ETC.: Busch has completed 90.9 percent (8,412) of the 9,252 total laps contested in 26 career starts at Charlotte. His average start is 21.0, while his average finish is 19.1. He has three DNFs there.
88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 8th, 54 points out of first place. Gained two spots last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: Two top-seven finishes in his last four starts to give him 11 top-10 finishes in 27 races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Earnhardt will make the 500th start of his Cup career Saturday night at Charlotte. "It doesn't seem like I've been around that long to be honest with you," said Earnhardt, who made his Cup debut at Charlotte in May 1999. "It just doesn't. It's been a pleasure being a part of the series and seeing the changes and the growth. I hope to be around and witness a lot more." Earnhardt celebrated his 39th birthday Thursday at the track. He will try and become only the third driver to win in their 500th start. Richard Petty did it in 1970 and Matt Kenseth did it three weeks ago at New Hampshire.
LOOKING BACK: Earnhardt moved up four spots in the final 35 laps to finish eighth at Kansas. "Man, we had a fast car, but we needed some longer green-flag runs," said Earnhardt, who led four times for 10 laps. "Our car was really fast once the tires were warm and we got some green-flag laps, but the track was real slick on this new tire and it didn't seem like we could get very far before the yellows started flying."
ETC.: Earnhardt said he is "quite proud of what our team has done in these past three races (all top-10 finishes). We've climbed nicely out of the cellar (in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship) and are working our way up. We need to keep doing that and we'll see where it all shakes out." Earnhardt has gained five spots in the last three races.
15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 9th, 55 points out of first place. Lost one spot last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: Won the fall race a year ago and finished eighth in the May event.
LOOKING AHEAD: Bowyer hopes for a repeat performance from his win a year ago. "That was one of the most unexpected, fun and crazy nights of my life," said Bowyer. "We ran out of gas, walked to victory lane - which was pure chaos - went to the media center and had one of the most memorable press conferences I can remember. When I woke up in the morning I was still trying to piece it all together. I had a new watch, sports coat and I couldn't find the trophy. Now I'm just ready to do it all over again this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Bowyer finished 14th at Kansas. "We had a pretty crazy day with a lot of cautions (13)," said Bowyer. "The number 15 team battled some handling issues early, but once we got some track position I thought we were pretty good. But as the weather and track conditions changed we struggled a little bit getting the car to turn in the center of the corner. I thought for sure we were going to come out of there with a top-five. That would have really helped us gain some ground in the points. It didn't turn out that way. Too many cautions and just too hard to pass."
ETC.: Tight rope walker Nik Wallenda will perform his high-wire act before the race Saturday night. Bowyer calls Wallenda "crazy. I watched him perform that walk last year from the top of the grandstand over to victory lane and was in awe. I did it for 10 feet when the wire was about 18 inches off the ground and had a hard time. I made it across, but just barely. Now this guy is hundreds of feet off the ground walking, above people mind you, about 500 times as far."
22 JOEY LOGANO, Ford
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 10th, 59 points out of first place. Gained two spots last week.
CHARLOTTE RECORD: Finished fifth in the May race for his sixth top-10 finish in nine starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Logano is not ready to give up his dream of winning the championship in his first year in the Chase. "I feel like we still could win this thing, but we don't have any more mulligans," said Logano. "We've been digging out of a hole all year. We've had to fight from behind all year and we'll just have to keep doing that. We had a good car in May at Charlotte, and I'm confident we'll have another good car this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Logano finished fourth at Kansas for his second straight top-five finish. "It was pretty crazy out there," said Logano, who led twice for 33 laps. "Every restart you had to be so aggressive to pass people because that was your best shot to pass them and everyone realized it. There wasn't much grip out there and everyone was having trouble and that means you have going to have a crash. We proved that fact multiple times (13) today. They gave me a really fast car, but it was so hard to pass cars."
ETC.: Logano admits he has had to change the way he looks at each race now that he doesn't necessarily control his own destiny. "It (his quest to come from behind to win the 2013 title) changes the way you look at the race now because we have a lot to lose and a lot to gain," said Logano. "Now we still have a little bit to lose, but we have a lot more to gain than we have to lose right now, so we can be a little bit more aggressive. We have to attack each race now."
99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 11th, 60 points out of first place.