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Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon: 1-2 at Vegas....and this place is FAST

 Local boy does good: First COT pole for Kurt Busch (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon, now that makes for an interesting front row for Sunday's 400.
   "I think this is my first pole with the COT," Busch said, after his run at 188.719 mph, raising an interesting point. "I was just going over some of the notes with (new crew chief) Steve Addington), and maybe I've been missing some things.
    "Now I've got the right guy in my camp. Steve definitely has his game hat on."
   On top of that, the 18 fastest here Friday afternoon all broke the old track record: "It's the tires, it's definitely the new tires," Gordon said, after his run at 188 mph.
   "We've got new tires, it was  cool, and we've all worked on our cars," third-fastest Ryan Newman said.
    Yes, with the threat of Saturday rain, which would wipe out the final rounds of practice for Sunday's Las Vegas 400, most drivers were using Friday's 60-degree weather to set up for the race itself rather than qualifying. So reading too much into Friday's action might be reading too much.
    "We made two or three races runs, and that's part of our game plan this year," Gordon said. "So if it rains Saturday, at least we've got something to go off of.
   "But you still have to qualify."
   Two questions for Gordon:
   -- So he's really rethinking that old game plan of retiring as a driver at 40? He turns 39 in August.
    "Five or six years ago, that's what I felt," Gordon says about his earlier end-game date. "And when the back (pain) thing came up, I felt that was something that could hamper me.
   "But I wish I'd gotten into this physical fitness thing earlier. What happened to my back was a big part of getting in that regime. And I think that's now I'm feeling that will help me stay around longer."
   -- And how did that trophy of yours wind up in that Pawn Stars pawn shop down at the other end of The Strip?
   "I honestly still have no idea," Gordon said. "We're trying to do some investigating on it right now. 
    "When I first heard about it, I didn't think it was real.  I'm still trying to find out. 
     "Maybe I'll go to the shop and buy it back. 
     "We don't give away trophies.  I'm a little upset too and just trying to figure it out."


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                Starting Lineup for Sunday's Las Vegas Shelby American 400  





It looks like Kurt Busch's

It looks like Kurt Busch's car had a patch on the RF fender above the wheel. See picture here. Did he have trouble in practice or inspection?

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