LOOKING AHEAD: Bowyer has mastered Talladega in recent races, or so it seems, with wins in the last two fall races as well as a sixth-place finish this spring there. He's not overly thrilled with his ninth-place finish at Dover, but as crew chief Brian Pattie said, Dover is in the rearview mirror and it's full steam ahead into 'Dega: "This team wants to run top-five every week, and ninth-place (at Dover) isn't good enough. We'll go to Talladega and hopefully shake them up there."
LOOKING BACK: Bowyer didn't have a great car, fighting handling issues much of the race, yet still managed to bring home a ninth-place finish at Dover. That was huge for the No. 15 team because it allowed Bowyer to climb into fourth in the standings.
ETC.: Bowyer has completed just 83.2 percent (2,057) of the 2,471 laps contested in his 13 career starts at Talladega. His average start is 19.9; his average finish is 15.6. He has 2 DNFs there.
5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Kahne remained in fifth place after Dover although now he's tied with Tony Stewart. The duo trails points leader Brad Keselowski by 32 points and fourth-ranked Clint Bowyer by seven points and leads seventh-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by seven points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 17 career starts, 0 wins, 3 top-5s, 4 top-10s, 0 poles. Best finish: second in fall 2006 and fall 2009. Finished sixth in this race last year and was fourth in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne's 15th-place finish at Dover knocked him down in the points from 15 back to 32 back. He needs to recoup those lost points at Talladega to have any chance of becoming a serious contender in the remaining six Chase races. Here are his thoughts on Sunday's race: "Talladega is really the biggest wild card in the Chase. Almost everyone has a shot at the win, but you can be out of running early, too. We're going into the weekend with a couple of good superspeedway finishes this year, and the guys at the shop put together awesome restrictor-plate cars. If we can stay out of trouble, we should have a solid day."
LOOKING BACK: Kahne had a very strong race car at Dover and, even though he didn't lead a lap there, he could have contended for the win had it not been for mechanical issues about 50 laps from the end of the race, leaving him in 15th place, three laps down.
ETC.: Kahne has completed only 87.2 percent (2,817) of the 3,231 laps contested in his 17 career starts at Talladega. His average start is a mediocre 24.9; his average finish not much better at 20.8. He also has 2 DNFs there.
14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Stewart came into the Chase in a three-way tie for second. He dropped to third place after Chicago, fourth after New Hampshire and is now in a tie for fifth place with Kasey Kahne after Dover. The duo trails points leader Brad Keselowski by 32 points and fourth-ranked Clint Bowyer by seven points and leads seventh-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by seven points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 27 career starts, 1 win, 9 top-5s, 13 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: first in fall 2008. Finished seventh in this race last year and was 24th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart needs a huge bounceback at Talladega after finishing 20th at Dover and dropping into a tie for fifth place with Kasey Kahne. If the defending Sprint Cup champion has anything short of an outstanding run at 'Dega, he might want to start discounting his chances of repeating as Cup champ. Here are his thoughts on Sunday's race: "We're looking at it as an opportunity to gain some points and positions. Every time you're at Talladega you try to take care of yourself and your equipment by not getting yourself in compromising positions that are going to take you out of an opportunity to get you to the end of the race. For me, it's no different whether the race is in April during the regular season or in October when I'm in the Chase."
LOOKING BACK: Stewart definitely did not have the kind of outing he hoped for at Dover, finishing 20th, three laps down. He cannot afford another outing like this the rest of the way, lest he lose any hope of winning his fourth career Cup title and second crown in as many seasons.
ETC.: Stewart has completed 97.7 percent (4,991) of the 5,111 laps contested in his 27 career starts at Talladega. His average start is 17.0; his average finish is 15.5. He also has 5 DNFs there.
88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Earnhardt essentially stayed where he was in the standings, going from a tie for seventh heading into the Chase to sole possession of seventh after the Chase opener at Chicago, and he remained in seventh after Loudon and now Dover. He trails points leader Brad Keselowski by 39 points and fifth-place (tied) Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart by seven points, and leads eighth-ranked Martin Truex Jr. by three points.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 25 career starts, 5 wins, 9 top-5s, 13 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: first five times in fall 2001, spring and fall 2002, spring 2003 and fall 2004. Finished 25th in this race last year, rallied back to finish ninth in this year's spring event.
LOOKING AHEAD: Earnhardt turns 39 on Oct. 10. What a great birthday present it would be for him to break out of the funk he's been in through the first three races of the Chase, essentially being stuck in seventh place the entire time. And it's been a long time since he won a race at Talladega, which he used to all but own. If he doesn't make any forward progress in the standings Sunday, it soon might be time to forget about hopes of his rebounding to win his first career Cup title. Here are his thoughts on Sunday's race: "We've rode around and played it pretty conservative before. That hasn't really worked out. Last couple times we've been racing just as hard as we can race, and I think that's just about what we'll do this time."
LOOKING BACK: Like most other drivers, Earnhardt got behind the 8-ball at Dover and finished two laps down from race winner Brad Keselowski. But there was some consolation: Earnhardt still finished a decent 11th place.
ETC.: Earnhardt has completed 92.0 percent (4,357) of the 4,735 laps he's contested during his 25 career starts at Talladega. His average start is 15.7; average finish is 14.8. He also has 5 DNFs there.
56 MARTIN TRUEX JR., Toyota