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Virtual Pit Reporter: Updates on 25 teams

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1) Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Gordon takes a razor-thin lead into Sunday's LifeLock 400 at Kansas Speedway as the Chase enters its third race. He is just two points ahead of Tony Stewart, four ahead of Jimmie Johnson, 10 ahead of Kyle Busch and 18 ahead of Clint Bowyer. Last year, Gordon entered the Kansas race second in the standings, six points out of the lead. That was before a fuel pump failed, starting a streak in which Gordon then had a wreck and a blown engine in the next two races. "We finished sixth last year in the points, but I don't think it was indicative of how well we ran during the Chase," Gordon said. "We ran well here, at Talladega and at Charlotte -- all races where we had poor finishes. In fact, we were strong at nine of the 10 Chase races with the lone exception being Homestead. I think that carried over to this year. We had a great start to the season and we have four wins so far and a lot of top-fives and top-10s." ... Gordon has two wins (inaugural race in 2001 and again in 2002), three top-fives and four top-10s and has led 169 laps in six Kansas races. "We've had success here, and I really enjoy the track," Gordon said. "A lot of people compare Kansas to Chicago due to their similar layouts, but Kansas is unique. This track has matured over the past couple of years, and I think it now offers great side-by-side racing."
  • Last week: Gordon, who struggled with the handling on his Chevrolet during much of the Dover demolition derby, gained two positions on the final lap to salvage an 11th-place finish. Those two positions -- and six gained points -- are the difference between Gordon entering Sunday's LifeLock 400 at Kansas Speedway as the Chase points leader. "You have to make the most of the bad days and take advantage of the good days," Gordon said. "When the race started at Dover, the car was awesome and I thought we were going to have a great day. But we lost the handle on the car and it was a struggle from that point on. While a lot of the Chase contenders encountered some problems, we were able to get a respectable finish and the points lead. But there's still eight races to go and many more points to be gained and lost."
  • Etc.: Gordon's new teammate in 2008, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., announced that a competing energy drink will be one of his sponsors next year, so Gordon was asked which tastes better, the one Gordon promotes or Earnhardt's sponsor. "I don't know what AMP tastes like," Gordon said of the Earnhardt brand. "I've never had it. But my stuff's good. I know that." Gordon was also asked if it's fair that Earnhardt has two different sponsors -- AMP and the National Guard -- to sell as die-cast cars? "It doesn't matter; he sells twice as many anyway," Gordon said with a laugh.

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    2) Tony Stewart, No. 20 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: Stewart is the defending winner at Kansas, but he enters Sunday's race with a much different scenario than last year, when he was not in The Chase. Stewart had nothing to lose at Kansas and gambled on fuel mileage at the end, going the final 71 laps on a single tank of fuel. Stewart ran out of fuel on the final lap but was able to coast across the finish line first, turning the Chase into the Coast. "We've lost races that way, so it was nice to finally get one," Stewart said. "It was a battle between the driver and the crew chief. The crew chief is yelling at you every lap to save fuel, but you're not slowing down enough and he knows it because he's looking at the stopwatch. When you've got guys behind you, you know you don't want to give those spots up in case they happen to make it on fuel. So I tried to save as much fuel as I could and still hold guys off. We were able to take the chance because we had nothing to lose. Not being in the Chase gave us that opportunity to take the chance and go ahead and run for it. It's not a chance we can take this year." The situation is far different this year -- Stewart is only two points out of the lead. But he won at the sister track to Kansas -- Chicagoland Speedway -- in July and is hopeful he can be the man to beat this weekend. "I'd like to think that if you had success at one track that you'd have success at the other," he said. "But at the same time, there are no guarantees in this sport. As fast as technology changes, what worked a month ago might not work now. We won't know anything until we hit the track." Stewart has an outstanding record at Kansas: the one win, a pair of fourth-place finishes and a pair of eighth-places finishes along with a 14th in six previous Kansas Cup races.
  • Last week: Stewart was ninth at Dover, one lap down to the lead six cars.
  • Etc.: Stewart will make a return to the NASCAR Busch Series on Saturday, driving the No. 33 Old Spice Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) in the Yellow Transportation 300 at Kansas. It will be Stewart's second career Busch Series start at Kansas; his best finish was a fourth-place result last year in a KHI-prepared Chevrolet. The Yellow Transportation 300 will mark Stewart's 11th race as part of his 12-race Busch Series schedule for 2007. Stewart has two wins, four poles, 19 top-fives and 26 top-10s in 75 Busch Series starts.

