ETC.: All of the proceeds from the third annual Tony Stewart Kick-It Cup events at the Knoxville Nationals will go to children's cancer research. "I love going to the Knoxville Nationals," said Stewart. "To be part of such a great event like the Kick-It Cup will make it even more fun. Being able to race against fans at Slideways Karting Center and help the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation at the same time is a win-win."
43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 51 points out of the top 10.
MICHIGAN RECORD: Best finish in four starts is 17th. Does have a Truck Series win at the two-mile track.
LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola said, "Michigan is an extremely fast track. It's important to show up with a lot of speed, and I'm confident we can do that with Roush Yates Engines. We struggled a bit at the intermediate tracks at the beginning of the year, but through testing and our engineering team putting their heads together, we've shown a lot of improvement."
LOOKING BACK: Almirola finished 22nd at Pocono. "Today didn't go as we had planned," said Almirola. "We had to change a transmission on Saturday, but felt good about Sunday. We started off really tight. As others struggled with being loose, we made up some ground being tight, but as everyone else got better, we just couldn't get the car to turn the way it needed to. This is a tough place with three distinct turns."
ETC: Almirola believes he can win a race "before Richmond and make the Chase. If we continue to finish in the top-10 and top-15, we'll have the consistency we are looking for. As you continue to run up front, you put yourself in position to win. We haven't lost sight of that being a real possibility. We just have to keep our heads down and continue to improve each week."
47 A J ALLMENDINGER, Chevrolet
Team: JTG Daugherty Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 57 points out of the top 10.
MICHIGAN RECORD: Best finish in 11 starts is 11th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Allmendinger is looking forward to this weekend at Michigan "because we have a brand car. I feel like on the bigger race tracks we haven't been way off, but we haven't been where we need to be either so hopefully that (the new car) will help a little bit. Hopefully it will make a difference."
LOOKING BACK: Allmendinger finished 21st at Pocono after bouncing off Greg Biffle late in the race. "I got loose - aero-loose," said Allmendinger. "We need to work on our aero package. When somebody gets on the outside of me, it's bad. Greg Biffle didn't do anything wrong and he left me a whole car width, but it's like I had a rope tied to my bumper and I was jerked around. We might have salvaged a better finish without that happening."
ETC.: Allmendinger is determined to help JTG Daugherty Racing became "a great team. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I want to take us to levels that we've never been at. You don't know what's going to happen in this world of NASCAR, but I could easily see this being my last team I drive for in NASCAR."
5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 66 points out of the top 10. Lost three spots last week.
MICHIGAN RECORD: One win and nine top-10 finishes including seven top-five's in 20 starts. Finished seventh last August.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne hopes this is the weekend "we put together the whole race. We've had great practices over the last month, maybe a little more than that," said Kahne. "We've been really good in practice, great at times during the race, but we haven't put together the full race. If we do that, we'll have a shot to win."
LOOKING BACK: Kahne was quite upset after slamming into the wall with only 16 laps left in the race. "I had just passed Kyle (Busch) and I caught (Ryan) Newman," said Kahne. "I was passing him off turn three. We were side-by-side so Kyle was able to get a good draft down the straightaway. We got to turn one and I was on the outside, and then he knew if he didn't clear me there then I would pass him back because I just had. He just floored it and didn't care there was someone out there and ran me right in the wall. I hit hard. Once we hit, my car just went hard right." Three times in 2013 Kahne felt he had been wrecked by Busch. Kahne ended the day in 42nd place.
ETC.: Kahne admits this has been an aggravating year with the team not performing as well consistently as have the rest of Hendrick Motorsports. "It's been a bit frustrating at times, but I think I've handled it pretty well," said Kahne. "In my opinion I feel like I have. I get down a little, but I've actually handled it all pretty well and I'm excited about this weekend."
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd, 66 points out of the top 10.