4 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 15th, 25 points out of the top 10. Gained four spots last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: One win and seven top-10 finishes in 13 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick is not sure he is a firm believer in the "checkers or wreckers, bring back the trophy or bring back the steering wheel" view that many have of the Sprint All-Star Race. "I think a lot of it all depends on how you're running that particular night," said Harvick. "Obviously, you go in with intentions of racing for the win, and whatever it takes if you're in position to win. If you're not in position to win, you usually gamble, from a strategy standpoint to put yourself in position to win."
LOOKING BACK: After winning his second pole position of the season, Harvick led 89 of the first 101 laps. But an ill-timed caution flag shortly after he made a routine pit stop dropped Harvick to 18th in the running. It took him 107 laps to get back to the lead. But his chances of winning the race were lost when "I didn't get down pit road very good coming to the pit box," said Harvick. "I kind of ran out of gas, and I was paying attention to the fuel pressure gauge instead of the pit road speeding light. I lost some time there." As a result, Harvick was second with eight laps to go. He almost caught Jeff Gordon on the last lap as he came up a car length short in his bid for a third victory of the season. "It was a weird night, for sure," said Harvick, "but I'm proud of everyone on this team. They are giving me great cars."
ETC.: Harvick won the All-Star Race in 2007. "Charlotte had never been a track that we'd run very well at up until 2006," said Harvick. "So, to go and win the race in 2007 gave us a lot of confidence. Obviously, a win in the All-Star Race makes you a million dollars richer and puts you on a unique list of winners and definitely makes you want to experience all of that again."
5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, 33 points out of the top 10. Gained four spots last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: One win and four top-10 finishes in 10 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne hopes this is the weekend where he returns to victory lane. He is winless in 2014. "Charlotte has been a good track for us," said Kahne. "We've had good luck in the 600 as well as the All-Star Race and the fall race. So we are looking forward to Saturday night. We are running much better as we showed at Kansas, so we feel good about our chances this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Kahne led twice for 22 laps before finishing third at Kansas. "We had a fast Farmers Insurance Chevy throughout the race," said Kahne. "It went really good for us. It was a really solid run. Nice to run up front and be able to race hard the whole night. We've just been slow this season. Really haven't been inconsistent or anything like that, we've just been slow each week. That is why this was a good night for us. We were fast all night."
ETC.: Kahne believes a recent tire test is the big reason why the team has finally "turned the corner. I think the Goodyear test here (at Kansas), for whatever reason, we were able to try some things and just look at stuff a little differently than what we had been, and it helped the 5 team, my guys, myself and Kenny (Francis, crew chief), our communications together. It's helped us a lot since then. I feel like that's been the key, and ever since we tested here, we've ran much better and been a lot more competitive."
47 A J ALLMENDINGER, Chevrolet
Team: JTG Daugherty Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, 34 points out of the top 10. Lost two spots last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: No top-10 finishes in two starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Allmendinger said, "The Showdown is really something because you do those 20 laps and you see where your car is and see where you are on the track and that determines if you want to pit, stay out and take a chance to start up front (for the final 20 laps) with no tires. So, it makes it interesting. I hate to say that I've been in the Showdown every year, but I have raced my way in a couple of times and hope to do the same Friday night."
LOOKING BACK: Allmendinger suffered major damage to his Chevrolet trying to avoid a late-race accident and this coupled with an ill-handling race car resulted in a 30th-place finish at Kansas. "It was a rough night for us," said Allmendinger. "I was trying to make sure I didn't hit the 27 (Paul Menard) and sustained some significant damage to our Kingsford Chevrolet. Also, we missed the setup. The car was on top of the track and it never had any speed. It was just one of those days."
ETC.: Co-owner Tad Geschickter admitted, "We really need to improve our mile-and-a-half program. I think we know what we need to keep doing and not beat ourselves. We will do our homework and work hard with Richard Childress Racing this week to figure out how we can get better at these intermediate tracks. Hopefully, we will come up with a new idea for the next race (the Coca-Cola 600)."
27 PAUL MENARD, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 35 points out of the top 10. Lost one spot last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: Finished 16th in his lone All-Star start.