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    3) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Johnson has never finished in the top five in five previous Kansas races. He finished sixth in 2005 and seventh in 2003. He was 14th there last year. It's the only track where he has not finished in the top five in his career. "Obviously, with the crazy weekend we had (at Dover) and being four points out of the lead after what we went through, (it) is exciting for us," Johnson said. "We ran really, really well (at Kansas) last year. Unfortunately, we had a tire problem, which seems to have happened to us here lately. We had a tire problem that kept us from having the finish that we wanted. But we led a lot. I think we led the most laps, so we're excited." Johnson expects the Chase to remain tight until the final race of the season, at Homestead in two months. "I think it's going to stay close for a long time," he said. "Once we get down to two races to go, there might be more of a clear favorite. But if you look at where Denny (Hamlin) is in 12th, granted, 11 guys could have a bad day, but he's not that far out. I was a lot further out and came back over five or six races or whatever it was last year. So I'm not counting anyone out. I do think that it's tougher this year. You have two more cars in the mix. It's a much more competitive Chase. I think it's going to keep us talking each and every week as to how things unfold and where people are."
  • Last week: Johnson was 14th, two laps down, at Dover.
  • Etc.: Monday is when Johnson puts out the "Do Not Disturb" sign. "Yeah, Monday usually ends up being my off day to do anything from hanging around the house doing nothing to playing golf and visiting with friends," he said. "So Monday is kind of my fun day or my off day. I can take that for myself in most cases."

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    4) Kyle Busch, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Busch got his first top-10 finish at Kansas when he was seventh there last year. Before that, he finished 37th there in 2004 and 21st in 2005. He also was a relatively strong 13th at Chicago this year. Busch is another driver that thinks success at Chicago equates into a good run at Kansas. "Kansas and Chicago are practically identical," Busch said. "I've never seen two racetracks that were made so similarly. The only differences are that Kansas is a little bit flatter, narrower and it says 'Kansas Speedway' on the soft walls."
  • Last week: With a fifth-place finish at Dover, Busch is fourth in the championship standings, a mere 10 points behind the leader, Jeff Gordon. Busch's points position is a marked improvement over last year. Heading into the third race of the 2006 Chase, Busch was in 10th in the points, 224 points out of first place.
  • Etc.: Busch isn't going to let the Chase keep him from extra duty in October. Busch will race in both the Cup and the Craftsman Truck Series races at Talladega, Martinsville and Atlanta. Busch will also compete in the Busch Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where he has scored two career wins.

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    5) Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: While Homecoming Weekend is big in college football, Bowyer gets his own homecoming this weekend. The Emporia, Kan., driver will compete in his second Cup race at Kansas Speedway. He started sixth and finished ninth there as a rookie in 2006. "I can't wait to get back home," he said. "It's going to be a big week. I'm excited to run the dirt cars and having the opportunity to go back and see everyone. This is an important race for me. Last year we almost got our first Cup win at Kansas. Last year was the first time I actually led a significant amount of laps and I felt like, as a team, we stood on our own two feet. You know, we had something for them. If I hadn't made a mistake, I think we had a legitimate shot to win the race. Nonetheless, we were fast and that's all you can ask for. It's so nerve-wracking to go to your home track because that's where you want to be able to perform and run well. If you can run up front, lead laps and be in contention to win in front of the hometown crowd -- that's important." Although he has a long career ahead of him, Bowyer believes Kansas is the one track where he "has" to win at before his career is over. "Absolutely," he said. "It would be so cool to be able to celebrate a victory with everybody who has helped me and supported me during my career. I've got so many family and friends who will be there, and then there's everyone who I used to race with. It's just everything that goes along with racing an hour and a half away from where I grew up. Lakeside Speedway is only five miles up the road."
  • Last week: Bowyer is coming off a 12th-place finish at Dover.
  • Etc.: Bowyer had a busy week in store when he returned to Kansas this week. On Wednesday night, Bowyer, along with RCR development driver Austin Dillon and fellow Cup Series competitors Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace and David Ragan were scheduled to race dirt modifieds in the second annual Capital City Clash at Heartland Park Topeka's three-eighths-mile dirt oval. On Friday night, he returns to Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City for the Capital Federal Savings Late Model Showdown. Dillon, son of RCR vice president of competition Mike Dillon and team owner Richard Childress' grandson, will also be on hand for the evening's race. Before he was hand-picked by Childress to share the No. 21 Busch Series ride with Harvick in 2004, Bowyer won dirt modified championships at Thunderhill Speedway in Mayetta, Kan., (2000), Heartland Park Topeka (2001), Lakeside Speedway (2001 and 2002) and a late model crown at the famed I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo. (2002). The 28-year-old driver is the 2002 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Midwest Division Champion.

