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Driver reports following Toyota Owners 400

NASCAR.com

1. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48)

Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet

Where he stands: Johnson leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with 343 points.
Last week: Even when Johnson isn't great -- and he finished 12th Saturday night in Richmond -- he's still good enough to make life difficult for the other 42 racers. Despite being spun out by Tony Stewart after Stewart got loose late in Saturday night's race -- 'Smoke' apologized for the incident -- Five-Time climbed from 27th on Lap 340 to finish 12th after 406 laps at Richmond. His points lead has increased to 43 points through nine races.
This week: In 22 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Johnson has two wins, five top-fives, nine top-10s and one pole. In the past eight years at Talladega, Johnson ranks 17th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 18.4.
Last year: Johnson started 19th, but by Lap 46, he was in the lead and appeared to have the car to beat as the defending race champion. Then came trouble. An engine issue on Lap 65 sent the No. 48 off the track and into the garage. He didn't return due to a problem with his car's oil pressure and finished 35th.
What he said: "We had a great car and stops tonight but didn't get the finish we deserved."

2. Carl Edwards (No. 99)

Roush Fenway Racing, Ford 

Where he stands: Edwards is second in the standings with 300 points.
Last week: Edwards was one of two drivers -- Jeff Burton is the other -- to jump four spots in the standings this week. And the No. 99 Ford had to earn it, going from 28th on the starting grid at Richmond to a sixth-place finish. While three drivers stayed out on a late caution that necessitated a green-white-checkered finish, Edwards was the first off pit road after taking just two tires and rode that blazing stop to his sixth top-10 at Richmond in the past seven races.
This week: In 17 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Edwards has one top-five and four top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Edwards ranks 37th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 24.7.
Last year: Edwards has struggled at Talladega throughout his career, and last year's Aaron's 499 was no different. The No. 99 Ford was among the nine cars involved in a Lap 142 wreck. Edwards finished 31st after starting seventh. At the time of the wreck, he was fighting for a spot in the top 15.
What he said: "At a track like this, track position is so important and we saw that at the end there. All in all it was a great night and we had a fast race car and some really hard racing."

3. Kasey Kahne (No. 5)

Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet

Where he stands: Kahne is third in the standings with 297 points.
Last week: Kahne's promising start Saturday ended abruptly -- and roughly -- when Mark Martin went low on Lap 337, riding into Kahne's line and causing a big collision between the two. Martin's No. 55 Toyota took the brunt of the damage on the track, with his hood cranked up onto the windshield, but the result for Kahne was a 21st-place finish and losing second place in the points standings.
This week: In 18 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Kahne has three top-fives, four top-10s and one pole. In the past eight years at Talladega, Kahne ranks 24th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 20.4.

Last year:
Kahne's fourth-place finish was impressive on its own accord, but it becomes even weightier considering that Kahne masterfully drove his No. 5 Chevrolet through a nine-car wreck with less than 50 laps to go. Once Kahne (barely) avoided that trouble, he got a boost from Clint Bowyer over the final two restarts to go from 10th to fourth in the final four laps.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88)

Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet

Where he stands: Earnhardt Jr. is fourth in the standings with 297 points.
Last week: Earnhardt Jr. wasn't particularly fast in practice or qualifying at Richmond, but the No. 88 team turned in a 10th-place performance that was more grit than glamour. In fact, when Junior crossed the start/finish line in 10th, it marked the first time of the race that he cracked the top 10. It was Earnhardt's sixth top-10 of the year, but his first in the past four races.
This week: In 26 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Earnhardt has five wins, nine top-fives and 13 top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Earnhardt ranks second out of 50 drivers with an average place of 15.0.
Last year: Much like his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, Earnhardt deftly avoided a large wreck -- this one during a Lap 186 restart -- by steering his No. 88 Chevrolet toward the middle of the track, then going high to avoid a spinning Paul Menard. Avoiding that pileup allowed Earnhardt, who once won four consecutive races at the track, to finish ninth.

