DARLINGTON RECORD: 10 top-10 finishes including seven top-five's in 15 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Newman calls Darlington "my favorite Sprint Cup Series track. It's so challenging. You have to race the track in order to get to the end. It's a challenge to pass there. You drive it like no other track on the circuit. I don't know what it's going to be like with the new rules package or the tire combination they've come up. Regardless, it's such a fun race track to drive because you have to hustle the car around."
LOOKING BACK: An unscheduled pit stop when a competitor's windshield tear off stuck the splitter on the front end of Newman's Chevrolet ended any hopes Newman had of a top-10 finish. "The Caterpillar team once again gave me a fast Chevrolet to race today," said Newman. "It's a shame we lost a lap early because of an unscheduled pit stop. We were fast and that's all I can ask for. Sooner or later, our luck will turn around to show just how good this 31 Caterpillar team is."
ETC.: Newman feels "the history of the track (Darlington) is what makes it so amazing. The race track was designed to race on the apron and not on the banking. It's amazing how much it hasn't changed, but yet, it still produces great races. It took me awhile (to get his first Darlington stripe). It actually took me a long time to get mine which was good. I was probably more paranoid than anything. I just didn't want to get one. It's not cool to get one."
3 AUSTIN DILLON, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, only one point out of the top 10. Lost three spots to fall out of the top 10.
DARLINGTON RECORD: Will be making his Sprint Cup debut.
LOOKING AHEAD: Dillon said, "I'm looking forward to competing there (Darlington) in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. I've never been there in a Cup car, so it will really be a learning experience. Bristol treated us well (as he finished 11th in his first start there) and hopefully Darlington will also."
LOOKING BACK: Dillon finished 21st at Texas. "I just needed to be tighter to start and we could have gotten the Dow Powerhouse Chevrolet where we needed to be at the end of the race," said Dillon. "I had a blast out there, though. I really learned a lot out there today. It will be fun to come back here in the fall with Gil Martin (crew chief) and all the guys on my RCR team." Dillon is a rookie on the Sprint Cup Series.
ETC.: Martin admits "we've run conservatively so far and I've called races conservatively because we're building this deal to gain momentum down the road. We'll gamble more when we got to summer, but we're into building a solid base."
11 DENNY HAMLIN, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, only six points out of the top 10. Lost one spot last week.
DARLINGTON RECORD: Will be seeking his fifth straight top-six finish. In the last four races has finished first, sixth, second and second respectively. Has finished in the top 10 in seven of his eight starts. Worse finish is 13th.
LOOKING AHEAD: Hamlin can't wait to get to Darlington. "We have really run well there the last four times we've been there," said Hamlin. "We probably should have more than one win. We've had some really good cars there and we expect to have another one this weekend. Like everyone else without a win this year, we want that first win to get us in the Chase. And Darlington is certainly a place we can get it."
LOOKING BACK: Hamlin was the leader as he pitted on lap 141. But he was caught speeding as he exited pit road to drop out of contention for the top spot. Hamlin was never able to completely recover as he ended up 13th. "Obviously, we had a great car at the beginning of the race," said Hamlin. "Once I got back in traffic, the car didn't drive as good. Couldn't make up any track position and the car took a long time to come in. Our car was way better than 13th. It (the penalty) was clearly a mistake I made." Hamlin also overshot his pits on his final stop of the race. "It's the same old story, where the driver overshoots his pit trying to get everything he can," added Hamlin.
ETC.: Hamlin admits that being a father has changed him. "In a lot of ways," said Hamlin. "I feel like I'm a better person. I definitely enjoy the time at home a whole lot more. Every day she's smarter and half says one more word and every time she sees even a picture of me now anywhere she's saying, 'Dada.' So, that for me is fun and I just find joy now in different things other than - now it's all about her. It really is."
14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, 14 points out of the top 10. Gained one spot last week.
DARLINGTON RECORD: 11 top-10 finishes in 21 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart is still looking for his first win at Darlington. "I think people underestimate how much we know about Darlington and the history of that track and how hard it is to win races there," said Stewart. "I guess that's why a Sprint Cup win at Darlington is something that's really important to me."
LOOKING BACK: After winning the 15th pole position of his career, Stewart led 74 of the first 76 laps as he became the all-time Sprint Cup lap leader at Texas with 801 laps. But shortly afterwards, Stewart began to drop back as he became "way too tight. The track changed a lot and the setup we had didn't really change with it," said Stewart. "Chad (Johnson, crew chief) did a really good job of keeping us competitive, but it was a big swing from start of the race to the end of the race with the way the track changed." Stewart finished the day in 10th place.
ETC.: Stewart feels the new rules package for 2014 has actually been a big benefit to his organization that features two new teams this year. "You never know who is going to hit on things first and who is going to get out of the gate strong," said Stewart when asked if he was surprised that both of his new drivers - Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch - won a race this early in the season "I guess that is one thing that is probably an equalizer more than anything is the ability to come out with a new package and have the same opportunity that everybody else, even though we have new people in place this year. If you are going to learn a new set-up package you might as well learn new people at the same time so it probably worked hand-in-hand."