Clint Bowyer was more concerned about holding off the cars behind him than trying to track down leader Kyle Busch.
Jeff Burton held out hopes of catching Busch but knew he really was racing for second place.
After Busch passed Bowyer and Burton with 17 laps remaining, there was little doubt he would win his hometown Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He led the rest of the way, taking advantage of fresh right-side tires that he took on during a pit stop five laps earlier.
"Their cars are really fast on new tires," Burton said. "That's where they've got us.
"It didn't surprise me he was coming, didn't surprise me he was coming hard. They had the fastest car there at the end. They deserved to win."
Even before Sunday, Busch had his peers' respect for being able to finish the job.
After Busch overtook Bowyer and Burton, Fox Sports played a sound bite from Jeff Gordon talking about Busch's ability to close a race. "He has more talent than anyone," Gordon said.
Busch's team knew the race was over.
"Say goodnight, Gracie," spotter Jeff Dickerson told Busch over the radio.
Bowyer eventually edged Burton for second place, and he was happy to be runner-up considering the pack that was chasing him.
"I was trying to get going as much as we could, just so we could stay ahead of them," Bowyer said. "It's kind of nerve-racking when you're running door to door trying to hold on to it, trying to stay off your teammate (Burton). You get loose and wipe out both teammates, it's going to be an ugly Monday morning meeting."
Burton certainly wanted the victory, but he wasn't blind to the circumstances.
"We were racing for second, but we were racing for the win," Burton said. "If you put yourself in position, you never know what can happen."
Considering their struggles the week before at Fontana, Calif., Sunday's outcome might have felt like a victory for Bowyer and Burton.
It was more than just another win for Busch, who accomplished his dream of reaching Victory Lane in the city where he learned to drive a race car.
Older brother Kurt, who finished 23rd, joined him in Victory Lane. Kurt hugged Kyle and reminisced about how they watched the track being built in the 1990s.
"You're the first one to conquer it," Kurt Busch told his brother. "It's pretty special."
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914.