Even though Martin Truex Jr.¿s stiffest competition during last year¿s run to the NASCAR Busch Series title has moved on, the protégé of Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not going to take it easy in his quest for a second straight championship.

            ¿We lost one of our competitors (Kyle Busch) but we gained five so I think it¿s going to be tough,¿ Truex said. ¿There¿s new guys coming in and some guys were running really good at the end of last year that are going to be tough.  I think with this new tire they¿ve got, they really leveled the playing field back out and we¿ve got our work cut out for us for sure.  It¿s not going to be easy but I think we¿re up to it.  We need to get to work and figure this thing out.¿

            Truex was one of 15 Busch Series teams who tested Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in preparation for the March 12 Sam¿s Town 300.

            ¿I think we¿ve tried about everything we can think of so far,¿ Truex said. ¿We¿re pretty decent.  I think there are two or three cars here that are better than us and obviously we want to be better than everybody else.  We¿re just working really hard and trying to figure out this tire.  I think we¿ll get it.  It¿s just going to take some time.  Other than that, it¿s been going good.  The track is real slick and that¿s how it usually gets during the race so it¿s a good judge of how it¿s going to be on the track.¿

            Truex is trying to be the first repeat Busch Series champion since his car owner and friend Earnhardt Jr. captured the 1998 and 1999 Busch titles.

            ¿Obviously we want to back up our championship,¿ Truex said. ¿I think we want to do better; we want to win more races.  Overall, we want to be better as a race team and try to prepare ourselves for the next step. The seven (Nextel) Cup races we¿re going to do is a big part of that and we¿re looking forward to the challenge.¿

            Thursday¿s test concluded the four-day NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas. A total of 65 cars in the Nextel Cup and Busch Series participated in the test sessions. Thursday¿s only incident came in the final five minutes when Denny Hamlin spun his No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet in Turn 3. Hamlin managed to keep the car off the wall and did no damage to the car.