With all the excitement and surprises of the first two races of the Sprint Cup season, it's only fitting that NASCAR visits the home of excitement and surprise: Las Vegas. That's right. NASCAR hits Sin City. And in addition to excitement and surprise, two other Las Vegas natives will be on display this weekend: The Busch Brothers.
Kyle and Kurt Busch sit atop the point standings after two races, seperated by just three markers, entering this weekend's Kobalt Tools 400 (Sunday, 3 p.m. Eastern on FOX). They are the first related drivers to lead the point standings since February 1988, when Bobby Allison and son Davey finished first and second in the Daytona 500.
Kyle is a previous winner at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, winning in style - the only way he seems to know how - by winning the pole, starting from the rear of the field due to an engine change, and charging to the front in the 2009 edition of the race.
Kurt, meanwhile, has had his share of ups and downs on the 1.5-mile oval, finishing second in the 2005 race (with Kyle third as they both chased Jimmie Johnson) but also being involved in two hard crashes, in 2003 and 2008.
As with most races these days, anyone who expects to win Sunday will have to contend with Jimmie Johnson. A day-long struggle to a miserable 29th-place finish in 2008 and a late crash a year later are the only races at Las Vegas, since that 2005 event, that Johnson has not ended up in victory lane. He passed Jeff Gordon with less than ten laps remaining last year and pulled away to score his fourth win at the track, which leads all drivers (only two drivers, Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth, have even won twice there).
Gordon, coming off his first win in nearly two years last Sunday at Phoenix, dominated last year's event and is a previous winner at Las Vegas, taking the checkered flag in 2001, the last time he hoisted the championship trophy at the end of the year.
Burton, sitting 32nd in the standings after blowing an engine at Daytona and being involved in two of the many accidents that plagued Sunday's race in Phoenix, has to have a great run Sunday if he is to have any hope of contending for this year's championship.
To see all 44 drivers who will attempt to qualify for the Kobalt Tools 400 - including Dawsonville's Bill Elliott and Unadilla's David Ragan - check out the entry list.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 400 Weekend TV Schedule (all times Eastern):
Friday, March 4
3 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Practice (SPEED)
6:30 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying (SPEED)
Saturday, March 5
3 p.m.: NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 (ESPN2)
6 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Final Practice - Same Day Delay (SPEED)
Sunday, March 6
2:30 p.m.: NASCAR on FOX Pre-race Show (FOX)
3 p.m: NASCAR Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 400 (FOX)