LOOKING AHEAD: Menard said, "The Showdown and the All-Star weekend is always a good one since there are no points on the line. We can just race hard, have fun and gather some information for the Coca-Cola 600. A lot of (race team) families come out to watch the Charlotte race weekends, so hopefully we can put the Serta/Menards Chevrolet into the All-Star Race and put on a good show."
LOOKING BACK: Menard was involved in a multi-car accident with 80 laps to go to end any hopes he had of finishing in the top 10. Instead, he had to be content with a 17th-place finish. "We were loose all night and we made a lot of adjustments to tighten it up," said Menard. "We finally got what we needed and were able to move our way through the field. Then there was a wreck, but luckily we got out with minor damage. We didn't get the result we were hoping for."
ETC.: Menard feels one of the fun things about being a race driver is "working with the engineers and understanding what makes the car go fast. That's pretty cool for me."
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 39 points out of the top 10. Lost three spots last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: One top-10 finish in two starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose admits, "The only fun part of being in the Showdown is winning it or finishing second to advance to the All-Star Race. It's not really a race that you hope to be in, so you take every chance you can to win it. I've come close in the past, and I think we have a good chance Friday night. If we can get a good starting spot for Friday night, I expect us to be right in the middle of it (the race for the win)."
LOOKING BACK: It was a long night for Ambrose which included a spin on lap 111 of the 267-lap event. "We really didn't have a good night," said Ambrose, who ended up 24th. "If you get two laps down, it's very difficult to get them back and you just have to race against the guys on your lap. Finishing 24th is the best we could do. We had a bad start to the race. We got the car better later on, but it's too late then."
ETC.: Ambrose hopes to donate $25,000 to Victory Junction come Sunday afternoon. "If we can get in the (All-Star) race either way, I'll donate the money," said Ambrose. "We're doing our best to win the fan vote." The fans will determine the final spot in the All-Star Race. Fans can vote at NASCAR.com/SprintFanVote or on the NASCAR Mobile app, where votes count twice.
15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 45 points out of the top 10. Lost two spots last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: No top-10 finishes in five starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Since Bowyer did not win a race last year, he will have to earn his way in the All-Star Race by winning or finishing second in the Sprint Showdown on Friday night. "We're working hard to make sure we race our way into Saturday's show in our Charter Toyota," said Bowyer. "The All-Star weekend is always a great one and we want to be part of all of it."
LOOKING BACK: Bowyer had just made a routine pit stop when disaster struck on lap 47 of the 267-lap event. Bowyer, with four new tires, tried to go around Marcos Ambrose, who didn't know Bowyer was coming as fast as he was. The two made slight contact as Bowyer went spinning down the backstretch. He didn't hit anything, but he lost two laps in the process and was never able to recover as he finished 23rd. "Well that was disappointing and certainly not how we wanted to finish at my home track," said Bowyer. "Just a disappointing end to a great week."
ETC.: Michael Waltrip Racing will hold a Fan Fest at its race shop on Wednesday, May 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fans can tour the race shop as well as get autographs from Bowyer and teammate Brian Vickers. "We have lots of fun, meet with the fans and talk racing," said Waltrip. "We'll give you access to a NASCAR Sprint Cup race shop that few folks ever get to enjoy."
43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 49 points out of the top 10. Gained two spots last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: Will be seeking his first start in the special event.
LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola calls the All-Star Race "the best of the best. It's all the guys that win races. We want to be part of that. It's a big night, big weekend. We tested at Charlotte last week and feel like we have a really good shot at winning the Showdown and being able to compete on Saturday night."
LOOKING BACK: Almirola finished eighth at Kansas. "Tonight was a good night for us," said Almirola. "The Farmland Ford was fast all night. We got off a little bit in one part of the race and Trent (Owens, crew chief) did a good job of getting the car back and make a good strategy call to get us track position. All in all it was a great night and another top-10 in Kansas. This place is good for us."
ETC.: It has been a rough two months for the Petty family. On March 25, Lynda Petty, Richard's wife, died after a long battle with cancer. On Sunday, Patricia Petty, Richard's sister-in-law and wife of Maurice Petty, Richard's brother, passed away. "We all loved Patricia," said Richard. "She was another cornerstone in the Petty family and was always there for Maurice and allowed us to do what we loved to do. She was just another special part of the family. We'll miss her and give our love and support to Maurice and his family at this time." Maurice was inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January. Maurice built the engines that powered Richard to his record 200 wins and seven championships.
14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet