Kenseth DeWALTzes to UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 victory;

Waltrip leaves Las Vegas as Winston Cup points leader

 

 

            The UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway belongs to Roush Racing -- again.  Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWALT Tools Ford, took the lead on lap 236 and cruised to a whopping 9.104-second margin of victory over second-place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Although the weather on Friday and Saturday wreaked havoc with schedules and competition, Sunday was perfect and the 140,000+ fans in attendance were treated to some good battles and anxious moments.

            Teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip swapped second and third place in the closing laps and Jimmie Johnson finished on the tail end of the lead lap after making contact with Sterling Marlin.  And local favorite Kurt Busch was not exempt from the carnage on lap 174 that eliminated Rusty Wallace and Mike Skinner and hobbled early race leader Jeff Gordon.

            "We had a great run all day. We had a real good car.  There are a couple of silly things that happened.  I was supposed to pit and I stayed out when Dale Jr. stayed out.  That ended up in our favor and got us some track position, and then my pit crew just had a great stop and got us out front on our last stop.  They just did a good job to get us where we needed to be, so we had a real good handling car all day.  It was real tough to come from behind, but once we got out front we could show how strong our car really was.

            "We just have an awesome pit crew.  We had some turnover this winter, but these guys are still the world champions.  It seemed like the Fords were had trouble keeping up when we were behind, but when we got out front we could set sail."

            Matt's victory was worth $365,875.  His victory was the fourth NASCAR Winston Cup Series win at Las Vegas for Roush Racing -- with three different drivers: Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and now Matt Kenseth -- in only six races held since the inaugural in 1998.

            "The guys are really good at adapting to new racetracks," said winning team owner Jack Roush.  "We've only been able to come here once a year.  I think most drivers don't have a good hook on what the track requires and I think our guys are a little better than average on the situation."

            Kurt Busch of Las Vegas finished 38th after being involved in the multi-car crash on lap 174.  It was an expensive result: he dropped from first to sixth in the Winston Cup Series point standings.

            "We were just trying to salvage the best finish we could out of it," said Busch.  "Unfortunately, we got the car loose and got back in the pack like that.  It was just a tough day.  We didn't expect it to end like this, that's for sure.

            Michael Waltrip, who finished third, is the new Winston Cup Series points leader, followed by Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart and Busch.

            Casey Mears finished 15th, winning the Raybestos Rookie of the Race Award.

2003 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 finish: 1. Matt Kenseth, 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 3. Michael Waltrip, 4. Bobby Labonte, 5. Tony Stewart, 6. Jeff Burton, 7. Ryan Newman, 8. Sterling Marlin, 9. Joe Nemechek, 10. Steve Park, 11. Jimmie Johnson, 12. Johnny Benson, 13. Kevin Harvick, 14. Bill Elliott, 15. Casey Mears, 16. Terry Labonte, 17. Jimmy Spencer, 18. John Andretti, 19. Ricky Rudd, 20. Todd Bodine, 21. Jeremy Mayfield, 22. Jerry Nadeau, 23. Robby Gordon, 24. Tony Raines, 25. Ward Burton, 26. Jack Sprague, 27. Jeff Green, 28. Ken Schrader, 29. Derrike Cope, 30. Kenny Wallace, 31. Kyle Petty, 32. Jamie McMurray, 33. Hideo Fukuyama, 34. Dave Blaney, 35. Larry Foyt, 36. Ricky Craven, 37. Jeff Gordon, 38. Kurt Busch, 39. Mike Skinner, 40. Rusty Wallace, 41. Dale Jarrett, 42. Elliott Sadler, 43. Mark Martin.