Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 16 points out of the top 10. Gained five spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: One win and eight top-10 finishes, including six top-five's in 28 races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart admits Bristol has been "a track where we have struggled." Yet he quickly adds, "It's a track I definitely like. To me that's just motivation. It gives us the ambition to be successful. We do have the new car there and that's a question mark that is the same for everybody. Hopefully we are the ones able to take advantage of it."
LOOKING BACK: Stewart spent the first part of the race going in the wrong direction after starting ninth. But the crew kept making changes to the car and Stewart was able to rally in the final 70 laps to finish 11th at Las Vegas. "It's pretty impressive to end up where we did knowing how we started the race," said Stewart. "Steve Addington (crew chief) and the crew did a really good job all race long because there wasn't one routine stop the whole day. Everybody had to do their part today to salvage what we got out of it."
ETC.: Stewart feels it is way too early in the season to worry about the points. "It's so early right now; there are so many things that can happen that I think it's way too early to be thinking about that," said Stewart. "I think if you are a team that is worrying about it right now, you were probably worried about just making it to begin with. I think the teams that have confidence that they are going to be in or should be in the chase probably aren't that concerned about it at this point."
29 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 20 points out of the top 10. Gained 11 spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: One win and 12 top-10 finishes, including nine top-five's in 24 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick expects another exciting race this weekend at Bristol. "I think any time you go to a short track no matter if the groove is top, bottom or middle, you're going to have cars beating and banging on each other. I think the way the groove moved up the track (at Bristol last August), everyone is a little more aggressive in trying to slide themselves into a spot, so you have to be aggressive to take the opportunity to pass somebody."
LOOKING BACK: Harvick had an up-and-down day at Las Vegas. He ran in the top 10 early before running into handling problems and dropping outside the top. But he rallied in the final 40 laps to finish ninth. "The Rheem guys battled hard today, and we were able to pick up our first top-10 finish of the season," said Harvick. "Our car was fast, but we had a few issues with the handling during the race. The 29 team kept at it all day, making changes that allowed us to leave here with a good finish."
ETC.: Even though the 2013 season is only three races old, Harvick said his team is already "in a routine and searching to find what makes your car the fastest on the track. That's really what we're focused on is being productive and finding what works on the car and what doesn't. We're still learning the (new) car. We've been to three different tracks so far. Bristol will be a fourth and California (on March 24) will be a fifth. You'll have a lot of different styles of track that you'll be able to compile some good notes to use throughout the rest of the year."
31 JEFF BURTON, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 22 points out of the top 10. Lost five spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Finished sixth in the spring race in 2012 for his 15th top-10 finish in 38 starts. His one win came in the spring race of 2008.
LOOKING AHEAD: Burton said a driver "definitely has to be aggressive" at Bristol. "I think the fans like to see drivers beating and banging on each other," added Burton. "At the same time, they like to see side-by-side racing. We gave them side-by-side racing and now they want to see us hit each other. You aren't going to make everybody happy all the time. There are not as many wrecks as there used to be (at Bristol), but the actual racing is better."
LOOKING BACK: An ill-timed caution flag put Burton two laps down midway through the race and he spent the rest of the afternoon trying to battle back. "This (26th) wasn't the result the Caterpillar Chevrolet team was expecting this weekend," said Burton. "We had a successful test session on Thursday and made strong gains in practice on Saturday. I felt good about our chances this morning, but the handling got away from us. We'll take the car back to North Carolina and see what went wrong."
ETC.: NASCAR fined Denny Hamlin $25,000 last week for criticizing the new Gen-6 car. Burton felt it was "a little bit of an overreaction on NASCAR's part. We can't lose the ability to talk openly," added Burton. "At the same time, we have to be cognizant of what we're trying to do. It's a fine line. It (the fine) went over the line a little bit with the penalty, but I do understand why they did it."
1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 22 points out of the top 10. Gained seven spots last week.
BRISTOL RECORD: Has two top-seven finishes in the last three races and four top-eight finishes in the last six events.
LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray is another who "always looks forward to racing at Bristol. This is a track where things can happen real fast, but I have been pretty fortunate to have some good runs there. I am really looking forward to an exciting weekend in Bristol."