By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore
24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Jeff Gordon remained in first place for the third consecutive week after Sonoma and for nine of the last 10 weeks. Gordon leads second-ranked Jimmie Johnson by 20 points and third-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 25 points.
KENTUCKY RECORD: 3 career starts, 0 wins, 1 top-5s, 3 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Fifth in 2012. Finished eighth in this race last year and was fifth in the 2012 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Like the majority of drivers there, Gordon is looking for his first career win at Kentucky. Here's his thoughts on Saturday night's race: "Kentucky is a very challenging track that is tough to win on. ... Winning at all the tracks would be something that I would be very proud of. But it seems every time we get close to accomplishing that goal, another track is added! But I think winning at all the tracks would be a pretty awesome feat."
LOOKING BACK: Gordon led 26 laps and had there been another lap or two, he may have beaten race winner Carl Edwards at Sonoma. Instead, Gordon settled for his fifth runner-up finish there.
ETC.: Gordon has completed an outstanding 100 percent (801) of the 801 total laps contested in three career starts at Kentucky. His average start there is 11.7 and his average finish is an outstanding 7.7. He has zero DNFs there.
48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Jimmie Johnson remained in second place for the second straight week after Sonoma. He trails points leader and teammate Jeff Gordon by 20 points and leads third-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by five points.
KENTUCKY RECORD: 3 career starts, 0 win, 1 top-5s, 3 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: Third in 2011. Finished ninth in this race last year and was sixth in the 2012 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: With his win two weeks ago at Michigan, Johnson has now won at all but four tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit. One of those four is Kentucky Speedway. Here's his thoughts on Saturday night's race: "It would be great to go to Kentucky and win, to cross another track off our list. We have run really well there, led a lot of laps but just haven't been able to score a win. Last weekend we had a really great run going, I'm really proud of this team and I'm just looking forward to the upcoming tracks before the off-weekend - Kentucky, Daytona and New Hampshire."
LOOKING BACK: Johnson was going for his fourth win in the last five races at Sonoma, but came up short, finishing seventh.
ETC.: Just like Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, Johnson has completed all 801 of the laps (100 percent) contested in three career starts at Kentucky. His average start there is a near-perfect 3.0 and average finish is an outstanding 6.0. He has zero DNFs there.
88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Former points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained in third place for the third straight week after Sunday's race at Sonoma. He trails points leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon by 25 points, is five points behind second-ranked Jimmie Johnson and leads fourth-ranked Matt Kenseth by 40 points.
KENTUCKY RECORD: 3 career starts, 0 wins, 1 top-5s, 1 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: Fourth in 2012. Finished 12th in this race last year and was fourth in the 2012 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Earnhardt has been up and down in the first three races at the 1.5-mile track at Kentucky. He was 30th in the first Sprint Cup race there in 2011, fourth in 2012 and fell back to 12th in last season's race there. Here's his thoughts on Saturday night's race: "I think we are pretty confident when we go to Kentucky that we can be competitive. We sat on the pole last year and were leading the race when we had a little bit of trouble and ran over something on the racetrack. The car should be fast, should be quick. It's a fun place to run at. It's got some bumps and some characteristics that are unique to that track. I can't wait to get there and see what condition the racetrack is in."
LOOKING BACK: Earnhardt surprised a lot of people, and probably himself, with a career-best third-place finish (and first ever top-10 showing there) at Sonoma.
ETC.: Earnhardt has completed 99.8 percent (799) of the 801 total laps contested in three career starts at Kentucky. His average start there is 12.3 and average finish is 15.3. He has zero DNFs there.
20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: After falling to fourth after Michigan, Matt Kenseth remained in that position after Sonoma. He trails Jeff Gordon by 65 points, is 40 points behind third-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. (after being just one point behind him after Michigan) and leads fifth-ranked Brad Keselowski by three points (after leading him by 23 points after Michigan).
KENTUCKY RECORD: 3 career starts, 1 wins, 1 top-5s, 3 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in 2013. Finished first in this race last year and was seventh in the 2012 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kenseth has been very comfortable at Kentucky ever since it hosted its first Sprint Cup race there in 2011. He has never finished worse than seventh in the first three races there. He hopes to continue that run - and potentially defend last year's victory there - in Saturday night's race. Here's his thoughts: "I'm probably one of the guys with the least amount of experience at Kentucky. We never really tested there a lot. I've never ran a Nationwide race there. I'm running my first Nationwide race Friday night, so I'm looking forward to that. But the fans I think in that area or the area where the track is, they've always been real passionate and real supportive of it. I remember watching Nationwide races on TV there and just seeing a packed house. I think the drivers like it because it's unique, it's a different track than the same old one you've been going to forever. It was something new, something different, a different part of the country, so I think everybody looked forward to that, as well."
LOOKING BACK: Kenseth suffered one of his worst finishes of the season at Sonoma, ending up 42nd (next to last) after a hard crash when Dale Earnhardt Jr. turned Kenseth coming out of a turn. Earnhardt admitted fault, that his car was thrown left and into Kenseth's after bouncing off a curb.
ETC.: Kenseth has completed a perfect 100 percent (801) of the 801 total laps contested in three career starts at Kentucky. His average start there is 16.3 and his average finish is an uncanny 4.7. He has zero DNFs there.
2 BRAD KESELOWSKI, Ford
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Brad Keselowski remained in fifth-place for the second consecutive week after Sunday's race at Sonoma. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 68 points (was 47 points back prior to Sonoma), is three points behind fourth-ranked Matt Kenseth and leads sixth-ranked Carl Edwards by three points (was 28 points ahead prior to Sonoma).
KENTUCKY RECORD: 3 career starts, 1 wins, 1 top-5s, 2 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in 2012. Finished 33rd in this race last year and was first in the 2012 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Keselowski looks to rebound not only from his mediocre showing at Sonoma (22nd), but also from last year's disappointing 33rd-place finish at Kentucky on Saturday night. "Kentucky has been a good track for this team in my experience. We've won here, which adds to our confidence going into the race. The team builds Ford Fusions that do very well here, and that makes my job as a driver a lot more fun. This weekend I am driving in all three races which is nice in terms of getting extra track time as the more information I have as a driver, the more useful I am to the team. The crew has been very consistent lately, and other than Sonoma we have been running quite well. Kentucky is the ideal place for us to get back on track ... and back into victory circle."
LOOKING BACK: Keselowski struggled at Sonoma, ultimately ending up with a mediocre 22nd-place finish.
ETC.: Keselowski has completed a paltry 85.8 percent (687) of the 801 total laps contested in three career starts at Kentucky. His average start is 7.3 and average finish is 13.7. He has zero DNFs there.
99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Even with his win at Sonoma, Carl Edwards failed to move up any positions in the Sprint Cup standings. Edwards remains in sixth place, 71 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon, is three points behind fifth-ranked Brad Keselowski and leads seventh-ranked Joey Logano by 26 points.