UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 was springboard to Kenseth¿s title


            For the second time in the past three years, the NASCAR Winston Cup champion used Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a catalyst for the title.

            Matt Kenseth, who clinched the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup championship Sunday in Rockingham, N.C., posted his only victory of the season on March 2 in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. In 2001, Jeff Gordon won his first race of the season in Las Vegas en route to his fourth Winston Cup title.

            ¿Winning in Las Vegas was pretty special for us this year,¿ Kenseth said. ¿I had wanted to win there since the track joined the circuit. It was also neat to win for Roush Racing because it has had so much success there. The fact that I got to add to that made it even more special. That win was certainly a momentum builder for us that has carried over throughout the season.¿

            This also marked the third consecutive year that the eventual NASCAR Winston Cup champion participated in Las Vegas Motor Speedway¿s open test session in January. Gordon, Tony Stewart (2002) and Kenseth all tested at LVMS prior to winning the title in their respective seasons.

After a disappointing 20th-place finish to start the season at Daytona followed by a third at Rockingham, Kenseth came to Las Vegas needing a strong run. The Cambridge, Wisc. native led 88 laps including the final 32 to post a 9.1-second win over runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr.

            Kenseth left Las Vegas trailing Michael Waltrip by a mere three points in the championship standings. Kenseth took the lead a week later at Atlanta and led the rest of the way to the title.

Tickets for the 2004 NASCAR Weekend are on sale now by calling 1-800-644-4444 or logging on to The UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup event is scheduled for Sunday, March 7. The Sam¿s Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series race is Saturday, March 6. Qualifying for both events is Friday, March 5. The O¿Reilly World of Outlaws will compete March 4 and 5 on the half-mile dirt oval, and there will be a 100-lap Super Late Model event on the Bullring on Saturday night.