By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore
88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the Sprint Cup Series standings after one race, heading into Sunday's race at Phoenix International Raceway. Earnhardt leads second-ranked Denny Hamlin by five points and third-ranked Brad Keselowski by six points.
PHOENIX RECORD: 23 career starts, 2 wins, 6 top-5s, 10 top-10s, 2 poles. Best career finish: First in 2003 and 2004. Finished fifth in this race last year and was fourth in the fall Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Earnhardt comes into Phoenix with a great deal of confidence and momentum. Between his win Sunday at Daytona and his last two finishes at PIR (both top-10 finishes), he arguably has to be considered one of the favorites for this Sunday's race in the Valley of the Sun. Here's his thoughts on the post-Daytona 500 experience: "It's been fun being busy and talking about the win. It's an opportunity to celebrate my team and their effort, give everybody credit. So I'm enjoying it. It's a lifetime opportunity to not only win the race but to be able to celebrate it and go talk to the world about it."
LOOKING BACK: Earnhardt stunned much of the NASCAR world by winning Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500, his second career win in that event.
ETC.: Earnhardt has completed 93.3 percent (6,773) of the 7,257 total laps contested in 23 career starts at Phoenix. His average start there is 17.5 and his average finish is 17.0. He has three DNFs there.
11 DENNY HAMLIN, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Denny Hamlin came close, but not close enough, finishing runner-up to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500. Hamlin trails Earnhardt by five points, is one point ahead of third-ranked Brad Keselowski and is three points ahead of the fourth-place tie of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
PHOENIX RECORD: 17 career starts, 1 wins, 8 top-5s, 9 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: First in 2012 spring race. Finished third in this race last year and was 28th in the fall Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Hamlin comes into Sunday's race at Phoenix looking to get back on track there. He won the 2012 spring race, finished runner-up in that year's fall event, and was third in last year's spring race, only to falter and finish 28th in last fall's race there. Here's his thoughts: "I'm up to speed, to say the least, within our race team. Where even last year we were a little bit off of our teammates ... The first few races will be tough for us. Other than that I think we'll be fine."
LOOKING BACK: Hamlin gave it all he could, but just didn't quite have enough power to defeat Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday's Daytona 500.
ETC.: Hamlin has completed a near-perfect 99.5 percent (5,356) of the 5,382 total laps contested in 17 career starts at Phoenix. His average start there is 11.9 and his average finish is 10.9. He has zero DNFs there.
2 BRAD KESELOWSKI, Ford
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Brad Keselowski had one of the strongest runs he's had in a long time in Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500, finishing third to winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. Keselowski trails second-ranked Denny Hamlin by one point, and leads the fourth-place tie of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson by two points each.
PHOENIX RECORD: 9 career starts, 0 wins, 2 top-5s, 3 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Fourth in 2013 spring race. Finished second in this race last year and was 11th in the fall Chase race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Keselowski needs to continue doing what he did at Daytona. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race at PIR: "Team Penske has traditionally had a great short-track program. We had a strong Ford Fusion at Phoenix last November and since then we have made improvements. Having said that, my Daytona 500 race car was one of the best cars I have ever had there and, as I said after the race, you don't get cars like that all the time. ... I'm confident that our Ford Fusion will be competitive and our team will be as well."
LOOKING BACK: Keselowski said before the season began that he wanted to get off to a good start and prove that last year's disappointing performance - failing to defend his 2012 Sprint Cup championship and not even qualifying for the Chase - was a fluke. He certainly did that Sunday.
ETC.: Keselowski has completed a poor 88.6 percent (2,556) of the 2,885 total laps contested in nine career starts at Phoenix. His average start there is 18.2 and his average finish is 17.1. He has one DNF there.
24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports