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Virtual Pit Reporter: News on 25 Cup teams

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1) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Johnson, who leads the points race by 124 points over Matt Kenseth, has had an average starting position of 12.6 and an average finish of 15.9 at Michigan and has never won there. He finished sixth in the rain-shortened Michigan race in June. "The biggest goal I've set for this season is the (points) championship," Johnson said. "And then there are tracks that have given me a hard time. You never know when you're going to win -- when that day is going to come along and everything is going to work out right for you. There are tracks that come up on the schedule that I get excited for and feel that my chances are stronger at, but my own challenges are goals I give myself. One of them was a restrictor-plate win and we got two, and then a road-course win. I still feel like I've got a lot to learn on a road course. That's my next big goal is to get road-course racing under control and be a threat for the win there. And then we always have the challenge of trying to be the champion."
  • Last week: Johnson finished 17th at Watkins Glen.
  • Etc.: Johnson has the highest Average Running Position of all drivers with a 10.760.

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    2) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: The rain-shortened event in June snapped a string of six consecutive top-10 finishes for Kenseth at Michigan, where his average finish of 8.4 is second best among the 23 tracks at which he has raced in his Cup career. He has an 8.1 average finish at Las Vegas. Kenseth's lone Michigan win came in June 2002. Since entering the series full time in 2000, no one has more completed laps on two-mile ovals (Michigan and Fontana) than Kenseth's 4,849. "Michigan was kind of like our light at the end of the tunnel last weekend at The Glen," Kenseth said. "For me, it's going from one extreme to the other. We've never had a lot of success at road courses so obviously they can be frustrating, but Michigan is the total opposite. We seem to always run good at Michigan, so it's definitely more fun for me to race. I joked with the guys during the race last weekend that all would be forgiven as long as we had a car capable of winning this weekend. We're bringing our favorite car, so hopefully we can get up front and be a factor like we have been in the past at Michigan."
  • Last week: Kenseth finished 21st at Watkins Glen, just his fourth finish outside the top 20 this season.
  • Etc.: Kenseth has another thing going for him this weekend -- he will be driving chassis No. RK-323, in which he has led in five out of the six races he has used it this year.

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    3) Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: Harvick is one of the hottest drivers on the circuit heading to Michigan. He won last weekend's AMD at The Glen and has yet to finish outside the top 10 during the Race to the Chase -- the 10-race lead-in to the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup. In fact, his only finish outside the top five in this span was a ninth at Daytona in July. "Everyone is pulling in the same direction right now at RCR," Harvick said. "We all have our eyes set on the same goal. This weekend is a very important race for us. It's held in the backyard of our sponsor GM Goodwrench. We are excited to be going there after doing well in the first race."
  • Last week: Harvick's win at The Glen gave him his fifth top-five finish in a row and has him third in points. Harvick is making a run at two NASCAR titles in the same season -- he leads the Busch Series.
  • Etc.: Harvick will be behind the wheel of chassis No. 134, which made its debut at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May. Harvick started 12th in that race but finished 34th. He last used this chassis at Michigan in June, when he started 19th and finished 10th.

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    4) Jeff Burton, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: In 25 starts at Michigan, Burton has earned one pole, four top-five finishes, eight top-10s and has been running at the finish each time. His best finish there is third in June 1999, and he finished 11th in the rain-shortened race at Michigan in June. "We did a little bit of experimenting when we went to Michigan the first time," Burton said. "We took a different car, something we felt really good about. We didn't perform quite as well as we had earlier at the other tracks that size, so we're going back with something different this time. We felt good about our Michigan race, we just weren't as competitive as we were with our other stuff. We used Michigan as a track to try to test something that was a little different, and we learned something."
  • Last week: Burton's 11th-place finish at Watkins Glen extended his streak of consecutive top-15 finishes to 16 races. The run includes two poles, three top-fives and 11 top-10s.
  • Etc.: Team owner Richard Childress has two wins at Michigan, both by Dale Earnhardt -- in June 1987 and June 1990. RCR boasts 15 top-five and 32 top-10 Michigan finishes with seven different drivers, including Childress, a former driver in NASCAR's top division who recorded top-10s at Michigan in June 1978 and in August 1979.

