LOOKING AHEAD: Stenhouse said, "We had a decent run at Daytona (12th) at the start of the year so I feel that will carry on to Talladega. We had a really good Daytona tire test (several weeks ago) and learned some things that we feel will be valuable at Talladega. Our team feels confident going into this weekend but we just need a little luck on our side."
LOOKING BACK: Stenhouse finished 16th at Richmond. "We were either really loose or really tight on every run," said Stenhouse. "I think we took big swings at the set-up on every pit stop but nothing really helped so we will take a look at it when we get back to the shop and see why that was. But all in all, it was a good day for the 17 Zest team."
ETC.: Stenhouse feels "you can be cocky and still be respectful to everybody else at the same time. I feel confident in my ability and confident in the ability of our race teams. I think you have to have confidence to be a little cocky. You have to be respectful at the same time though. That is a tough thing to balance."
31 JEFF BURTON, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 53 points out of the top 10. Gained four spots last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Finished tenth in both 2012 races. Finished second in the fall race of 2011 so he is looking for his fourth straight top-10 finish. Overall has 16 top-10 finishes in 38 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Burton said, "It will be interesting to see what is going to happen at Talladega. The Daytona 500 was very much a single-file race and there is a good chance that drivers will be more aggressive at Talladega. That was the calmest Daytona 500 I've ever been a part of and I don't anticipate seeing that at Talladega. Single-file racing is boring in the car and boring to watch, so I think the drivers will mix it up more this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Burton was running seventh when the yellow flag was waved with three laps to go. He decided not to pit as the top six all headed to pit road for tires. Burton was now the leader. But he was no match for the cars on new tires as he ended the evening in fifth place. "The caution came out and what the heck, we might as well try something," said Burton. "Obviously new tires were a lot better. But it was worth a shot. We were going to maybe finish sixth without the caution so to pick up a spot with it (the gamble) was well worth it. I thought Kevin (Harvick, his teammate and the guy who passed him for the lead) and I both got better at the end of the race."
ETC.: When asked the difference between Talladega and Daytona, Burton replied, "Talladega feels bigger and wider. It feels much longer than just the .16-mile difference that it is from Daytona. The corners are a lot wider. You don't quite get the sensation leaving the straightaway and going into the corner with the banking. The one oddity is the bottom groove through the tri-oval is a different banking than the rest of the race track."
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 55 points out of the top 10. Gained two spots last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 13 top-10 finishes in 24 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch is another driver who believes "the restrictor-plate races turn in to more of a crap shoot. You see if your number is going to come up and be the lucky guy at the end of the day. You have to stay patient all day, stay out of trouble and be on the lucky side of things - it's a tough combination to line up and get exactly right."
LOOKING BACK: Busch led once for 36 laps and was a major player for most of the evening. But he was involved in a number of controversial moments late in the race. First, he clipped Martin Truex, Jr., as they battled for second place, sending Truex spinning. During the final two laps of the race, Busch tangled with Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth with the confrontation continuing on the so-called cool down lap after the checkered flag. Busch ended the night in ninth place.
ETC.: After a yelling match with Tony Stewart near their haulers, Busch said, "I don't know what the 14 (Stewart) was upset about. I got hit from behind. I got hit every which-way. So did he." As for his dispute with Kenseth, Busch said, "Kenseth moved us out of the way at the end, so that's why I was upset with him. But hey, it was a free-for-all at the end. For us, this was a solid run with our Furniture Row car. We were there. We were top five all night. So all in all, it was a great night for us to be in the top five, run up front and lead some laps."
55 MARK MARTIN, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 64 points out of the top 10. Lost five spots last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Martin will not run this week. Michael Waltrip will handle the driving duties. Waltrip has one win and 15 top-10 finishes in 53 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Waltrip is really looking forward to racing at Talladega. "Every time I go to Talladega I just have a lot of confidence because of all the success I have had there before. I have been able to win there and I came pretty close to winning there last year. It's awesome going to a track that you know you have a chance to win."
LOOKING BACK: Martin was running in the top 10 with 62 laps remaining when he got clipped by Kasey Kahne to trigger a three-car accident. The damage was too severe for Martin to continue as he finished 38th. "We worked on this car all night, we were competitive and I think we were getting it better and better as the race went on," said Martin. "Would have liked to have been in the mix there at the end."
ETC.: Waltrip will be a fan favorite this week because he is driving the "Alabama National Championship" Toyota. "It's going to be really fun to race the Alabama National Championship car this weekend," said Waltrip. "There are a lot of passionate fans in that part of the world that love Alabama football and NASCAR. I really look forward to representing all the Alabama fans this weekend in Talladega."
14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet