Las Vegas: Notes of Interest, schedule

* Charting the NASCAR Top 10... Kurt Busch (No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford), by virtue of runner-up finishes in the first two races of the season, moved from No. 2 to No. 1 in the NASCAR Top 10. Busch, with 345 points, supplants the opening-week's No. 1...

* Charting the NASCAR Top 10... Kurt Busch (No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford), by virtue of runner-up finishes in the first two races of the season, moved from No. 2 to No. 1 in the NASCAR Top 10. Busch, with 345 points, supplants the opening-week's No. 1 Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet), who dropped to fifth. Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford) vaulted from No. 10 last week to No. 2 with his win at Rockingham. He trails Busch by 31 points. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) maintained his No. 3 position with 312 points while Mark Martin (No. 6 Pfizer/Viagra Ford) moves up a position to No. 4 with 306 points. ... Newcomers to the NASCAR Top 10 this week are Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford), Jeff Burton (No. 99 CITGO Ford), and Ricky Craven (No. 32 Tide Pontiac). Kenseth moves into No. 6 after being 19th last week. Burton, 11th last week, cracks the NASCAR Top 10 this week at No. 7. Craven made the biggest jump, moving from 25th last week to No. 8 this week. ... Rounding out the NASCAR Top 10 are Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) at No. 9 and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Goodwrench Chevrolet) at No. 10. Stewart fell from No. 6 and Harvick from No. 4 last week. ... Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), the NASCAR Top 10 Preseason No. 1, is 13th.

* Pit crew stars... The crew of Dave Blaney (No. 77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford) won Round 2 of the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade at Sunday's Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. Blaney's crew spent 223 seconds in the pits to edge the crew of Kurt Busch by four seconds to earn the weekly $20,000 prize. ... The Daytona 500-winning pit crew of Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet) won the opening round. Waltrip's crew spent 120 seconds in the pits in the Daytona 500 to nip the crew of Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) by three seconds. Waltrip's crew earned $20,000.

* Etc. ... Team Rensi, which operates the No. 25 U.S. Marines Ford of Bobby Hamilton Jr., is assisting with our troops overseas by collecting hotel-size shampoos, soaps, lotions and hair products for them during the race weekends at Las Vegas, Atlanta and Darlington. The donations should be dropped off at the Team Marines transporter in the NASCAR Busch Series garage. All donations will be given to the USO for distribution to the U.S. troops. ... "24" rather than "21" has proven to be a winner in Las Vegas. The last two winners of the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) in 2001 and Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) last season -- have come from the 24th starting position. Only one of the five races at Las Vegas has been won from a top-10 starting position (Mark Martin, 7th, 1998). ... There have been four different Bud Pole winners in five races at Las Vegas. ... The NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus will be worth $30,000 at Las Vegas to the driver who wins the race and also is situated as the series points leader.


* The Roush Racing tandem of Jeff Burton (No. 99 CITGO Ford) and Mark Martin (No. 6 Pfizer/Viagra Ford) have won three of the five NASCAR Winston Cup Series races held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Burton won consecutive events in 1999 and 2000, following up the win by Martin in the inaugural race in 1998. Martin has finished among the top 10 in all five of his starts while Burton has been in the top 10 four times.

* Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) has a pair of top-three finishes in his last four starts at Las Vegas. He finished third in 1999 and was victorious in 2001. His success, however, has only come in the odd years as he has finished 17th or worse in the even years (1998, 2000, 2002).

* Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford) has three consecutive top-seven finishes, including a best of second in 2001. He also is the only driver to win multiple Bud Poles at Las Vegas, capturing the top qualifying position in 1998 and 2001.


* "Is there any way we could just 'write-off' these first two (races)? You know -- like just take the loss on the ol' profit sheet and start the season with a fresh sheet of paper? No? OK... well, this is not a 38th-place team, and I think everyone knows that. But, we need to start putting together some finishes to get closer to the front of the points. I guess that goes without saying, but we struggled in the first two races last year (29th and 26th place finishes in 2002), and we were back up to sixth in points after we won at Talladega a few weeks later. There's some heartache and some frustration about how we've finished, but no one has panicked and we're getting ready to go at it again." -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet).

* "For me, winning here probably would be the biggest thing for me in terms of winning a single race. The Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis are right up there, but I can't imagine anything being any bigger than winning in Vegas." -- Las Vegas native Kurt Busch (No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford).

* "Vegas could be a good weekend for us. If you can say that before you get to a blackjack table, that's a pretty good feeling." -- Ken Schrader (No. 49 Dakota Imaging Dodge), who is looking forward to the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 after a good test session during NASCAR Preseason Thunder at LVMS in late January.


* The NASCAR Winston Cup Series made its debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1998, but it was not the first time the series competed in Nevada. The 43rd race of the 1955 NASCAR Winston Cup (Grand National) schedule was a 200-lap event on the one-mile dirt track at Las Vegas Park Speedway. It was run concurrent to an event held at Martinsville Speedway on the same day. The race was won by polesitter Norm Nelson, who averaged 44.449 mph in the victory.


Pre-race schedule (all times local):

Practice, 11:20 a.m. -- 1:20 p.m.
Qualifying, 3:05 p.m.

Practice, 9:30-10:15 a.m., 11:10-11:55 a.m.

Race, 3 p.m. ET, noon PT

TV: FOX (2:30 ET start).
Radio: PRN, XM Satellite.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Ken Schrader , Kevin Harvick , Sterling Marlin , Kurt Busch , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Jimmie Johnson , Ricky Craven , Dave Blaney , Mark Martin