By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore
88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbed back into first place in the Sprint Cup standings, which he had previously sat atop for the first three weeks of the season, after Sunday's race at Martinsville. He leads second-ranked Matt Kenseth by nine points and third-ranked Carl Edwards by 10 points.
TEXAS RECORD: 23 career starts, 1 wins, 4 top-5s, 13 top-10s, 2 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2000, his first career Sprint Cup win. Finished 29th in this race last year and was second in last year's fall Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Earnhardt loves returning to Texas, where he earned his first career Sprint Cup win, having a memorable embrace with his late father in victory lane. After finishing second in last fall's race there, Sunday would be a perfect place for Junior to win his second race of the 2014 season. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "For whatever reason, when they built this racetrack, people really latched on to it. It's been a great market for us. It's been very successful. There's a great staff out there that does a lot of cutting-edge stuff and does a lot of unique promotion that you don't see at other places. It makes it a lot of fun to come here. Especially when the fans show their support to the track itself, it makes you want to race in front of them. It makes you excited to be here when they're, in turn, excited to see you."
LOOKING BACK: Earnhardt had a strong run at Martinsville, leading 25 laps and finishing third.
ETC.: Earnhardt has completed 97.4 percent (7,493) of the 7,693 total laps contested in 23 career starts at Texas. His average start there is 11.3 and average finish is 13.7. He has two DNFs there.
20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: For the second consecutive week, Matt Kenseth climbed three spots in the standings, going from eighth to second in that time period. He trails points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. by nine points and leads third-ranked Carl Edwards by one point.
TEXAS RECORD: 23 career starts, 2 wins, 13 top-5s, 16 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2002 and spring 2011. Finished 12th in this race last year and was fourth in last fall's Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: With 16 top-10 finishes in 23 races, Kenseth always seems to do well at Texas. He's still looking for his first win of the season and Sunday could be the right place and right time.
LOOKING BACK: Kenseth led 36 laps and fell back near the end of the race to finish a still-good sixth. Here's what he had to say after the race: "It was up and down -- thankfully it ended on a fairly up note. ... Kind of disappointed because at the beginning of the race I thought we were going to have something we could race them with and just kind of lost it there in the middle of the race."
ETC.: Kenseth has completed an outstanding 99.3 percent (7,641) of the 7,693 total laps contested in 23 career starts at Texas. His average start there is 15.6 and his average finish is 8.3. He has one DNF there.
99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: After leading the Sprint Cup points after Fontana, Carl Edwards' reign lasted just one week, as he dropped from first to third after Martinsville. He trails points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 10 points, is one point behind second-ranked Matt Kenseth and leads fourth-ranked Jeff Gordon by one point.
TEXAS RECORD: 18 career starts, 3 wins, 6 top-5s, 8 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: First in fall 2005, spring and fall 2008. Finished third in this race last year and was 37th in the fall Chase race there (after starting from the pole).
LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards is looking for his second win of the season at a track that he has a great record at. He also is looking to bounce back from last fall's race there.
LOOKING BACK: Edwards didn't have the greatest of cars at Martinsville. He overcame handling issues to finish 13th.
ETC.: Edwards has completed just 93.3 percent (5,618) of the 6,023 total laps contested in 18 career starts at Texas. His average start there is 13.4 and his average finish is 15.4. He has four DNFs there.
24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: After two weeks in third place, Jeff Gordon dropped one spot to fourth after Martinsville. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 11 points, is one point behind third-ranked Carl Edwards and leads fifth-ranked Jimmie Johnson by seven points.
TEXAS RECORD: 26 career starts, 1 wins, 8 top-5s, 11 top-10s, 3 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2009. Finished 38th in this race last year and also 38th in last fall's Chase race there. He has six DNF's there.
LOOKING AHEAD: For whatever reason, Gordon struggles far too often at a 1.5-mile track like Texas. That can be seen by his six career DNFs, as well as his two disappointing finishes in both races there last year. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "I always enjoy the trip to Texas Motor Speedway. It's a fast, high-banked track with multiple grooves. There should be a lot of tire wear and drop off of the speeds during the race which should lead to an exciting race. I can't wait to get there, especially with how well we ran at Fontana. We had a fast race car in California, and I hope to have another fast one in Texas."
LOOKING BACK: Gordon struggled with the handling on his car at Martinsville but ultimately finished a still respectable 12th.
ETC.: Gordon has completed just 88.0 percent (7,650) of the 8,695 total laps contested in 26 career starts at Texas. His average start there is 12.2 and his average finish is 17.8. But perhaps the most noteworthy stat of all is he has a surprisingly high six DNFs there.
48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Jimmie Johnson regained the one position in the standings that he lost after Fontana, climbing back into fifth place after Martinsville. He trails points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. 18 points, is seven points behind fourth-ranked Jeff Gordon and leads sixth-ranked Kyle Busch by 20 points.
TEXAS RECORD: 21 career starts, 3 wins, 10 top-5s, 16 top-10s, 1 pole. Best career finish: First in fall 2007, fall 2012 and fall 2013. Finished sixth in this race last year and was won the fall Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Johnson is still looking for his first win. It looked like he might do it at Martinsville, where he dominated, only to come up short to Kurt Busch. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race at Texas: "Texas is one of the more interesting racetracks we race on. The characteristics of the track - the bumps and the surface will make for an exciting race. So far with six winners in six races the racing in 2014 has been really exciting for the fans. We've run up front and led a lot but haven't been able to finish the job. I'm not too sure what the tire situation will be this weekend - if it will be the same tire as California or not - but it's been a good track for us in the past and it would be great to get our first win of the season this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Johnson dominated at Martinsville, leading 296 of the event's 500 laps, only to come up short and finish second to Kurt Busch. It was the second straight race that Johnson dominated (he also did so the week before at Fontana), only to fail to reach victory lane.
ETC.: Johnson has completed 97.1 percent (6,821) of the 7,025 total laps contested in 21 career starts at Texas. His average start there is an outstanding 8.5 and his average finish is an equally outstanding 8.7. He has one DNF there.
18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: After climbing seven spots after Fontana, Kyle Busch gained one more place in the standings after Martinsville, from seventh to sixth. He trails points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 38 points, is 20 points behind fifth-ranked Jimmie Johnson and leads seventh-ranked Brad Keselowski by one point.