WHERE HE STANDS: Kevin Harvick fell from a tie for third with Kyle Busch to sole possession of fourth place after this past Sunday's race at Martinsville. He trails points leaders Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth by 28 points, is one point behind third-ranked Jeff Gordon and leads fifth-ranked Kyle Busch by eight points.
TEXAS RECORD: 21 career starts, 0 wins, 3 top-fives, 10 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Third in fall 2006. Was ninth in this race last year and 13th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Texas has not been the most hospitable track to Harvick, given he has never won a Cup race there and has just three top-five finishes in 21 starts. He knows whatever hopes he has left in the Chase hinge on a good finish at Texas. Here's his thoughts on the race: "Qualifying is definitely very important on the 1.5-mile race tracks. Texas is one of those places where the tires wear out, but track position is so important to keep the handling on your car. We tested there last week and hope that the information we gathered will allow us to go back to the track with a good balance on our car. We tried some different things and I'm hoping we learned enough to not only make me comfortable in the race car, but to be able to put ourselves in a position to run in the top five and possibly even win the race."
LOOKING BACK: Even though he failed to lead even one lap, Harvick still managed to keep his championship hopes alive by finishing sixth at Martinsville this past Sunday.
ETC.: Harvick has completed 99.8 percent (7,011) of the 7,025 total laps contested in 21 career starts at Texas. His average start is 21.2 and average finish is 12.5. He has zero DNFs there.
18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Kyle Busch fell from a tie for third to sole possession of fifth place after this past Sunday's race at Martinsville. He trails points leaders Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth by 36 points (was 26 points back before Martinsville), is eight points behind fourth-ranked Kevin Harvick and leads sixth-ranked Clint Bowyer by 19 points.
TEXAS RECORD: 16 career starts, 1 wins, 6 top-fives, 7 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2013. Finished third in this race last year and a career-best first in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Even though he won there for the first time in the spring, Texas has historically given the younger Busch brother trouble. He can have a good run or two or three in a row and then falls back to mediocrity. He has to be 100 percent on his game this Sunday and has to go for a second straight win there if he has any chance of keeping his Chase chances alive. Here's his thoughts on Texas: "It's a fast racetrack. Texas was really hard for me at the beginning with the Cup cars, for some reason. I took to it right off the bat in the Nationwide stuff. We've kind of correlated some of that information back and forth and, having the cars from Jason Ratcliff (former Nationwide Series crew chief and current crew chief of the No. 20 Sprint Cup team for JGR) and from Dave Rogers (Busch's Sprint Cup crew chief) being as good as they've been, we've been really fast there. And now that Jason is on the Cup side with Matt (Kenseth), I'm hoping they can bring back a little of that magic that helped us win five in a row there in the Nationwide car. ... It's an interesting facility. Texas, Charlotte and Atlanta all might look exactly the same, but they drive nothing alike. It keeps you on your toes."
LOOKING BACK: Busch could ill afford a mediocre, let alone bad, run at Martinsville, but ultimately wound up with such a finish, ending up 15th in a race he desperately needed to win or finish higher to keep his Chase chances alive.
ETC.: Busch has completed 98.4 percent (5,269) of the 5,355 total laps contested in 16 career starts at Texas. His average start is 14.4, while his average finish is 14.1. He has zero DNFs there.
15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Clint Bowyer climbed from eighth to sixth after this past Sunday's race at Martinsville. He trails points leaders Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth by 55 points, is 19 points behind fifth-ranked Kyle Busch and leads seventh-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by one point.
TEXAS RECORD: 15 career starts, 0 wins, 3 top-fives, 8 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Second in spring 2011. Was sixth in this race last year and 15th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Bowyer does okay at Texas, but just has never been able to mount a winning finish. He typically does better at 1.5-mile tracks, but for whatever reason has been just fair in his career at the Fort Worth track. He knows his Chase chances are just about done, but still has high hopes for Sunday's race: "I'm looking forward to getting down there and another solid run. We need a win bad (has not won a race in 2013 yet). Texas is one of the coolest places to win. I hope we can do that this weekend. ... Look at the two drivers that are tied for the points championship - unless they hand one of the other guys a bone, then there is no chance of anyone catching them. Those two teams have elevated themselves to championship level teams and that is your race for the championship."
LOOKING BACK: Bowyer had an outstanding run at Martinsville, a track he's struggled at in the past, leading 60 laps and finishing with a very strong third-place run.
ETC.: Bowyer has completed 99.5 percent (4,996) of 5,021 total laps contested in 15 career starts at Texas. His average start is 13.6 and average finish is 12.8. He has one DNF there.
88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: After climbing from ninth to sixth place following Talladega, Dale Earnhardt Jr. fell back one spot to seventh in the standings after Martinsville. He trails points leaders Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth by 56 points, is one point behind sixth-ranked Clint Bowyer and leads eighth-ranked Greg Biffle by two points.
TEXAS RECORD: 22 career starts, 1 wins, 3 top-fives, 12 top-10s and 2 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2000. Finished seventh in this race last year and was 29th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Texas is the site of Earnhardt's first career Sprint Cup win, back in April 2000. Who can forget the emotional celebration in victory lane between Junior and his late father, Dale Earnhardt Sr.? Unfortunately since then, Junior has been unable to win again at Texas. While he's still mathematically in the hunt for the championship, it's pretty clear Earnhardt once again will not earn his first career Sprint Cup title this season. Still, he likes racing at Texas and had this to say about this weekend's race: "I really enjoy racing at Texas, but it can be a challenge. It has got a pretty big bump in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, where the tunnels are. We had a good test there last week, and we are looking forward to having a good weekend, hopefully getting a win."
LOOKING BACK: For a place where he's struggled at in his career, Earnhardt had a decent run this past Sunday at Martinsville. Although he didn't lead any laps, he still wound up with a decent eighth-place finish.