5. Clint Bowyer (No. 15)

Michael Waltrip Racing, Toyota 

Where he stands: Bowyer is fifth in the standings with 290 points.
Last week: The most recent winner at Richmond and an aficionado on short tracks, Bowyer was a popular pick to win the Toyota Owners 400 in his No. 15 Toyota. While the victory didn't materialize, Bower still finished second and led 113 laps in the process, including a stretch of 107 in a row. Bowyer now has two consecutive top-fives and three in the past four races.
This week: In 14 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Bowyer has two wins, four top-fives and seven top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Bowyer ranks 27th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 21.5.
Last year: Bowyer was down to 34th place just 10 laps in, but his engine conservation methods paid off. His No. 15 Toyota was in fine shape for the final kick, and Bowyer attached his car to Kasey Kahne's and gained seven spots over the final four laps to finish sixth, extending his streak of consecutive top-10 finishes at the track to five -- a streak that was broken after a 23rd-place finish in the season's second race there.
What he said: "It really got wild there at the end -- I was just lucky enough to be on the bottom. They started making holes up there in front of me and the seas parted, and I just followed suit behind (Kevin) Harvick. It was a good run."

6. Brad Keselowski (No. 2)

Penske Racing, Ford 

Where he stands: Keselowski is sixth in the standings with 284 points.
Last week: As we have seen so often this year, Keselowski was driving a battered, taped-up car into the top 10 toward the late stages of a race. But his blue -- well, on this night, red -- No. 2 Ford ran into a poor combination of bad luck and big problems. First, Keselowski had a tire go flat after a pit stop, sending him into the wall. He worked his way up to ninth place before having to pit out of cycle on Lap 290 (of 406) because of a vibration issue, with a caution flag coming out just as he was leaving pit road. And finally, again near the top 10 with less than 25 laps to go, the No. 2 dropped a cylinder and was black-flagged for going too slow. He finished 33rd and lost three places in the standings.
This week: In eight career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Keselowski has two wins, three top-fives and six top-10s. He is the defending race champion. In the past eight years at Talladega, Keselowski ranks 10th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 17.2.
Last year: Keselowski earned his second career Talladega win in the 2012 Aaron's 499. Driving the blue No. 2, Keselowski was in the top five over the final 84 laps after starting 13th on the grid. During a green-white-checkered finish, Kyle Busch got on Keselowski's bumper, and the tandem freight-trained past the Fords of Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle on the high side of the track. Keselowski held off Busch over the final lap for the win.
What he said: "We got hit by a lot of freak deals tonight. I felt like we would have a top-10 day at the worst and who knows. We were on the same strategy as Kevin (Harvick), and he won the race. It would have been a great battle."

7. Kyle Busch (No. 18)

Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota 

Where he stands: Busch is seventh in the standings with 278 points.
Last week: Busch's four-race win streak at the spring race in Richmond ended, but the No. 18 ran at the top of the pack for most of the evening. In fact, Busch led for 40 laps and was in sixth place through 320 of 400 scheduled laps, but he was involved in a wreck when Tony Stewart got loose. Stewart's spin also impacted Jimmie Johnson, and Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet smacked Busch's No. 18 Toyota as it attempted to pass through the wreckage on the apron. The unwelcome damage sent Busch to pit road, and he finished 24th.
This week: In 16 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Busch has one win, three top-fives and four top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Busch ranks 16th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 18.3.
Last year: Busch's second-place finish in the Aaron's 499 was his best Talladega showing since his lone victory in 2008 and ended a three-race streak of finishing 25th or worse. Busch rocketed up the field despite starting 21st and avoided the day's two big wrecks. He pushed Brad Keselowski to the win as the two became drafting partners during a green-white-checkered finish.
What he said: "We got behind several guys with no tires on one of the restarts and everyone was fighting for the bottom, and I just got freight-trained and shuffled back. Then Tony and Jimmie wrecked in front of me, and I tried to get to the bottom and I had nowhere to go. Just ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that was it for our night."

