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Kyle Busch puts it on the field in Vegas

Comes from last to first to win Shelby 427
Sunday, March 01, 2009

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A first-time NASCAR win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is plenty of reason for Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota to celebrate by performing a burnout
Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
After winning the pole and then having to start in the rear due to an engine change, Kyle Busch passed the field in his M&Ms Toyota to win at his home track of Las Vegas for the first time.  Busch proved once again why he is NASCAR's best driver when he passed Jeff Burton for 2nd on lap 267 using a seat of the pants 4-wheel drift to dive under Burton and come out of Turn 4 sideways but ahead of him. 

Two laps later he drove under Clint Bowyer for the lead and then survived a caution flag restart to win his 13th Sprint Cup race at his hometown track.

So the last shall be first, and the first last.

For biblical scholars, that was Matthew 20:16. For NASCAR fans, it was Sunday’s Shelby 427 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The hometown fans rose to their feet as Las Vegas-native Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota, crosses the finish line Sunday to take the checkered flag
Harry How/Getty Images for NASCAR
Starting from the rear of the field because of an engine change during Friday’s practice session, pole winner and Las Vegas native Busch worked his way to the front throughout a race punctuated with a record 14 caution periods and streaked to a 0.411-second victory, his first of the season and his first at Las Vegas.

Matt Kenseth, first in the series standings entering the race, finished last, after his engine blew six laps into the race. That ended Kenseth’s bid to become the first driver to win the first three races in a Cup season.

“This is pretty cool,” Busch said after his celebratory burnout on the frontstretch. “I didn’t know exactly what it would mean, but when I was coming to the checkered flag, there were knots in my stomach.”

Clint Bowyer regained a lap he lost early and finished second, thanks to crew chief Shane Wilson’s decision to keep him on the track while the other front-runners pitted under caution on Lap 260 of the 285-lap race. Bowyer surrendered the lead to Busch off Turn 2 on Lap 269.

Jeff Burton, Bowyer’s teammate at Richard Childress Racing, took third, followed by David Reutimann and Bobby Labonte. Jeff Gordon (who assumed the series points lead by 18 over Bowyer), Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top 10.

Three-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who led a race-high 92 laps, spun in Turn 2 to cause the final caution on Lap 280 and finished 24th.

“I’m sorry, guys,” said Johnson, who also had a tough day on pit road.

“It wasn’t meant to be today,” crew chief Chad Knaus responded over the team’s radio.

The race restarted with three laps left, and Busch pulled away from Bowyer and Burton.

Even though Busch started at the rear of the field, he still is credited for starting from the pole, making him the first to win from that position at Las Vegas. But that also meant Busch had to contend with traffic until he took the lead for the first time (other than during an early cycle of green-flag pit stops) on Lap 228.

“We just had to battle hard,” said Busch, 23, who won his 13th series race. “We didn’t have the best car today, but we had a car that we could keep working on and keep making it better.”

Bowyer credited Wilson, his new crew chief this season, for the call that gained him the runner-up finish.

“That’s where he shines,” Bowyer said. “He studies pit strategy real hard and really works on it. And that’s an area where I felt I could improve. I’m proud of him, proud of his call and glad it worked out.”

Notes: Busch has won nine of 39 NASCAR Sprint Cup races since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing to start the 2008 season. He won his first race for the new team last March at Atlanta, site of next week’s race. … Kenseth fell to third in points, tied with teammate Greg Biffle at 40 behind Gordon. … Johnson remained 19th in points, 145 behind the leader. … The only three drivers to score top-10 finishes in the first two races of the season — Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart — all had those short streaks broken. Kenseth was 43rd, Stewart 26th and Busch 23rd. … Rookie Joey Logano stayed on the lead lap and posted his best Cup finish to date: 13th. … For the second straight race, Mark Martin’s engine failed. He finished 40th and dropped to 34th in the Cup standings.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 1 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 190/5 285 Running
2 2 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 175/5 285 Running
3 3 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 170/5 285 Running
4 4 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 160/0 285 Running
5 5 96 Bobby Labonte Ford Ask.com 155/0 285 Running
6 6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 155/5 285 Running
7 7 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 151/5 285 Running
8 8 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 142/0 285 Running
9 9 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Irwin Industrial Tools 138/0 285 Running
10 10 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 134/0 285 Running
11 11 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 135/5 285 Running
12 12 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 132/5 285 Running
13 13 20 Joey Logano * Toyota The Home Depot 129/5 285 Running
14 14 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet Capital Window 121/0 285 Running
15 15 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Jim Beam 123/5 285 Running
16 16 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 115/0 285 Running
17 17 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 117/5 285 Running
18 18 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 109/0 285 Running
19 19 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 106/0 285 Running
20 20 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Kingsford / Clorox / Little Debbie 103/0 285 Running
21 21 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 100/0 285 Running
22 22 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 97/0 285 Running
23 23 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 99/5 285 Running
24 24 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 101/10 285 Running
25 25 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 88/0 283 Running
26 26 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Old Spice / Office Depot 85/0 283 Running
27 27 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA 82/0 283 Running
28 28 34 John Andretti Chevrolet WindowWorld.com 79/0 283 Running
29 29 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley 76/0 283 Running
30 30 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 73/0 282 Running
31 31 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Energizer 70/0 281 Running
32 32 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 67/0 281 Running
33 33 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Harrah's 64/0 281 Running
34 34 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge Valvoline 61/0 278 Running
35 35 98 Paul Menard Ford Johns Manville / Menards 58/0 269 Running
36 36 113 Max Papis Toyota GEICO 55/0 258 Running
37 37 64 Todd Bodine Toyota Curtis Steel Co. 52/0 227 Out of Race
38 38 25 Brad Keselowski Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 49/0 221 Running
39 39 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet TomTom 46/0 143 In Pit
40 40 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Pop-Tarts / Carquest 43/0 121 Out of Race
41 41 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 40/0 102 In Pit
42 42 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 37/0 72 Out of Race
43 43 17 Matt Kenseth Ford USG Sheetrock 34/0 6 Out of Race

* Denotes Rookie

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