WHERE HE STANDS: After 10 weeks in fourth place, by an ironic twist, Kevin Harvick remained in fourth place after the points were reset after Richmond and again after the Chase opener this past Sunday at Chicagoland. He trails points leader Matt Kenseth by 15 points, is four points behind third-ranked Jimmie Johnson and leads the fifth-ranked tie of Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch by eight points.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 25 career starts, 1 wins, 5 top-fives, 13 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: First in late summer 2006. Was 11th in this race last year and seventh in this year's early summer race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick got off to a great start in Sunday's Chase opener at Chicagoland. Now he has to keep that momentum up heading to New Hampshire. He is bound and determined to win the championship this season, especially since it's his final year with Richard Childress Racing. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "The hardest thing is just making your car turn in the middle of the corner and being able to have enough forward drive up off. It always seems like the New Hampshire race comes down to a track position strategy call on two tires or four tires toward the end of the race. Track position will play a big part, but getting your car to handle right will probably play an equal part."
LOOKING BACK: Harvick had a great Chase opener at Chicagoland, finishing third, the highest-ranked Chevrolet driver to kick off the 10-race playoffs.
ETC.: Harvick has completed 99.3 percent (7,323) of the 7,377 total laps contested in 25 career starts at New Hampshire. His average start is 14.2 and average finish is 13.4. He has zero DNFs there.
99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Carl Edwards remained in fifth place after the Chase opener at Chicagoland, but is also now tied with Kurt Busch, both drivers 23 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth. The duo is also eight points behind fourth-ranked Kevin Harvick and one point ahead of seventh-ranked Jeff Gordon.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 18 career starts, 0 wins, 2 top-fives, 4 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Second in early summer 2006. Was 19th in this race last year and eighth in this year's early summer race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards needs to come out of New Hampshire with a top-five finish, lest he start falling too far behind as the Chase continues to intensify. Tied for fifth is good, but at 23 points back, he's essentially a half-race behind former teammate Matt Kenseth points-wise.
LOOKING BACK: Edwards hoped to start off the Chase with a top-five finish, but he had to settle for an eleventh place showing. "There are a couple of things I wish I could take back," Edwards said of this past Sunday's race at Chicagoland. "I tried the high side one time and about five or six guys freight-trained me on the bottom. The last restart we all just kind of fought for the bottom and I had to check up or I was going to wreck Greg (Biffle). That got us. Other than that, the strategy I think was very good to have good tires at the end. Our car was as fast as anyone at the end. We needed things to fall a little better and I needed to make better decisions."
ETC.: Edwards has completed 99.9 percent (5,367) of 5,370 total laps contested in 18 career starts at New Hampshire. His average start is 14.7 and average finish is 14.1. He has zero DNFs there.
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Of all the 13 Chase drivers, Kurt Busch climbed the most spots in the standings after the opening race at Chicagoland, going from a six-way tie for eighth to a tie for fifth with Carl Edwards. Both drivers are 23 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth, are eight points behind fourth-ranked Kevin Harvick and one point ahead of seventh-ranked Jeff Gordon.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 25 career starts, 3 wins, 7 top-fives, 11 top-10s and 0 poles. Best career finish: First in early and late summer 2004 and early summer 2008. Finished 25th in this race last year and was 31st in this year's early summer race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch has struggled in his last four starts at New Hampshire, finishing 22nd, 24th, 25th and 31st. If he is to advance in the Chase, he needs a big finish Sunday at New Hampshire. Here's his thoughts: "We had some races this season that we let slip away. The first one that comes to mind is the July New Hampshire race. We qualified second, led the most laps (102) and it appeared we were going to have a strong showing and a real good shot at winning the race. But we got tangled with some other cars (Lap 226 of 302) and the incident sent our Furniture Row Chevrolet to the garage for repairs. Instead of the possibility of winning the race we ended up somewhere in the 30s (31st). But the good news is that we have good notes about how to set up our car for this weekend's race. We have momentum heading into New Hampshire with top-fives in the last three races. You need to have top fives to compete in the Chase. We got off to a good start in Chicago (4th) -- it's one down and nine to go."
LOOKING BACK: Busch had an outstanding start to the Chase, finishing fourth.
ETC.: Busch has completed 95.3 percent (7,033) of the 7,377 total laps contested in 25 career starts at New Hampshire. His average start is 12.6, while his average finish is 15.4. He has one DNF there.
24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: After starting the Chase in a six-way tie for eighth heading into the Chase, Jeff Gordon climbed one spot in the standings following the Chase opener at Chicagoland. He trails points leader Matt Kenseth by 24 points, is one point behind the fifth-place tie between Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch and leads the eighth-place duo of Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman by four points.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 37 career starts, 3 wins, 16 top-fives, 22 top-10s and 4 poles. Best career finish: First in 1995, late summer 1997 and late summer 1998. Finished third in this race last year (after winning the pole), and was 10th in this year's early summer race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Winning a race has likely never been more important this season for Gordon than heading into Sunday's race at New Hampshire. With his past record at the one-mile flat track, and the fact he has yet to win a race this season, Gordon is almost in a must-win situation if he hopes to continue to elevate his chances in the Chase. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "(New Hampshire) is always a track that I look forward to coming to, and it's one we've had success at over the years. I love this track - it's just one where I have a really good feel of what I need to get the car through the corners fast and be able to make good passes and have good speed. There are a few tracks on the circuit - probably a handful of them - that I have that kind of confidence at and this is one of them. This team has a lot of fight in them and we never give up. We've started to run better - I think Chicago was one of our best races so far this year - and we have started to finish better. We just need to keep building on that. When you have cars that drive like the one I had at Chicago, it's so much fun. I can't wait for this weekend's race."
LOOKING BACK: Gordon made the most of his unprecedented addition to the Chase two days before this past Sunday's race at Chicagoland, leading 22 laps before finishing sixth.