"Lots of times, a victory, the thrill of it, depends on kind of what happens leading up to it," Gibbs said. "We've had a tough couple of weeks, as everybody knows. ... In tough times, everybody bands together around our place. We started fighting, and we worked our way out of some tough things."
The 400-mile race was the first real test for NASCAR's new Gen-6 car on the intermediate tracks they're built to race. Although Hamlin commanded the week's headlines with his pessimism amplified by the NASCAR fine, most drivers were curious how the Gen-6 would work in its ideal 1.5-mile environment.
Any drivers who still think it's too tough to pass in the new car must not have been watching Busch, who made two lengthy charges up to early leads, doing it both before and after a pit-row speeding penalty dropped him back to 18th.
"I just hate it for my team," said Busch, a Las Vegas native and graduate of nearby Durango High School. "We had by far the best car in practice. I don't know where that went. Today was a different day. The worst Gibbs car ended up winning the race. It's funny how this game works."
Busch, who finished second in Saturday's Nationwide Series race, charged through the field with impressive ease and took the lead out of a restart with a daredevil move on the apron with 102 laps to go. He went three wide and got underneath Kahne while kicking up dust well below the white line.
Kahne set the qualifying speed record on the Vegas track last year, but rain wiped out qualifying this week. He reclaimed the lead and held it until Kenseth nosed ahead out of another restart with 36 laps left when Kahne had trouble getting out of pit row, nearly hitting Stewart.
"I had an unbelievable car throughout the whole race," Kahne said. "We just came out, I think, sixth (out of the pit). Tough to say we would have got by him anyway.
"I had a great day. I drove so hard every single lap today, and that's just the new Gen-6 car. It was a lot of fun. I love it."
The Gen-6 is still a work in progress, however. Several drivers reported various problems with their cars early on, with Clint Bowyer and Stewart both dropping far back in the opening laps. After three days of chilly weather in the desert, warmer temperatures Sunday changed the track's feel, and teams struggled to adjust to the slickness.
Danica Patrick, the pole winner two weeks ago at Daytona, struggled with her car from the start, going two laps down by the 60th lap and later getting penalized for a tire violation. She finished 33rd.
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