LOOKING AHEAD: Kenseth will turn 41 on Sunday. "I'm looking forward to going to Vegas this weekend," said Kenseth. "After Daytona and Phoenix, I thought we had - maybe not the best car, but one of the best cars at both places. We didn't get the finishes we deserved, but that (the team's performance) was really encouraging. Hopefully, we can build on that and get a little better finish for the 20 car this weekend."
LOOKING BACK: Kenseth finished seventh at Phoenix, but "I don't think the finish shows how good we ran. I thought we were really, really good. I thought we had one of the best cars most of the day. Had really great adjustments. We just didn't' get the finish. Once we got singled out, you just couldn't really go anywhere. I felt like if we were in the front we would have driven away from everybody. I just couldn't get enough speed to get around the guys. You couldn't really get close to anybody and that made it tough to pass."
ETC.: Crew chief Jason Ratcliff has a "big test plan of things we'd like to try this week at the (Thursday) test, not only for the new car, but also some things that we just weren't able to get to in December (at the Charlotte test). I feel like we have a pretty good handle on the track and what we need to focus on and the only big difference is going to be the new 2013 cars."
13 CASEY MEARS, Ford
Team: Germain Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 15 points out of the top 10. Gained eight spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: Three top-10 finishes in nine starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Mears has high hopes for this weekend in Las Vegas "after how much we improved at Phoenix. We really came a long way there. We struggled big time on Friday, but the crew made major changes to the car on Saturday and by the end of the race, we were pretty good. So we are carrying a lot of momentum into Vegas."
LOOKING BACK: Mears started last, but he didn't let his poor starting spot keep him from having a good day at Phoenix as he rallied in the final 70 laps to finish 14th. "It was a fun day because the Number 13 Geico Ford was fast and it felt great being able to chase people down and pass them," said Mears. "We made changes to the car and they started to work and you could gradually see our progress over the course of the race. I'm so proud of my guys because everyone could've hung their heads and mentally checked out Friday (after qualifying last), but they didn't. They kept working hard and today we showed our character as a team."
ETC.: Mears believes "this could be a very good year for the 13 team. With Geico stepping up ever more, we are going to be in lot better shape. We are going to be able to race really hard all season long. We are going to be able to show what this team is capable of."
39 RYAN NEWMAN, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 16 points out of the top 10. Lost 15 spots last week to fall out of the top 10.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: Has finished fifth and fourth respectively in the last two races to give him six top-10 finishes in 12 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Newman said, "Personally, for me, I really like Las Vegas. I always say it's my kind of race track because I like the ones that have hills and this track has some great banking. The track has some character to it. The bumps in the track have typically been pretty tricky, but that's something I like."
LOOKING BACK: Tire problems resulted in a 40th-place finish at Phoenix for Newman. The first problem came on lap 100 when he blew a right-front tire and bounced hard off the wall. After repairs were made to the car, Newman returned to the track only to suffer another blown right-front tire on lap 142. This time the damage was too severe to continue. "I don't know if we melted a bead or what it was," said Newman of his tire troubles. "It was just a tough day for our Quicken Loans team. I thought we had a decent car. We just didn't get to show it."
ETC.: Newman, who has an engineering degree from Purdue, feels "the air moves around (the new car) a little bit differently than the car of tomorrow. You get some different aero-interactions with cars on the inside of you and behind you than you typically were used to. It is just going to take some time to figure out these new cars and what they need to race better."
22 JOEY LOGANO, Ford
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 16 points out of the top 10. Lost three spots last week.
LAS VEGAS RECORD: One top-10 finish four starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Logano said he is not worried about his poor start to the 2013 season. "You just have to look at it like there is nothing you can do about what has already happened," said Logano. "The best thing you can do is learn from what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. For example, we need to figure out what happened with the fuel pickup problems at Phoenix and make sure it doesn't happen again. Plus there is a plenty of time to keep moving forward. We are only two races into the season."
LOOKING BACK: Logano was in position to score his first top-10 finish with Penske Racing when he ran out of fuel with five laps remaining. As a result, he ended the day in 26th place. "We are going to look into what happened to see if it was a fuel pickup problem or if we didn't get all the fuel in the car that we thought we did on the last pit stop," said Logano. "We thought we were good to go to the end. It really came as a surprise to us. It's a tough pill to swallow because we deserved to be in the top 10 for all of the hard work this weekend."
ETC.: Logano will be featured in a new segment on ESPN's "NASCAR Now" show each Sunday morning before the Sprint Cup race. The feature is called "Cup O' Joey," and will follow Logano on and off the track and give viewers an inside look at his personality as it relates to on-track competition and off-track fun.
10 DANICA PATRICK, Chevrolet