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    5) Kyle Busch, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Busch, who ranked 20th at this point last year, has 12 top-10 finishes in 22 races in 2006. His streak of eight straight top-15 finishes began at Michigan in June, when he was 14th. In his other two races at Michigan, Busch was 43rd in this race one year ago and ninth in June 2005. He has led in two of his three races there. Busch is 199 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne with four races left in the "Race to the Chase."
  • Last week: Busch finished ninth at Watkins Glen and remained fifth in the standings. "Man, that felt like we won the race," Busch said. "What a way to fight back. I thought the day was done after the truck arm mount broke. No one on the team panicked. They didn't miss a beat and had to weld that thing together. It was five laps, and then the cautions fell where they needed to and we worked our way back. The 5 has a lot of heart -- they want the Chase and to run for a championship as much as I do. Today was unbelievable. My hats off to everyone on my team right now. We're in this thing and plan to stay here."
  • Etc.: Busch ranked 12th in the point standings after race No. 16 at Infineon.

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    6) Mark Martin, No. 6 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: Martin is just one position behind where he was last year at this same point. He has had only one DNF (Talladega in October 2005) in the 47 races since Dover in June 2005. Martin has four victories and 26 top-10 finishes in 41 races at Michigan. His last victory there was in June 1998. He finished 17th in this race one year ago and was 27th there in June. Martin has a 12.121 average finish at the 2.0-mile track and has led in 24 of his 41 races there. "I love the race track, I really do," Martin said. "I always look forward to going up there and race." Martin is just 143 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne with four races left in the "Race to the Chase."
  • Last week: Martin finished 20th at Watkins Glen.
  • Etc.: Martin has not won a race since his victory at Kansas in October 2005, 29 races ago.

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    7) Tony Stewart, No. 20 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: In 15 races at Michigan, he has five top-three finishes, the most recent being a second place in June 2005, and nine top-10 finishes, and he has finished in the top 10 in six of his last eight races there. His average Michigan finish dropped to 14th when he was 41st in June.
  • Last week: Stewart's second-place finish at Watkins Glen was his 14th top-15 of the season and his third runner-up finish. Despite not winning the race, he was excited that Harvick scored the road-course win. "He is a good friend of mine," Stewart said. "It is fun racing guys you trust like that; that was a lot of fun. ... Second place is OK for us. It was a good day for our Home Depot team. We are leaving here with a smile on our face."
  • Etc.: Stewart scored his fifth career Cup win in the 2000 June Michigan race when he started 28th, the farthest back any Cup driver has come to win at Michigan.

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    8) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: Hamlin, who was 12th in his first race at Michigan in his rookie year, has 10 top-10 finishes in 2006 and has won twice, sweeping both races at Pocono Raceway. He is just 110 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne with four races left in the "Race to the Chase."
  • Last week: Hamlin finished 10th at Watkins Glen and dropped from seventh to eighth in the standings. "A lot of guys cut course on the last lap, but it was still a good run for us," Hamlin said. "We had a better car than that. We ran top-10 most all day until that pit strategy deal. We took the safe route of taking four tires and fueling late. We took the safe bet, and that's what we needed to do. I think this is a really big race for us. It's definitely one of those races where we needed to get a top-15 finish. ... A lot of guys in front of and behind us in points had troubles."
  • Etc.: Hamlin has been the highest-finishing rookie in 12 of the 22 races this season.

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    9) Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Gordon, who has two victories (Infineon and Chicago) and 14 top-15 finishes in 22 races this season, has two victories and 18 top-10 finishes in his 27 races at Michigan. His last victory there was in June 2001. He finished 15th in this race one year ago and eighth there in June. Gordon has led 844 laps in his 27 career races at Michigan, which ranks sixth all-time. He is just 84 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne with four races left in the "Race to the Chase."
  • Last week: Gordon finished 13th at Watkins Glen and dropped from eighth to ninth in the standings. "We wanted to make up some good ground," he said. "We got fortunate we didn't lose much ground with everything that happened there in the last couple of laps. We were a top-five car. We weren't a winning car today. ... You never know when the cautions are going to fall and how the pit strategy is going to work out. If we hadn't have gotten spun there, we were going to be up there in fifth or sixth, I believe, and that would have been a great day for us. So we salvaged what we could."
  • Etc.: Gordon has not finished four races this year, more than any driver in the top 10.

