Mike McCarn/Associated Press
Last year's winningest driver has yet to visit Victory Lane this season in a Cup race, but every weekend, his Joe Gibbs Racing team inches closer. Small issues have plagued this team, which seems to have been hit hard by the various rules changes this season.
The 42-year-old veteran driver has recorded five consecutive top-10 finishes this season, including a fifth-place result last Saturday at Richmond International Raceway. Kenseth has one win (Oct. 2012), nine top-10 finishes and has led 468 laps at Talladega Superspeedway.
Last May, the Wisconsin native led a race-high 142 laps (of 192) at Talladega Superspeedway but was shuffled back to an eighth-place result following a green-white-checkered flag finish.
The Las Vegas native will celebrate his 29th birthday on Friday. He's fourth in driver points and has a win this season (Fontana).
Always good on restrictor plate races, Busch is known for making bold moves and being impatient at times when patience is a necessary virtue. He's an entertaining driver, to say the least.
The Joe Gibbs Racing cars were good at Daytona (Hamlin was second, Kenseth was sixth, Busch was 19th). They'll be good again this weekend.
The series' only two-time winner, Harvick's team is on a roll. He led 23 laps at Richmond and finished 11th. The Daytona 500 winner has one win at Talladega and is among a handful of drivers who knows exactly how to work the draft to his advantage.
"For us, having a couple of wins in the bank, I think you race as hard as you can all day to try and keep yourself up front and have a complete day of hopefully keeping the car rolling when it's time to be around at the end," Harvick said in a pre-race media interview.
Following five weekends of off-tempo performances by this team, last weekend’s top-five at Richmond was more in tune with what we'd come to expect from this Paul Wolfe-led squad.
Keselowski has two wins at Talladega and three more top-fives. In the past half-dozen years, this Michigan native has become a very good restrictor plate racer. This season, Team Penske has given him a good car to go along with this experience.
Not yet as good of a plate racer as his teammate, Logano is getting better all the time. He's only got two top-fives in 10 tries at Talladega, however, this 23-year-old is on a hot streak and he might surprise everyone and be in the mix in the closing laps on Sunday.
Yes, Danica. Have we forgotten that she won the pole for the Daytona 500 (2013)?
Her best finish in a Cup car came that same year at Daytona, where she finished eighth.
"I don't know if the confidence level shifts a tremendous amount as much as the comfort level does," Patrick said. "Just being comfortable on these big speedways and comfortable with this pack-style racing that I was so used to in IndyCar on the ovals. Just having a feel for it. It is something that I probably caught on to quicker than anything in stock car racing. I guess I show up there and it’s just a little bit more comfortable."