Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 34 points out of the top 10. Lost 11 spots last week.
TEXAS RECORD: Six top-10 finishes in 20 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray feels "Texas is like most mile-and-a-half tracks where track position is key, maybe even more at Texas because it is tough to pass. We will try to qualify well and keep track position throughout. Texas seems like it has been one of those tracks where you have long green-flag runs and the track gives up a lot of grip."
LOOKING BACK: McMurray seemed headed for a top-10 finish when he was clipped by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and sent hard into the turn-two wall. McMurray took his badly-damaged car to the garage area for repairs before returning to the race to finish 42nd. "There was a lap car holding up our pack," said McMurray. "I thought the 88 (Earnhardt) would be a little more patient with me. I had gotten by him in lapped traffic. Then he got on my inside. When he got into me it was like he couldn't get off and spun me around and I just got into the wall. Really unfortunate, as we had a good car today."
ETC.: McMurray admits the wreck at Martinsville will have a long-term effect on his ability to qualify for the Chase for the Championship. "You just wish you weren't racing for points because that is the hardest part to swallow is the point loss," said McMurray. "It's fun to run well but that (the accident that resulted in a next-to-last finish) is what you will think about." McMurray entered the Martinsville event in 12th place, but left the track 23rd in the standings.
17 RICKY STENHOUSE JR., Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 24th, 38 points out of the top 10. Lost nine spots last week.
TEXAS RECORD: Best finish in two starts is 16th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stenhouse said, "Texas is one of my favorite tracks. The past two weekends have been tough for our team, but I think we are all looking forward to getting to Texas and being competitive. We had a solid run at Las Vegas earlier this year, another mile-and-half track. I am really looking forward to this weekend and seeing the new big TV (screen on the backstretch)."
LOOKING BACK: A bad vibration forced Stenhouse to the garage area for repairs with 143 laps to go. When he returned to the track, he was 38 laps down as he finished 40th. "I'm proud of my team," said Stenhouse. "We didn't give up and we finished the race. We will have to go back and see what broke. The past two weeks have really hurt us in the point standings so we have to get better. It's early in the season so we have plenty of time to rebound."
ETC.: Both Stenhouse and crew chief Mike Kelley knows the team needs a good run this weekend if they want to get back in the hunt for a spot in the Chase for the Championship. "Hopefully we can rebound this weekend and have a solid top-10 finish," said Kelly. "Ricky and I had success there (Texas) in the Nationwide Series so we hope to build on that this weekend."
4 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 25th, 39 points out of the top 10.
TEXAS RECORD: Will be shooting for his fourth top-nine finish in the last five races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick expects Texas to offer "a few more challenges" than normal. "As we've seen the first part of the year, the cars are very fast with the new ride height rule, the new spoiler height and everything that comes with it. We're going to be taking the bumps at a much higher rate of speed with a lot more load on the left-side tires than we've had there before. So, I think we're going to see some new challenges pop up."
LOOKING BACK: Despite problems on pit road caused by a part failure, Harvick finished seventh at Martinsville. During a caution flag on lap 219 of the 500-lap event, the team discovered that the chain that keeps the rear-end housing from dropping when the car is jacked up had broken, making it difficult to jack the car up during a pit stop. The team attempted to fix the problem, but they were unsuccessful as the broken chain hindered the team on each of its subsequent trips to pit road. "Once again we had a real good car," said Harvick. "But we lost too much ground on pit road to allow us to really show how good it was."
ETC.: Harvick decided to stop by the Oak Ridge (NC) Fire Department on his way to Martinsville last week to again thank the firefighters that helped save his home. "If it weren't for these guys, I wouldn't have a home," said Harvick. "Chief Simmons (Steve) knew exactly what to do and they were able to contain a small mess that could have been a very big mess. We're very fortunate." With the help of thermal imaging cameras, the firefighters were able to local the fire, which was in between the basement ceiling and the main level of the house.
43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 26th, 42 points out of the top 10
TEXAS RECORD: Finished seventh in the spring race a year ago.
LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola knows he can't afford any more "bad days" if he wants to make the Chase. "For us on the 43 team our chips are pretty well cashed in as far as points are concerned," said Almirola. "We got caught up in a wreck at Daytona and then getting wrecked at California makes it hard to make up that many points on the guys in front of us. We need to keep running like we have been running. We have 20 races before the Chase begins and if we put ourselves in position enough times I promise you we will win a race."