Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When NASCAR comes to Las Vegas Motor Speedway early in the season, it's a homecoming for Kurt and Kyle Busch. However, the Busch brothers generally have a busier weekend than normal when they're in Las Vegas.
"It's a weekend I always look forward to because it is home," Kurt Busch said. "I'll be spending a few days this week just kind of catching up, but then there are sponsor appearances, team appearances and a sponsor golf outing. That's all before we even get to the racetrack. It's a busy time, but it's a fun time."
Kurt Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion, comes to Las Vegas this time with a new team. Following his dismissal from Penske Racing shortly after the 2011 season concluded, Busch moved over to Phoenix Racing to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet. He's begun the season with a 39th-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a 15th-place run at Phoenix, which currently has him 26th in the point standings.
Busch's best finish in 11 starts at Las Vegas is third, which came in 2005, his last season with Roush Fenway Racing.
One of Kyle Busch's biggest wins in Sprint Cup came at Las Vegas in 2009. Busch won the pole position for the race but had start from the rear of the field due to an engine change. He held off then Richard Childress Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton in a three-lap shootout to the finish for his first victory at his hometrack.
"Hopefully, we'll have a good race," Kyle said. "We've won there in the past. I love being able to win in my hometown. That's the best feeling ever."
Busch moved up from 17th to ninth in the point standings after finishing sixth at Phoenix.
When the series came to Las Vegas one year ago, Kyle and Kurt Busch occupied the top-two spots in points, with Kyle holding a three-point advantage over his elder brother.
Denny Hamlin, who is Kyle Busch's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, won last Sunday's race at Phoenix and moved into the points lead. Hamlin snapped a 22- race winless streak.
Carl Edwards is hoping his drought will end in the desert as well. Despite finishing second in the point standings last season, Edwards has not won a Sprint Cup race since one year ago at Las Vegas.
"Last year was a huge weekend for us, and I'm excited to go back," Edwards said. "This will be our first opportunity of the year to run on a 1.5-mile track and to try the things [crew chief] Bob Osborne and everyone at [Roush Fenway Racing] have been working on over the winter. It's a huge event for us strategically on the schedule to build our intermediate program, which is obviously very important in our quest for the championship."
Edwards and Tony Stewart finished the '11 season in a points tie, but Stewart won the championship by virtue of his five wins.
Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with four victories at Las Vegas. Johnson won three consecutive races at this track from 2005-07. His most recent win there came two years ago.
"Vegas has been awesome to me," he said. "It's a fun track. It's a track with a ton of grip, oddly enough. You've got to drive hard every lap."
Johnson is currently 37th in the point standings, due in most part to his team's loss of 25 points for rules violations that occurred last month at Daytona.
But don't expect the five-time series champion to be low in the rankings for too much longer.
Forty-five teams are on the preliminary entry list for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, March 11. Race: Kobalt Tools 400. Site: Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 3:00 p.m. (et). Laps: 267. Miles: 400.5. 2011 Winner: Carl Edwards. Television: FOX. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.