8. Greg Biffle (No. 16)

Roush Fenway Racing, Ford 

Where he stands: Biffle is eighth in the standings with 272 points.
Last week: Historically, Biffle has not had success at Richmond. The No. 16 Ford qualified 33rd and didn't get much better throughout the Toyota Owners 400. A broken left front shock sent Biffle for a spin on Lap 233, bringing out the fifth caution of the race. He finished 36th and is out of the top six in the points standings for the first time since the third race of the season.
This week: In 20 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Biffle has two top-fives and five top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Biffle ranks 26th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 20.6.
Last year: Biffle was in position to help then-teammate Matt Kenseth pull away for the win, but the two cars became separated on the final lap. Biffle couldn't find a drafting partner after that, but still managed to steer his way to a fifth-place finish. It was his first top-five at Talladega since 2009 and his second top-10 in the past three races at the track.

9. Kevin Harvick (No. 29)

Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet 

Where he stands: Harvick is ninth in the standings with 271 points.
Last week: There was plenty for Kevin Harvick to be, well, happy about this weekend. Harvick, nicknamed 'Happy', came out of nowhere to win the Toyota Owners 400 after a season in which the No. 29 team had produced strong cars, but only one top-10 finish in the first eight races. Starting seventh on the green-white-checkered restart with a car that had been outstanding on restarts all evening, Harvick found a hole and sped through to second place, then passed leader and Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton prior to the white flag. He easily held off the rest of the field for his 20th career victory and moved into the top 10 in the standings for the first time this year.
Next week: In 24 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Harvick has one win, six top-fives, 10 top-10s and one pole. In the past eight years at Talladega, Harvick ranks 15th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 18.1.
Last year: Harvick was all over the track in a showing that ended with him getting caught up in a late wreck and finish 25th. The No. 29 Chevrolet went from 35th on Lap 40 to 13th on Lap 60. Ten laps later, he was down to 27th place but gained 15 spots over the next 20 laps. He had fallen back down the pack at the time of the wreck on Lap 186.
What he said: "We've been on the other side of it this year, so to be in Victory Lane is great. ? You know, a lot of people have thought we might lay down this year and there ain't no lame (duck) in that game, is there? It was a great night."

10. Paul Menard (No. 27)

Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet 

Where he stands: Menard is 10th in the standings with 271 points.
Last week: Menard's spate of consistent performances continued at Richmond, leading to a 13th-place finish from the No. 27 team. While Menard didn't get his fifth top-10 of the year, he finished better than 20th for the seventh consecutive race to stay in the top 10 in the standings for the sixth consecutive week.
This week: In 13 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Menard has one top-five and one top-10. In the past eight years at Talladega, Menard ranks 25th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 20.4.
Last year: Menard was involved in a nine-car accident on Lap 186 when AJ Allmendinger threw a block on Denny Hamlin, setting off a chain reaction. Menard's No. 27 Chevrolet wasn't damaged enough to keep him off the track for the green-white-checkered finish, and he trundled across the start/finish line in 17th place. Prior to three late incidents, Menard was running in the top five. He led 10 total laps on three different occasions.
What he said: "Once the sun went down we struggled throughout the race to find the right setup. ? There at the end, the car was handling better and we were able to gain several positions to come home with a solid finish. All-in-all it was a decent points day."

11. Aric Almirola (No. 43)

Richard Petty Motorsports, Ford 

Where he stands: Almirola is 11th in the standings with 258 points.
Last week: Almirola couldn't crack the top 20 over the first 320 laps of Saturday night's race, but he made his move when it counted: at the end. The No. 43 Ford had jumped into the top 10 by Lap 340, and stayed in striking distance until its eighth-place finish at the end. Almirola now has three consecutive top-10s, a career-best and also the best streak among all current active drivers. Now at 11th place in the standings, he's in the thick of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
This week: In six career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Almirola's best finish is 12th in 2012. In the past eight years at Talladega, Almirola ranks 20th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 19.
Last year: From the very first practice through the end of the Aaron's 499, it was a good week for Almirola at Talladega. Almirola qualified fourth in the No. 43 Ford, and although he lost ground as the race progressed on the 2.66-mile track, his 12th-place finish was a career-best.
What he said: "That was incredible and a lot of hard work. Great day by our guys who never gave up. That is what it takes in this series. You cannot give up."

