LOOKING BACK: McMurray had to start at the rear of the field after changing engines Sunday morning. But it didn't take him long to march his way inside the top 10 and he was able to lead two laps before making his first pit stop. "The McDonald's team did a great job today," said McMurray. "The No. 1 Chevrolet SS was loose all day, but we were able to gain track position and stay competitive for the whole race." McMurray ended the day in 13th place.
ETC.: McMurray said life is a lot different around his house since his daughter, Hazel, was born last month. "Our first child was a little boy," said McMurray. "I have compared notes with other dads that have had a boy then a girl. It is a different experience. Hazel and Christian are doing very well."
56 MARTIN TRUEX JR., Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd, 24 points out of the top 10. Gained 12 spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished third in the spring race a year ago. Has two top-three finishes in the last three events.
LOOKING AHEAD: Truex can't wait to get to Bristol. "All of the Michael Waltrip (Racing) cars ran well at Bristol last year so our whole shop is looking forward to this weekend," said Truex. "Hopefully one of us will get to victory lane this time around." Last year, the MWR cars ran third, fourth and fifth in the spring race.
LOOKING BACK: Truex was all smiles after finishing eighth at Las Vegas. "It's great to finish a race," said Truex. "We ran competitively in the top 10 and we finished in the top 10. The NAPA Auto Parts Toyota ran a little too loose on long green-flag runs. So, we need to figure out how to get our Toyota to hang on better. But, like I said, after two straight weeks of running well, but not finishing -- it's a relief to get a top 10 in the books."
ETC.: Truex feels "the biggest difference between the Gen-6 car and the Gen-5 car is the weight and speed. The Gen-6 has more downforce, more left-side weight, less right-side weight and it's much faster. It makes more grip so it is more fun to drive. I think the cool thing about the new car is it challenges you to drive it hard."
42 JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, Chevrolet
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 25 points out of the top 10. Gained one spot last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished eighth in the spring race a year ago for his third top-10 finish in 12 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Montoya has high hopes for this weekend. "The Target team ran really well at Bristol last year," said Montoya. "Actually both of our cars ran well at Bristol last year so it should be a good weekend for us. Our cars have been fast (this year). We're just trying to find the right balance on the handling and it's getting there. We've made a lot of gains since last year and we need to keep that momentum going."
LOOKING BACK: Like his teammate Jamie McMurray, Montoya had to start at the back of the field after changing engines Sunday morning. But Montoya didn't have as good a car at McMurray and spent most of the race just trying to stay on the lead lap. "It was tough out there today," said Montoya, after finishing 19th. "It was not easy to pass and, with the long green-flag runs, it was difficult to get track position. We were able to fight back in the end and get back on the lead lap, but didn't have enough to get to the front."
ETC.: When asked if the last two seasons have been humbling, Montoya replied, "It is not humbling; it sucks. It's not about humbling. I've won at everything I've been in, and I came to NASCAR and I've been good. I know I can do it. To run where we've run, it hasn't been fun. It hasn't been fun for Chip (Ganassi, team owner) or Jamie (McMurray) or myself, or the crew chiefs, or the organization or Target. We know we have the right tools to make it work, and I think this year we've done enough over the winter that is going to put us in a better situation."
10 DANICA PATRICK, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE SHE STANDS: 30th, 35 points out of the top 10. Lost eight spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished 29th in her lone Sprint Cup start. Finished ninth in the August Nationwide Series race.
LOOKING AHEAD: Patrick said she really "liked Bristol since the first time" she saw the track. "For me, I respond to the banking, which translates to grip and it's definitely there," adds Patrick. "We were having a decent run in the Cup car (last year), we were lead lap and top 20 after 440 laps and unfortunately were taken out, but I think all those events lead us to (having) more potential the next time around with a better baseline setup."
LOOKING BACK: It was a long, long afternoon for Patrick as she finished 33rd, six laps back of winner Matt Kenseth. "It was a real tough day, no doubt," said Patrick. "We knew we were going to have tough days, but this is not the kind of tough day we thought about. I was extremely loose the whole time. I felt like I was about to spin out on the front straight. We just have to figure out how to make it better and work our butts off to make sure that we never have this day again."
ETC.: Patrick said her poor run at Las Vegas "are the days you earn your money, not the days like Daytona, where you run up in the top five all day. Those days are great. These are the days that you have to be strong and you have to work through it and not let it drag you down."
39 RYAN NEWMAN, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing