Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year title contender Kasey Kahne grabbed the attention of Las Vegas in fine style by winning his very first Bud Pole Award and breaking the track record at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during qualifying for Sunday's sixth annual NASCAR Nextel Cup Series UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.  Kahne's Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge blistered the desert asphalt with a qualifying run of 174.904 mph (30.874 sec.), eclipsing Bobby Labonte's year-old record of 173.016 mph.

"It was a good lap," Kahne said. "We took off out of the pits and I got real loose and killed my first lap. I didn't drive it where I needed to be. The second lap really felt good - a little bit better than during practice. It's a great deal to sit on the pole here in Las Vegas as a rookie, especially since our sponsor is also sponsoring the race. It's cool. All the Dodge dealers and everyone who supports Ray Evernham Racing is happy.

"So far, we're off to a good start. We've done some things I wasn't expecting to do. We definitely have good people and a good race team.

"I wish I would have broken the track record and wound up first on the Busch side too. I actually left a little bit out on the table. I didn't run quite as good a lap as I could have. That's my fault, but we still qualified third (for the Sam's Town 300)."

All three Ray Evernham Racing Dodges - Kahne, Jeremy Mayfield and Bill Elliott - qualified in the top 10. The native of Enumclaw, Wash., is no stranger to victory lane, having won the USAC Midget and USAC Silver Bullet Series championships in 2000. Kahne scored his first NASCAR Busch Series win at Homestead, Fla., in 2003.

Sharing the front row with Kahne is Las Vegas native Kurt Busch. Busch's IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford stopped the clocks at 174.548 mph (30.937 sec.). "This is neat," said Busch, who has eight NASCAR Nextel Cup Series wins to his credit.

"All the fans that stuck around 'til the end of qualifying - there probably was 50,000 - it's great to go out there and perform in front of them. But once you strap in and put the steering wheel on it's about racing that car to the best of its ability and that's when you feel the teamwork behind everything. There's a lot of team spirit and that's what it takes to be competitive at this level.

"To be a little shy and not win the pole is a little disappointing, but it's a great start to our year," Busch admitted. "We've built solid cars. We finished well at Daytona and Rockingham so hopefully we can work on the race setup and get our new IRWIN Ford to the front. My crew chief (Jimmy Fennig) and engineer worked together really well and found that little edge that got us in the front row."

Busch will race against his younger brother, Kyle, for the first time in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition in Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. Kyle, 18, qualified 18th for his Cup Series debut in his hometown.

"Sunday truly is going to be a special day with both of us making a start in a NASCAR Nextel Cup event at our home race track. In 1994, we pushed our race cars out into the desert on what now is the track, not knowing that this track would be built here. It's a first-class race track and I don't just say that because I'm from here -- but I really feel special when we come here." Brian Vickers, also a rookie, placed third in the final qualifying order.

"Kasey did a great job," said Vickers, NASCAR's 2003 Busch Series champion. "The Dodges are pretty tough right now, so are the Fords. I'm really proud of our GMAC Chevrolet crew. We improved from practice, and anytime you improve from practice you're doing something good. We've got a great starting spot for the race on Sunday. "This is one of the tracks I ran in my first year (in the NASCAR Busch Series). I've always loved coming out here. I think it's a great race track. I don't think anybody complains about coming to Las Vegas.

"The (new Goodyear) tire (compound) is good. They made them a little bit softer, which helps in qualifying, but they're going to fall off real quick, which I think will make the racing better."

In all, 15 drivers broke the track record during Bud Pole qualifying. Three Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year title contenders qualified in the top 10. Qualifying was not kind to past UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 winners: Jeff Gordon was 20th, Sterling Marlin claimed 23rd, last year's winner Matt Kenseth qualified 25th, Mark Martin was 27th, and teammate Jeff Burton was 28th. Only one driver, Larry Gunselman, failed to qualify for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.