12. Jamie McMurray (No. 1)

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet 

Where he stands: McMurray is 12th in the standings with 245 points.
Last week: McMurray lost his late gamble, and he fell two spots in the rankings as a result. When Brian Vickers took a solo spin into the wall with four laps remaining, McMurray's No. 1 team elected to not pit for fresh tires. So while McMurray was in second place on the restart, he was on the undesirable outside lane and was promptly nudged farther outside when it went three-wide. He couldn't recover and finished 26th.
Next week: In 21 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, McMurray has one win, five top-fives and six top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, McMurray ranks 19th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 18.9.
Last year: McMurray started 23rd and drove patiently throughout the duration of the race. That allowed him to stay out of trouble and be in position to challenge for a spot in the top 10 once the field thinned from a pair of big wrecks. McMurray came home with 11th place, his best showing since 2010.

13. Matt Kenseth (No. 20)

Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota 

Where he stands: Kenseth is 13th in the standings with 241 points.
Last week: Kenseth entered Richmond as the recipient of a massive NASCAR penalty that included 50 docked driver points following a failed post-race inspection in which one of the engine rods in last week's winning No. 20 Toyota was found to be too light. Kenseth's team -- which will appeal the severity of the penalty -- answered questions all week, then promptly went out and won the pole Friday night. The positive momentum carried over into a seventh-place finish in a race in which Kenseth led three times for a race-high 140 laps. Although the penalty stipulates his win at Kansas won't count toward the two Chase Wild Card berths, Kenseth has an earlier win at Las Vegas that keeps him as a favorite for the postseason.
This week: In 26 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Kenseth has one win, five top-fives and eight top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Kenseth ranks first out of 50 drivers with an average place of 14.8.
Last year: Driving for Roush Fenway Racing, Kenseth almost won the Aaron's 499 in the same manner in which he won the Daytona 500. Teaming with then-teammate Greg Biffle on the draft, those two Fords pulled ahead of the field, but perhaps got a little too far ahead. As their draft broke up, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch thundered past on the outside. Kenseth, who won the season-opening race last year, settled for third in Alabama.
What he said: "That last restart, just being on the outside and the 78 (Kurt Busch) drove up through there and knocked my whole side off and put me in the marbles. Just two laps, everybody is going to go for it and go for every hole they've got. ? Just starting on the top you knew they were going to be three and four-wide and it was just tough."

14. Jeff Gordon (No. 24)

Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolett 

Where he stands: Gordon is 14th in the standings with 235 points.
Last week: Starting third on the grid, Gordon dropped to ninth place less than 25 laps in and continued to plummet after the first round of pit stops. Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet was tight in the center, giving other cars multiple opportunities to pass him. His team found something that worked, though, and Gordon rallied to finish 11th.
This week: In 40 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Gordon has six wins, 15 top-fives, 19 top-10s and three poles. In the past eight years at Talladega, Gordon ranks 14th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 18.1.
Last year: Minding his own business heading into Turn 3, Gordon was swept up in a nine-car incident on Lap 144 that sent him to the garage for good. As six cars stacked up against the high wall following initial contact between Dave Blaney and Timmy Hill, Gordon looked to avoid the wreckage by going low -- he was crushed by Martin Truex. Jr.'s ricocheting No. 56 Toyota. It was a disappointing day for Gordon, who started on the pole, but fell to 30th place in an effort to cool his engine just 10 laps in. He finished the day in 33rd place.

15. Martin Truex Jr. (No. 56)

Michael Waltrip Racing, Toyota 

Where he stands: Truex Jr. is 15th in the standings with 231 points.
Last week: Truex Jr. had a fast No. 56 Toyota, and although he never led, he ran as high as second. Things changed on Lap 345 when a charging Kurt Busch, perhaps thinking he wasn't given enough room, bumped Truex out of the way. The No. 56 spun into the wall, drawing a caution, and the team never recovered. Truex finished 17th.
This week: In 16 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Truex Jr. has one top-five and four top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Truex ranks 21st out of 50 drivers with an average place of 19.6.
Last year: Truex Jr. started 15th and bounced around the 20s throughout most of the race. In the first big incident, on Lap 144, Truex Jr. was behind a five-car wreck, and he couldn't avoid the ensuing pileup. The wreck sent him out of the race for good, and he finished in 28th place.
What he said: "We fought the car all night long and finally got some track position back -- we fought really hard for that. It's a shame to get to where we were there and get spun. A little bit disappointed, but that's the way it goes on short tracks I guess. I'll remember if we get in that position again what I'll do to Kurt (Busch)."

