Team: Penske Racing

WHERE HE STANDS: Brad Keselowski remains in first place in the Sprint Cup standings for the third consecutive week after Charlotte. He leads second-ranked Jimmie Johnson by seven points and third-ranked Denny Hamlin by 15 points.

KANSAS RECORD: 5 career starts, 1 win, 2 top-5, 2 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: first in spring 2011. Finished third in this race last year; was 11th in this year's spring race there.

LOOKING AHEAD: Keselowski continues to show some of the best consistency of any driver in the Chase. But now that we're at the halfway point of the 10-race playoff, can he continue as the pressure starts to increase with each remaining race? Here are his thoughts about Sunday's race at Kansas: "I know I speak for everyone on the Miller Lite Dodge team when I say we can't wait to get to Kansas to prove that our finish at Charlotte was an anomaly, a blip on the radar. And going to a track where we've won before gives us a little extra confidence although it is a new surface that we'll be breaking in. We were able to take part in the tire test there a few weeks ago, and they did an outstanding job with the repave. It's smooth and fast, and while it may be one-groove for a few races, I think we'll see it become a very competitive place. I would definitely like to be the first driver to win on the new surface."

LOOKING BACK: Keselowski led 139 laps at Charlotte on Saturday, but the combination of different pit strategy and a car that started to go away on him in the waning laps resulted in an 11th-place finish.

ETC.: Keselowski has completed 99.9 percent (1,339) of the 1,340 laps contested in his five career Cup starts at Kansas. His average start is 15.4; average finish is an outstanding 10.2. He has 0 DNFs there.

48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

WHERE HE STANDS: Jimmie Johnson remains in second place for the third consecutive week. He trails points leader Brad Keselowski by seven points and leads third-ranked Denny Hamlin by eight points.

KANSAS RECORD: 12 career starts, 2 wins, 5 top-5s, 10 top-10s, 3 poles. Best career finish: 1st in fall 2008 and spring 2011. Finished first in this race last year, and was third in this year's spring race there.

LOOKING AHEAD: Danger, danger, this is the time of season where Johnson goes from good to great. The second half of the Chase is usually his bread and butter, and as Johnson pushes for his sixth career Cup championship, you're likely to see him and his team get even stronger. Here are Johnson's thoughts on Sunday's race at Kansas: "(The new racing surface at Kansas will) help set the stage for 2013, but the cars will be so much different when we come back that it's going to be hard. But at least we'll have a data file. That's what's really key for the teams is to get a current data file set. So we'll have that and I think it's the right call to let the teams and drivers get on the track. Let's validate the tire that it's right in real conditions and let everybody get a feel for it so when we show up on Friday and the NASCAR timer is official that we're prepared and ready to go racing."

LOOKING BACK: Johnson led 53 laps at Charlotte and looked as if he might win but ultimately settled for a third-place finish behind winner Clint Bowyer and runner-up Denny Hamlin. More important, though, Johnson remained in second place in the Chase standings.

ETC.: Johnson has completed 99.1 percent (3,123) of the 3,152 laps contested in his 12 career starts at Kansas. His average start is an outstanding 10.9; average finish is an even better 7.9. He also has 1 DNF there.


Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

WHERE HE STANDS: Denny Hamlin remained in third place for the fourth consecutive week after Charlotte. He trails points leader Brad Keselowski by 15 points and second-ranked Jimmie Johnson by eight points and leads fourth-ranked Clint Bowyer by 13 points.

KANSAS RECORD: 9 career starts, 1 win, 3 top-5s, 3 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: first in spring 2012. Finished 16th in this race last year, was first in this year's spring race there.

LOOKING AHEAD: Hamlin is looking to build upon his outstanding win at Kansas this spring and potentially take a second consecutive win. With a new racing surface, though, that may be easier said than done.

LOOKING BACK: Hamlin led 36 laps at Charlotte en route to an outstanding runner-up finish. Here are his thoughts on that race: "We had a top-three car all day. Didn't have the handling that I wanted most of the time, but we still had the speed to make up for it. It's finally good to have a fuel-mileage race somewhat go our way. We've been struggling with these things in the past, so it teaches you you've got to be prepared for these."

ETC.: Hamlin has completed 99.8 percent (2,347) of the 2,351 laps contested in his nine career starts at Kansas. His average start there is 14.1; average finish is an identical 14.1. He has 0 DNFs there.


Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

WHERE HE STANDS: Bowyer climbed one spot, from fifth to fourth, after Charlotte, which he won. He is 28 points behind series leader Brad Keselowski and 13 points behind third-ranked Denny Hamlin and leads fifth-ranked Kasey Kahne by seven points.

KANSAS RECORD: 8 career starts, 0 wins, 1 top-5, 3 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: second in fall 2007. Finished seventh in this race last year; ended up 36th in this year's spring race there after his car had engine issues.