4 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, three points out of the top 10.
PHOENIX RECORD: Has won two of the last three races including the November event. Overall has four wins and 11 top-10s including seven top-five's 22 races. Is tied for the most wins with Jimmie Johnson.
LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick feels Phoenix is "similar to the tracks that most of us grew up racing on. Phoenix is a very challenging race track. It has a very unique layout that is different at both ends. I feel like I've been racing at Phoenix my entire career, and I feel that what I've learned there has helped me be successful on the other flat tracks we race on. The race track continues to change as it ages, so you're always tweaking to keep up with the changes every time we head out there."
LOOKING BACK: Harvick seemed headed for a top-10 finish in the Daytona 500 when he became involved in the last-lap accident that left him in 13th place. "My car just went straight. I thought I had a flat tire, but Carl (Edwards) and Reed (Sorenson) said that they about spun out the lap before down there (turn four) with some oil or whatever was on the track," said Harvick. "I clobbered the side of the 18 (Kyle Busch). I hate it for everybody who got their cars torn up. Our Budweiser Chevy was good all night. Even with all that happened on the last lap we finished okay. Good way to start the year with a new team." Harvick left Richard Childress Racing after last season to move to Stewart-Haas Racing.
ETC.: Harvick said he loves "change. As I've learned over the off-season, change is very enthusiastic for not only myself but for all the people around me. I think everybody at SHR would tell you that the enthusiasm is contagious at the shop just because it just bleeds over from one person to the next. It's been a lot of fun. Hopefully, the results will show everything that we think we should be able to achieve."
1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, four points out of the top 10.
PHOENIX RECORD: Only two top-10 finishes in 21 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray said, "Phoenix is an area and track that I enjoy visiting, so I always look forward to this trip. It is going to be interesting with the new qualifying format for everyone. Our guys have put in a lot of work over the off season to get ready. Once you get past Daytona you will start to get an idea early in the season of where the program is headed. I'm looking forward to getting into the Cessna Chevy this weekend and build some momentum from our top-15 finish at Daytona."
LOOKING BACK: Despite being involved in the last-lap accident, McMurray was able to finish 14th in the Daytona 500. "We had a pretty good McDonald's Chevy tonight," said McMurray. "We were fortunate enough to miss a few wrecks early in the race and put ourselves in position for what we hoped would be a top-10 finish. Unfortunately, we got involved in the last wreck of the day coming to the checkered flag. Not the way we wanted to finish."
ETC.: During the off-season testing, McMurray said "our cars have been significantly faster than what they were last year. I don't know exactly why, but speed-wise it's been better. The mentality in the shop and everyone's attitude in the shop is better that it's ever been. We had our team luncheon (before Daytona) and since I've been in racing, I haven't been involved with a group of people that are as positive and everyone fighting for the same goal as what we have right now."
52 BOBBY LABONTE, Chevrolet
Team: HScott Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, five points out of the top 10.
PHOENIX RECORD: Team will not be racing at Phoenix.
LOOKING AHEAD: James Finch, the former owner of this team, loves restrictor-plate racing, and he decided to rent one of his former cars for the Daytona 500. As for the rest of the season, Finch said he may run the other restrictor-plate events "or I may not. This could be my only race of the year."
LOOKING BACK: Labonte was in position to finish in the top 10 when he and Kurt Busch got together with 10 laps to go. The contact damaged Labonte's car enough where he couldn't "race like I wanted." As a result, Labonte finished 15th. "It was a good night, but it could have been a lot better," said Labonte.
ETC.: Labonte still wants to race, but he is not sure how many races he will be running in 2014. "I've talking to a lot of people in Cup, Nationwide and the trucks and we'll see what happens," said Labonte. "If this team decides to run any more Cup races, I hope to be part of that deal."
36 REED SORENSON, Chevrolet
Team: Tommy Baldwin Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 15th, six points out of the top 10.
PHOENIX RECORD: His best finish in nine starts is 12th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Sorenson said, "We had a great run in Daytona and I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of my Chevy. I enjoy working with Todd (Parrott, crew chief), he is a huge asset to the team, and I know these guys have been working hard to get the cars ready to go for this weekend in Phoenix. Hopefully, we can have another solid run and continue the momentum for the start of the season."
LOOKING BACK: Sorenson was one of the unlucky drivers to be involved in the last-lap accident as he ended up spinning across the finish line in 16th place. "We had a great car today," said Sorenson. "I am so proud to say that we were up front competing for a top-10. Those cautions there at the end got us shuffled back a little bit, and then we got caught up in the accident on the final lap. I hate that we weren't able to get a top-10, but we had a great run today."
ETC.: Parrott looks on his new job with Tommy Baldwin Racing as a "new beginning." Parrott, the crew chief for Dale Jarrett when Jarrett won the 1999 Winston Cup championship, was suspended last year and lost his job with Richard Petty Motorsports for failing a drug test. After completing NASCAR's drug recovery program, Parrott began looking for a new job. In hiring Parrott to be the crew chief for the 36 car, Baldwin said, "we at TBR are excited to take another step and grow our company with Todd Parrott. He will be a great addition to the team. I think it's important for everyone in this sport to have a second chance. Todd has earned that right by handing everything as a professional, and we are proud to have him on board."
99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, six points out of the top 10.
PHOENIX RECORD: Won this race a year ago after leading 122 laps. It was his second win at the one-mile track. Overall has 11 top-10 finishes including seven top-five's in 19 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards can't wait to get to Phoenix. "We had a great car there a year ago, and I feel we are going to have another great one this weekend," said Edwards. "That track has always been good to me, and I feel it will be again this year. Winning early was big last year, and it is even bigger this year with a win meaning you are in the Chase."
LOOKING BACK: Edwards led three times for eight laps including three with 25 laps to go while battling Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the lead. But Edwards was involved in the last-lap accident and finished the night in 17th place. "We had a really fast Fastenal Ford," said Edwards. "I got to lead so that was really run. The 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) was very good. He definitely deserved the win. The reason we all crashed at the end was there was still some oil on the race track (from a previous wreck). I just hate to tear up that race car. That was a really good car."
ETC.: During the off-season, Edwards participated in a 'mock' NFL combine at Velocity Sports Performance, where he was worked out by former University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer and current East Tennessee State head coach Carl Torbush. Activities at the combine tested skills of agility, quickness and flexibility and included everything from stretching to executing true passing and blocking drills. "I learned a little bit about being a defensive back," said Edwards. "I realized as these guys talked to me that the sport of football is very technical - just like racing. You have to work on it for years to get better."
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, eight points out of the top 10.
PHOENIX RECORD: Only one top-10 finish in 11 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose hopes to put his troubles at Phoenix behind him this weekend. "We haven't run as well there as we would like," said Ambrose. "But our short track program was a lot better the last half of last year so we have high hopes for this weekend. We really want to get this year started off on the right foot and a good run at Phoenix will help us do that."