Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE SHE STANDS: 22nd, 18 points out of the top 10. Lost 15 spots as she dropped out of the top 10.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: She will be making her Sprint Cup debut. She had one top-10 finish in three starts at the track in the Nationwide Series.
LOOKING AHEAD: Patrick said, "Obviously, Phoenix was tough all around. It was a bad finish, we took a hit in the points and our car was destroyed. Hopefully we'll have a better outing at Las Vegas. I think the test day on Thursday will be beneficial. It gives us a chance to learn more about the car and helps (crew chief) Tony Gibson and I build a notebook. The more track time the better."
LOOKING BACK: It was a long, long weekend for Patrick. She struggled in practice and had to start near the back after qualifying 40th. She was making progress in the race when the right-front tire blew on lap 184, sending her hard into the wall. As she bounced off, she was slammed into by David Ragan. "I took a hard hit to the right, and then to the left, but I'm fine," said Patrick. "The cars and tracks are so safe. As a driver that's a nice feeling, but it doesn't change the fact that we aren't going to get many points (for her 39th-place finish). There was no real warning. I wasn't that tight either. I was sliding a little bit. I felt like most of the day I was chasing the rear. It was unexpected."
ETC.: Patrick feels "the learning curve is different for everyone, which is why it is difficult to say where I should be at a certain point in time because you just don't know at what point in time that for an athlete or driver something is going to click and make sense, and you figure something out and get more comfortable. I guess I would say the most important thing overall, if you look at the big picture, is to learn and grow."
14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 21 points out of the top 10. Gained 14 spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: Is the defending race champion after scoring his first win at the 1.5-mile track in 2012. Finished second in 2011 after leading a race-high 163 laps. Was seventh in 2010.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart said the key to running well at Las Vegas is pretty simple. "You just have to have a well-balanced car," said Stewart. "It seems like track position is really, really key there, but as long as you can get your car driving well and stay ahead of it, it seems like as the day changes, or the longer the day goes, the more the track changes and the more you have to stay up with it."
LOOKING BACK: After finishing eighth at Phoenix for his 12th top-10 finish in 23 starts at the one-mile track, Stewart said, "Track position was everything today. You could still pass, but it was harder to pass the further back you were. So it was just a matter of where you cycled on pit stops as far as when everybody figured out you had to take two tires or four, and then figuring out where in the cycle you were and whether you could get back the track position. When we got up to the top three or four there, we had good speed. But when you got hemmed up in the back there, it was hard to make up that ground."
ETC.: While a lot of drivers at Phoenix complained about the new Gen-6 car and their inability to get close to the driver in front of them, Stewart felt "for the first real race, it's pretty sporty so far. It will change as the season goes on. I thought all-in-all, it was pretty good for the first real race out. Daytona is another animal. It will be interesting to see what happens (this week) at Vegas."
29 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 30th, 27 points out of the top 10. Gained eight spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: Four top-10 finishes including three top-five's in 12 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick said, "Everybody is anxious to get to Vegas and getting all the cars on the race track at the same time just because nobody can really tell you exactly that what is going to go on. You really don't know until you get into 100 percent race conditions. It definitely will give you a direction of where you need to go after California on your week off to work on things. It's going to be interesting and very fast."
LOOKING BACK: Harvick ran in the top 10 for most of the day, but ran into handling problems late in the race as he finished 13th at Phoenix. "This was a tough one for the Jimmy John's team today," said Harvick. "We had a great qualifying effort (seventh fastest) and had high hopes for this race after our win here last fall. With the changing track conditions, we just couldn't find the right setup to get the car handling like we needed and didn't get the finish we thought we would."
ETC.: Because the teams are going to be in Vegas for an extra day, Harvick feels "we're going to have to find something to do besides sit in the motor home. We'll have some extra time on our hands to maybe go out and play golf. The casinos are too busy on race weekends with all the race fans having a good time, but you can literally find anything you want to do in Vegas. I like the Blue Man Group (show). That was a pretty cool show that we've been to over the past couple of years."
18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 33rd, 29 points out of the top 10. Lost two spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: One win and four top-10 finishes including three top-five's in nine starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch admits racing at home (Las Vegas) means "a little bit more pressure - more pressure on myself - just because it's the hometown and you want to win there. Thankfully, I have won there (2009) and I've knocked that one off the list, but certainly you want to win there every year. I love Vegas, the atmosphere and everything going on around that place. It's always been a big race for us and the M&M's team."