16. Ryan Newman (No. 39)

Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet 

Where he stands: Newman is 16th in the standings with 229 points.
Last week: Pit strategy allowed Newman to jump up to fourth place on Lap 320, but the No. 39 couldn't maintain his hold. He fell back through the field over the final 80-plus laps and finished 15th, exactly where he started.
This week: In 22 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Newman has four top-fives and eight top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Newman ranks 30th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 21.8.
Last year: Newman was among a contingent drivers to experience early engine issues. The engine on the No. 39 Chevrolet blew up 42 laps in, relegating Newman to a 36th-place finish.
What he said: "It was a long, challenging night. It certainly wasn't the finish we were expecting tonight at Richmond, but I've got to thank all the guys at Stewart-Haas Racing for all their hard work."

17. Joey Logano (No. 22)

Penske Racing, Ford

Where he stands: Logano is 17th in the standings with 228 points.
Last week: Logano may kept his season on track at Richmond, taking advantage of a late caution and green-white-checkered finish to take third place. On the heels of a 39th-place showing at Kansas, the third matches his best finish of the year (at Fontana) and gives the No. 22 team a jolt heading into a week in which the Penske Racing appeals are scheduled to be heard.
This week: In eight career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Logano has two top-fives and four top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Logano ranks 11th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 17.7.
Last year: Logano's early spate of success at Talladega didn't continue last year. Driving the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing, Logano qualified 30th and struggled to crack the top 20. He was collected in the nine-car incident late in the race and finished 26th, logging 184 laps.
What he said: "It wasn't pretty for a while, that's for sure. It looked like at the beginning of the race we were going to finish 20th. We were going backwards, but Todd Gordon made some good adjustments and got some speed back in the car. ? Getting to the bottom (at the end) and watching all these guys on old tires and new tires, everybody was rooting and gouging each other out of the way and I was able to just go to the bottom and pass cars and follow (second-place finisher Clint) Bowyer pretty much right through the whole pack."

18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17)

Roush Fenway Racing, Ford 

Where he stands: Stenhouse Jr. is 18th in the standings with 224 points.
Last week: Stenhouse started 12th, but his first Sprint Cup start at the .75-mile track produced an up-and-down night. The No. 17 team ran in the 20s most of the race, but rallied to finish 16th.
This week: Stenhouse Jr. has no starts at Talladega Superspeedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
What he said: "We were either really loose or really tight on every run. The No. 17 team did an awesome making all the adjustments during the pit stops. I think we took big swings at the set-up every pit stop but nothing really helped so we will take a look at it when we get back to the shop."

19. Jeff Burton (No. 31)

Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet 

Where he stands: Burton is 19th in the standings with 218 points.
Last week: 'The Mayor' went for the win. Burton stayed out on the final caution Saturday night, taking a risk on old tires. While it didn't lead to Burton's first victory since 2008, the No. 31 was first on the green-white-checkered restart and used that position on the inside groove to finish fifth, his first top-five since the Daytona summer race in 2012.
Next week: In 38 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Burton has five top-fives and 16 top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Burton ranks fourth out of 50 drivers with an average place of 15.6.
Last year: Burton avoided the wreckage and maintenance issues that knocked out 19 cars before the checkered flag to finish 10th. It was Burton's fifth 10th-place finish at the track in his career, and he went on to finish 10th later in the fall race, too.
What he said: "The caution came out and what the heck, we might as well try something. (Crew chief Luke Lambert) made a good call there, and obviously new tires (were) a lot better. But, worth a shot."

