2 BRAD KESELOWSKI, Dodge
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: After taking the early lead in the standings by winning the first race in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, Keselowski fell to second place after the second Chase race at New Hampshire, only to rally back with a win at Dover on Sunday to regain the points lead. He leads second-ranked Jimmie Johnson by five points and third-ranked Denny Hamlin by 16 points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 7 career starts, 2 wins, 3 top-5s, 5 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: 1st in spring 2009 and spring 2012. Finished fourth in this race last year; won this spring's race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Keselowski is making a concerted effort to steal the championship away from defending champ Tony Stewart, five-time champ Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin (also seeking his first Cup career title, like Keselowski). Now we head to Talladega, where Keselowski has been outstanding. Here are his thoughts on Sunday's race: "I really don't feel like we have any weaknesses on our team. In our two Chase wins, we've won on pure speed and we won on fuel mileage. To me, that's covering all of your bases. Now we get to the part of the schedule where I think our strengths will shine. I love racing at Talladega. We have a lot of confidence going back there as the winner of the spring race. There is still a lot of racing left to go in this Chase, but I like our position in the standings, for sure."
LOOKING BACK: Keselowski led just 14 laps at Dover and held off Jeff Gordon to win for the second time in the first three Chase races.
ETC.: Keselowski has completed 96.6 percent (1,291) of the 1,337 laps contested in his seven career Cup starts at Talladega. His average start is 18.4 and average finish is 13.0. He has 1 DNF there.
48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: After climbing to the top spot of the Sprint Cup standings following New Hampshire, Johnson fell back one spot to second place after Dover. He trails points leader Brad Keselowski by five points and leads third-ranked Denny Hamlin by 11 points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 21 career starts, 2 wins, 5 top-5s, 9 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: 1st in spring 2006 and spring 2011. Finished 26th in this race last year and was 35th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Johnson is in a perfect place at this point in the Chase. Unless he suffers catastrophic mechanical failure or gets caught up in wrecks in the next few races, the five-time champ has made it very clear he's on track to win title No. 6 this season. Here are his thoughts about Sunday's race: "Well, as you can probably see from our finishes this year, we haven't had a lot of luck at the restrictor-plate tracks. It definitely is the one track in the Chase I've kind of been a little concerned about. There are a lot of great tracks for the 48 coming up in the Chase, but this one is definitely one where anything can happen. There are so many things that are out of your control. There is a lot of room on this track to move around, though, obviously, and try things. I think the odds are in our favor to be able to finish one of these restrictor-plate races this year. At least I hope so."
LOOKING BACK: Johnson led 43 laps at Dover, but his car tailed off near the end, resulting in a still strong fourth-place finish. Unfortunately, he lost his one-week hold on the top spot in the overall Chase for the Sprint Cup standings.
ETC.: Johnson has completed 93.3 percent (3,717) of the 3,983 laps contested in his 21 career starts at Talladega. His average start is an outstanding 9.5 and average finish is 17.7. He also has a career-high 8 DNFs there.
11 DENNY HAMLIN, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: After entering the Chase No. 1, then falling into a three-way tie for fourth after the Chase opener at Chicago, Hamlin moved up to third place after winning at New Hampshire and remained there after Dover. He trails points leader Brad Keselowski by 16 points and second-ranked Jimmie Johnson by 11 points and leads fourth-ranked Clint Bowyer by nine points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 13 career starts, 0 wins, 3 top-5s, 5 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: third in spring 2008. Finished eighth in this race last year, fell to 23rd in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Hamlin made a big statement by winning at Loudon, but much of what he gained was lost with his less than sterling finish at Dover on Sunday. Still, Hamlin is very much in the championship battle. Here are his thoughts heading into Talladega: "We can handle (being just 16 points out of first place), no problem. There's nothing we can't handle on the race track. I think our performance (at Dover) is a testament to where we're heading. (Talladega) is an absolute crapshoot, but it's going to be for everyone. We have to know who we're racing. We have to make smart decisions and keep all the fenders on it. Typically, most superspeedways I'm right in it until the very end and get caught up in a wreck. My job (this) week is to make sure to concentrate on that weekend, not look forward and focus on getting the most points possible."
LOOKING BACK: Hamlin led 39 laps at Dover, but like Johnson, his car tailed off near the end because he had to stop late for fuel, lest he run out of gas. That hurt him greatly, leaving him with an eighth-place finish rather than what likely would have been a top-three showing.
ETC.: Hamlin has completed just 94.0 percent (2,322) of the 2,471 laps contested in his 13 career starts at Talladega. His average start there is 18.7 and average finish is 18.2. He also has 2 DNFs there.
15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Bowyer climbed one spot, from fifth to fourth, after Dover. He's 25 points behind points leader Brad Keselowski, nine points behind third-ranked Denny Hamlin and leads Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, who are tied for fifth place, by seven points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 13 career starts, 2 wins, 4 top-5, 7 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: first in fall 2010 and fall 2011. Finished first in this race last year; ended up sixth in this year's spring race there.