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    10) Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Inc.
  • This week: With four races to go before the Chase begins, Dale Jr. is 30 points behind ninth-place Jeff Gordon and 54 points in front of 11th-place Kasey Kahne. In 22 races, Dale Jr. has one win (Richmond), six top-fives, nine top-10s and 15 top-15s. He finished a career-best third in the June race at Michigan, his first top-five and third top-10 there. "We have high hopes after finishing third there in June," Earnhardt said. "We're taking the same car back. It was crashed up a bit at Pocono, but Tony (Eury) Jr. tore the body off it, rebuilt it, and hopefully it'll be just as fast -- or faster -- than what we had in June. Michigan is a big, wide track where there's not a lot of transition into the corner going into the banking. Sooner or later we're going to get a win there. We really hit on something in that last Michigan race."
  • Last week: Earnhardt Jr. finished 18th at Watkins Glen to remain 10th in the point standings. "Kahne is right behind us and he is awesome at some of these tracks coming up," Earnhardt said. "It's going to be one of the toughest on-track challenges we've had since being in the Cup Series. But this is also what makes it fun. This is why the fans watch our sport on Sundays and talk about it the rest of the week. I'm grateful to be a part of it."
  • Etc.: Earnhardt has led laps in seven of 14 races at Michigan, including three in the June race this year. The most laps he has led in a Michigan race came in 2002, when he was in front for 37.

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    11) Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge, Evernham Motorsports
  • This week: Kahne won the pole and the race at Michigan in June, and he hopes to repeat that feat this weekend. It was his fourth win of the season. He has two other top-five finishes at the track in five starts. "Michigan has been a good track for the No. 9 team," Kahne said. "With four races left to decide the Chase field, we have time to get back in the top 10. The first chance comes this weekend at Michigan. We must take advantage of the opportunity."
  • Last week: For the second consecutive race, a last-lap mishap put a huge dent in Kahne's hopes of making the Chase. Kahne was in position to collect a career-best road-course finish of 12th with a lap to go, but he went off the course in turn six and ended up 22nd. As a result, the Dodge driver still trails 10th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 54 points with only four races left until the Chase begins.
  • Etc.: Kahne said his recent run of poor finishes "don't reflect the potential of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge team. We certainly have had a car capable of top-10 finishes in each (race). We just have to execute and do what we're capable of doing."

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    12) Kurt Busch, No. 2 Dodge, Penske Racing South
  • This week: Busch has five top-10 finishes in 11 starts at Michigan, including a win in 2003. Even after last week's disappointment, Busch still believes he can make the Chase, and he continues to use Matt Kenseth as a perfect example of why it can be done. A year ago, Kenseth was 165 points out of the top 10 with four races to go. Busch is 172 points back at the same place in the season. Kenseth finished third, first, seventh and second in those four races. Busch will need to almost duplicate that record if he is to contend for the 2006 championship.
  • Last week: Busch dominated the first 53 laps of the Watkins Glen race, leading 38 of them. But the pole-sitter was penalized on lap 54 for pitting too soon. The penalty dropped him to the rear of the field. He rallied to make it back into the top 10 before spinning on the last lap and dropping to 19th. Naturally, Busch was quite upset. "It definitely was (our race to win)," said Busch. "We put ourselves in position for NASCAR to make a call and it didn't end up in our favor. ... There was a yellow (flag) back in the inner loop (on the last lap) and we spun to avoid it (the accident), but they didn't freeze the field like they did last week."
  • Etc.: Busch did move up to 12th in the standings, but his trouble-filled day at Watkins Glen proved costly. "We were really digging to make up ground," said Busch. "To go from first to 19th, that's a tough one, but we'll be back next week because we've got strong hearts."

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    13) Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: Biffle has four straight top-six finishes at Michigan, including two victories, and has finished no worse than sixth in five of the last six races there. He will need another top-five run, however, if he wants to stay within shooting distance of the top 10. With only four more races left until the Chase begins, Biffle has dropped to 13th in the standings, 180 points back of 10th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Last week: Biffle's hopes of challenging for this year's championship took a hit at Watkins Glen when he was knocked into the fence by Kyle Petty early in the race. As a result, Biffle finished 38th. "I don't know if Kyle ran out of room or maybe he couldn't stop as quick and got into the back of us," said a dejected Biffle. "I really, really honestly don't know what happened, but we had some trouble beside that. The car wasn't stopping for some reason."
  • Etc.: Biffle leads all drivers in the miles led category with 1,238. He has led at least one lap in six of the seven races he's run at Michigan.