20. Kurt Busch (No. 78)

Furniture Row Racing, Chevrolet 

Where he stands: Busch is 20th in the standings with 216 points.
Last week: It was a typical Kurt Busch kind of night at Richmond. The No. 78 driver led for 36 laps and sprinted through the field at the end to take ninth place, his third top-10 of the year. He also angered three other drivers in the process: Martin Truex Jr. was spun out by Busch and Matt Kenseth traded post-race paint with the No. 78. The angriest, though, was Tony Stewart, who was bumped out of his groove on the green-white-checkered restart when Busch came tearing up the track.
This week: In 24 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Busch has six top-fives and 13 top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Busch ranks third out of 50 drivers with an average place of 15.4.
Last year: Busch stayed out of trouble while driving the No. 51 for Phoenix Racing and finished 20th, one lap down.
What he said: "For us, this was a solid run with our Furniture Row car. We were there. We were top five all night. Green-white-checkered ? it's just a free-for-all. There is rubber build-up in the outside groove. There are cars sliding up with old tires. So, I don't know what the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) was upset about. I got hit from behind. I got hit every which-way. So did he."

Five in the rearview mirror ?

Tony Stewart (No. 14)

Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet 

Where he stands: Stewart is 22nd in the standings with 207 points.
Last week: Luck finally appeared to be on Stewart's side Saturday night. Despite a previous spinout in Turn 1 of Lap 326 that also collected Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, Stewart rallied and started fifth on the green-white-checkered finish. The No. 14, though, was bumped out of his groove by a hard-charging Kurt Busch and finished 18th, outside of the top 10 for the eighth time in nine races this season and outside the top 15 for the sixth consecutive race. An angry Stewart swapped paint with Busch on the cool-down lap.
This week: In 28 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Stewart has one win, nine top-fives and 13 top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Stewart ranks seventh out of 50 drivers with an average place of 16.7.

Marcos Ambrose (No. 9)

Richard Petty Motorsports, Ford 

Where he stands: Ambrose is 23rd in the standings with 195 points.
Last week: Although Ambrose entered the Toyota Owners 400 with just one top-10, he had finished on the lead lap in four of eight races, and finished running in every race. That all changed at Richmond. Ambrose's oil pressure plummeted after 109 laps. Done for the day due to that oil leak, Ambrose finished 42nd and took a hard fall out of the top 20.
This week: In eight career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Ambrose has one top-five and one top-10. In the past eight years at Talladega, Ambrose ranks 13th out of 50 drivers with an average place of 17.9.

Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42)

Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota 

Where he stands: Montoya is 24th in the standings with 183 points.
Last week: Montoya had a fast car at Richmond, which is nothing new. The No. 42 has been fast all year. What was a brand-new sight, though, was seeing Montoya charge into the lead and be in position to win before a caution came out with four laps remaining. Montoya agreed with the call to pit while in the lead and take four fresh tires, but it essentially wiped out his chances of winning, although Montoya still finished fourth for his first top-five of the year. A few more showings like that should vault the Colombian into the top 20.
This week: In 12 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Montoya has three top-fives, three top-10s and two poles. In the past eight years at Talladega, Montoya ranks sixth out of 50 drivers with an average place of 15.9.

Danica Patrick (No. 10)

Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet 

Where she stands: Patrick is 26th in the standings with 169 points.
Last week: Patrick started 30th and didn't get much better Saturday night. As low as 37th at one point, she finished 29th, four laps down.
This week: Patrick has no starts at Talladega Superspeedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Denny Hamlin (No. 11)

Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota 

Where he stands: Hamlin is 28th in the standings with 145 points.
Last week: An injured Denny Hamlin watched Brian Vickers drive his No. 11 Toyota to a 35th-place finish after getting into the wall multiple times. Hamlin's status for Sunday's race is uncertain.
This week: In 14 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Hamlin has three top-fives and five top-10s. In the past eight years at Talladega, Hamlin ranks ninth out of 50 drivers with an average place of 17.0. If Hamlin misses the race with an injury, his substitute will be Vickers. Vickers has one win, four top-fives and six top-10s at Talladega in 14 career starts. In the past eight years at Talladega, Vickers ranks eighth out of 50 drivers with an average place of 17.0.

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