5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd, 40 points out of the top 10. Gained one spot last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Four top-10 finishes including three top-five's in 20 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne is still looking for his first restrictor-plate victory. He does have two runner-up finishes at Talladega. "Everyone knows that Hendrick Motorsports has good restrictor-plate cars," said Kahne. "And they've won a lot of races at Talladega and Daytona. I just hope it is my time this weekend. We just need to avoid 'The Big One'."
LOOKING BACK: An unscheduled second pit stop for a missing left-rear lug nut during a yellow flag with only 29 laps remaining ended any hopes Kahne had of finishing in the top 10. Instead, he had to be content with a 14th-place finish. "We had a good car for most of the night," said Kahne. "I think we had a shot at a top-five if we hadn't a problem on pit road."
ETC.: The 2014 Hendrick Motorsports Fan Fest will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, May 23 at the team's facility in Concord, NC. All of the organization's drivers and crew chiefs will take part in a question-and-answer session during the day.
13 CASEY MEARS, Chevrolet
Team: Germain Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 43 points out of the top 10. Lost two spots last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Four top-10 finishes in 21 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Mears said, "We're coming off of two strong runs at Darlington and then at Richmond, so we're looking forward to getting to Talladega because we've always been pretty strong there. The Geico team has made great strides and we're beginning to gain some continuity over the course of the race weekend. We feel like our Chevrolet SS will be strong when we unload on Friday."
LOOKING BACK: Mears rallied from a pit-road speeding penalty to finish 19th at Richmond. And while he was pleased with the team's performance - "The car got better during the race and we were able to run solidly up front," Mears was definitely upset with Marcos Ambrose for several run-ins late in the race. During a post-race confrontation with Ambrose, Mears shoves Ambrose, who retaliated by punching Mears on the left side of his race. The two drivers were then separated by race crews and NASCAR officials. "It was a few things on the track," Mears said Monday on the TV show NASCAR Race Hub. "At the end of the day, none of that should ever happen, but in the heat of the moment when you get out of your race car and it just happened to you -- some stuff you didn't like, we started going at each other."
ETC.: Mears said he and Ambrose had a "really good conversation" Monday. But Mears admitted "for a moment there (during their confrontation Saturday night), I kind of wanted to hit him, but I thought I can't do that. So I grabbed him." Mears said he thought everything was now okay with Ambrose "for the most part, (but) you never forget getting hit." Mears added that he hopes NASCAR would issue some guidelines when something happens like it did at Richmond. "I don't know how to distinguish what I'm able to do next time," said Mears. "Professionally, I want to know where that line is." On Tuesday, NASCAR fined Mears $15,000 and placed him on probation until May 28 for being part of the altercation.
41 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 25th, 71 points out of the top 10. Gained one spot last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 13 top-10 finishes in 26 starts including four third-place finishes.
LOOKING AHEAD: Because Busch has a win to his credit this season, he is able to head to Talladega without a lot of worry about being caught up in the Big One. "We feel good about the Chase because of that win," said Busch. "We can now go to each race and just worry about getting the car right and running up front."
LOOKING BACK: Busch was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop with only 40 laps to go because of tire problems. As a result, he was forced to settle for a 23rd-place finish at Richmond. "We struggled tonight in the Haas Automation Chevrolet," said Busch. "The car was loose in (the corner); tight in the center and loose off for most of the night. It was frustrating because I thought we had a pretty good handle on our setup, but for some reason the car responded differently tonight."
ETC.: Busch began his rookie orientation at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday in his quest to run both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. The orientation consists of three phases where drivers must maintain a consistent speed within a preset range. Typically the range is 200-210 miles per hour, 210-215 mph and then 215 and above. Busch completed each phase of his on-track test and is now cleared to practice for the Indy 500. Busch completed 66 laps with a top lap of 220.844 miles per hour. Only John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart have done the double. Gordon was the last one - in 2004.
78 MARTIN TRUEXJR., Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 27th, 74 points out of the top 10. Gained one spot last week.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Will be seeking his third straight top-eight finish.