LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola said, "Atlanta is certainly the raciest mile-and-half track that we go to. It is old and wore out. It's a mean, old, nasty race track which makes it a lot of fun. It can certainly try your patience as well. It's hard to get your car driving perfect around there. We just got done doing the tire test at Atlanta, and I feel good about going there."
LOOKING BACK: Despite being involved in a multi-car accident with 141 laps to go, Almirola was able to rally and finish 15th at Bristol. "We had a really good car," said Almirola. "We were on point to have a really good day - a top-10 or even a top-five finish. Unfortunately, we got caught up in someone else's mess. I am so proud of the 43 guys. They worked hard to fix the damage and get the car to handle good enough to stay with the leaders. We'll take a 15th-place finish on a night like this."
ETC.: Crew chief Todd Parrott said he is "really looking forward to Atlanta. We had a tire test there a few weeks ago and tested this week in Chicago. We hit on some things at both tests that made us faster. The extra track time going into this weekend should really help us hit the ground running. Managing tires will be really important this weekend."
14 MARK MARTIN, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: The team is 13th in the car owner point standings, only eight points out of the top 10.
ATLANTA RECORD: Finished 10th a year ago for his 24th top-10 finish in 52 races. Has two wins and 14 top-five finishes at AMS.
LOOKING AHEAD: Martin said, "To be real honest with you, I was quite challenged in Bristol and I don't feel like I was able to rise to the challenge. That's why the test in Richmond this week is going to help so much. And the same is true for next week's test. It will help us get in the groove and go forward. Right now, I need as much time as I can get in the car."
LOOKING BACK: Martin struggled in his first race with the 14 team as he finished 20th at Bristol. "We missed the setup really bad at the beginning of the race," said Martin, who is subbing for the injured Tony Stewart. "We struggled with the car in trying to get it better, and then I pitted wrong (outside the box) and cost us a lap. But we were pretty fast at the end. That's why I go home feeling good about it because we were able to improve the car and get it competitive at the end."
ETC.: Even though things didn't go as well as the team had hoped at Bristol, Greg Zipadelli, the competition director for the organization, feels the hiring of Martin is "a home run. Obviously he has big shoes to fill to take Tony's seat and there are not many guys in the garage that could do that. We all agreed that if there was any way to get Mark Martin he was the guy that would do us the best job and be able to do that. We feel this is the best opportunity for the 14 team to perform well on a weekly basis and do our sponsors the justice they deserve."
31 JEFF BURTON, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 93 points out of the top 10.
ATLANTA RECORD: 14 top-10 finishes including eight top-five's in 35 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Burton believes "the most unique thing about Atlanta is the grip level. The grip level is just so different from all these tracks that have been recently repaved. I always like to say that Atlanta has multiple personalities. The difference between the handling of the car in race and qualifying trim is amazing. Atlanta is a fun race track because it has multiple grooves, but it is challenging because the car's handling changes so much throughout a run."
LOOKING BACK: Despite being involved in several wrecks, Burton was able to finish 13th at Bristol. "To bring home this Caterpillar Chevrolet in 13th place says a lot about this team," said Burton. "We had a terrible day on Friday in practice and qualifying, but never threw in the towel. After being involved in two separate accidents, we didn't complain. The guys went to work, fixed it and in the end, here we are with a solid top-15 finish. It was just a great team effort in a tough situation."
ETC.: Burton will be one of a handful of drivers hosting the annual Coca-Cola Racing Family Ride Along on Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The 10 grand-prize winners and other special guests will have the opportunity to take a few "hot laps" with Burton and the other Coke drivers. "It's always fun to watch their faces during the ride along," said Burton.
42 JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, Chevrolet
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 95 points out of the top 10, only two points out of the top 20 Gained two spots last week.
ATLANTA RECORD: Four top-10 finishes including three top-five's in 10 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Montoya said, "I'm always enjoyed racing at Atlanta. It's one of the first tracks I learned to run the high lane at and I realized that it suited my driving style. The Target team has had pretty good results from Atlanta and I've come close to winning it a few times. Our cars have been really good and we've had great speed so this should be an exciting weekend for us. I'd really like to give Target another win before the season is over."
LOOKING BACK: Montoya showed Saturday night at Bristol that he is going to go all out in his final races for EGR as he ran up front all night and finished third. "We had a really good car all night," said Montoya. "The car had good speed. I got caught speeding (on pit road) and that kind of hurt us. But we were able to get back up front. I really had to use my brakes at the end (as he tried to run down leader Matt Kenseth) and really cooked the front tires."
ETC.: Montoya will be one of honorees at the 26th annual Hispanic Heritage Awards program on Sept. 5 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The awards, which celebrate Hispanic cultural pride, contributions and accomplishments, will be broadcast on MundoFox on Sunday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. Montoya will be honored for his highly-successful career in racing.
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford