WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd, 117 points out of the top 10. Lost two spots last week.
RICHMOND RECORD: Finished fifth in the spring race for his second straight top-six finish. Overall has one win and 17 top-10 finishes including 10 top-five's in 38 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Burton calls Richmond "the perfect-sized race track. I wish we had more three-quarters of a mile race tracks. Richmond has these big, wide sweeping corners in turns three and four while turns one and two are much tighter. The track has enough width to put on good side-by-side racing. We always have good racing at Richmond."
LOOKING BACK: Despite being involved in a multi-car accident only 29 laps into the race, Burton battled back and was running tenth when disaster struck as he slowed to make a regularly-scheduled pit stop. He was hit from behind by Jimmie Johnson. A few laps later, the right-rear tire went flat on Burton's Chevrolet sending him hard into the wall and teammate Austin Dillon. As a result, Burton ended up 34th. "I am really proud of how the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet ran tonight," said Burton. "We battled back into the top 10 after the first incident and then a cut tire at the end ruined our night. I really like these guys, they never give up. We will keep on digging."
ETC.: Burton is once again part of the infamous Cup rumor mill, and he can't understand why. This time there have been reports that Ryan Newman will replace him in the 31 car next year with Burton moving to another organization. "I have a contract with RCR," said Burton. "I plan on racing the 31 in 2014."
14 MARK MARTIN, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: The team is 15th in the car owner point standings, 23 points out of the top 10. The team stands fourth in the wild card standings with one win (Tony Stewart at Dover).
RICHMOND RECORD: One win and 30 top-10 finishes including 18 top-five's in 55 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Martin feels "we are getting better and better each week. We've only had two weeks in the car (since being named to finish the season while Stewart recovers from a broken right leg). We feel we are real close to having a really good night in the 14 car. Hopefully it will come this weekend (at Richmond)."
LOOKING BACK: Martin suffered heavy damage to the front of his car in a multi-car accident only 29 laps into the race. As a result, he had to be content with a 25th-place finish at Atlanta. "I am amazed we were able to do what we did tonight," said Martin. "I'm surprised that deal didn't knock the radiator out of the car. The guys did an incredible job getting us back out there. The car just wasn't the same, but we made some pretty good strides. If we can get a little luck to go our way, we're going to be in good shape." This was Martin's second race subbing for the injured Stewart.
ETC.: Stewart made his first public appearance since breaking two bones in his right leg in a winged sprint car on Aug. 5 as he addressed the news media at his race shop on Tuesday. Stewart said his doctors tell him he will be 100 percent for his return for Daytona Speedweeks in February. He has yet to begin his rehabilitation, but he expects that to start in the near future. "I am feeling a lot better," said Stewart. "We've made huge gains in the last four weeks. This is probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with. This is definitely the worst injury I've ever had in my life and racing career."
11 DENNY HAMLIN, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 26th, 257 points out of the top 10. Lost one spot last week.
RICHMOND RECORD: Two wins and five top-nine finishes in the last seven races. Has six top-three finishes in 14 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Hamlin's luck has been so bad for the past three months that "at this point we'd just like to finish a race. I just can't catch a break." Hamlin hopes a return to one of his favorite tracks, Richmond, means a return to running up front and more importantly, finishing up front. "We always look forward to Richmond," said Hamlin. "It is one of our best tracks."
LOOKING BACK: It was another long, long night for Hamlin. After being forced to change engines during practice, Hamlin started the race at the back of the pack despite qualifying fourth. And then early in the race, Hamlin suffered right-rear quarter panel damage when clipped by Paul Menard. This forced multiple stops for repairs. During one of the stops, he was penalized by NASCAR for pitting outside the box. This put Hamlin two laps down and in 41st place. He had moved up to 21st when Menard deliberately ran into the back of Hamlin on lap 200. Menard blamed Hamlin for the earlier incident. The contact sent Hamlin spinning. After more stops for more repairs, Hamlin returned to the race only to suffer engine failure on lap 233. As a result, he ended the day in 38th place. "I don't know what we've got to do, but we can't seem to finish a race," said Hamlin. "It's frustrating."
ETC.: Because of his spot in the standings, Hamlin and his team plan to spend the rest of the season "experimenting" including running more engines like they did last week at Atlanta. "It is something that Toyota wanted to try," said Hamlin, who suffered two engine failures during the weekend. "That's part of being the 'Guinea Pig" for the rest of the year is that you're going to have these mechanical failures because you're trying to get better," adds Hamlin.
55 BRIAN VICKERS, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: The team is 18th in the car owner point standings, 48 points out of the top 10. The team is fifth in the battle for the two wild card spots with one win.
RICHMOND RECORD: Only three top-10 finishes in 15 starts. But he has won two poles.
LOOKING AHEAD: Vickers hopes to continue his run of top-10 finishes at Richmond. "We qualified second in the spring but got caught up in an accident and finished well in the back (35th)," said Vickers. "But we had a good car, so we feel good about this weekend. We've run real well the last two weeks and we just want to keep that up."
LOOKING BACK: Despite a late-race spin, Vickers rallied to finish tenth at Atlanta for his second straight top-10 finish. "It was hard earned by everyone," said Vickers. "We were experimenting in practice with some setups and man, we were so close to getting it figured out and I think if we would have we would have crushed them tonight. But, we couldn't quite get it to work in time and we ended up kind of throwing the kitchen sink at it last night. The guys did a great job."