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    6) Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: Edwards dropped from third to sixth when he was penalized 25 points because his Ford failed its post-race inspection -- the car was found to be low in the right rear area. Roush Fenway Racing president Geoff Smith said in a statement following NASCAR's announcement, "We have the misfortune of violating a rule which makes no sense. It was promulgated to address restrictor plate races, not downforce races. I say misfortune because we are being penalized for a violation that actually impaired the car's performance. We intend to appeal the unfair assessment of the point's penalty. What is unfair is that Carl is receiving a penalty that is 250 percent greater in its effect than a similarly assessed penalty against a non-Chase driver. Chase drivers are competing for a total of 1,950 points. All drivers competed for 5,070 points in the first 26 races. Do the math. The net effect is that a 25-point penalty falls unfairly hard on a Chase contender. That's simply not right. To equalize the penalty impact on all competitors not more than 10 points should have been taken from a Chase contender." Edwards has one top-five finish (third in 2005) and two top-10 finishes in four Cup starts at Kansas. "It's my hometown track, so it will be neat having so many family and friends there," Edwards said.
  • Last week: Edwards won at Dover before he was penalized for the car infraction.
  • Etc.: Edwards has made two Busch Series starts at Kansas and three Craftsman Truck Series starts. In his three Truck Series starts, Edwards has one win, two top-five finishes and three top-10s.

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    7) Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Chevrolet, DEI
  • This week: Truex finished 23rd last year at Kansas in his only Cup start at the track. "It's sort of like Chicago but without the curved back straightaway, but it's a fast track," Truex said. "It's not really banked like Texas or Atlanta or places like that. It's a little bit flatter, but it's got a lot of grip and asphalt and it's definitely a fun track to race on. The groove gets real wide, and that's probably the best part about it. Last year it was about an eight (on a scale of 1-10). It was real good. The top groove came in and we were able to run against the wall and make it a lot fun."
  • Last week: Truex finished 13th at Dover, the same track where he was the winner in June.
  • Etc.: Truex doesn't mind that most of the attention in the Chase goes to the bigger-name drivers. "People go off past races and experience and results and them guys had the results because they've been doing it so long so you can't really say that they're overlooking us or anything," Truex said. "We just haven't had the results over the past few years. That's kind of the reason why I think that happens. They have all the statistics and that's what they go by. We're not even on that sheet yet."

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    8) Jeff Burton, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: When Burton finished fifth at Kansas last year, it was far and away his best finish at the track in six races and his only top-10 finish there. "I've had good race cars at Kansas, but it just seems like we have things go wrong there," Burton said. "I feel good about going to Kansas. I really enjoy that race track and look forward to racing there. As the race track gets older, it becomes a much better track to race on. I have high expectations this weekend. I don't think the Chase truly becomes in focus until the sixth race. There may be some people in the fourth race where you might say, 'That guy is definitely out,' but I don't think you can completely eliminate people. There is still time to make things happen. I think the fifth or sixth race is when you can start really focusing in on who's going for the title. You can put yourself in position to win it early and you can put yourself in position to lose early. You won't win it or lose it in one race or two races; instead, you need to start positioning yourself to make a run at it."
  • Last week: Burton was able to avoid the mayhem at Dover and finished seventh.
  • Etc.: With all three of Richard Childress Racing's drivers in the Chase, Burton was asked if it's an advantage or disadvantage. "I think the reason that teams are in the Chase is because of the quality of the teams," he said. "Having all three teams in the Chase is a verification and a result of the work that's been done at our company. I think it's good to have as many teams as possible from your company in the Chase. We're going to work together the same way we've always worked together. We're not going to quit that communication or effort because we're racing each other for a championship. Our goal, from a company standpoint, was to get all three teams in the Chase and then have a chance for all three teams to win a championship. Not that those goals are easy to achieve, but we were able to achieve the first part and hopefully we can finish the second part off. I know there's a lot of concern about teams continuing to work together as they're competing in the playoffs and competing for the championship, but we don't have that concern internally."

