Idriver Handicaps:/I Las Vegas

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RacingOne takes its weekly look at some of the field, starting with the top-10, as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series roars back into action with Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where you will see many drivers back behind the wheel of their California car.

1. Kurt Busch (Points: 340): Reigning NEXTEL Cup Champion Busch heads back home to Las Vegas after taking over the championship lead with his third-place finish at California. Busch's only top-10 finish at his hometown track came last season after starting second and finishing ninth. Busch, who has a 19.5 average finish in four starts, will be driving Chassis No. 63 this weekend. The car finished 11th at Michigan and 26th at Pocono last year.

Quotable: "Every time we go to Las Vegas it's like my own Daytona 500 with all of the media and family and friends and the sheer excitement of the city and being back at home."

2. Jimmie Johnson (Points: 335): This weekend Johnson will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 48297) that won both Pocono races last year. Johnson, who will make his 113th career start, has one top-10 finish (sixth, 2002) in three starts at Vegas. Last year Johnson posted his worst finish (16th) at LVMS after making contact with the No. 4 car on pit road.

Quotable: "We had a great test at Vegas. It seemed like the groove has moved a little bit wider in turns 3 and 4, so hopefully we'll get a couple lanes of racing."

3. Mark Martin (Points: 301): Inaugural Las Vegas race winner Martin is tied with Jeff Burton for best overall average (10.1) among all drivers that have competed in every LVMS event. His six top-10 finishes at the 1.5-mile track leads all drivers and his only finish (43rd) outside the top-10 came in 2003 when the engine expired in the Viagra Ford. Martin will drive the same car (chassis RK-231) that finished seventh two weeks ago in California.

Quotable: "Las Vegas is a very special race track for me. We won the first race there in 1998 and that win really stands out in my memory. It's not really often over the years that I ever took a moment to let something soak in, but for some reason that win in 1998 really stood out."

4. Carl Edwards (Points: 287): Edwards heads to Vegas a career-high fourth in the standings, up nine spots after California. His finish at California was his sixth top-10 of his short Cup career. Edwards will race chassis RK-272, which ran at Charlotte 2 in 2004 and Fontana in 2005, in his first Cup race at Vegas. The No. 99 will carry the World Financial Group colors.

Quotable: "Las Vegas is a really smooth track that can be demanding. The track is real sensitive to temperature so the weather can really affect how the track is."

5. Greg Biffle (Points: 273): Biffle, who is coming off his fourth series win, has one career series start at Vegas. Last year Biffle finished 40th (started ninth) after engine problems plagued his No. 16 Ford. This weekend's primary car will be chassis RK-268, which last competed in October 2004 at Lowe's, but has a new body. Biffle, who predicted he would be leading the California race by lap five, is not sure he will have a winning car at Vegas, but thinks he can turn in a solid top-10 finish. Biffle has led a total of 51 laps in three Busch Series starts at Vegas.

Quotable: "We tested out in Vegas earlier this year and decided to go with this car. It's similar to the car we won with in California but then Vegas is a little different type of track. I'm interested to see how this car reacts in traffic but if we can get it handling well there, I think we'll be alright."

6. Elliott Sadler (Points: 272): Last year Sadler finished in the top-19 for the first time at Vegas after he came home sixth. In five previous races Sadler has finished 20th or worse with two outside the top-40. His career average finish at Vegas is 28.3.

Quotable: "We're very focused on the first few races here. Currently, we’re sixth in points. We've had a little trouble with qualifying the past couple of weeks but this team has rebounded on Sundays, when it counts, and finished in or near the top-10."

7. Tony Stewart (Points: 268): Stewart has posted four top-five finishes in six starts at Vegas with his best finish coming in 2000 (second). Last year he led four times for 45 laps en route to a third-place finish, his third-straight top five effort at the 1.5-mile track. Stewart, who has a 10.5 average finish at LVMS, will drive chassis No. 48 in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. This car made its debut last year in Vegas and has also raced at Texas, Lowe's (All-Star) and Michigan.

Quotable: "The performance of the tires has always fallen off at Vegas, but the new tire is falling off a little bit more, obviously. But that's a good thing. It's what a lot of us drivers have wanted for a long time because the fuel mileage and track position games we saw played in year's past have been taken out of the equation."

8. Rusty Wallace (Points: 268): Wallace's best finish (third) at Vegas came in the first race in 1998. Wallace has had some bad luck in a couple races after getting caught up in accidents in 2001 and 2003 giving him finishes of 43rd and 40th respectively. Wallace holds a 9.6 average finish in the five races he completed all the possible laps and a 18.7 overall average. He will race the same car (chassis PRS-086) that he raced and finished 10th with at California. The only difference on the car will be a new paint scheme as Wallace will partner with his teammates Ryan Newman and Travis Kvapil to promote a new line of Mobil 1 high-endurance motor oils.

Quotable: "The Vegas track has a little bit of Phoenix, a little bit of Fontana and a little bit of Richmond built into one. You can pass at the top, you can pass at the bottom -- you just have to have a lot of horsepower."

9. Sterling Marlin (Points: 260): Marlin has posted three top-10 finishes and one win (2002) at Vegas. Marlin, who has been running at the end of all seven Vegas events, has a 12.4 average finish at the 1.5-mile track. The Coors Light team will race chassis No. 401 this weekend. This is the same car that finished 15th at California. In four starts in 2004, this chassis had one top-10 and two top-15 finishes.

Quotable: "I am excited for the race this weekend. We came out here and tested and we had a decent car. We came back and changed some things and I think that we have gotten this car ready for this weekend."

