31 JEFF BURTON, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 15th, 12 points out of the top 10. Gained 13 spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: Two wins and eight top-10 finishes in 15 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Burton said, "There are going to be a lot of questions at Las Vegas for every team. The new Gen-6 cars are really fast with a lot of grip. Goodyear is building better tires than they have ever built while the cars have more downforce and the engines have more power than ever. Add all that up and it means we are going to go really fast."
LOOKING BACK: During the final 68 laps of the race, Burton posted some of the fastest laps of any car in the field as he rallied to finish 10th at Phoenix, his 14th top-10 finish in 28 starts at the track. "Over the last 60 or so laps, we consistently had the fastest car in the field," said a beaming Burton. "It was great to end it off with a top-10 finish, especially after all the adversity the team faced early in the day when Luke (Lambert, crew chief) flew home to be with his wife who was expecting their second child. Ernie (Cope) stepped in and made great calls all day. I appreciate him and the entire 31 Cheerios team pulling together and working hard and it paid off with a solid finish."
ETC.: Richard Childress Racing has won races at 19 of the 23 tracks on the 2013 Sprint Cup schedule. But one of the four tracks that the organization has not won at is Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of this weekend's Kobalt Tools 400. Burton believes RCR can end the Vegas drought on Sunday. "We feel like we've had good tests (with the new car)," said Burton. "So we are optimistic about this weekend."
83 DAVID REUTIMANN, Toyota
Team: BK Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, 12 points out of the top 10. Lost one spot last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: One top-five finish in five starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Reutimann is looking forward to this weekend because he looks on Las Vegas Motor Speedway as one of his "better tracks. We got a fourth a couple of years ago (2009) and ran pretty well there in both 2010 and '11. So we feel pretty good about going back out there. Plus having a full day of testing on Thursday will benefit everybody is getting ready for Sunday."
LOOKING BACK: Reutimann finished 25th at Phoenix after battling handling problems all afternoon. "We tried a lot of different things and made a lot of adjustments, but nothing really seemed to work," said Reutimann. "It was just one of those days when you can't find the right balance no matter what you do."
ETC: Reutimann knows a lot of people are surprised that he stands 16th in the point standings ahead of lot of the better known drivers and teams. But he believes "if we can get some consistency this year we can stay up there. The key is running top-20 each week. And we believe we can do that."
27 PAUL MENARD, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, 12 points out of the top 10. Gained three spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: Finished seventh last year for his first top-10 finish in six starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Menard feels "going to Las Vegas will give us the first true indication of how the new Gen-6 car is going to react. At all the tests we have done with the new car we've seen high speeds. It's definitely been faster than the old car in race conditions. I think there's a good possibility we might see a new track record in Vegas."
LOOKING BACK: Menard battled handling problems all afternoon as he finished 20th at Phoenix. "We struggled throughout the race to find the right setup for the Serta/Menards Chevrolet, but we were never able to get exactly what we needed," said Menard. "We made adjustments on every stop. There at the end, the car was handling better, but we just couldn't gain any track position."
ETC.: Menard believes "going to the track (in Las Vegas) a day early to test will be a big benefit. What we gain from the extra day will be crucial to our strategy for the rest of the weekend."
20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 14 points out of the top 10. Gained 15 spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: Two wins and six top-10 finishes including five top-five's in 13 starts.