WHERE HE STANDS: Hamlin remained in fourth place for the second consecutive week. He trails points leader Jimmie Johnson by 27 points, third-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 17 points and leads fifth-ranked Carl Edwards by four points.
BRISTOL RECORD: 14 career starts, one win, four top-fives, seven top-10s, zero poles. Best career finish: First in August 2012. Finished 20th in this race last year and came back to win the August race.
LOOKING AHEAD: Hamlin has a double dose of motivation to do well Sunday at Bristol. First, he's coming off a frustrating 15th place finish at Las Vegas. Second and more importantly, he won the last time he was at Bristol, in August.
Hamlin and teammate Kyle Busch are already learning things from teammate Matt Kenseth, who joined the organization this season and won this past Sunday at Las Vegas. Here's what team owner Joe Gibbs says about Kenseth's interaction, particularly with Hamlin and Busch:
"Obviously, Matt has just been special. I mean, he came over, I think he brings a lot to (the organization). I think Denny and Kyle both really respect him. I think that's helped a lot. I think (Kenseth) kind of likes working with them, so we've got three guys that really, I think, can get after it and drive a race car. I'm really happy, too."
LOOKING BACK: Hamlin struggled at Las Vegas, leading just three laps before finishing a disappointing 15th.
ETC.: Hamlin has completed 95.3 percent (6,681) of 7,013 laps in his 14 career starts at Bristol. His average start is 20.6 and average finish is 14.8. He has one DNF there.
99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Carl Edwards jumped six spots in the standings, from 11th to fifth, after Las Vegas. He trails points leader Jimmie Johnson by 31 points, fourth-ranked Denny Hamlin by four points and leads sixth-ranked Mark Martin by three points.
BRISTOL RECORD: 17 career starts, two wins, four top-fives, seven top-10s, two poles. Best career finish: First in August 2007 and August 2008. Finished 39th in this race last year and was 22nd in August there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards typically does well at Bristol, but not last season, when he finished a career-worst 39th in the March race and 22nd in the August race. He's looking to continue the momentum he has from a win at Phoenix and a fifth-place finish at Las Vegas.
LOOKING BACK: Edwards ran a strong race but failed to lead even one lap at Las Vegas. Still, he finished with a top-5 to go along with the win he had the week before at Phoenix. Here are his thoughts about the Las Vegas race: "We wanted better, but I think if I would have done a better job on my restarts then we would have been better. We were sliding all over the place out there. I am sure we wore out some steering boxes and that was a good race. That was as hard as we could drive."
ETC.: Edwards has completed 95.0 percent (8,084) of 8,513 laps in his 17 career starts at Bristol. His average start is 18.4 and average finish is 14.4. He has one DNF there.
55 MARK MARTIN, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: After dropping from third to seventh after Phoenix, Mark Martin rebounded to gain back one position in the standings after Las Vegas, leaving him in sixth place. He trails points leader Jimmie Johnson by 34 points, fifth-place Carl Edwards by three points and leads seventh-place (tie) Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle by two points each.
BRISTOL RECORD: 46 career starts, two wins, 16 top-fives, 23 top-10s and nine poles. Best career finish: first in August 1993 and August 1998. Did not compete in either race at Bristol in 2012.
LOOKING AHEAD: Unfortunately, Martin will not be racing Sunday at Bristol. He'll be replaced by Brian Vickers who did well in filling in for Martin in last year's Bristol races, finishing fifth in the March race and a career-best fourth in the August race. This will be the first of nine races in the first 26 pre-Chase for the Sprint Cup races that Martin will miss by choice. He is also slated to miss three Chase races. When it came to his two top-five finishes at Bristol last season in place of Martin, Vickers said, "(We
were) pleased, but not satisfied. I would have loved to have won one of those races and we came very close. Obviously, very pleased with the results and how it all worked out considering it was part-time."
LOOKING BACK: After finishing third in the season-opening Daytona 500, the 29th time he's been in the Great American Race, Martin had a disappointing 21st place finish at Phoenix and finished 14th at Las Vegas.
ETC.: Martin has completed 94.1 percent (21,488) of 22,845 laps in 46 career starts at Bristol. He has an average start of 10.3 and an average finish of 13.7. He has five DNFs there. Vickers has completed 96.3 percent (7,720) of 8,013 laps in 16 career starts at Bristol. He has an average start of 23.4 and an average finish of 22.1. He also has one DNF there.
20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Matt Kenseth was the biggest mover in the top 10 after Las Vegas, climbing 11 spots from 18th to a tie for seventh place with former teammate Greg Biffle. The pair trail points leader Jimmie Johnson by 36 points each, sixth-ranked Mark Martin by two points and lead ninth-ranked Clint Bowyer by four points.