LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose struggled big time last year at Darlington as he finished 34th. "We probably left Darlington last year as disappointed as we could be," said Ambrose. "We just didn't know what was wrong with the car and had a terrible night. When you have races like that, you just want to go back and get better. Now is our time, and our race team is better than ever. This weekend is a little about avenging last year's race."
LOOKING BACK: Ambrose battled a loose race car all day as he finished 20th at Texas. "I thank Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) and the rest of the guys who worked during the race to get the car better and put us in the best position as possible," said Ambrose. "It's difficult when the track is changing like it did today, the car wasn't reacting to the changes the way we wanted, but we got the best out of it. We'll take what we learned and continue to work hard to get better."
ETC.: Ambrose knows all about the long history of Darlington. "The legends of NASCAR defined this track, this race and it's a 'Crown Jewel' event," said Ambrose. "Darlington is so different. It's egg-shaped and you're just working on the car the whole race. It's 500 miles and that's a long night at Darlington. With our improvement, I believe we can avenge last year and compete for a win."
5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 25 points out of the top 10. Gained three spots last week.
DARLINGTON RECORD: Two top-eight finishes in the last three races. Hasn't qualified worse than fourth in the last three races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne said, "We were really good in the Darlington race last year. We ran inside the top four through the majority of the night. We were by far the best car at the end of the race, but just didn't get the win because of circumstances when I was hit by another car as I was making my move for first. I'm looking forward to going back there this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: After starting 32nd, Kahne quickly raced his way into the top 10 despite repeated problems on pit road. And he stayed there for most of the race despite battling a "tight" race car. Kahne ended the day in 11th place. "We had a pretty good car all day," said Kahne. "Starting that far back hurt us and we had some problems on pit road because of our pit stall, but all in all it was a pretty good day. Things got a little wild on that green-white-checker (finish) or we would have another top 10."
ETC.: Although the season hasn't started as well as Kahne had hoped, he believes that first win is very near because of the tracks "coming up. I'm really looking forward to going back there (Darlington) this weekend. It's a track I've always wanted to win at, and I definitely think we're capable of doing so this weekend."
47 A J ALLMENDINGER, Chevrolet
Team: JTG Daugherty Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 30 points out of the top 10. Lost four spots last week.
DARLINGTON RECORD: Best finish in six starts is 17th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Allmendinger feels when you race at Darlington "you know you're going to earn your money. I feel like it is one of those places if you get around it well, you have accomplished something. At the same point if you struggle there, there is nowhere to hide. It is one of the races I actually missed last year. Even though I haven't really been that good there in the past, I really enjoy it."
LOOKING BACK: Allmendinger suffered major damage to his car early in the Texas race. As a result, he finished 23rd. "The car was not very good, but I didn't know there was damage to the car until after the race and (crew chief Brian) Burns told me about it," said Allmendinger. "I knew I hit some stuff when the wreck happened with the 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) car. We didn't know it, but there was a hole in the nose and the crush panel was knocked out." Burns quickly added, "Without the damage, we would have had a totally different race car. Basically, the damage is like putting a parachute on the front of the car."
ETC.: Co-owner Brad Daugherty has been "very pleased with the way we have run" this year. "We have got speed, which is something we haven't had in two or three seasons," adds Daugherty. "I am happy with the direction we are going with the cars and the team. We just have to work harder at minimizing mistakes. We have made some mistakes that have cost us five or more positions at some of these tracks. We will polish up on the areas we need to and make some noise throughout the season."
1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 36 points out of the top 10. Gained two spots last week.
DARLINGTON RECORD: Five top-10 finishes in 13 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray hopes his recent run of bad luck comes to a stop this weekend. "We've had really good cars everywhere we've been this year," said McMurray. "We haven't always got the results we deserve and that is why we are so far back in the points (21st). But we've run a lot better than that. We've had some really good runs at Darlington, almost winning there in 2010. So if we can run the whole race without any trouble, I feel we can have a real good night."
LOOKING BACK: McMurray ran in the top 10 for the first 204 laps of the 334-lap event before a cut left-rear tire forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop. This dropped him a lap down and ended any hopes he had of his third top-10 finish of the season. Instead, he ended up 17th. "So frustrating," said McMurray. "We had a really good Bell Helicopter Chevrolet today and our crew was doing a good job with pit stops and keeping up with the changing track conditions. I hate that we had that cut tire, but we were able to salvage a top-20 finish."
ETC.: McMurray admitted that last Sunday was a very frustrating day after waiting to see if the race would be run and then having it delayed a day because of rain. "It's different for everybody, but I really like the structure of waking up and knowing when your first appearance is and the driver meeting and then coming back and having lunch," said McMurray. "I like the structure and during the rain delay you don't really know. Part of the frustrating part is looking at it and knowing a week ahead of time there's 100 percent or 70 percent chance that the weather is coming. It's a long day."
43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford