1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 15th, 20 points out of the top 10.
ALL-STAR RECORD: One top-10 finish in six starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray is another driver that needs to finish in the top two in the Sprint Showdown to qualify for the All-Star race. But he also is looking at the Showdown "as a bit of test for our team for the 600 the following week. That's not to say we aren't going to race hard and try to make the transfer to the 'main event.' We just feel we can accomplish a lot of goals in the Showdown."
LOOKING BACK: McMurray rallied in the final 60 laps to finish 16th at Darlington. "We had a tough time with the handling of the car tonight," said McMurray. "I wish we could have seen a few more cautions earlier to make adjustments on the car, but our guys worked hard on this McDonald's Chevy and we caught a few breaks there in the end to get back on the lead lap and bring home a 16th-place finish."
ETC.: McMurray calls this weekend "a real fun one for the fans. The new format for the All-Star race is really going to add to their excitement. It is more of a winner-take-all deal than it has even been with a driver having a chance at winning an extra million dollars if he can sweep all five segments."
17 RICKY STENHOUSEJR., Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, 33 points out of the top 10.
ALL-STAR RECORD: As a rookie on the Sprint Cup Series, Stenhouse will need to finish in the top two in the Sprint Showdown to qualify for the All-Star race or win the fan vote.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stenhouse said, "I feel confident that we can race our number 17 Best Buy Ford into the All-Star race, but if not we have another chance by winning the fan vote. We tested at Charlotte earlier this season so I feel we learned a lot that will be beneficial to our organization the next two weekends."
LOOKING BACK: Stenhouse finished 18th in his first Darlington race. "Well I earned my Darlington stripe," said Stenhouse. "Our Zest Ford was just too tight overall. We couldn't turn in the corner to give us the drive off (the corner) we needed. I'm very proud of the 17 team because we fought all day. We will take a solid 18th-place finish here at the track known as 'Too Tough to Tame'."
ETC.: Stenhouse and Danica Patrick, his girlfriend, are expected to be among the vote getters that will determine the final spot in the All-Star Race. Stenhouse is quick to take every opportunity to ask his fans to boost his chances of winning the last starting position. "If you haven't voted, go vote at BestBuy.com/Racing," said Stenhouse. "You can vote right up to Saturday."
39 RYAN NEWMAN, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, 39 points out of the top 10.
ALL-STAR RECORD: Won the race in his rookie season (2002). Overall has one win and seven top-10 finishes in 11 starts including two 10th-places finishes in the last two years.
LOOKING AHEAD: Newman said, "When push comes to shove in the All-Star Race, you do what you have to do to win. This race is about the glory and the big prize ($1,000,000). There are no points on the line, so the way I see it, you want to either win it or bring back the steering wheel in your hands, knowing you did everything you could to be the best of the best that night."
LOOKING BACK: As Newman said, "that was a really good comeback by our Quicken Loans team. Our race car was loose pretty much all night until that last run. Matt (Borland, crew chief) and the guys kept working on it. They didn't give up and we ended up with a top-10 finish (tenth). I'm really proud of how hard these guys battled tonight."
ETC.: Newman continues to express his unhappiness with cars becoming airborne, especially at Daytona and Talladega. "My issue has and always has been because I seem to be the reciprocate of what airborne disease we have in NASCAR," said Newman. "Either someone lands on me or I land on somebody. It's happened three times I think in the last eight or nine (restrictor-plate) races. We've proven it's not safe for the fans. I said that in part of my interview (at Talladega earlier this month). It's frustrating and I think I've voiced my frustration very fairly. I took a pretty high road."
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 53 points out of the top 10. Gained two spots last week.
ALL-STAR RECORD: One win and six top-10 finishes including an eighth last year.