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    9) Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: Harvick's sixth-place finish in 2003 is his only top-10 finish in six races at Kansas. "Past stats don't mean anything," Harvick said. "We have been able to step up our mile-and-a-half program over the past year. Kansas is a lot like Chicagoland except for where the bumps are located, and we were able to finish fourth there in July. We should be as good or better this weekend." Harvick will drive Chassis No. 120. This is the same Chevrolet Harvick drove to a seventh-place finish in July at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is a regular car that is being phased out at the end of this season. "They both present different challenges," Harvick said, referring to this model car and the Car of Tomorrow. "You just race whatever you have underneath you and whether it's the Car of Tomorrow or it's the old-style car, you just go out and race and do the best you can. I don't think the crews look forward to switching back and forth. They have to completely change their thought process with each car. One type of adjustment may work on one car but not the other. So I think it puts a little added pressure on the crew."
  • Last week: Harvick finished 20th at Dover.
  • Etc.: In 17 races at Kansas Speedway dating to 2001, team owner Richard Childress has yet to take home the winner's trophy. The team has earned one top-five and three top-10 finishes with drivers Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Harvick. The only other tracks on the current schedule where RCR hasn't earned Cup Series wins are California, Homestead-Miami and Las Vegas.

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    10) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: Kenseth has one top-five and two top-10 finishes in six Kansas starts. "Kansas is a lot like Chicago, and we've been very competitive there the past two years," he said.
  • Last week: Kenseth appeared to be the "Dover Dominator," leading most of the race before a broken valve spring knock him out with 26 laps to go. He finished 35th. "Dover was a big disappointment, for sure, considering we had a car capable of winning and ended up with nothing to show for it," Kenseth said. "But I can't help but look at the positives from that race. That's the first time all year that we've been able to compete for a win in the Car of Tomorrow. We ran really well and just had a problem at the end that we really couldn't do anything about. So, instead of getting down and thinking about what could've been, I feel like we've finally got some promise in these COT cars, and I think we should be able to compete now. Carl (Edwards) won, Greg (Biffle) finished second and Jamie (McMurray) finished top-10, so obviously Roush as a team is making a lot of improvement with these cars.
  • Etc.: Kenseth will drive chassis RK-323, which finished fourth at Michigan in August. "We're bringing our favorite car to the track," said crew chief Robbie Reiser. "This car has run well the last two times out at Michigan and Chicago, and there's no reason to think it won't be able to compete this weekend."

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    11) Kurt Busch, No. 2 Dodge, Penske Racing
  • This week: While Busch has only two top-10 finishes in six starts at Kansas, he feels good about this weekend since he will be driving the car that won at Pocono in a dominating performance last month. "We have a lot of faith in this car," said crew chief Pat Tryson.
  • Last week: For the second consecutive week, Busch ran into trouble while running in the top five. With only 14 laps left in the 400-lap event, Busch said "something broke" in the right front, sending him hard into the wall. He bounced off in front of a huge pack of cars triggering a 10-car accident. Busch ended up 29th and now trails point leader Jeff Gordon by 151 points.
  • Etc.: Busch admits he is "pretty frustrated right now because we had cars strong enough in both races to be up there with the (points) leaders. A broken fifty-cent part got us at New Hampshire, and we still don't know exactly what happened (at Dover). We've really dug ourselves a hole -- a deep one -- but we'll be doing everything possible to dig back out."

