Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

WHERE HE STANDS: Truex dropped from ninth to 10th in the standings after New Hampshire, only to climb two spots after Dover. He trails points leader Brad Keselowski by 42 points, is three points behind seventh-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. and leads ninth-ranked Kevin Harvick by four points.

TALLADEGA RECORD: 15 career starts, 0 wins, 1 top-5, 4 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: fifth in fall 2006. Finished 10th in this race last year. Was 28th in this year's spring race there.

LOOKING AHEAD: If he could, Truex would probably just skip Talladega, given it's the worst track for him on the Sprint Cup circuit. In 15 career starts at the 2.66-mile, high-banked superspeedway, Truex has an embarrassing nine DNFs. But sooner or later, his luck has to change, right? Here are his thoughts on Sunday's race: "Our top-10 finish at Dover moved us up two spots in the standings to eighth, but we lost some ground to the leaders. We are now 42 points out. It just shows you how tough it is to win this year's Chase. But anything can happen. Talladega is next and it really is the wild card of all the Chase races. I think the points race will be interesting after Talladega."

LOOKING BACK: Truex had an outstanding sixth-place finish at Dover, the closest track to his New Jersey home. He was part of a pack of five Toyota drivers who finished sixth through 10th, as well as third-place finisher and Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Mark Martin.

ETC.: Truex has completed 87.1 percent (2,486) of the 2,855 laps contested over his 15 career starts at Talladega. He has an average start of 21.1 and average finish of 23.5. But he also has nine DNFs there.

29 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet

Team: Richard Childress Racing

WHERE HE STANDS: Harvick fell one spot in the standings, from eighth to ninth, after Dover. He trails points leader Brad Keselowski by 46 points and eighth-ranked Martin Truex Jr. by four points and leads 10th-ranked Jeff Gordon by two points.

TALLADEGA RECORD: 23 career starts, 1 win, 6 top-5s, 10 top-10s, 1 pole. Best finish: first in spring 2010. Finished 32nd in this race last year and was 25th in this year's spring race there.

LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick could be down to one of his final chances to make serious progress upward in the Chase standings at Talladega. If he has another off day, or at the very least another mediocre finish, he can start forgetting hopes for his first career Cup championship for yet another year. Here are his thoughts on Sunday's race: "I go to Talladega with the approach that you have a 50-50 chance when you get there. You're either going to have a great day because you finished or you're going to have a torn-up race car. I've gone with that mentality since my first race at Talladega. It's just one of those race tracks where you really don't have any expectations and you just go out and run as hard as you can because there are so many things out of your control. I love this style of racing. I love the strategy and the pushing and the shoving and all of the things that come with it. With that comes a lot of risk as far as getting torn up. Kind of like the rest of our year, we haven't gotten the finishes that we've been accustomed to in the past at the superspeedways. Hopefully we've been saving all of that luck up and can get through this weekend and put ourselves up front when it counts. It'll be fun to see how it all shakes out."

LOOKING BACK: Harvick struggled with handling at Dover, the second straight week he's had that issue, and came home with an 13th-place finish, three laps behind winner Brad Keselowski.

ETC.: Harvick has completed 97.7 percent (4,257) of the 4,359 laps contested in his 23 career starts at Talladega. His average start is 22.0 and average finish is 15.6. He also has 1 DNF there.

24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

WHERE HE STANDS: After wallowing at the bottom of the Cup standings for the first two Chase races, Gordon finally climbed up two spots and into 10th place after Dover. He trails points leader Brad Keselowski by 48 points and ninth-ranked Kevin Harvick by two points and leads 11th-ranked Greg Biffle by three points.

TALLADEGA RECORD: 39 career starts, 6 wins, 14 top-5s, 18 top-10s, 3 poles. Best finish: first six times in spring 1996, spring 2000, spring 2004, spring 2005, spring 2007 and fall 2007. Finished 27th in this race last year and was 33rd in this year's spring race there.

LOOKING AHEAD: Gordon makes his 40th career start at Talladega on Sunday. He's been attacking its high-banked walls for 20 straight years. If he is to have any chance of winning his fifth career Cup title this season, he needs to make a big move Sunday at 'Dega and hope that the leaders all have disappointing races. Here's his take on Sunday's race: "There is no set strategy that works best. If there was, we all would be doing it. Drafting can be fun and the finish is usually exciting, but you don't know when, where or if you're going to be caught up in the 'big one.' I've raced up front and been caught up in a wreck. I've also been involved while running in the middle of the pack and also while running what I thought was a conservative distance back of the main pack, but I've also won using each of those strategies. If we're going to have any shot at moving up the standings or having any shot at the championship, then things need to go our way this weekend. Everybody knows they can win here, and we believe we can win as well. We always seem to have fast cars here. We look at this race as an opportunity."

LOOKING BACK: Gordon had nothing short of an outstanding run at Dover. Although he led just one lap, he still managed to come home with a second-place showing. It also helped him climb two spots in the standings, from 12th to 10th. But if he's to have any chance of winning his fifth career Cup championship, he has to continue racing the same way like he did at Dover at places like Talladega, Charlotte, Martinsville and the other remaining tracks in the Chase. He can't let up, lest the gains he made at Dover go for naught and he misses out on the Cup title for the 11th straight season.

ETC.: Gordon has completed 91.1 percent (6,660) of the 7,308 laps contested in his 39 career starts at Talladega. His average start is 11.6 and average finish is 16.8. He also has 9 DNFs there.


Team: Roush Fenway Racing

WHERE HE STANDS: 11th, 51 points out of first place. Lost two spots last week.

TALLADEGA RECORD: Finished fifth in the spring race for his fourth top-seven finish in the last seven races.

LOOKING AHEAD: Biffle said, "I'm definitely looking forward to Talladega because our restrictor-plate program has been on fire for the last 2 1/2 years. It's unbelievable how good our engines have been. I know it's going to be a wild race and there is a lot on the line. It takes a lot of luck to win at Talladega, but I feel like we can do it this weekend."