17 RICKY STENHOUSE JR., Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 11th, only one point out of the top 10. Lost two spots last week to fall out of the top 10.
BRISTOL RECORD: Will be making his Sprint Cup debut. Finished in the top six in both Nationwide races last year, including a second in the August event.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stenhouse said, "Bristol's lap times are almost the same in both the Nationwide and Cup series. We've run decent there in the Nationwide series so I feel confident going into this weekend. We will focus on qualifying well because you want to start up near the front. I think our Best Buy Ford should have a solid finish if we can start close to the front, make the needed adjustments throughout the race, and stay out of trouble."
LOOKING BACK: Stenhouse finished 18th at Las Vegas. "We were too tight," said Stenhouse. "I kept telling them to free it up and we would get tighter and tighter. That is what gave up all our track position. We were running in the top 10 (early in the race) no problem, but then we got way too tight for some reason. Every pit stop we made we got tighter and tighter. So I don't know if something is broke and kept getting worse and worse or what the deal was."
ETC.: Crew chief Scott Graves knows "Bristol is a tough track because anything can happen. It is a long race. Track position is crucial. If we can stay out of trouble and execute on pit road, I feel confident that we can get a top-10 finish."
27 PAUL MENARD, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, only six points out of the top 10. Gained five spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished 10th in both races last year. Has three top-10 finishes in the last four races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Menard said, "Short tracks are the heart of our sport and Bristol is the type of track that NASCAR was built around. We've had some good runs at Bristol the past couple of years, so we are looking forward to this weekend and seeing what the 27 Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet can do. If we can qualify well, stay up front on Sunday and stay out of trouble, I think we'll be in good shape."
LOOKING BACK: Menard was all smiles after finishing 10th at Las Vegas for his first top-10 finish of the season. "We had a great car today," said Menard. "Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) and the team did a phenomenal job giving me a fast Schrock/Menards Chevrolet. It was a lot of fun to drive today. The 27 pit crew did an awesome job in the pits and got me several spots on pit road. All-in-all, it was a good day."
ETC.: Menard's contract with Richard Childress Racing ends at the end of this season "so I'm sure these questions (about his future with the team) will be coming throughout the year. I hope by the middle of summer we will have an answer for everybody." Menard said he hopes to remain a part of the organization for years to come.
24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, nine points out of the top 10. Lost five spots last week to fall out of the top 10.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished third last August for his second third-place finish in the last three events. His five wins tie him for the most victories among active drivers. Overall, he has 22 top-10 finishes, including 16 top-five's in 40 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Gordon is glad the top groove is back being the place to race at Bristol Motor Speedway. "I remember seeing guys like Darrell (Waltrip) and Davey (Allison) run that high line back in 1991 or 1992," said Gordon. "I was watching them from the spotters' stand and it was so cool to see them running right up against the wall. It was hard to pass, so you would see 'slide jobs' when they got a run. That's essentially the same kind of racing we had there in August. I had so much fun racing that way that night."
LOOKING BACK: While his three teammates at Hendrick Motorsports were running in the top six or seven all afternoon, Gordon struggled big time at Las Vegas. "The car was wicked loose all day," said Gordon, who ended up 25th. "We were just way off all day. We just missed it and nothing we did seemed to help."
ETC.: When asked if the $25,000 fine levied by NASCAR against Denny Hamlin for his comments on the Gen-6 car was going to change the way he approached media interviews, Gordon said, "No, I'm going to go about it the same way that I always do. I feel like I try to think before I say anything. I try to think if this is going to be something that is going to negatively affect the sport, negatively affect my sponsors or myself, my team and is it worth it. I try to do that when I am doing interviews, and when I'm talking about things that are going on. When I get out of the car, I'm usually pretty good at being able to do that and think about that."
5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, 11 points out of the top 10. Gained 17 spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished ninth last August for his third top-nine finish in the last five races.