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    14) Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: Edwards is 4-for-4 when it comes to top-10 finishes at Michigan, and he has improved his finish each time beginning with a 10th in his first Nextel Cup start on Aug. 22, 2004. In 2005, Edwards finished fifth in the first race and fourth in the August event. He was second in June. That makes his average finish in his four races at the two-mile track 5.25, first among all active drivers. Edwards is still looking for his first Cup win of 2006.
  • Last week: Edwards kept alive his slim hopes of making the Chase with his fifth-place finish at Watkins Glen. Brilliant pit strategy by crew chief Wally Brown helped Edwards overcome an early flat tire. "This was one of those races I was really nervous about," said Edwards, who sits 191 points out of 10th place. "It's awesome to come out of here with a top-five finish, and I'm very proud of my guys and the pit strategy."
  • Etc.: Edwards tied for second in the Chase for the Championship a year ago, and many people were expecting him to be one of the drivers to beat in 2006. But he began the year with a last-place finish in the Daytona 500 and has been trying to recover ever since. The highest he has been in the standings this year is 13th.

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    15) Brian Vickers, No. 25 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Vickers, who has two ninth-place finishes in five starts at Michigan, will make the 100th start of his Nextel Cup career this weekend as he goes after his ninth straight top-20 finish. During this eight-race stretch, Vickers has moved from 22nd to 15th in the points race. Vickers finished 17th in the first race this year at the two-mile speedway.
  • Last week: Vickers finished 16th at Watkins Glen. "We had a decent car," said Vickers. "The biggest problem for us ended up being our brakes. Then, on the white flag the transmission jumped out of gear, which cost us a couple of spots. We were better than where we finished -- I do know that much."
  • Etc.: Vickers believes that because "the cars are built so much better (today) and the components are so much more durable, that allows us to race hard each and every lap. Years ago, cars weren't as durable and you had to take care of your equipment until the end of the race before going after it."

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    16) Ryan Newman, No. 12 Dodge, Penske Racing South
  • This week: Newman has won four races at Michigan, two each in the Cup and Busch Series. He has finished in the top 15 in eight of the 10 Cup races he's run at Michigan, including the last six in a row. He will be making his 175th consecutive start this weekend.
  • Last week: Newman was happy to end up eighth at Watkins Glen after all the problems he had late in the race. "The motor mounts broke in the car with about 15 (laps) to go," said Newman. "The motor was just sitting there flopping around and the throttle was hanging on me wide open. I was using the kill switch to shut it off. That's why I dropped back those last two laps. It was hanging really bad. I had my hands full. It was a good run for the Alltel Dodge, but that wasn't the finish it should have been."
  • Etc.: Newman was upset with himself for overshooting his pit stall on his first pit stop. "I had my head pretty far up my back there on that first pit stop," said Newman. "That's the first time I've done that and hopefully the last. I was so focused on getting pit road speed right that I didn't pay attention to where the pit stall was. I was going on down the street."

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    17) Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: Bowyer finished a disappointing 39th in his first Cup race at Michigan in June after being involved in an accident, but he believes things will go a lot better this weekend. "We are bringing a different car," said Bowyer. "In June we brought a car that had a little different body on it than what I had been used to running, and I just couldn't get it into the corner. We're bringing the same car we ran at Indy (where he finished fourth) and that's obviously a car I'm comfortable with, so hopefully we'll have a lot better run."
  • Last week: In his first Nextel Cup start at Watkins Glen, Bowyer finished 14th. "We learned a lot in the Busch race on Saturday, and I was able to carry that information over to the Cup race," he said. "All in all, I am pretty satisfied with a 14th-place finish."
  • Etc.: Bowyer, teammate Kevin Harvick and car owner Richard Childress will attend the GMSPO's (General Motors Special Projects Operations) Employee Day on Thursday to participate in the judging of a car show and sign autographs.

