps contested in 25 career starts at Talladega. His average start is 22.0 and average finish is 16.4. He has two DNFs there.
24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Jeff Gordon remained in fourth place for the second straight week. Gordon trails series leader Matt Kenseth by 36 points, is seven points behind third-ranked Harvick and leads fifth-ranked Kyle Busch by just one point.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 41 career starts, 6 wins, 15 top-fives, 19 top-10s, 3 poles. Best career finish: First in summer 1996, spring 2000, spring 2004, spring 2005, spring and fall 2007. Was runner-up in this race last year and was 11th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Gordon knows he needs another strong finish like his runner-up showing in this race last year if he is to have any chance of still winning a fifth career Sprint Cup championship. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "You have to go into this race with a positive attitude. With the big-pack racing, there is always the chance of the 'big one.' But you have to approach this race with a positive attitude; fight to avoid whatever may occur and hope that you come out of it with a race car. It doesn't even need to be in one piece. It just needs to get across the (finish) line with a decent finish."
LOOKING BACK: Gordon led 26 laps but faded near the end, yet still finished with a respectable seventh-place showing at Charlotte on Saturday night.
ETC.: Gordon has completed 91.6 percent (7,041) of 7,689 total laps contested in 41 career starts at Talladega. His average start is 11.4 and average finish is 16.2. He has nine DNFs there.
18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Kyle Busch remained in fifth place in the standings for the second straight week after Charlotte. He trails points leader and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth by 37 points (down from 12 prior to Kansas), is one point behind fourth-place Jeff Gordon and leads sixth-ranked Greg Biffle by 21 points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 17 career starts, 1 wins, 3 top-fives, 4 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2008. Finished third in this race last year and was 37th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch needs to bounce back from his disappointing 37th-place finish at Talladega in the spring. Unfortunately, Busch's hyper-aggressive driving style doesn't mesh well with 'Dega's restrictor plate racing, evidenced by just four top-10 finishes and five DNFs in 17 career starts. Here's Busch's thoughts on Sunday's race: "I think many of us have said that from the very beginning: you just have no idea how Talladega will turn out. All you can do is focus on what you can control, get your car driving as well as you can in practice, go out there and hope you can stay out of the big wreck and bring home a decent finish. (Being a former winner there) doesn't matter at all. It's such a crapshoot there in the last 20, 30 or 40 laps that you never really know who is going to win, what's going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from."
LOOKING BACK: Busch had a good run at Charlotte, leading four laps en route to a fifth-place finish on Saturday night.
ETC.: Busch has completed just 88.8 percent (2,874) of the 3,236 total laps contested in 17 career starts at Talladega. His average start is 20.4, while his average finish is 22.9, one of his worst at any Cup track. He also has five DNFs there.
16 GREG BIFFLE, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Greg Biffle remained in sixth place for the third consecutive week after Saturday's race at Charlotte. He trails points leader Matt Kenseth by 58 points (down from 44 points prior to Charlotte), is 21 points behind fifth-ranked Kyle Busch, and leads seventh-ranked Kurt Busch by one point.