LAS VEGAS (AP) _ A Roush Racing car came into Las Vegas as the favorite to reach Victory Lane. One did, just not the driver the oddsmakers predicted.
Matt Kenseth _ not Las Vegas native Kurt Busch _ carried the banner for Roush Racing on Sunday by winning the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and solidifying his team's dominance at the desert speedway.
Roush Racing cars have won four times in the track's six-year Winston Cup history.
``This is a race track we've only been to once a year, so I think most drivers don't have a good book on what the race track requires,'' car owner Jack Roush said. ``I think our guys are a little better than average on the new situation, plus I figured when we got here this time that everybody would have good enough information.''
Since NASCAR's Winston Cup Series began racing in Vegas in 1998, Roush drivers Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Kenseth have all made it to Victory Lane. Burton did it back-to-back in 1999 and 2000.
Kenseth, who won a Winston Cup-best five races last season, got incredible help in the pits _ his crew gave his Ford four tires in 13 seconds on their final stop _ to jump out to a huge lead and beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the finish line by 9.104 seconds.
Kenseth's crew has won the annual pit crew challenge the past two seasons.
``We just have an awesome pit crew,'' Kenseth said. ``We had some turnover this winter, but these guys are still the world champions. The guys worked really hard to get me out of the pits and it was key to be out front.''
Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip finished third in a Chevrolet and took over the Winston Cup points lead. He was followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.
Burton was sixth and Ryan Newman came back from falling two laps down early in the race to finish seventh in a Dodge.
``To come from two laps down at a place like this _ and we earned them, too _ it was just a great run,'' Newman said.
Defending race winner Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemecheck and Steve Park rounded out the Top 10.
Chevrolets took six of the Top 10 spots, leading to early season grumblings from the Fords and Dodges that the new version of the Monte Carlo has an advantage. Chevrolets won every race during Daytona's Speed Weeks.
``We were just no match for those Chevrolets,'' said Tony Glover, Marlin's team manager. ``We just got beat.''
Only 11 cars finished on the lead lap, and the front five were all running individually at the end of the race with huge gaps between them on the 1.5-mile oval.
It meant the best racing was actually for sixth, seventh and eighth place, and led to late-race contact between Marlin and Jimmie Johnson.
The two were running side-by-side when Marlin wiggled just a bit coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap and tapped Johnson, sending him spinning through the infield grass.
Johnson wound up 11th, the last car on the lead lap.
``I hope it wasn't intentional,'' Johnson said. ``I raced clean with everybody all day long and don't put a tire mark on anyone and then I get turned coming to the checkers and lose three spots. That kind of bums me out.''
It was a strange weekend for the Roush Racing cars, starting Friday when rookie Greg Biffle failed to qualify for the race.
Then on Sunday, a Roush car won the race while another _ Martin _ finished last.
``If I wasn't already schizophrenic, this would do it,'' Roush said. ``I'm sure I won't be able to sleep.''
Busch came into his home track on an incredible roll _ he won three of the final five races last year and started this season with consecutive second-place finishes to take over the points lead _ finally cooled where he wants to win the most.
The rear of his Ford was damaged early in the race when he banged against the wall, then the car was crumpled when he was caught in a wreck that began when Mike Skinner spun out Rusty Wallace.
Furious, Busch sat inside his car with his window net up while his crew tried to make enough repairs to get him back on the track. They didn't and finished 38th, dropping to sixth in the points.
``We were just trying to salvage the best finish we could out of it (after hitting the wall) and unfortunately we got the car loose and got back in the pack like that,'' Busch said. ``It was just a tough day. We didn't expect it to end like this, that's for sure.''
Martin, the only driver to finish in the Top 10 in each of the first six races in Las Vegas, had that streak snapped when he blew an engine and finished 43rd.