ETC.: Larson has been used to running a lot of races, but his schedule in 2014 has been limited to the Sprint Cup Series and companion Nationwide Series events. "Being such a die-hard sprint car racer and fan and everything, I thought not racing a lot of dirt track stuff this year would be bad, that I'd be bored," said Larson. "But I'm not. I'm so busy with everything that I've got going on with the NASCAR stuff that even if I was to go race sprint cars, I really wouldn't have time to do it. And I really enjoy racing in the Cup Series and doing double duty with the Nationwide Series, too."
5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 12 points out of the Chase. Lost three spots last week.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: One win and eight top-10 finishes in 20 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne tested at Loudon last month. "I felt like we got pretty good at the end," said Kahne. "We went from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for two days - that is a ton of laps and a lot of things that each (of the four Hendrick) team is trying. From that information, I think we can put together a really good package when we return. I feel good about it and so did the other guys."
LOOKING BACK: Kahne was running sixth in a two-wide pack when he was clipped by Greg Biffle to trigger The Big One, a 26-car accident. "Just got hit from behind and started spinning," said Kahne. "I'm not exactly sure what went on there or how it all happened other than I was hit and started spinning. Then everybody else was wrecking with me. I knew it was going to be big. We avoided the first wreck and we didn't avoid the second one. It's too bad, we had a good car." Kahne ended the day in the 27th place.
ETC.: Crew chief Kenny Francis has decided to run Chassis 5-815 this weekend. Kahne has raced this car in his last two outings at Phoenix, another one-mile oval, where he had an average finish of 6.5. "We feel really good about this car," said Francis. "We know we need a good run this weekend, and we feel we can get it with this car."
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 22 points out of the Chase. Gained one spot last week.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: Only one top-10 finish in 10 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose said, "New Hampshire is a tough track. It's fast and really flat. The turns are long and sweeping, so you need to have a good setup under the car. You're always looking for grip, always looking for that forward drive. We don't want to be conservative. We want to be aggressive, stay aggressive and continue to knock out these top-10 finishes. We are doing everything we can to make the Chase."
LOOKING BACK: Ambrose was all smiles after the race after finishing 10th despite being involved in both of the big wrecks. He was also beaming after congratulating teammate Aric Almirola for winning the rain-shortened race. "It's a great day for Richard Petty Motorsports and everyone involved," said Ambrose. "I'm really happy for Aric and 'The King (Petty)' because we've all been working hard to get into the Chase. Today was another plate race and we were beat up pretty bad in the first wreck. But, our guys did a great job fixing the damage and keeping us in the race. We'll take a top-10 out of Daytona."
ETC.: The team has decided to stay with Ford. The organization had met with Toyota to discuss the possibility of switching manufacturers. "I think that's a good decision for us right now," said crew chief Trent Owens. "Changing manufacturers - from the workload side of things - would be a challenge to say the least. I've enjoyed working with Ford. I've enjoyed working on these cars and we just really need to perfect what we've got and that (the decision) will allow us to do that."
14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 29 points out of the Chase. Lost four spots last week.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: Three wins and 17 top-10 finishes including 14 top-five's in 29 starts. Ranks second in laps led.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart calls the Loudon race "a big motor deal. With the corners being so tight, you've got to put a lot of gear in the car to get it up off the corner. Forward bite is always an issue there, too, so it's hard to get up off the corners. Then you've got long straightaways where you can kind of relax a little bit. Coming into the corners, you use a lot of brake, and it's hard to not only get the car stopped, but to get it to turn. Then you go through the challenge all over again."
LOOKING BACK: Stewart took the lead on lap 17 and led for three laps and was battling for second place on lap 20 when he was clipped by Jeff Gordon to start a 16-car accident. Stewart ended the day in 40th place. Stewart felt Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. triggered the multi-car accident. "The 17 (Stenhouse) got sideways on the lap that we're all getting a competition caution," said Stewart. "I guess Ricky thought it paid something to get to lap 20. It didn't make sense to me when we're coming to the caution, we're like a quarter of a lap from getting to the caution and he does something stupid. It tore up a lot of people's cars and a lot of people's days."
ETC.: Stewart has won a race for 15 straight years so he is not worried about his winless ways as the 2014 season reaches its halfway point. Stewart is confident he will win a race before the Chase for the Championship begins in early September. "We still have a lot of time (eight races) before the Chase," said Stewart. "We've got a lot of good races for us coming up beginning with Loudon this weekend."
43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 64 points out of the top 10. Gained two spots last week. Will make the Chase after his Daytona victory.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: Finished fifth in the July race a year ago for his lone top-10 finish in seven starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola said, "Obviously, coming off a win changes our outlook a bit this weekend. We have a lot of momentum going into New Hampshire and are now really focused on just winning more. Right now, we're 10th in the Chase standings and feel comfortable, but we want to make sure we are when we head back to Richmond (in early September). Another win really secures everything."
LOOKING BACK: Almirola took the lead for the first time just moments before The Big One, a 26-car accident, occurred. He lost the race off pit road to Kurt Busch, but regained the lead a lap after the restart and was the leader when the rains returned. After a hour-long red flag, NASCAR announced the race was called to give Almirola his first Sprint Cup victory. "This is awesome," said Almirola. "To get this US Air Force Ford Fusion in victory lane 30 years to the weekend that Richard Petty got his 200th win is really, really special. I've said time and time again how bad I want to win here. This is my home race, two hours away from Tampa, Fla. (his home). I grew up sitting in those grandstands right up there watching the Daytona 500s and the Firecracker 400s, dreaming about what it'd be like to race here. Man, I just took the 43 car to victory lane at Daytona."
ETC.: The Daytona win means Almirola will be part of this year's Chase for the Championship as he became the 11th different driver to win a race in 2014. "We're going to be in the Chase," shouted Almirola. "This race team deserves to be in the Chase. I told everybody at the beginning of the year, all our sponsors and everybody that was committing to our race team, I said, 'I promise you we'll get to victory lane.' Low and behold we've done it."
1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd, 47 points out of the Chase. Lost one spot last week.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: Finished fifth last September for his fifth top-10 finish in 22 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray said, "The first thing that comes to mind about New Hampshire is track position. This is one of the toughest tracks to pass on, so track position will be critical. This always seems to be a race where there are a lot of factors that come into play. The track is sensitive to temperature change; fuel strategy seems to be key and passing is difficult. If you can get all three of those things to go your way, you should be good."
LOOKING BACK: McMurray led twice for 11 laps in his bid to win his third race at Daytona. But his victory aspirations were wiped out when he became involved in The Big One, a 26-car melee. McMurray's car became airborne during the accident, but luckily it landed on all four wheels. "When you have a car spin out at the front of the field, there is just nowhere to go," said McMurray. "I ran into the guy who was directly in front of me and the guy behind me clobbered me. I will tell you I have never had a car that's off the ground and it's a crazy feeling, and it's a hopeless feeling to have a car do that. I was really lucky that it set back down." McMurray finished 30th.
ETC.: McMurray knows time is running out on his bid to make the Chase. "We have had a couple of bad finishes the last two weeks," said McMurray. "So I hope we can rebound with a strong run at New Hampshire. We tested there a couple of weeks ago, so hopefully we can take what we learned from the test and post a good result."
13 CASEY MEARS, Chevrolet
Team: Germain Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 56 points out of the Chase. Gained one spot last week.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: Only two top-10 finishes in 22 starts.