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    12) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: Hamlin made his Nextel Cup debut at Kansas in 2005. His best finish in his two starts at the track is 18th. Despite his troubles at Dover, Hamlin believes "this (the championship Chase) is not over for us. We're going to bounce back. It is not a devastating blow for us."
  • Last week: Hamlin's championship hopes took a severe beating when he ran into the back of Kyle Petty and slammed hard into the wall just past the halfway point of the Dover race. As a result, Hamlin finished 38th to drop to 12th place, 158 points out of the lead. Petty was upset about the incident and confronted Hamlin while Hamlin was still in his race car. NASCAR officials and team members had to keep the two drivers apart during the heated exchange in the garage area.
  • Etc.: Hamlin said what upset him the most during the confrontation between him and Petty was when Petty flipped down his visor during the argument. "Don't smack me on the helmet," said Hamlin. "You push on my visor and I will punch you in the face."

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    13) Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Chevrolet, DEI
  • This week: Earnhardt has three top-10 finishes in six starts at Kansas, including a 10th a year ago. Earnhardt knows time is running out in his bid to win a race for DEI before he departs for Hendrick Motorsports. And this is especially true since crew chief Tony Eury Jr. is leaving the team after the Talladega event. "We need to close out his career at DEI with a big 'W'," said Earnhardt.
  • Last week: Earnhardt rallied in the waning laps at Dover to finish third for his seventh top-five finish of the season. "There have been so many races this year when we should have been in the top three when we blew up or had some sort of late race issue that stopped us, and it's about time we have some sort of positive result to reward this crew of guys that have busted their butts all season," Earnhardt said.
  • Etc.: Earnhardt thought he had a winning car at Chicago in early July "until the power steering went out. This track (Kansas) is similar, but not exactly like, the track at Chicago, so maybe we can get that (first win of the season) this weekend."

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    14) Ryan Newman, No. 12 Dodge, Penske Racing
  • This week: Newman finished second, second and first in his first three races at Kansas, but his best finish the last three years has been 24th. "We haven't had much luck in Kansas lately, but our intermediate program has been much better this year than it has been in the last couple of years," he said.
  • Last week: Newman's hopes of a top-10 finish were wiped out with 14 laps to go when teammate Kurt Busch hit the wall on the backstretch and bounced into Newman's path. When the dust cleared, 10 cars were involved. "Just in the wrong spot at the wrong time with a good car race that was capable of a top-five," said Newman, who ended up 28th.
  • Etc.: Newman was one of the drivers who visited Walter Reed Medical Center last week and spent time with soldiers who are back from Iraq and Afghanistan. This was Newman's first trip to the annual "Tribute to the Soldiers" event.

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    15) Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: Biffle has scored two top-three finishes in the last three races at Kansas. "I came really close to a win there a couple of years ago," said Biffle, "and it would be incredible to get the Aflac Fusion into Victory Lane this weekend. We had a good run last weekend at Dover, and I think we can keep the momentum and hopefully finish this season on a high note."
  • Last week: A late race decision to change four tires almost resulted in a win for Biffle as he came close to running down winner Carl Edwards in the waning laps. "If I could've got to his bumper, it might have been a challenge for him," Biffle said after his best finish of the season. "I need a win pretty bad, but we were going to race him clean."
  • Etc.: Biffle will be racing the same car that he ran earlier this year at Indy and Michigan. Crew chief Greg Erwin believes the team has "learned a few things since then that will help us" at Kansas. "I just want to continue improving in these last few races."

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    16) Casey Mears, No. 25 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Mears finished second last year at Kansas for his second consecutive top-10 finish at the 1.5-mile track. He believes another top-10 run is a definite possibility this weekend based on "how well we ran there last year and how well we have run on the intermediate tracks this year."
  • Last week: Mears finished sixth at Dover for his second consecutive top-10 finish. This was a career-best finish at Dover for Mears, who had struggled at the track in the past. "We had a strong car, and our pit stops were great -- today was a total team effort," said Mears.
  • Etc.: Mears was one of four drivers tire testing at Daytona earlier this week. "The tires we're putting on are just a little bit different, nothing real excessive or totally different than what we had in the past," said Mears. "They (Goodyear) just want to get laps and good information and see what kind of heat these (COT) cars put in the tires as opposed to our old cars."

