43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 260 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: Finished fourth in the 2010 race. He did not compete in last year's event.
LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola said, "I kind of wish the season wasn't ending. We've really hit on some good team chemistry with Todd Parrott (crew chief) and the guys since we started working together two months ago and the results have been showing on track. We've had some fast cars and really good runs and we'll look to do even better at Homestead, maybe even with a win."
LOOKING BACK: Despite being involved in the incident triggered when Jeff Gordon slammed into Clint Bowyer on purpose, Almirola was able to limp across the finish line in 16th place. "We started out really, really good and then took two tires on one of those stops (about midway in the race) and started going backwards," said Almirola. "Our car never handled the same after that. Still, we were running good when the 24 wrecked the 15."
ETC.: Parrott points out "we've had some good results on the mile-and-a-half's with Aric. So I think we can end the season with a bang. Homestead is a good track for Aric. It's fast with multiple grooves and you can run all over the place. And the banking varies for each groove, so you can run different lines and see where your car runs best."
47 BOBBY LABONTE, Chevrolet
Team: JTG Daugherty Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 338 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: Four top-10 finishes in 13 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Labonte feels the team has made a lot of headway in the past five or six races, and that it has a lot of momentum as it heads to Homestead. "Every time now we hit the track we feel good about our chances of running in the top 15 or better," said Labonte. "We feel good about the future of this team."
LOOKING BACK: Labonte dodged the wrecking cars in front of him on the last lap of the Phoenix race to finish 15th. "We survived today and are glad to leave here with the car in one piece," said Labonte. "It was wild there at the end. We came a long way from our starting spot (30th). The guys worked hard all day and we are leaving PIR with a top-15 finish. All in all, a good day."
ETC.: Labonte is delighted that Bobby Hutchens has come on board as the team's general manager. "I can't say enough about Bobby Hutchens," said Labonte. "He is a point of direction for us. The point man you might say. He makes sure we cross our t's and dot our i's. He helps put things in place like making sure cars are done and the guys don't have to work too late. It feels good to have good management in place. The atmosphere is really good right now."
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 25th, 391 points out of 13th place.
HOMESTEAD RECORD: One win and four top-five finishes in 11 starts. His two poles are tied for the best at the track.
LOOKING AHEAD: Busch said, "Homestead is one of the weirdest tracks for me because of all the excitement that has happened through the years there as well as all of the disappointments. If you look at my past history at Homestead it's either a top-five or a win, or a DNF, a parts failure or wreck. It seems like it's been win or bust there."
LOOKING BACK: Busch rallied in the final 100 laps to finish eighth despite being involved in the last-lap wreck. "We had a great run going until a loose lug nut put us a lap down," said Busch. "We definitely had a car that was capable of winning, but you can't afford those kinds of mistakes. However, we did battle back to notch our second straight top-10 finish (a first for the team). That was a wild ending. I just stayed on the gas to get to the finish line. I did smack the wall pretty hard. I kept on going and was able to nudge (Paul) Menard for eighth."