Sunday's Shelby 427 Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is all about Matt Kenseth, and why shouldn't it be?

Kenseth has a shot at making history. He won the first two races of the season, and no driver has ever won the first three races of a Cup season (or Nationwide or trucks, for that matter).

"I feel good about our chances in Las Vegas," Kenseth said. "You really have to have all the stars lined up to win, but I feel good going there."

Kenseth has two wins at Vegas (2003-04). He led a race-high 146 laps in 2006 but finished second when Jimmie Johnson passed him seconds before taking the checkered flag. It was the only time Johnson led the race. In 2007, Kenseth finished fourth. Of Kenseth's 18 Cup wins, ten are on intermediate tracks.

"I feel like our stuff has been really competitive at those style of racetracks," he said. "Our cars have been good, and our pit crew has been right on the money. You never know what might happen in a race, but I feel we'll be competitive this weekend."

Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer agrees with his driver. He also wants to keep Sunday's race in perspective.

"We really are trying to not get too wrapped up in three in a row," he said. "It's a long season, and this is the next race on the schedule. We'll go there and put in the same type of effort that we have been and see where it goes from there.

"We know we have a driver and a team that is capable of winning at these style of tracks. It's just up to us to put it all together and hopefully we'll be there at the end with a chance."
Five to watch:
Kurt Busch, #2:
The Busch brothers are from Las Vegas, but neither has a win at the track. Kurt's two top tens (2004-05) came when he was driving for Jack Roush. Since joining Penske Racing, Busch's three finishes at Vegas are 16th, 26th and 38th last year.
Kyle Busch, #18:
"I'd love to win a Cup race there," he said. "It's almost as big as the Coca-Cola 600, not as big as the Brickyard or the Daytona 500." Unlike his brother, Kyle has been close with a second and a third among his three top tens in five starts.
Jimmie Johnson, #48:
Johnson won three in a row at Vegas before struggling mightily in the new Cup car last year, qualifying 33rd and finishing 29th. Is last year an anomaly or is Johnson uncomfortable at Vegas in the new car? We'll find out this weekend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88:
Junior is 35th in points after two races. He is one of six drivers 15th to 35th in the standings who made the Chase last year. Much more important at this juncture, though, is being in the top 35 in owners points after five races.
Carl Edwards, #99:
Edwards won this race last year, his second of seven victories in 2008 on intermediate tracks (he also won at Pocono and Bristol). Roush Fenway cars have won six of the eleven Cup races at Las Vegas. Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne are expecting a big day.
Track chatter:
John Andretti:
"They changed the banking (in 2006). The thinking was that stock car drivers don't like flat tracks. I love flat tracks. I think that you need to know how to drive on a flat track more than a banked track. At Vegas, they decided that they wanted more side-by-side racing. I think they already had it, but they changed the surface and now it's different. It's a little racier at times, but it's still a narrow track. A lot of the racing depends on the tire that they bring to the track because if the tires have good grip, you'll see good side-by-side racing. If it doesn't, especially with the new car, you'll slide up to the outside wall and stay up there wherever you can find grip."
Kevin Harvick:
"It used to be one of my favourite racetracks. ... I like the old configuration. I'm a flat-track type of guy, though. The old configuration (was) kind of aged-in, and the tires would fall off really fast and that's usually when tracks get really good. Now, they've just kind of built one that's like all the rest."
David Stremme:
"You have to really get your car to work on the bottom of the track. These new cars are really aero-sensitive so you need have a stable car through the corners."

by Bill Marx/Sporting News



Loading Comments...