Team notes NASCAR's best to roll the dice in Vegas 2009: Shelby 427

Team notes NASCAR's best to roll the dice in Vegas

What: Shelby 427, third of 36 races for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.

Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 1.5-mile oval. When: Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET TV: Fox, 3:30 p.m. ET Weather: 2008 winner: Carl Edwards Quick hits: Matt Kenseth, who has opened the year with two straight victories, has a chance to be the first driver in NASCAR's premier series to win the first three races of the season. Kenseth has won twice at Las Vegas. ... Edwards' triumph in 2008 broke the three-race Vegas win streak of Jimmie Johnson. ... None of the track's 11 Cup races have been won from the pole position. This week:&160Kenseth has a legitimate chance at winning three races in a row to start the season as he heads to Las Vegas, where he has two wins (2003 and '04), four top-five and five top-10 finishes in eight races. He was 20th last year. Etc.:&160The victory was Kenseth's 18th career win at the Cup level and marks the fifth time in the last eight seasons that Kenseth and the No. 17 Roush Fenway crew have posted multiple victories in a season. &8230 Kenseth leads the Sprint Cup points standings by 81 points over . Last week:&160Gordon finished second to Kenseth as his winless streak grew to 43 races. Etc:&160Crew chief Steve Letarte hopes that what worked at California works in Las Vegas. "A good baseline seemed to help with the 'old' car," said Letarte, referring to the car used before the introduction of the "Car of Tomorrow" (COT) at intermediate tracks in 2008. "We had 20 years of notes, so changes from race-to-race weren't huge. But we only have one season on these types of tracks with the Impala, so we're still building our notebooks. Last year, we finished third at California in February. If we unloaded that same setup in August at California, we would have been below average. With so little race experience with the COT, the learning slope is steep right now." This week:&160The Las Vegas native has never won at LVMS, where he has one top-five finish (third in 2005) and two top-10s in eight starts. He was 38th last year. But the driver sees plenty of progress with the new car. "When you look back at our record since we've been racing this (COT) kind of car, our biggest hurdle to overcome has been our competitiveness on the intermediate tracks, the mile-and-a-half and two-mile tracks," Busch said. "Our big-track program is pretty respectable, and we're finally getting a better handle on the short tracks and the one-mile flat tracks." Last week:&160Busch was able to keep the hammer down and finish fifth at Fontana. "It was a good night for us," Busch said. "I felt that our car had a great setup in it. Our crew on pit road did a great job on our stops with the Dodge. We're happy. A top-five finish is good. We need to make better adjustments during the race and maybe a little bit more power down the straightaways and we'll be right there. It has been an excellent turnaround over the offseason."

Etc.:&160Busch gave Dodge its last Sprint Cup victory when he won at New Hampshire in June 2008. It was Dodge's 201st Cup win.


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