10. Jeff Gordon (Points: 258): Gordon, who dropped nine positions in the standings heading to Las Vegas, has one victory at the 1.5-mile track, which is one of his two top-10 (third, 1999) finishes at LVMS. Last year Gordon had to start at the back of the field after an engine change on Saturday and on race day was able to climb as high as sixth before finishing 15th. In 2003, Gordon, who has a has a 16.9 average finish in seven starts, led 53 laps before an accident relegated him to 37th, his worst finish at Vegas.

Quotable: "While we haven't had the continued success here that we strive for, this DuPont team always seems to put forth a championship effort at this track."

11. Dale Jarrett (Points: 248): Jarrett, the inaugural Vegas pole winner, is tied with Bobby Labonte for most poles (two) at the 1.5-mile track. His best finish in seven starts came in 2001 when he finished second after starting from the pole. Jarrett has five finishes of eleventh or better and an overall average of 17.0. The UPS team will unload a brand new race car (chassis No. 32) that has been tested at Homestead and Vegas.

12. Ryan Newman (Points: 246): Newman, who has a 17.8 average finish at Vegas, has two top-10s at the 1.5-mile track in four career starts. Vegas is one of the tracks on the circuit that Newman, a 27-time pole winner, has not captured the No. 1 spot on Friday, however he has started no worse than fifth in his previous three appearance. He will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 61) that qualified ninth and finished ninth at California last month.

13. Kevin Harvick (Points: 239): Harvick jumped 13 positions in the standings after his sixth-place run at California. Harvick's only top-10 (eighth) at Vegas came in his first race at the track in 2001. The finish was also his first career top-10 in the Cup Series. Last year he had a strong run at Vegas leading 43 laps towards the end before running out of fuel. He ended-up finishing 21st, one lap down. Harvick, who has a 16.8 finishing average, will race his California car (chassis No. 134) which also tested at Vegas in January. Harvick believes his car will be better this week as he said, "It took us a while to get it up to speed in California, but in 'Vegas' it was really good."

14. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points: 237): For the first time in 70 consecutive weeks Earnhardt Jr. heads to a race outside the top-10 in points. Junior has one runner-up finish at Vegas in 2003. That year he led 97 of 144 career laps led (five races) at the 1.5-mile speedway. Earnhardt's finishing average of 17.2 took a big hit last year as he struggled all day long and wound up 35th.

17. Jamie McMurray (Points: 227): McMurray's best finish in two starts at LVMS came last season when he finished fourth. This weekend the Havoline team will unload chassis No. 403. The car spent most of its time in 2004 as a backup and saw it first race two weeks ago in California where it finished fourth.

18. Scott Riggs (Points: 224): Riggs finished 29th in his first Cup start at Vegas last season. He tested at LVMS in January and was one of the fastest cars on the track - consistently. Riggs will enter his first Busch race in 16 months on Saturday behind the wheel of the No. 30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet of SKI Motorsports.

23. Jeff Burton (Points: 187): Burton is the only driver other than Matt Kenseth to have two Vegas victories. Burton, who will make his first start at Vegas in a Chevrolet, won in 1999 and 2000. Burton has posted five top-fives at Vegas and has a 10.1 finishing average.

24. Joe Nemechek (Points: 185): Nemechek will race a brand new U.S. Army Chevrolet at Vegas. Nemechek's best finish of ninth in seven starts came in 2000 and 2003 and his overall average finish is 23.3.

26. Jeremy Mayfield (Points: 183): Mayfield, who has led a total of 39 laps at Vegas, has captured two top-fives at the 1.5-mile track with his best finish of second coming in 2002. He will drive chassis No. 108 this weekend. The car was tested at California and Las Vegas. Mayfield's average finish in seven races is 16.9.

28. Casey Mears (Points: 182): Mears will look to celebrate his 27th Birthday on Saturday with a win on Sunday. Last year he scored his career-best finish at Vegas (seventh) and will make his third start this weekend driving chassis No. 306. The team ran this car four times last season at Charlotte, Fontana, Atlanta and Darlington. Mears will also have the Energizer bunny along for the ride in Vegas, as the battery company will be the primary sponsor of his No. 41 Dodge this weekend.

31. Bobby Labonte (Points: 158): Labonte, a two-time Vegas pole winner (1999 and 2003), has four top-10 finishes at the speedway. His best finish was in 2003 when he finished fourth. Labonte will drive chassis No. 87 at LVMA, the same car he drove to a 13th-place finish at California. The car also placed second at Darlington 1 in 2004 and won the pole at Texas.

34. Kasey Kahne (Points: 140): Las Vegas is the site of Kahne's first career pole after he became the first rookie to take the top spot at LVMS when he set a new track record of 174.905 mph. Kahne also led his first laps in Cup competion at Vegas when he led twice for 43 laps. The 2004 Vegas race was also the site of Kahne's second consecutive runner-up finish. Between Bill Elliott and Kahne the No. 9 has never finished outside of the top-15 at LVMS. The Dodge Dealers/UAW team will bring a new car (chassis No. 107) to the race track this weekend.

36. Matt Kenseth (Points: 127): Kenseth will be looking for his third consecutive win Vegas this weekend. Just like most of the other drivers Kenseth will race his California car (chassis RK-38) at Vegas. His average finish in five races is 9.4.

RacingOne Staff Picks:

Pete Pistone (Kurt Busch): Get ready for a big hometown celebration.
Rick Benjamin (Matt Kenseth): Kenseth rolls the dice on a three-peat.
Ron Lemasters (Tony Stewart): Stewart has come close to winning at LVMS, but Sunday will be the day.
Jeff Wackerlin (Mark Martin): Martin wins the first race and his last Cup race at LVMS.

Wins: Jeff (1-Greg Biffle, California)

UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400
Las Vegas Motor Speedway

TV: FOX, 2 p.m. (ET).
Radio: PRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $6,131,958.
Race length: 400 miles, 267 laps.

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