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    17) Bobby Labonte, No. 43 Dodge, Petty Enterprises
  • This week: Labonte is still looking for his first top-10 finish at Kansas. His best finish in six starts is 16th. Labonte knows he needs a top-10 run this weekend if he wants to boost his chances of finishing in the top 15 in the point standings. He is 184 points out of 15th.
  • Last week: Labonte battled handling problems all afternoon at Dover before being part of a 10-car accident late in the race that left him in 27th place. "It's tough to get these new cars to turn in the middle (of the corner) but not be too free getting in (the corner)," said Labonte. "Dover is not a place where you want to be loose getting in or coming off the corners."
  • Etc.: Because Kansas is the first of five mile-and-a-half tracks that teams will compete on in the final eight races of the year, Labonte believes "Kansas is going to be a critical race for all of us. We have races left at Lowe's, Atlanta, Texas and Homestead. They are similar to Kansas, and you need to be right on top of your game with the 'old' race cars right now."

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    18) Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: McMurray has two top-10 finishes in four starts at Kansas. "Racing at Kansas is always pretty cool because it's my hometown track," said McMurray, a native of Joplin, Mo. "You always see a bunch of people that you know and remember when you lived there."
  • Last week: McMurray recovered from a mid-race spin to finish eighth at Dover, his eighth top-10 finish of the season. McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya bounced off each other while racing for position on lap 203 with McMurray spinning down the backstretch. McMurray was able to keep the car off the wall, and, after three pit stops to repair the damage, he returned to the race in 15th spot. "Needless to say, it was a long day, but we hung in there and came out with a pretty good finish," said McMurray.
  • Etc.: McMurray believes "the last few weeks have been really good for the No. 26 team. Each weekend we've unloaded a really good car. Even though we didn't finish Richmond, I knew how good our car really was, and so did the rest of the team. And the last two weeks in the COT, we've continued making big strides and feel like we are starting to catch up with everyone else."

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    19) Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Dodge, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
  • This week: Montoya will be making his first trip to Kansas. The 1.5-mile track is the only speedway left on the 2007 schedule that Montoya has yet to race on. He will be driving chassis No. 706 this weekend. Montoya has earned two of his four top-10 finishes in the car.
  • Last week: After qualifying second at Dover, Montoya was able to stay out of trouble all afternoon as he finished 10th, his fifth top-10 finish of the season. In winning the rookie-of-the-race honors for the 12th time this season, Montoya was able to pad his year in the rookie standings to 15 points (222-207) over David Ragan.
  • Etc.: Crew chief Donnie Wingo thought the team had a "10 times better race car today (at Dover) than we had here the first time. All the guys at the shop have worked really hard on the COT stuff trying to get the package down a little bit better with the bump stops and stuff, and they've done a really good job of getting it better."

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    20) J.J. Yeley, No. 18 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: Yeley finished 41st in his first Nextel Cup start at Kansas a year ago, but he did have two top-10 finishes in three Busch Series events at the track. Yeley admits "the last four or five races in the conventional cars haven't been as good of runs as we would have liked. I'm hoping we can get that turned around this weekend."
  • Last week: Yeley was one of 10 cars involved in a late race accident at Dover that left Yeley in 33rd place when the checkered flag was waved. "I went to the bottom (to try to miss the accident) and I thought I was clear, but someone on the outside got me," said Yeley. "Then I hit someone really hard, and that was it. It was just a tough deal, but that's all a part of being at Dover. There's a big wreck every so often on the straightaway."
  • Etc.: On Saturday, Yeley will jump back into a USAC Silver Crown car as he seeks his third straight win in that series. "It's been a lot of fun getting to go back and run those cars even though they are a lot different than what we used to run when I was the 2003 champion of that series," said Yeley. "Anytime you get a shot at winning a race, it makes it fun and worthwhile to do."

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    21) David Ragan, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: Ragan will be making his Cup debut at Kansas. He finished sixth in the Craftsman Truck Series race there a year ago. "There is quite a bit of difference between the truck and a Cup car, so I have a feeling that it is going to take some getting used to," said Ragan.
  • Last week: After finishing 25th at Dover, Ragan said, "We just really struggled. This is one of my favorite tracks, and we seemed to run well here in the spring. Our car (Sunday) was just a handful all day. It was just a bad day."
  • Etc.: Ragan is 15 points back in the rookie standings. "We are with in a (couple) of good finishes of catching (Juan Pablo) Montoya, so we are really going to be focusing on getting some successful finishes throughout these final eight races," Ragan said.

