ETC.: Newman has completed 94.2 percent (3,724) of the 3,953 total laps contested in 15 career starts at Kansas. His average start is 13.9, while his average finish is 18.1. He has three DNFs there.
15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 8th, 51 points out of first place. Gained two spots last week.
KANSAS RECORD: Finished fifth in the May race for his third top-seven finish in the last four races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Bowyer, a Kansas native, loves "coming back to Kansas. They've done such a great job with turning Kansas Speedway into a destination track for NASCAR fans. It's a fun place to visit with all the restaurants, shopping, sporting events and things to do within walking distance of the track. That all used to be farm field and now it's like a whole new city centered around the race track. I've run really well there, and I would love to win a race at my home track."
LOOKING BACK: Bowyer was playing the fuel-mileage game to perfection before a late-race caution ruined his hopes of visiting victory lane. "We've had a rough start to the Chase, but we worked hard and put ourselves in a good position to go for the win today," said Bowyer. "Unfortunately, that caution there at the end ruined our plan (of not stopping for fuel while the other leaders all had to stop), but we were good enough and smart enough to get a win today. We were just a little short (speed wise) there at the end)." Bowyer ended up 10th at Dover.
ETC.: Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing got some very good news last week when 5-Hour Energy announced they would return in 2014. Melissa Skabich, a company spokesperson, said the decision was made "after several internal discussions and meetings with MWR." There had been a lot of speculation that the company would not return after NASCAR severely penalized MWR for trying to "manipulate" the Richmond race. "There had been a lot of talk, but I've always knew 5-Hour Energy was behind me 100 percent," said Bowyer. "We've had a great relationship from day one, and it's going to continue to be that way."
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 9th, 55 points out of first place. Lost two spots last week.
KANSAS RECORD: Only three top-10 finishes in 15 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch said, "The Kansas track is very smooth and it's fast so you can be aggressive with shock control, sway bars and other things. Kansas is definitely its own animal but it compares more to a Michigan and the smoother tracks that we run on versus the rough ones likes Chicago and Atlanta. We have five races on the mile-and-a-half's (in the Chase). You need a good finish on those tracks just to make sure you're holding serve."
LOOKING BACK: A loose wheel ruined Busch's day as he finished 21st at Dover. "We were way off at the start, but after the first pit stop we made some good changes to the car and started to make a move," said Busch. "But once again we had an issue with a loose wheel and that put us a couple of laps down. And with the lack of cautions, we couldn't make it up. This is the Chase and you can't afford to have these problems."
ETC.: Busch knows the team needs to turn things around at Kansas if it wants to have any shot at winning the Championship. "The first thing we need to do at Furniture Row Racing is to get it together because we didn't come away with good finishes at the last two races (13th and 21st) after finishing fourth at Chicago," said Busch. "We need to turn things around now."
88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 10th, 57 points out of first place. Gained one spot last week.
KANSAS RECORD: Two top-seven finishes in his last four starts including a second in June 2011.
LOOKING AHEAD: Earnhardt noted "We had a lot of speed the last time we were at Kansas, but just had a bit of bad luck. For two weeks in a row we've had fantastic race cars. I'm proud of my guys for bringing such good cars to the track. We're bringing a new chassis this weekend and I'm hoping we unload fast. We are determined to win a race (before the end of the season)."
LOOKING BACK: After winning the pole at Dover, his second of the year, Earnhardt had visions of winning his first race of the year. And he led six times for 80 laps, but a problem getting on pit road early in the race dropped him out of the lead and left him scrambling to make up lost ground for the rest of the race. "If you really look at the race as a whole, the mistake I made missing pit road completely (which forced him to make another lap before pitting for fuel and four tires) cost us," said Earnhardt. "We had the lead, gave up the lead. Jimmie (Johnson) took the lead and was able to take advantage of that clean air when it counted. If I had not given up that track position, had a smart enough race to keep the lead when it counted right at the end, we might have won the race. It would have been hard to get by us, just like it was to get by Jimmie." Earnhardt ended up second to Johnson.
ETC.: Fans sometimes ask the strangest questions of their favorite driver. Last week at a fan forum at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Earnhardt was asked if he has any pets he takes on the road. He replied, "I've been dating Amy (Reimann) for several years and she's got Pomeranian that I don't claim. But he's pretty cool. But I don't admit it. He goes every week because he's so small; he's easy to carry around." Earnhardt has a boxer named Killer that he brings to some races. "He goes every once in a while if the grass is close to the bus (in the motorhome lot)," added Earnhardt. "If it's a lot of concrete, I usually don't take him because you have to walk him all the way across the track to get him to use the bathroom somewhere."
99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 11th, 65 points out of first place. Lost one spot last week.