2 BRAD KESELOWSKI, Dodge
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: With his win in the opening race of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, Brad Keselowski went from a three-way tie for second place into sole possession of first place. He leads second-ranked Jimmie Johnson by three points and third-ranked Tony Stewart by eight points.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 6 career starts, 0 wins, 2 top-5s, 3 top-10s, 1 pole. Best career finish: second in this race last year. Finished fifth in this year's mid-July race.
LOOKING AHEAD: Keselowski did exactly what he wanted to do in the Chase opener, and that was to take the checkered flag first. Nothing changes with the second Chase race at Loudon, N.H., this weekend. Keselowski has become quite the proficient short-track driver very quickly in the Cup series, and he has a great track record thus far at Loudon, a record that he wants to add a win to now. Here are his thoughts on Sunday's race: "Loudon is always a lot of fun when we go up to race there. The fans really love what we do and they show it by filling the stands. It's one of those tracks we can go to and almost guarantee that it will be sold out. The racing that we put on at New Hampshire sometimes gets a bad rap, but I think it has produced some of the most exciting finishes over the last few years. It's a one-mile track, but it races like a short track. There is a lot of beating and banging going on, and the fans love to watch it unfold. Loudon has been an underrated track for us over the last couple of years. I think we can run well there again and keep the points lead."
LOOKING BACK: Keselowski led 76 laps and snookered Jimmie Johnson late in the race to win the opening event of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. His thoughts on being No. 1 in the Chase now? "The points lead is nice. It means we won the first race in a 10-race playoff format. But that's really all. I refuse to let it sink in because there is so much work left to be done. We need to keep our eyes looking forward."
ETC.: Keselowski has completed 97.4 percent (1,730) of the 1,776 laps contested in his six career Cup starts at Loudon. His average start is 15.7; average finish is 15.3. He has 0 DNFs there.
48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Johnson essentially didn't gain any ground in the standings, per se. He came into the Chase tied for second place and he left Chicagoland after the Chase opener still in second, although this time he was in sole possession of the No. 2 position. He trails points leader Brad Keselowski by three points and leads third-ranked Tony Stewart by five points.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 21 career starts, 3 wins, 7 top-5s, 14 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: 1st in summer and fall 2003 and summer 2010. Finished 18th in this race last year and was seventh there in mid-July this year.
LOOKING AHEAD: While Johnson continues to search for his first career Cup win at Chicago, he doesn't have that problem at New Hampshire, which is one of his favorite and most successful tracks on the circuit, including three wins. Here are his thoughts on Sunday's race: "It's tough because the balance when you have clean air and the whole race track to yourself, you need a race car to drive a certain way. When you get in traffic you need the car to turn a lot stronger to run a tighter radius and inside of someone. It's tough to blend those two worlds. That is the thing we fight so much as we work in practice running by ourselves. You get in the race you are rarely by yourself, then trying to find a way to make your car work in traffic."
LOOKING BACK: Johnson dominated Sunday's race at Chicago, leading a race-high 172 laps, but fell to Brad Keselowski late in the event and finished second. Still, to finish second in the race and be second in the standings was a great way to kick off the Chase.
ETC.: Johnson has completed 98.9 percent (6,107) of the 6,175 laps contested in his 21 career starts at Loudon. His average start is an outstanding 10.7; his average finish is an even better 9.9. He has 0 DNFs there.
14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: In a sense, Stewart dropped one position after Chicago. He came into the Chase in a three-way tie for second; he exited in sole possession of third, eight points behind points leader Brad Keselowski, five points behind second-ranked Jimmie Johnson and leads a three-driver tie for fourth (Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin), all by seven points.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 27 career starts, 3 wins, 14 top-5s, 16 top-10s, 1 pole. Best career finish: first (three times) in summer 2000, summer 2005 and fall 2011. Finished first in this race last year and was 12th there in mid-July this year.
LOOKING AHEAD: Although Stewart didn't start this year's Chase like he did last year's edition -- with a win at Chicagoland -- he still left there Sunday with a decent sixth-place showing. Now it's on to one of his favorite tracks, New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Here are Stewart's thoughts on racing there: "It just has long, sweeping corners. The corners in comparison to where we normally race, we're used to having a lot of banking, but New Hampshire is pretty flat. It's one of those tracks where you're either fighting entry-loose, entry-exit and nice in the center, or you're fighting tight in the center and you're good on entry and good on exit. It's a juggling act trying to get the car balanced for all three sections of the corner."
LOOKING BACK: Given how much Stewart struggled with handling at Chicago for much of the race, it's almost a miracle that he came home with a sixth-place finish. Still, he got off to a good start in the Chase, and that's the most important thing.
ETC.: Stewart has completed 94.7 percent (7,525) of the 7,948 laps contested in his 27 career starts at Loudon. His average start is 11.6; his average finish is also 11.6. He also has 2 DNFs there.
5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Kahne went from a four-way tie for ninth to start the Chase to a three-way tie (with Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin) for fourth after the Chase opener at Chicago. The trio stands 15 points behind series leader Brad Keselowski, seven points behind third-ranked Tony Stewart and two points ahead of seventh-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RECORD: 17 career starts, 1 win, 2 top-5s, 7 top-10s, 0 poles. Best finish: first in July 2012. Finished 15th in this race last year and won the mid-July race this season.