LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne knows he needs to win a race if he's going to make this year's Chase for the Championship, and that is why he can't wait to get to Pocono this weekend. "We had two great cars there last year," said Kahne. "The car we had there in June might have been better than the one we won with in August. We had that problem on the first lap of the race (a broken u-joint), but when we came back out we ran some of the fastest laps of the race. So that is why we are really looking forward to this weekend. We feel we're going to have a great shot at it (his first win of the season)."
LOOKING BACK: Kahne ran in the top 10 for the first half of the race, but he ran into major handling problems during the second half of the event as he ended the day in 19th place. "I thought we were going to have a good day," said Kahne. "We had a fast car in the beginning, but as the day heated up our car got extremely loose and we were never able to get it back to where it was early on."
ETC.: Kahne spent part of last week visiting the New Hampshire Fire Academy to experience a day in the life of a firefighter. "That was a lot of fun," said Kahne. "I saw how they do a vehicle extraction with the 'Jaws of Life.' It was really an enjoyable day meeting and talking with them, hearing about all their experiences in doing such an important job."
43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 33 points out of the top 10.
POCONO RECORD: Best finish in four starts is 18th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola calls Pocono "one of the tougher race tracks to set up your car perfectly. Turn one is very high-speed and high-banked turn. The tunnel two is really high speed too but just somewhat of a turn. It's just enough to make you slow down a bit. Then, you have turn three that is a long slow, sweeping corner. Turn three is very important - you have to get off that corner so you can make the long run down the front straightaway. Pocono is always a very challenging place to get a good handling car."
LOOKING BACK: Almirola finished 12th at Dover. "That was a decent day," said Almirola. "We ran probably seventh to 15th all day, and we finished 12th. It is kind of what we have been doing the last few weeks. We did that at Kansas, running sixth to 11th there all day, Charlotte, we ran eighth to 12th all day, and now here the same thing. I am proud of that from where we were at the beginning of the year when we were racing for 20th to 25th, so we have made a lot of improvement to be racing the way we are now."
ETC.: Almirola has four straight top-15 finishes in his quest to move up the standings. "We have been very consistent lately running in the top 15," said Almirola. "We have to keep it up and continue to get better. This will be a challenging week for us, but I think we can continue our streak of top-15 finishes."
47 A J ALLMENDINGER, Chevrolet
Team: JTG Daugherty Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 40 points out of the top 10. Lost two spots last week.
POCONO RECORD: Only one top-10 finish in 12 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Allmendinger feels Pocono is "definitely a tough race track. You can't really make anything perfect. You just try to get all three corners good. It seems that if you make one (turn) perfect, the other two are horrible. It is one of those places that you have got to get into rhythm. Strategy plays a lot into the race. You can work the strategy and have a good day."
LOOKING BACK: Allmendinger finished 21st at Dover. "It's tough because we had cautions every time at the wrong time and we got caught a lap down early on because of that," said Allmendinger. "I thought we had a good car. It was somewhat hard to tell throughout the course of the day because we were on such a different tire strategy, but we thought we were definitely in the ballpark. Hopefully, we learned something for the next time we come to Dover."
ETC.: Allmendinger spent the first part of the week testing at Sonoma Raceway. Co-owner Brad Daugherty believes Allmendinger is going to win the road course race in two weeks. "AJ is really good at Sonoma," said Daugherty. "We've got certain races circled on the schedule and Sonoma's one of them. We won't be satisfied coming out of there with less than a win. I know that's saying a lot for a little race team, but we have a lot of confidence in AJ. I think we will win that race."
14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 41 points out of the top 10. Gained one spot last week.
POCONO RECORD: Three top-five and four top-nine finishes in the last four races. Overall has two wins and 22 top-10 finishes including 12 top-five's in 30 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart said, "going into turn one (at Pocono), you drive it in kind of deep and then you try to float the car through the corner. It's very flat when you go down the backstretch into the tunnel turn. Then the short chute into turn three - it's a big, long corner and it's important to get through that turn well because you have a straightaway that's three-quarters of a mile long after that. You need to come off the corner quickly so you aren't bogged down when you start down that long straightaway. Each corner has its challenges, and each one tends to present a different set of circumstances with each lap you make."
LOOKING BACK: Stewart ran as high as third before ending the day in seventh place for his fifth top-10 finish of the season. "We're better, but we still have some work to do," said Stewart. "We were in pretty good shape there for a solid top-five finish until that last caution. We just weren't as good on restarts as we needed to be. But all in all, a good day as we are showing improvement."
ETC.: Stewart plans to go sprint car racing in the near future and he has no plans on telling the media when that will be. Stewart, who suffered a broken right leg in a sprint car accident last August, was asked at Dover when he "would be back on dirt?" He replied, "When I do go, nobody is going to know about it. I'm going to slide in and do it. I want to enjoy it. I don't want it to be a cluster. Judging off how many people showed up just to talk to me about going and testing for a couple of hours (earlier in the week), I can imagine what the group is going to be like after I run my first race."
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford