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Busch Excited About Las Vegas Homecoming

LAS VEGAS (March 11, 2006) – The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series isn’t really like other sports—that is, there’s really no “home court advantage.” And even if there’s a track a driver especially likes and has plenty of experience on, there’s no guarantee he’s going to do well each time out.

But Kyle Busch is plenty comfortable at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In his second-ever Cup race at LVMS—and just the third of his 2005 rookie season—Busch drove the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet to a runner-up finish to teammate Jimmie Johnson and clearly stamped himself as one of NASCAR’s young drivers to watch.

“I love going to Vegas for the race,” Busch said.  “Last year we finished second to Jimmie and I thought if we had about 10 more miles we would’ve been celebrating our first win.

“It’s a special feeling to race in front of your hometown crowd.  Winning there would be really, really big for me and the team.”

Past statistics aside, the No. 5 Chevrolet did have a productive preseason test at Las Vegas, but there’s still work to do before Sunday’s event.

“In the beginning of the Cup test, we were pretty mediocre,” Busch said. “We kept after it and kept trying different things and eventually we got it pretty good by the end of the test.”

The team, led by crew chief Alan Gustafson, will be sporting a new look this weekend, with a paint scheme featuring Disney/Pixar’s “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” which opens nationwide March 31.  Gustafson said the information gathered at the January test will not only help keep the No. 5 Kellogg’s/Ice Age Chevy near the front at Vegas, but will benefit the team for the rest of 2006.

The second-year crew chief also thinks this weekend’s race will be a little different than what fans saw two weeks ago at California Speedway, another downforce track.

“Las Vegas is a shorter race, 400 miles, so I don’t think you’ll see the engine attrition you did in California, but tires and everything else will come into play,” he said.  “The track will be different from the test because of the change in weather and the rubber buildup, but those factors should play into our setup just fine.”

But as much as Busch looks forward to heading home to Las Vegas, where he graduated high school and learned his craft at the famed “Bullring,” there is one slight drawback.

“The hardest part is coming up with enough tickets and credentials to take care of all the friends that want to come to the race,” he joked.  “But that’s a good problem.”

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