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    18) Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Ford, Roush Racing
  • This week: In seven starts at Michigan, McMurray has only one top-10 finish, a fourth. But he said he can't wait to get to the track this weekend. "Michigan is a speedway that traditionally Roush (cars) perform extremely well at and a track that I have a lot of fun racing," said McMurray. "Personally, I am excited about the car we are taking this weekend. Bob (Osborne, crew chief) and the guys put a lot of work into this car for me."
  • Last week: McMurray thought he had a good chance of winning the Watkins Glen event with about 15 laps to go, but he was not able to get around leader Kevin Harvick at the time. "Really, I thought I was better than Kevin," said McMurray, who ended up third. "The cautions hurt our car. I was just real loose on the restarts. The longer my car would run, it seemed like the better it would get and the better it felt. We certainly needed a good run."
  • Etc.: McMurray admits "it's been a very tough year. It's been a struggle and it's been very frustrating, not only for me but for everybody on the team. It feels really good that Bob Osborne is gonna stay with our team. I really like Bob. He's super intelligent, and it's just nice to know that we're gonna be a team together for the rest of this year and for next year and hopefully for years to come ... you can build on that."

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    19) Casey Mears, No. 42 Dodge, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
  • This week: Mears finished seventh in the first Michigan race this year, his first top-10 finish in seven starts at the two-mile facility. Mears began the year with top-10 finishes in the first three races but has had only two since. Mears is confident that another top-10 finish at Michigan is in the works this weekend. "Michigan is one of our better tracks," he said.
  • Last week: After running as high as fifth at Watkins Glen, Mears was disappointed to end up 35th, a lap down. After spinning on lap 77, the engine stalled and Mears was unable to get the car re-fired. He fell a lap down. "We had a great car today capable of finishing in the top five, at least," he said. "I don't know what happened when I spun out, but I just feel bad because the guys deserved a good finish today."
  • Etc.: Mears leads the Closers category in the NASCAR statistics for the season with 46 positions gained during the last 10 percent of the races. Mears hopes to keep Dodge's winning ways at Michigan going -- a Dodge driver has won four of the last six races at the track.

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    22) Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Dodge, Evernham Motorsports
  • This week: It's official -- Sadler is moving to Evernham Motorsports as driver of the No. 19 Dodge Charger. Sadler will make his first start in his new ride this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. "It's truly an honor to drive for Dodge and Ray Evernham and be part of this team," said Sadler, who spent Wednesday at Kentucky Speedway testing his new ride.
  • Last week: Sadler's seventh-place finish at Watkins Glen, after recovering from an early spin, was a milestone for him -- the New York road course was the only track on the Nextel Cup circuit where he had not posted a top-10 finish in his career. "It's the same strategy we used at Sears Point," said Sadler. "That was one of the best cars I've had on a road course, and it was fun."
  • Etc.: Rookie David Gilliland will replace Sadler in the No. 38 Ford. Gilliland spent Tuesday and Wednesday testing the 38 car with Todd Parrott, who moved back to Robert Yates Racing last week. Parrott will be the crew chief on the 38 car. "It's just a great opportunity," said Gilliland, who will make his first Nextel Cup start at Michigan.

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    21) Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Chevrolet, DEI
  • This week: Truex finished 16th in his Michigan debut in June. A rookie has finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven August races at Michigan, and Truex believes he can make it seven of eight this weekend. The best finish by a first-year driver in the August event at Michigan (since 1975) is third by Tony Stewart in 1999.
  • Last week: Engine problems forced Truex to settle for a 28th-place finish at Watkins Glen. "This one stings," said Truex. "We had a great car. The handling was good and the power was there. I don't believe in jinxes, but it seems like we have a rookie jinx. It seems like every time we have a good run going, something like this (running the last half of the race on seven cylinders) happens."
  • Etc.: When asked what the team's goals were for the rest of the season, Truex said, "just do the best we can every week. I don't think we have anything written down that says we want do this and we want do that. We want to be the best we can. We want to win races and we want to run up front every week."

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    23) Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Dodge, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
  • This week: Sorenson is returning to the track where the 20-year-old rookie driver scored his first top-five finish. For that reason, Sorenson said "the entire Target team has been anxious to return to Michigan. "We were a legitimate frontrunner during the race in June, and we believe we can be just as competitive (this weekend)," he said. "The one-and-a-half to two-mile tracks have been our strong suit this season, so we always look forward to racing on the bigger tracks."
  • Last week: Sorenson was delighted to finish 12th in his first Cup start at Watkins Glen. "We were a lot faster at the end of the race," said Sorenson. "We definitely used our fuel mileage to our advantage. The cautions helped us out a lot. I think I was like a second faster at the end of the race than I was at the beginning. All in all, it was a pretty good day for us."
  • Etc.: Sorenson believes "there are quite a few tracks left on the schedule where I truly believe we have a chance to get a win. We're starting to return to some of my favorite tracks, and ones where we have run the strongest and scored some of our best finishes this season. I definitely think there are many top-five and top-10 finishes left for this team before we take the checkered at Homestead (the last race of the season)."

