HOMESTEAD RECORD: Four top-10 finishes in 13 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Labonte feels the team has made a lot of headway in the past five or six races, and that it has a lot of momentum as it heads to Homestead. "Every time now we hit the track we feel good about our chances of running in the top 15 or better," said Labonte. "We feel good about the future of this team."
LOOKING BACK: Labonte dodged the wrecking cars in front of him on the last lap of the Phoenix race to finish 15th. "We survived today and are glad to leave here with the car in one piece," said Labonte. "It was wild there at the end. We came a long way from our starting spot (30th). The guys worked hard all day and we are leaving PIR with a top-15 finish. All in all, a good day."
ETC.: Labonte is delighted that Bobby Hutchens has come on board as the team's general manager. "I can't say enough about Bobby Hutchens," said Labonte. "He is a point of direction for us. The point man you might say. He makes sure we cross our t's and dot our i's. He helps put things in place like making sure cars are done and the guys don't have to work too late. It feels good to have good management in place. The atmosphere is really good right now."
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 25th, 391 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: One win and four top-five finishes in 11 starts. His two poles are tied for the best at the track.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch said, "Homestead is one of the weirdest tracks for me because of all the excitement that has happened through the years there as well as all of the disappointments. If you look at my past history at Homestead it's either a top-five or a win, or a DNF, a parts failure or wreck. It seems like it's been win or bust there."
LOOKING BACK: Busch rallied in the final 100 laps to finish eighth despite being involved in the last-lap wreck. "We had a great run going until a loose lug nut put us a lap down," said Busch. "We definitely had a car that was capable of winning, but you can't afford those kinds of mistakes. However, we did battle back to notch our second straight top-10 finish (a first for the team). That was a wild ending. I just stayed on the gas to get to the finish line. I did smack the wall pretty hard. I kept on going and was able to nudge (Paul) Menard for eighth."
ETC.: Crew chief Todd Berrier gave all the credit to Busch for giving the team its first back-to-back top-10 finishes in its history. "That one mistake on pit road was costly," said Berrier. "But we fought back and the credit goes to Kurt for another incredible driving performance. He can sure wheel a race car."
55 MARK MARTIN, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 26th, 418 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: Five top-10 finishes including four top-five's in 12 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Martin said, "We've had a great season. We were all new to each other when we got together last year in pre-season testing. I had always know of Rodney (Childers, crew chief), but never knew him. He's one smart crew chief. I'd put him on par with anyone in the garage. This is as good of a race team as I have worked with and I've been very fortunate in driving some really good cars over the years."
LOOKING BACK: Martin was another driver who was involved in the last-lap accident yet finished the day in the top 10. "Wow what a wild day," said Martin, who ended up 10th. "I'm fine but that was a pretty hard hit. We'll take a top-10 finish. My team worked like heck throughout the weekend to get us this top-10. I couldn't be more proud of them."
ETC.: Although Martin has yet to win a race since joining Michael Waltrip Racing last winter, he feels he could have won a couple of times this year with a "little racing luck. Our best car of the year shows up as a 35th-place finish because of the wreck in Michigan. That is what I mean. Maybe this will be our week."
22 SAM HORNISH, JR., Dodge
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: His team sits 21st in the car owner standings.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: His best finish in three starts is 21st.
LOOKING AHEAD: Hornish does not know what the future holds for him as he has not been told what the team's plans are for him beyond this weekend. "To have had the chance to climb back in a Sprint Cup car again this season has been a dream come true for me," said Hornish. "When the checkered flag falls on Sunday, I hope everyone can look back and say that we did a respectable job. Most of all, I hope that they all agree that I've shown a degree of competitiveness that is deserving of a (full-time) ride in Sprint Cup competition."
LOOKING BACK: Hornish and Danica Patrick bounced off of each other with 13 laps to go. Moments later, the right-front tire on Hornish's Dodge blew out sending him hard into the wall and ending his day in 31st place. "It was just a really frustrating day for our Shell-Pennzoil team," said Hornish. "We were fighting a tight condition in the center (of the corner) almost all day long. We had a 17th to 20th-place car before the contact with the 10 car."
ETC.: Crew chief Todd Gordon said, "We definitely want to end our season on a positive note. Sam has done a tremendous job since coming in to drive for us in July (after NASCAR suspended A J Allmendinger for failing a drug test). We're hoping for a very competitive weekend at Homestead. A great run on Sunday for our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge would be a super way to cap off the 2012 season."