ETC.: Earnhardt has completed 98.4 percent (6,467) of the 6,571 total laps contested in 19 career starts at Darlington. His average start there is 17.2 and average finish is 14.9. He has one DNF there.
2 BRAD KESELOWSKI, Ford
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Brad Keselowski's freefall down the Sprint Cup standings continued after Texas. Heading into Darlington in eighth-place, Keselowski has now lost seven places in the standings in the last three weeks. He trails new points leader Jeff Gordon by 41 points, is 10 points behind the sixth-ranked tie of Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., and leads ninth-ranked Brian Vickers by 13 points.
DARLINGTON RECORD: 5 career starts, 0 wins, 1 top-5s, 2 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: third in 2011. Finished 32nd in this race last year and was 15th in the 2012 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Keselowski has to find a way to snap the freefall he's been in since winning five races ago at Las Vegas. Here's his thoughts on Saturday's race: "The history of the place is the first thing that comes to mind. I have a lot of respect for places that have tradition and history. Tracks like Darlington are the very foundation of our sport. The next thing that I think of is the track itself. The line that we take around that place - the way we run so close to the wall is unique. The track also has a truly distinct shape that lends itself to great racing. The facility has an air of antiquity - I enjoy racing at Darlington and I certainly want to win there."
LOOKING BACK: Keselowski led 85 laps, most early on, at Texas. But the handling on his car began to fad about midway through the race and he wound up with a final finish of 15th.
ETC.: Keselowski has completed an impressive 99.5 percent (1,830) of the 1,839 total laps contested in five career starts at Darlington. His average start there is 18.2 and average finish is 13.8. He has zero DNFs there.
55 BRIAN VICKERS, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Brian Vickers climbed three spots in the standings and into the top-10, following Texas. He's now ninth in the rankings, 54 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon, 13 points behind eighth-ranked Brad Keselowski and two points ahead of 10th-ranked Paul Menard.
DARLINGTON RECORD: 9 career starts, 0 wins, 0 top-5s, 1 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: 10th in 2010. Has not competed in the Sprint Cup Series at Darlington since 2011, when he finished 34th. He was a career-best 10th in the 2010 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Saturday marks Vickers' first Sprint Cup start at Darlington in three seasons (although he did compete in last season's Nationwide Series race there, finishing a strong third). Here's his thoughts on Saturday's race: "Having a win (2003, Nationwide) at Darlington is beautiful. It was an amazing win. It was one of my favorite wins. Darlington has always been a special place to me. Being close to where I grew up (Thomasville, N.C.) made it special. It's just an amazing track and it should be a great race Saturday night."
LOOKING BACK: Vickers had his best finish of the 2014 season, rallying late to finish fourth at Texas on Monday. While he completed all 340 laps, he never had the opportunity to lead any laps in the event. Still, an overall very strong run for him.
ETC.: Vickers has completed a terrible 80.1 percent (1,006) of the 1,256 total laps contested in nine career starts at Darlington. His average start there is 14.9, and average finish is 17.7. He has three DNFs there.
27 PAUL MENARD, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Paul Menard returns to the top-10, climbing one spot from 11th to 10th after Texas. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 56 points, is two points behind ninth-ranked Brian Vickers and leads the 11th-place tie of fellow Richard Childress Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon by just one point.
DARLINGTON RECORD: 7 career starts, 0 wins, 0 top-5s, 0 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: 13th in 2012. Finished 19th in this race last year and a career-best 13th in the 2012 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Darlington is one of Menard's worst tracks. He's continued to struggle in his first seven starts there. Will that be able to change in Saturday's eighth appearance for him there? Here's his thoughts: "Darlington Raceway is a very unique track with the way it's laid out. We race right up against the wall in the turns, which is even more challenging with how the cars transition out of Turn 2 for the backstretch. ... We get to race under the lights on a Saturday night and drivers and fans seem to enjoy these types of race. Being one of the original tracks on the NASCAR circuit means there is some great history to the Lady in Black. We just hope we get to add our name to the history books this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Menard had a strong top-10 run at Texas, ultimately finishing ninth, the highest finish of the three Richard Childress Racing cars there.
ETC.: Menard has completed 98.2 percent (2,527) of the 2,573 total laps contested in seven career starts at Darlington. His average start is 24.4 and average finish is 23.7. He has zero DNFs there.
31 RYAN NEWMAN, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 11th, only one point out of the top 10. Lost one spot last week to fall out of the top 10.