LAS VEGAS RECORD: Two wins and three top-five finishes in eight starts. Finished fifth a year ago after winning the 2011 race.
LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards said, "Since the test in Charlotte this off-season, the whole 99 team has been looking forward to the race in Vegas. We feel that we will have a very fast Aflac Ford Fusion and that all the Ford's should be pretty tough there. We're going to Las Vegas to make it two in a row. We feel like we can use the momentum we've got and the confidence we've built in Phoenix to have great pit stops, qualify well and race hard all day."
LOOKING BACK: After one of the most frustrating seasons of his career and a disastrous Speedweeks in Daytona, Edwards needed a real morale booster and he got it Sunday at Phoenix as he led the final 78 laps to end a 70-race winless streak. "To be in victory lane this early in the season (the second race of 2013), to have a car like we had today, is really, really great," said a beaming Edwards. "This win feels as good or better than any win I've ever had, so I'm very excited about it." Edwards had to survive a green-white-checkered finish to score the 20th win of his career and second at Phoenix.
ETC.: One of the happiest persons in the garage area after Edwards' win was Bob Osborne, Edwards' long-time crew chief who had to leave the team midway through the 2012 season because of health problems. "The 99, for me personally, the car number with Carl in victory lane means a lot to me and Ford in general," said Osborne, who now heads a team of engineers at Roush Fenway that look four and five races down the road for the organization. "We struggled a lot last year; everybody knows that. It make me proud and happy to see the performance come right back with a fresh start and a new season and lot of new faces involved with Carl's career." Jimmy Fennig is the team's new crew chief.
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, eight points out of the top 10. Gained five spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: One top-10 finish in four starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose said, "Vegas has always been a good track for us. We usually have good speed and lady luck tends to be on our side. I hope that continues this weekend. Our Stanley team really has a good opportunity to get into the top-10 in points (after this weekend). We haven't had a great finish yet, but we haven't had a terrible one either. We just need to get a little better."
LOOKING BACK: Ambrose finished 18th at Phoenix. "We just never had the track position to really help us," said Ambrose. "I was fighting our DeWalt Ford early in the race and we had to spend time on pit road making adjustments. Our car was better at the end, but it was so hard to pass. We still haven't had the finish that we want, but we are in a good position in the points."
ETC.: Ambrose feels "this is a big weekend for everyone. This will be a key mile-and-a-half race, and with 16 races at intermediate tracks, it's important to have a good program at these tracks. We did well at the Charlotte test in the offseason, so I look forward to seeing our speed at a mile-and-a-half track this weekend."
36 JJ YELEY, Chevrolet
Team: Tommy Baldwin Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, 10 points out of the top 10. Lost four spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: Best finish in five starts is 17th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Yeley said, "What I like about Vegas is that you can really race in several grooves. It gives you an opportunity to change your line and look for more speed throughout the race. We sure would like to have another top-10 run like we did in Daytona. That would be a great start to the season."
LOOKING BACK: Yeley ran out of gas on the last lap of the race as he finished 28th at his home track. "Racing at Phoenix is always special for me - seeing family and friends, it means a lot to be here," said Yeley. "Unfortunately, it was a tough day for the Accell Construction team. We got pushed into the wall by the 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) and then ran out of fuel at the end. We wanted to keep the momentum from Daytona (a career-best 10th-place finish in the Daytona 500) going, but it was just not our day."
ETC.: Car owner Tommy Baldwin is quite pleased with "how far we've come in a really short time. We had to be a start-and-park team back when we started (in 2009) because we didn't have the resources to do otherwise. But as we've grown and attracted more sponsors, we've gotten better and better and I feel really good about where we are in 2013."
47 BOBBY LABONTE, Toyota
Team: JTG Daugherty Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, 11 points out of the top 10.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: Five top-10 finishes including four top-five's in 15 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Labonte feels the extra day of testing at Las Vegas will be "very beneficial for our team because we have not done a lot of testing (with the new car). We did test at Charlotte a couple times, but there is still so much to learn at these type of tracks. It's a great opportunity for us because we need something like this. As a single car team, we have to take advantage of every opportunity."
LOOKING BACK: Labonte battled an ill-handling race car all day as he finished 24th at Phoenix. "The number 47 Glad Toyota was pretty unpredictable for the driver today so it was pretty hard to tune," said crew chief Brian Burns. "Bobby did a really good job of trying to hang onto the car considering how tough it was to drive today." Added Labonte, "it seemed like we never really identified anything that made a big difference for some reason this weekend. We could not get a handle on it."
ETC.: Burns believes "we have grown as a team and learned a lot since last year. We definitely feels like we are much better now than where we were at this point last year. We struggled at Phoenix, but we are still a solid 14th in the point standings. If we can continue to improve like we had done recently, you should expect to see the number 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry running up front more and more each week."