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Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Others: Kobalt Tools 400 Stories to Watch

The green flag in today's Kobalt Tools 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is just under two hours away. The race can be seen live on FOX at 3 p.m. Eastern, begining with the NASCAR on FOX pre-race show at 2:30.

Among the stories to watch in today's 267-lap, 400-mle race:

Matt Kenseth looks to dominate: Winning the pole and topping both practice sessions is probably the easiest way to make yourself the favorite for a race. Matt Kenseth hasn't won since Fontana in February of 2009, but the driver of the No. 17 Ford Fusion has been top dog all weekend. An end to his winless drought could be on tap.

Ford: First On Race Day?: Should Kenseth falter, it seems likely that one of his Roush-Fenway Racing teammates or the Richard Petty Motorsports drivers will step up and take the Blue Oval to victory lane. Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle share the second row, while David Ragan has been fast aside from a spin on his qualifying lap. RPM's Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger both start in the top-10. Ambrose, the Australian V8 Supercar legend, rolls off from the outside of the front row while Allmendinger, a former open-wheel standout, starts seventh as the duo each seek their first Sprint Cup victory.

Jimmie Johnson's Drive For Five - again: Johnson completed his Drive for Five last November, winning his fifth-straight Sprint Cup title, but he embarks on another Drive for Five today, seeking his fifth Las Vegas victory. His four wins are a track record he will retain for at least another year regardless of what takes place Sunday, as Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton are second with two wins each.

Can Tony Stewart finally break through in Vegas?: The two-time Sprint Cup champion makes his 20th start at Las Vegas today, between Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and IZOD IndyCar Series races, but he has never won, his biggest victory drought at any major venue. He came closest in the Cup race in 2000, where he was scored second to Jeff Burton when rain ended the event with just 148 laps completed.

Back-to-back for Jeff Gordon is nothing new: In tying Cale Yarborough on the all-time wins list last week at Phoenix, Jeff Gordon picked up his 83rd career triumph. 22 of those 83 wins have come as consecutive victories. The 2001 Las Vegas 400 champion could score his 23rd today.

Can the Busch Boys stay on top? It had been over two decades since two related drivers stood atop the Sprint Cup point standings when Kyle and Kurt Busch left Phoenix in first and second. The Las Vegas natives are seperated by three points and lead Tony Stewart and A.J. Allmendinger by 11. Kyle is a previous winner at Vegas, taking the 2009 race, while Kurt's best result is a 2005 runner-up finish to Jimmie Johnson.

Who'll take a gamble in Sin City?: Winning today's Kobalt Tools 400 will take a fast car, a good crew, and a driver who knows what he is doing, but it could also take a crew chief who's willing to take a gamble. Two tires? No tires? Stretching the fuel mileage? A roll of the dice could very well determine a team's fortunes as the checkered flag waves. Lucky seven? Or snake eyes?

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.