- Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 March 2009 18:09
- Published on Wednesday, 04 March 2009 18:09
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Las Vegas is the home town of Kyle and Kurt Busch who grew up racing on the “bull-ring” dirt track across the street from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Busch brothers had much success at the dirt track, but surprisingly neither had won a NASCAR national series race at LVMS. That was until Sunday.
Both have kicked the 2009 season off to a good start. Kurt came in to Sunday’s race in third place in the Cup series standings with a tenth place finish at Daytona, and a fifth place finish at California’s Auto Club Speedway. Kurt has posted one top five and two top tens in eight starts at LVMS.
Kyle Busch was 18th in the Cup Standings coming into last Sunday’s Shelby 427, riding the momentum of his record-setting weekend Auto Club Speedway in California. He became the first driver ever to win a NASCAR Nationwide Series and a Camping World truck Series race in the same day.
Kyle sat on the pole at Las Vegas, and older brother Kurt was just a tick behind to capture the front row spot on the outside row.
Unfortunately, the home town crowd was deprived of the chance to cheer for their favorite brother as they battled to lead the opening lap. Kyle blew an engine in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota during practice and had to drop to the rear of the field following the parade lap. The good news for the fans was the opportunity to watch the younger Busch brother claw his way through the field when the green flag dropped.
Asked his thoughts on returning to race in his hometown Kyle said, “On one hand it’s just another race, but then again always coming back to Vegas and being back in your home town is exiting. After California last weekend, we feel we can come out and challenge here. Add in the home track and you always want to come out and try to get the win in front of your die-hard fans.”
When the green flag dropped, Kyle charged from the back of the field and was a contender throughout the race. Busch took the lead for the final time with 15 laps to go when he moved up from third place passing Richard Childress teammates, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer.
As he cleared Bowyer to take the lead, the Fox TV staff was monitoring his radio channel and race fans heard him exclaim over his radio, ”Say Goodnight Gracie. ” It was Cup career win number 13 for the 23 year-old and his first win at his hometown track.
Jeff Gordon fans have finally got something to cheer about following the four-time Cup champion's dismal 2008 season that saw Gordon fail to win a race for the first time since his rookie season way back in 1993. Hard to believe the sports former boy wonder is in his seventeenth season on the Cup circuit.
For the third week in a row Gordon had the best finish by a Hendrick Motorsports driver. His fifth place finish Sunday in Las Vegas moved Gordon into the lead in the points chase, 18 points ahead of Clint Bowyer and 40 ahead of Matt Kenseth who came into Las Vegas with wins in the season's first two races. Las Vegas did not prove to be as lucky for the 2003 Cup champion who was the first car to exit Sunday's Shelby 472. Kenseth retired with engine trouble after completing just 6 laps.
“I’m so excited about this race team right now,” said Gordon. “I just think we’re head and shoulders above where we were last year.” For those who keep up with trivia, Gordon reached a milestone on lap eleven of Sunday’s Shelby 427. Lap eleven was Jeff Gordon’s 20,000 lap of competition run in NASCAR Cup racing.
Gordon’s teammates have not shared his success so far in the new season. Of the three, defending three-time champion Jimmie Johnson is fairing the best. He came into Las Vegas in 19th place in the standings after posting a 31st place finish at Daytona, and a 9th place finish at California. Johnson left Las Vegas still in 19th, after struggling to a disappointing 24th place finish.
After dropping out of the Auto Club 500 in California with engine trouble, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished in 40th and 10th place Sunday.