Capsules for the top 20 drivers in the Sprint Cup standings, plus five additional drivers of note.
By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore
24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Jeff Gordon remained in first place for the fifth consecutive week after Daytona and for 11 of the last 12 weeks. Gordon leads second-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 27 points each.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 38 career starts, 3 wins, 16 top-5s, 22 top-10s, 4 poles. Best career finish: First in summer 1995, fall 1997 and fall 1998. Finished 10th in this race last year and was 15th in last fall's Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Gordon is still looking for his second win of the season. He also hasn't won at New Hampshire in more than 15 years. Could he accomplish both goals Sunday? Said Gordon, "Loudon has always been a good and consistent track for us, and I'm really looking forward to this weekend. Hendrick Motorsports tested at New Hampshire a few weeks ago and I thought the No. 24 team had a really good test. We've had some good cars and some strong runs at Loudon recently, but that doesn't make a weekend any easier. We still have to work hard from Friday morning through the end of the race on Sunday."
LOOKING BACK: Gordon led just two laps in Sunday's rain-shortened race at Daytona and finished 12th.
ETC.: Gordon has completed 98.3 percent (11,058) of the 11,250 total laps contested in 38 career starts at New Hampshire. His average start there is an outstanding 9.6 and average finish is just as outstanding at 10.6. He has two DNFs there.
88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Former points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained in second place for the second week. Earnhardt trails points leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon by 27 points each and is 28 points ahead of fellow teammate and third-ranked Jimmie Johnson.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 29 career starts, 0 wins, 7 top-5s, 12 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Third in summer fall 2004. Finished 14th in this race last year and was sixth in last fall's Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Earnhardt has never won at New Hampshire, but it's not because he hasn't tried. He likes the one-mile flat track and hopes to finally break through Sunday. Said Earnhardt: "We went to New Hampshire (recently for a test) trying to find that little bit extra as a whole group. You only get four tests from which to choose and the whole company has to agree on where we're going. It's a company-wide initiative to try and improve, so I think it says a lot that we chose New Hampshire as one of those tests."
LOOKING BACK: Earnhardt stayed out of trouble for the most part in Daytona, did not lead any laps, and came home with a decent 14th-place finish.
ETC.: Earnhardt has completed 94.6 percent (8,085 laps) of the 8,550 total laps contested in 29 career starts at New Hampshire. His average start there is 16.0 and average finish is 15.7. He has four DNFs there.
48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Jimmie Johnson dropped from a tie for second into third place following Daytona. He trails points leader and teammate Jeff Gordon by 55 points, is 28 points behind second-ranked teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. and leads fourth-ranked Brad Keselowski by 10 points.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 24 career starts, 3 wins, 9 top-5s, 17 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in summer 2003 and fall 2003, and summer 2010. Finished sixth in this race last year and was fourth in the fall Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Johnson makes his 25th career start at New Hampshire this Sunday. After a disappointing finish at Daytona, he's looking to earn his first win at the Loudon track in four years. Said Johnson, "We were pretty disappointed last weekend with the result at Daytona. I really felt like we had a fast car and to be there for all that time only to be knocked out of the race at lap 20 was tough. We are looking forward to New Hampshire and then the off-weekend. Everyone on this team works so hard, they deserve some time off and I hope that we can head into the break with a good finish at Loudon."
LOOKING BACK: Johnson got into the first big wreck of the day just 20 laps into Sunday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. His car was unable to be repaired and Johnson finished with one of his worst outings of the season thus far, winding up 42nd out of 43 drivers.
ETC.: Johnson has been near-perfect at Loudon, completing 7,009 laps (99.0 percent) of the 7,077 total laps contested in 24 career starts at New Hampshire. His average start there is 12.4 and his average finish is an outstanding 9.2. Equally impressive is he has zero DNFs there.
2 BRAD KESELOWSKI, Ford
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Brad Keselowski remained in fourth place for the second consecutive week after Daytona. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 65 points, is 10 points behind third-ranked Jimmie Johnson and leads fifth-ranked Matt Kenseth by six points.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: Nine career starts, 0 wins, 3 top-5s, 5 top-10s, 2 poles. Best career finish: Second in fall 2011. Finished fourth in this race last year and was 11th in last fall's Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Keselowski has really taken to racing on the flat one-mile track at Loudon, but is still seeking his first win there. Could it be this Sunday? Said Keselowski, "Loudon is one of the tracks that we run very well, and our results are not necessarily indicative of our performance. We earned a couple of poles there, one of which was my first career pole, which stands out in my mind. The way we have been qualifying this year with the new format I feel confident that we should have an ideal starting position. We did a short-track test recently and we found some things that should helpful this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Keselowski was involved in one of the two big wrecks at Daytona, and while it didn't knock him out of the race, he finished a disappointing 18th, the first driver off the lead lap.
ETC.: Keselowski has completed 98.3 percent (2,632) of the 2,678 total laps contested in nine career starts at New Hampshire. His average start is 14.4 and his average finish is 12.6. He has zero DNFs there.
20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Matt Kenseth remained in fifth place for the second consecutive week after Daytona. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 71 points, is six points behind fourth-ranked Brad Keselowski and leads sixth-ranked Joey Logano by 34 points.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 28 career starts, 1 win, 6 top-5s, 14 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in fall 2013. Finished ninth in this race last year and won for the first time in his career at Loudon in last fall's Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kenseth is looking for back-to-back wins at Loudon, having won there last fall. More importantly, he's also still looking for his first win of 2014. Can he achieve both goals on Sunday? Said Kenseth, "(Having won there last fall) probably gives you a little bit more confidence because I feel like that's been probably one of my worst tracks in the past. We performed pretty well there last year in both races, so I think it probably gives you a little more confidence heading into this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Kenseth led 12 laps of Sunday's rain-shortened race at Daytona, but finished 20th, one lap off the lead lap.
ETC.: Even though he considers New Hampshire one of his worst tracks, Kenseth has completed a near-perfect 99.1 percent (8,173) of the 8,250 total laps contested in 28 career starts at New Hampshire. His average start there is 20.4 and his average finish is 13.4. He has one DNF there.
22 JOEY LOGANO, Ford
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: After three weeks in seventh, Joey Logano moved up one spot to sixth place after Daytona. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 105 points, is 34 points behind fifth-ranked Matt Kenseth and leads seventh-ranked Carl Edwards by three points.