Kyle Busch, LVMS biggest weekend winners


It's time to share some stuff found at the bottom of my reporter's tool box while cleaning it out after Sunday's Shelby 427 Sprint Cup race.

Here we go ...

WINNERS

• The biggest was Kyle Busch, who went from the pole to 38th to first to win his first major race at his home track. It was his 13th Cup title, and each has come on a different track.

• Jeff Gordon hasn't won since October 2007, but the four-time series champion will arrive at Atlanta Motor Speedway today as the Cup points leader after three races. It marks the 121st time in his 548 starts that he will begin a race atop the standings -- that's a staggering 22 percent.

• Shane Wilson was honored as Sunday's top crew chief for guiding Clint Bowyer of Richard Childress Racing to a second-place finish at Las Vegas.

Wilson gambled when a caution flag came out on lap 258 of the 285-lap event. He kept Bowyer on the track to gain position while the leaders pitted. Bowyer inherited the lead, which Busch later took from him on lap 269.

Wilson lived in Las Vegas while serving as crew chief for Brendan Gaughan's NASCAR truck team, including the 2003 season when they won six truck races and finished the season fourth in points.

• Gaughan also was a winner over the weekend. He had his second straight top-10 performance, finishing seventh, for Rusty Wallace Racing in the Nationwide Series and moved to fourth in series points.

• Bobby Labonte, who left Petty Enterprises late last year and joined Hall of Fame Racing, took third, to the surprise of many.

• The biggest winner, other than Kyle Busch, was the speedway.

To draw about 140,000 fans in these dismal economic times says a lot for the track's amenities and for Las Vegas.

About 90,000 showed up for the Sam's Town 300 Nationwide race on Saturday. That was more than the attendance at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for its Feb. 22 Cup race.

LOSERS

• Poor Matt Kenseth tops this list, but not because of anything he did.

His was the first of two Roush Fenway Racing Fords to blow up early Sunday.

Instead of becoming the first to open a Cup season with three wins, Kenseth became the first driver whose day in the Shelby 427 was ended by mechanical failure.

His No. 17 Ford died after six laps, and he finished last.

• Three-time Las Vegas winner Jimmie Johnson led a race-best 92 laps Sunday before a late crash relegated him to a 24th-place finish. The three-time reigning series champion is 19th in points.

• Many of the people who heeded the speedway's call to take mass transit to and from the race probably had more second thoughts than Kenseth's engine builder.

Coach America took over the task of getting folks to and from the track, which Citizens Area Transit had handled the previous 10 years.

Word is many riders were not pleased about long lines, including the backup to buy passes from Coach America at points along the Strip.

Citizens Area Transit was not permitted to provide the service because of a federal legislation that gives a private group such as Coach America job priority over a government-funded transportation service.

As a result, the federally funded CAT buses were parked.

That's government regulation at its dumbest.

It's taken a decade of experience for CAT to develop its service to the speedway. The extra runs to the track by CAT could have put much-needed funds into county coffers.

It was a blow to mass transportation. There are some things the government can do better than private businesses.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at 702-383-0247 or jwolf@reviewjournal.com. Visit lvrj.com/motorsports throughout the week.

 

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