LOOKING BACK: Stenhouse finished 18th at Las Vegas. "We were too tight," said Stenhouse. "I kept telling them to free it up and we would get tighter and tighter. That is what gave up all our track position. We were running in the top 10 (early in the race) no problem, but then we got way too tight for some reason. Every pit stop we made we got tighter and tighter. So I don't know if something is broke and kept getting worse and worse or what the deal was."
ETC.: Crew chief Scott Graves knows "Bristol is a tough track because anything can happen. It is a long race. Track position is crucial. If we can stay out of trouble and execute on pit road, I feel confident that we can get a top-10 finish."
27 PAUL MENARD, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, only six points out of the top 10. Gained five spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished 10th in both races last year. Has three top-10 finishes in the last four races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Menard said, "Short tracks are the heart of our sport and Bristol is the type of track that NASCAR was built around. We've had some good runs at Bristol the past couple of years, so we are looking forward to this weekend and seeing what the 27 Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet can do. If we can qualify well, stay up front on Sunday and stay out of trouble, I think we'll be in good shape."
LOOKING BACK: Menard was all smiles after finishing 10th at Las Vegas for his first top-10 finish of the season. "We had a great car today," said Menard. "Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) and the team did a phenomenal job giving me a fast Schrock/Menards Chevrolet. It was a lot of fun to drive today. The 27 pit crew did an awesome job in the pits and got me several spots on pit road. All-in-all, it was a good day."
ETC.: Menard's contract with Richard Childress Racing ends at the end of this season "so I'm sure these questions (about his future with the team) will be coming throughout the year. I hope by the middle of summer we will have an answer for everybody." Menard said he hopes to remain a part of the organization for years to come.
24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, nine points out of the top 10. Lost five spots last week to fall out of the top 10.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished third last August for his second third-place finish in the last three events. His five wins tie him for the most victories among active drivers. Overall, he has 22 top-10 finishes, including 16 top-five's in 40 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Gordon is glad the top groove is back being the place to race at Bristol Motor Speedway. "I remember seeing guys like Darrell (Waltrip) and Davey (Allison) run that high line back in 1991 or 1992," said Gordon. "I was watching them from the spotters' stand and it was so cool to see them running right up against the wall. It was hard to pass, so you would see 'slide jobs' when they got a run. That's essentially the same kind of racing we had there in August. I had so much fun racing that way that night."
LOOKING BACK: While his three teammates at Hendrick Motorsports were running in the top six or seven all afternoon, Gordon struggled big time at Las Vegas. "The car was wicked loose all day," said Gordon, who ended up 25th. "We were just way off all day. We just missed it and nothing we did seemed to help."
ETC.: When asked if the $25,000 fine levied by NASCAR against Denny Hamlin for his comments on the Gen-6 car was going to change the way he approached media interviews, Gordon said, "No, I'm going to go about it the same way that I always do. I feel like I try to think before I say anything. I try to think if this is going to be something that is going to negatively affect the sport, negatively affect my sponsors or myself, my team and is it worth it. I try to do that when I am doing interviews, and when I'm talking about things that are going on. When I get out of the car, I'm usually pretty good at being able to do that and think about that."
5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, 11 points out of the top 10. Gained 17 spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished ninth last August for his third top-nine finish in the last five races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne doesn't believe the new Gen-6 car will have much of an impact on the racing at Bristol this weekend. "That track is so unique and so different and knowing how we race there, you'll probably still have that similar race that we've had in the past. That's just one unique place where you have 43 cars on that small (half-mile) of a race track with so much banking."
LOOKING BACK: Kahne dominated the Las Vegas race as he led six times for a race-high 114 laps, but a long pit stop on his final stop of the day dropped him to sixth for the last restart and he was not able to get around Matt Kenseth in a stirring 30-lap duel. "I caught him," said Kahne. "I just couldn't pass him. We definitely had the best car today. When I got to him at the end, my tires got a little greasy. I think it was the two runs on the left-side tires that made it a little more difficult to pass that final run. We still had a great day (finishing second). My engine was unbelievable, the car was perfect and the guys did an awesome job. We just didn't get the win."
ETC.: Crew chief Kenny Francis smiles as he admits, "Kasey and I do kind of communicate by osmosis sometimes it seems like. We've been together for a long time. He's the only driver I've had for a while now. Between Kasey, myself and my engineer, Keith Rodden, we've all been together for a number of years. We can even look at each other and tell what we're thinking or what's going on."
22 JOEY LOGANO, Ford
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 15th, 12 points out of the top 10. Gained six spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished eighth in the August race for his first top-10 finish in eight starts. He led 139 laps in the night event.
LOOKING AHEAD: Logano said, "There has always been a special feeling about Bristol. It's just so unique from everywhere else we go. You just don't see a lot of places that look like it, from the size (half-mile) to the high banks to the grandstands surrounding the place. It's just different there, both as a fan and as a driver."
LOOKING BACK: Logano was penalized for speeding as he left pit road after his first pit stop and he spent the rest of the race trying to overcome this penalty. "I felt like we had a top-five car, but just made a mistake," said Logano, who ended the day in 12th place. "I screwed up and sped down pit road on the first stop. I never really had an opportunity to recover good enough to show what we had. The guys gave me a really good race car today."
ETC.: Logano points out "even though we aren't running the speeds we do at a lot of other places, things happen faster at Bristol than almost anywhere else we go. And that makes it exciting. It's unpredictable. And because of that, it's always a fan favorite."
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, 14 points out of the top 10. Lost four spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished fifth in the August race last year for his fourth top-10 finish in eight starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose said he "really likes Bristol. You are up on the wheel for all 500 laps of the race. That's the kind of racing I like and really excel at. It is definitely one of the tracks that fit my style of racing."
LOOKING BACK: Ambrose battled an extremely loose race car all day as he finished 22nd at Las Vegas. "It was a long day for everyone on the Stanley Racing crew," said Ambrose. "The car was really loose, and it was frustrating. I know Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) tried everything today to help it go faster for me. We did the best we could today under the circumstances, and now, we'll go (to Bristol) and make up the ground we lost today."
ETC.: Ambrose admits "the last few weeks have been tough. The cars have not been as good as we know they can be. I know the guys are back at the shop working their butts off so we can have a good finish this weekend (at Bristol). We fell back to 16th in the points last week and have got to get back up in the top 12. The only way to do that is post good finishes and get some wins."
18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, 16 points out of the top 10. Gained 16 spots last week.