WHERE HE STANDS: Jeff Gordon remained in fourth place (albeit he's no longer tied with Kevin Harvick, as he was after Dover) after Sunday's race at Kansas. Gordon trails series leader Matt Kenseth by 32 points (up from 39 last week), is seven points behind third-ranked Harvick and leads fifth-ranked Kyle Busch by three points.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: 41 career starts, 5 wins, 16 top-fives, 21 top-10s, 8 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 1994, spring 1997, spring 1998, fall 1999 and fall 2007. Was 18th in this race last year and 35th in this year's spring race there (knocked out by a crash), his fifth-worst career finish there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Gordon needs to make a big move to keep his championship hopes alive, and there's no better place than Charlotte this Saturday night. However, he also has to keep in mind that he has recorded 10 career DNFs there (the most at any track) too, which means he has to stay out of trouble as much as possible if he hopes to keep the upward surge in the Chase going. Here's his thoughts on the race: "I am really looking forward to this weekend's race. We ran well here in May (before the wreck), and we've had some great runs since the Chase started. I like how this team is performing and the effort they are putting in right now. I'm having a lot of fun. We ran well here earlier this year and I think our intermediate track program has only gotten better since then."
LOOKING BACK: Although he didn't lead a lap, Gordon was very strong at Kansas, finishing third in a 1-2-3 Chevrolet sweep of the top three spots (Kevin Harvick won and Kurt Busch was runner-up).
ETC.: Gordon has completed 92.6 percent (13,638) of 14,723 total laps contested in 41 career starts at Charlotte. His average start is 10.5 and average finish is 16.2. He has 10 DNFs there.
18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Having ranked second in the standings following the first two Chase races, Kyle Busch dropped to third after Dover and down to fifth after Sunday's race at Kansas. He trails points leader and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth by 35 points (down from 12 prior to Kansas), is seven points behind fourth-place Jeff Gordon and leads sixth-ranked Greg Biffle by nine points.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: 19 career starts, 0 wins, 8 top-fives, 11 top-10s, 1 pole. Best career finish: Second in fall 2010 and fall 2011. Finished fifth in this race last year and was 38th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch took a huge blow in the standings after Kansas. He needs to regain as much of the ground he lost there as he can this Saturday at Charlotte, a track that he has never won a Cup race at. Here's his thoughts on Saturday's race: "We'll just have to work hard. We just have to keep doing what we've done to get us to this point all year long and that's been consistency. And every other track except Kansas seems to be able to bode well for us, so we'll see what happens and, if it doesn't happen, doesn't happen. This team isn't going to give up, by any means. Winning at Charlotte, since it's my favorite track, would be really special."
LOOKING BACK: The Kansas Speedway jinx continued to curse Busch. He was involved in three separate incidents on-track, the last being a wreck that knocked him out of the race. He ultimately finished a disappointing 34th.
ETC.: Busch has completed just 91.3 percent (6,244) of the 6,840 total laps contested in 19 career starts at Charlotte. His average start is 14.6, while his average finish is 16.5. He has five DNFs there.
16 GREG BIFFLE, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Greg Biffle remained in sixth place for the second consecutive week after Sunday's race at Kansas. He trails points leader Matt Kenseth by 44 points, is seven points behind fifth-ranked Kyle Busch, and leads seventh-ranked Kurt Busch by three points.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: 21 career starts, 0 wins, 5 top-fives, 8 top-10s, 1 pole. Best career finish: Second in spring 2008. Was fourth in this race last year (after starting from the pole there for the first time in his career) and 31st in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Biffle doesn't need to be told anything, he knows what he needs to do at Charlotte to pump up his sagging fortunes in the Chase. Here's his thoughts on Saturday night's race: "We've had some really good runs there lately, just haven't been able to pull off the win. Charlotte changes the most out of any track we race at from evening to night. We've been fast, but as the rubber gets down, the handling changes. We've got to stay up with the track to win there Saturday night."
LOOKING BACK: Four other Ford drivers fared better than Biffle at Kansas, who just couldn't seem to find the right combination to finish any higher than 13th.
ETC.: Biffle has completed 90.3 percent (6,724) of 7,450 total laps contested in 21 career starts at Charlotte. His average start is 17.8 and average finish is 17.1. He has two DNFs there.
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Kurt Busch climbed two spots in the standings, up to seventh, following a strong performance Sunday at Kansas. He trails series leader Matt Kenseth by 47 points, is three points behind sixth-ranked Greg Biffle and leads eighth-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by seven points.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: 26 career starts, 1 wins, 6 top-fives, 7 top-10s and 0 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2010. Finished 21st in this race last year (in his debut with Furniture Row Racing) and was third in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch made a big move forward at Kansas and needs to continue that momentum at Charlotte, a track that he has had only marginal success at in his career (just seven top-10s in 26 starts). Here's his thoughts on Saturday night's race: "Charlotte is going to be tougher than most people think, even though we ran really well there in the Sprint All-Star Race and the 600. I won those two races in 2010 and went back in October and ran 30th. We didn't advance with our setup from the month of May to October. So it's going to be more of 'what have you done lately.' I feel pretty good about how our Furniture Row team has found speed at the mile-and-a-half tracks. Charlotte is the third of five 1.5-mile races in the Chase and we're off to a pretty good start. This is all encouraging and I really want to give this team a victory. Hopefully we'll cash in on Saturday night."
LOOKING BACK: Busch ran a close second to winner Kevin Harvick in Sunday's race at Kansas.