Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd, 64 points out of the top 10. Lost one spot last week. This is the lowest Stewart has ever been in the standings at this point in the season.
TALLADEGA RECORD: One win and 13 top-10 finishes including nine top-five's in 28 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart said, "Well, I'm not any happier about it (restrictor-plate racing) than I've always been, but we've had a lot of success at restrictor-plate tracks, especially Talladega. We've run in the top-two there a gazillion times. I'm glad we're halfway decent at it, but it's still always frustrating when you have to rely on what everybody else does. It's what you do along with somebody else who decides that they're going to follow you and help you. That's the part that frustrates you as a driver."
LOOKING BACK: Stewart's frustrations continued Saturday night at Richmond. He was fifth on the final restart but got knocked out of the groove by Kurt Busch and ended the evening in 18th place. "He (Busch) just rammed right into us there at the end," said an angry Stewart. "It hadn't been a great weekend, but we had made some adjustments and were actually going to leave here with a decent finish until everything that happened at the end."
ETC.: Earlier in the Richmond race, Stewart took full blame for an accident that involved five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Stewart got real loose while racing Johnson for a spot in the top 10. The two tangled with both cars spinning. They were each able to continue with Stewart telling his crew "that was all my fault. Have someone run down to the 48 (Johnson) camp and tell them I'm sorry."
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 76 points out of the top 10. Lost four spots last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Only one top-10 finish in eight starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose said, "We were bit by bad luck again last week, but hopefully all that is behind now. We're ready for some good luck, and Talladega is a place where you need it. Anything can happen at these superspeedway races. We've just got to be in the right place at the right time and stay out of trouble."
LOOKING BACK: Ambrose was running just outside the top 10 when he suffered engine failure. As a result, he ended the night in 42nd place. "This is so disappointing for us," said Ambrose. "We've had fantastic power from Ford Racing and Roush Yates Engines so we can't complain. It's just the racing gods aren't on our side this year. We were fast tonight and ran in and around the top 10. Our luck has to change."
ETC.: Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer feels it is very important "for us to keep our heads up and know that we deserve and can get top-10 finishes. We had a good car last weekend and another problem out of our control. We'll have a good car this weekend (at Talladega). We just need to be there at the end."
42 JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, Chevrolet
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 24th, 88 points out of the top 10. Gained three spots last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Three top-five finishes in 12 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Montoya said, "When you come out of turn four on the last lap, you forget who was your friend. Talladega is a place where you have to be loyal to people until you get to the tri-oval. At that point, it's every man for himself. It's always been that way."
LOOKING BACK: Montoya had led for 67 straight laps and was only three laps from winning his first oval-track race in NASCAR when the yellow flag was waved after Brian Vickers crashed in turn four. Naturally, Montoya was "pissed off." But he quickly realized he needed to pit for tires to keep his victory hopes alive. But it was not to be as he finished fourth. "We restarted (for the green-white-checkered flag finish) on the outside and we were screwed," said Montoya. "It was a no-brainer to pit and take tires. What hurt us is we restarted on the outside and when you restart on the outside and people (ahead of him) have got really bad tires, everything backs up. When you are on the outside, you have nowhere to go. When you are on the inside, you can jump to the inside of those guys. We had a great car. The guys did an amazing job. It is just the luck of the draw."
ETC.: To call the year a disaster might be too strong a statement, but Montoya was struggling mightily before the Richmond raced. In the first eight races, he had five finishes of 26th or worse. He had only one finish - 12th - better than 19th. Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong. And that is why he had a smile on his face after the Richmond race despite seeing that elusive oval-track win disappear with only three laps remaining. "Everyone on the Depend Chevy this week did an amazing job," said Montoya. "We had a great car. Same as last week, we had a great car." But two loose wheels left him in 27th place. "The pit crew redeemed themselves tonight," added Montoya. "They did a great job all day, no mistakes. This is what we needed. We needed to come out of here with a good finish."
10 DANICA PATRICK, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE SHE STANDS: 26th, 102 points out of the top 10. Lost one spot last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Finished 13th in the spring race a year ago.
LOOKING AHEAD: Patrick is really looking forward to Talladega after winning the pole for the Daytona 500, running in the top five for most of the race and becoming the first woman to lead a lap at Daytona. "I feel like I've learned some lessons from Daytona about the draft," said Patrick. "There are a lot of people that have a good chance of winning Talladega. I'm hopeful we are one of them at the end of the race. But, we won't know until the end of the race."