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    22) Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge, Gillett Evernham Motorsports
  • This week: Kahne is still looking for his first top-10 finish at Kansas. He did win the pole a year ago but ended up 33rd. His best finish in three starts is 12th. "I've qualified well and led laps at Kansas, but I haven't been able to turn it into a good finish," said Kahne. "That's what we're looking for this weekend, a good finish."
  • Last week: Kahne's day at Dover ended suddenly when he plowed head-on into the spinning car of Kurt Busch. Kahne escaped unhurt as he finished 32nd. "It happened up near the front, so the fact that we had handling problems most of the day wasn't the reason we were involved," said Kahne. "It was a long day that ended up a bit short for us."
  • Etc.: New car owner George Gillett plans to open a sales office in New York City in the near future. "We believe we are the first team to expand into the Manhattan area," said Gillett. Jim Tucker, who has more than nine years of corporate-sponsorship experience, has been hired to run the New York office.

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    23) Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Dodge, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
  • This week: Sorenson finished last in his first race at Kansas. This weekend he will be driving the same car that he used to capture his first career Nextel Cup pole at Indianapolis in July. Sorenson finished fifth in the Brickyard 400. He still hopes to finish in the top 20 in points. He is 213 points out of 20th.
  • Last week: Sorenson was running 11th when he got caught up in the 10-car accident with only 14 laps left at Dover. The car sustained enough damage to force Sorenson to call it a day, and he finished 30th. "This is very disappointing because the guys worked so hard on the car this weekend and we were definitely going to get a top-10 out of this," said Sorenson.
  • Etc.: Sorenson admits that driving the Car of Tomorrow is a lot different than what he has been used to the last couple of years. "I'm still adjusting to the way these new cars drive, and we're constantly working to improve our COT program," said Sorenson. "Each week we seem to be getting a little better."

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    24) Mark Martin, No. 01 Chevrolet, DEI
  • This week: Martin's last win came at Kansas in 2005. He finished third a year ago. "We are excited about going to Kansas this weekend," said Martin. "We were able to get the win there a couple of years ago and I know that this team (with Joe Nemechek in 2004) has won there as well, so it should make for a pretty good combination for us."
  • Last week: Martin finished fourth at Dover for his best finish in a COT race. But Martin thought he had a real shot at winning the race if he would have gotten a long run at the end. Instead, there were six caution flags in the final 44 laps. "If we could have gotten 40 or 50 (green flag) laps at the end we might have had a shot at it," he said.
  • Etc.: Martin said he is "excited about where DEI is headed. This merger (between DEI and Ginn Racing) has opened up an opportunity to analyze every facet of it to see if it can be improved, and that's great. The exciting stuff, like making better race cars and making better processes, are all in front of us. I'm excited about all of that."

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    25) Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Dodge, Gillett Evernham Motorsports
  • This week: Sadler has one top-10 finish in six starts at Kansas. In the last 13 races, Sadler has no top-10 finishes and only three top-20 finishes. But he is one of three Cup regulars to be running at the end of all 28 races this season.
  • Last week: Sadler was able to miss all of the accidents on a crash-filled day at Dover, and as a result he finished 17th. Sadler admitted he was lucky to finish that high since he battled an "extremely loose" race car all afternoon. "A lot of cars had problems today -- there were only five cars on the lead lap at one time, so we're not alone with handling problems," said Sadler.
  • Etc.: Sadler admits this year has been extremely frustrating. "We didn't really know we were going to struggle this much this year," said Sadler. "My guys did a great job preparing the cars this past winter, and we felt like we had a really good fleet. We just haven't run as good as we would have liked whether it's been with the Car of Tomorrow or the old car."

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    Tagged: Kurt Busch, Kyle Petty, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Reed Sorenson, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Casey Mears, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, Bobby Labonte, Martin Truex Jr., David Ragan, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace, Joe Nemechek, Jamie McMurray

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