Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd, 209 points out of 13th place.
TALLADEGA RECORD: His best finish in five starts is 12th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola said, "Talladega is a great opportunity to more or less go for broke. All these guys in the Chase really do have to be careful they don't get caught up in the Big One and ruin their title chases. That just gives us more of an opportunity to run up front, lead some laps and possibly come home with our first win of the season."
LOOKING BACK: Almirola finished 19th at Dover. "That first caution (which came out just after he pitted) really killed us," said Almirola. "Luck was just not on our side today. We kept having to come back from crazy things like that, so that was disappointing. I passed a lot of cars today. We weren't a 19th-place car. We were probably closer to a top-10 car."
ETC: Crew chief Todd Parrott knows "handling isn't much of an issue" at Talladega. "The superspeedways are just about getting as much speed out of the car as possible," said Parrott. "We'll be approaching the weekend much like we did earlier in the year, and that's to use the draft to our advantage, stay out of trouble and try to be up front in the closing laps so you're in position to make a move."
78 REGAN SMITH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 239 points out of 13th place.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Still looking for his first top-10 finish. His best finish in 10 starts is 12th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Smith will be making his last start in the 78 car this weekend, and he believes he has a chance to go out a winner. "We have a great superspeedway program," said Smith. "The odds favor us of having a clean race on Sunday and if that's the case, then look out for the Furniture Row/Farm American Chevy."
LOOKING BACK: Smith finished 17th at Dover. "When you go three laps down early, it doesn't give you much hope for the remainder of the race," said Smith. "But we hung in there, stayed patient and pulled off a decent finish under difficult circumstances."
ETC.: The team announced late last week that Kurt Busch will take over the driving duties of the 78 car beginning next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "In order to get a jump on developing a driver/team chemistry for the 2013 season, both Kurt and Furniture Row Racing felt that this was an important move to make happen," said general manager Joe Garone. Busch said, "Driving the Furniture Row Chevrolet in the final six races of this season will obviously give us a big advantage in our preparations for 2013."
55 MARK MARTIN, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 25th, 307 points out of 13th place.
TALLADEGA RECORD: Martin will not drive the car this weekend; car owner Michael Waltrip will be behind the wheel. Waltrip has one win and 15 top-10 finishes in 52 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Waltrip loves racing at the superspeedways, and he has high hopes for this weekend. "Anytime we go to a restrictor plate I feel like I've got a chance to win," said Waltrip. "We had a real good car in May, and I know we will have another potential winning car this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Martin was wearing a huge smile as he climbed out of his car after finishing third at Dover. "I don't know if everybody really noticed or not, but we had a rocket ship, super-fast car," said Martin. "Start of the race, we were passing cars left and right. It was awesome. That (early) caution got us two laps down. So we had to continue to fight from being buried and passed a lot of cars, eventually got ourselves into the hunt. But the race was just about over. We are just having a blast."
ETC.: Martin is one of four drivers featured on the limited-edition collectible ticket for next week's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The other three are Jimmie Johnson and Hall of Fame drivers Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. All four are three-time winners of the fall race at CMS. "Man, it would mean a lot to become the only driver to win four times in the 500," said Martin. "For right now, though, that's pretty good company to keep with two Hall of Famers and (five-time champion) Jimmie Johnson."
51 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Phoenix Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 26th, 319 points out of 13th place.
TALLADEGA RECORD: 13 top-10 finishes, including four third-place finishes, in 23 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch said, "We always get excited when talking about racing at Talladega, especially all of the guys on the Phoenix Racing team. Obviously, this place is special for the team because it's where it got a win in 2009 (with Brad Keselowski as the driver). Finch (James, the car owner) is all in when it comes to the races at Daytona and Talladega, so we definitely go into this race with little higher expectations because anything can happen."