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    24) Dale Jarrett, No. 88 Ford, Robert Yates Racing
  • This week: Jarrett and Mark Martin lead all active drivers with four victories at Michigan. Jarrett and Martin also lead all active drivers with 15 top-five finishes at the two-mile course. But Jarrett realizes that another victory or even a top-five finish is not likely this weekend. "Anytime you go to a track where you have run well in the past, you'd like to go and know that your team and car is a threat for the win, but I can't say that right now," said Jarrett.
  • Last week: Jarrett finished 26th at Watkins Glen. "At the beginning of the race, the car just didn't have any grip, and I kept sliding around," said Jarrett. "Toward the end of the race, though, the right adjustments were made, and I was able to pass a couple of cars. We didn't have a great day, but it could have been worse."
  • Etc.: When asked if morale at the shop might be taking a toll on the performance, Jarrett replied, "There's no question that when morale is down it can affect performance, but that isn't the cause of our problems. There's a lot of change going on right now within our organization, and that is tough on a team anytime whether you're running well or struggling. But I think Robert and Doug (Yates) have done a good job in communicating with the race team and making them understand why they're making the changes."

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    25) Bobby Labonte, No. 43 Dodge, Petty Enterprises
  • This week: Labonte has won three times at Michigan, two of his victories coming in 1995, when he became the seventh driver to sweep both Michigan races in the same year. No one has scored a sweep since Labonte did it. Labonte and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers with four poles at the two-mile track.
  • Last week: Labonte rallied in the waning laps at Watkins Glen to finish 24th. "It wasn't a great day, but we got (some) positions at the end," said Labonte. "We made it a little better for ourselves when it counted. It wasn't the day we wanted, but a lot of guys had it worse."
  • Etc.: Greg Steadman has been named interim crew chief on the No. 43 Dodge after Todd Parrott announced last week that he will be returning to Robert Yates Racing. "With Greg and Robbie (Loomis, vice president of competition at Petty Enterprises) making the decisions, I don't feel like we're going to miss a beat," said Labonte.

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    26) Robby Gordon, No. 7 Chevrolet, Robby Gordon Motorsports
  • This week: Gordon has only one top-10 finish and three top-20s in 13 Michigan starts but believes his recent tire test at Atlanta Motor Speedway will help him run much better this weekend. "We learned a lot during the Atlanta test that we think will help us at the intermediate speedways," said Gordon.
  • Last week: Gordon finished fourth at Watkins Glen, his sixth top-10 finish in eight races at the road course, all top-fives. "It was a good run for all the guys at Jim Beam," said Gordon. "On that last restart, we just couldn't get close enough to out-brake them. I'm pretty happy with it. It was a good points day for us, definitely helped us (in that area). We closed the gap between us and the 20th spot in points." Gordon is 164 points out of the top 20.
  • Etc.: Gordon just missed winning the Busch Series event at Watkins Glen when his last-lap attempt to pass leader Kurt Busch barely came up short. "I did all I could to get back in the lead there at the end," said Gordon. "We knew where we had him beat, and I just stuck my nose in there and leaned on him and just didn't get in deep enough."

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    Tagged: Kurt Busch, Kyle Petty, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Reed Sorenson, Dale Jarrett, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Casey Mears, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart

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      Chase Authentics Danica Patrick Big Rig Tri-Blend T-Shirt - Charcoal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Danica_Patrick/browse/featuredproduct/974547/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_974000/ff_974547_xl.jpg&w=100 26.95 Chase Authentics Danica Patrick Big Rig Tri-Blend T-Shirt - Charcoal
      Kyle Busch One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Kyle_Busch/browse/featuredproduct/1011659/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1011000/ff_1011659_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Kyle Busch One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black
      Matt Kenseth One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Matt_Kenseth/browse/featuredproduct/1011661/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1011000/ff_1011661_xl.jpg&w=100 9.99 Matt Kenseth One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black
      Chase Authentics Carl Edwards 2013 Driver Schedule T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Carl_Edwards/browse/featuredproduct/1041164/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1041000/ff_1041164_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Chase Authentics Carl Edwards 2013 Driver Schedule T-Shirt - Ash