TEXAS RECORD: Only two top-10 finishes in 15 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Menard said, "Our 1.5-mile track program has been getting better and better since late last year. That's why I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do this weekend at Texas and keep our momentum going in the right direction. What can you say about Texas that hasn't already been said in regards to how fast it is around that place? We're going to need a good set-up under our Quaker State Chevrolet to get through the turns and great horsepower from ECR engines to be successful."
LOOKING BACK: Menard was all smiles after finishing 10th at Martinsville. "I'll take a top-10 at Martinsville any time," said Menard. "This team was on their game today on pit stops and bouncing back from the middle part of the race. We weren't as good as we were in the beginning, but Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) and the crew did a great job on pit calls and pit stops. They just never gave up and it paid off with another top-10 finish. We will definitely take that and head to Texas."
ETC.: One of the biggest reasons why Menard feels so good about this weekend is because of the car he will be driving. It was last used at Las Vegas where Menard scored a season-best third-place finish. "We have a lot of confident in that car," said Labbe. "Paul really likes it, and we are hoping for the same kind of results as we had at Vegas."
11 DENNY HAMLIN, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, nine points out of the top 10. Lost one spot last week.
TEXAS RECORD: Two wins and nine top-10 finishes including five top-five's in 16 starts. Finished seventh last November.
LOOKING AHEAD: After a very disappointing run at one of his favorite tracks, Hamlin hopes to bounce back this week at Texas. "We really felt good going into Martinsville, but things didn't work out like we expected," said Hamlin. "So we need to rebound this week. Texas is another track that has been real good to us so we have high hopes this weekend, too. Maybe this will be the weekend we get that first win (of the season)."
LOOKING BACK: On Friday, Hamlin said he was confident he was going to win the Martinsville race. But on Sunday, he struggled with an ill-handling race car as he finished 19th. "Set-up wise, we really could have used Saturday (when both practice sessions were rained out)," said Hamlin. "Thinking that as fast as we were on Friday that it probably would play into our advantage not having practice on Saturday, but there was a laundry list of things that we needed to try and didn't get to do it. This car and setup that we had was really good for 10 laps, but it just went away too much after that. We were a football field and then some away from the right setup today."
ETC.: Hamlin was very upset with all of the rumors floating around after he was forced to miss the California race because of a piece of mental in his left eye. "People who think negatively of me or think that we side-stepped some sort of drug test or something is ridiculous," said Hamlin. "I'm in one of the top-three cars in NASCAR, I would have to be an absolute moron to risk that. Because I'm out there a little bit more people think I go out and party. I worked too hard to get here to throw it all away. It bothers me that my character is being questioned."
55 BRIAN VICKERS, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, nine points out of the top 10.
TEXAS RECORD: Finished a career-best eighth at the 1.5-mile track in the spring race a year ago.
LOOKING AHEAD: Crew chief Billy Scott feels Vickers should be much higher in the point standings. "We have run well this season, just haven't got the results so far that we expect. We've scored the 13th most points, but we feel we should be much higher. While it's disappointing it's better to know you have run well and had speed than it would be to run badly and get a lucky finish. We have high hopes for this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Vickers seemed headed for another top-10 finish at Martinsville when his car suddenly began battling "wheel chatter" during the closing laps of the race. As a result, Vickers finished 16th. "A very disappointing finish considering how we ran - we should have been better than that," said Vickers. "The guys did a great job in the pits all day. The Aaron's Dream Machine was really good on the long runs and good on the mid-runs. We would push a little bit on restarts. We just went too far there at the end and it got way too loose. It's a shame because we had a good car."
ETC.: Scott is only six races into his career as a crew chief. "It's been really good so far," said Scott. "The racing aspect has been about what I expected. I've learned to be more involved in the preparation of the cars ahead of time, but we have had some really good systems set up in place here at Michael Waltrip Racing. There's more to the job on the non-racing side than I was aware of. There's things I didn't know people would come to ask me about. Like what shirts are we supposed to wear or passing out itineraries, some of the logistical questions."
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, 12 points out of the top 10. Gained six spots last week.
TEXAS RECORD: Only one top-10 finish in 11 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose said, "Winning solves a lot of problems doesn't it. That is my mindset on the 9 team. If we win a race, we are close to locking ourselves in (to the Chase) and our year is changed. That is absolutely our focus. We made a decision at Martinsville after we got rained out on Saturday to stay aggressive and try some stuff we hadn't tested on Friday and it paid off for us. That is what we will keep doing."
LOOKING BACK: Despite racing with a heavy heart after the death of Lynda Petty, Richard's wife, earlier in the week, Ambrose was able to lead 22 laps as he finished a season-matching best of fifth at Martinsville. "We've had a really tough week," said Ambrose. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Petty family right now. We really wanted to win for them bad out there, but we'll take a top-five. I'm really proud of my team."
ETC.: With teammate Aric Almirola finishing eighth at Martinsville, it marked only the fourth time that the RPM duo had finished in the top 10 on the same day but the second time in three races. Almirola finished third at Bristol, while Ambrose ended up fifth. "We spent a lot of money and a lot of effort in getting Richard Petty Motorsports back on the map and I think you're seeing the results," said Ambrose. "We've been fast for about four weeks in a row, and we're just starting to hit our stride. We're going to win one of these (races) soon and lock ourselves in the Chase."