Friday, Feb. 27, 2009 | 2 a.m.
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It had to feel like old times for the Busch brothers Thursday night as they once again raced each other on a track in their hometown.
“I think I passed him once, but his car may have been running out of juice,” said a laughing Kyle Busch, of overtaking his brother, Kurt, at his own charity event at Pole Position Raceway, behind the Palms casino.
“I don’t recall that,” said the elder Kurt, with a big smile, moments after finishing up his portion of the go-kart event that raised $25,000 for The Kurt Busch Foundation.
“Just to see the smiles on everyone’s faces out here tonight is what this event is all about.”
Indeed the first annual Sprint for Kids event proved to be a success as nearly 200 fans, and a handful of NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, including Sam Hornish Jr. and Denny Hamlin, lent their support.
“Me and my wife started the foundation a few years ago to give back to children through a sports atmosphere,” said Kurt, whose charity work includes a 15,000-square-foot climate-controlled gymnasium in Randleman, N.C., which is part of the Victory Junction Gang Camp.
“We are just looking for the right programs to get involved with here at home in Las Vegas. The racing thing helps the snowball effect of getting bigger and bigger and then the hometown aspect will follow.”
Another aspect often associated with one of the Busch brothers was a victory celebration, which Kurt enjoyed Thursday despite his younger bro’s light-hearted one-upmanship.
“The racing was competitive and I was happy to be a part of the winning team,” said Kurt, who along with Get Real Water teammates Matt Jaskol, Kyle Johnson and Scott Rhoden enjoyed victory during the one-hour endurance race around the quarter-mile track that Kurt is part owner of.
“I probably get a little more nervous coming back home because you have to perform. But it’s really great to be back here. It’s comfortable knowing the surroundings and people everywhere. Just having everybody’s support in this town, makes us want to go out give them a victory this weekend.”
But he’ll have to bump off his own blood for the second time this weekend to achieve the first victory by either brother on their home track at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“On one hand it’s just another race, but then again always coming back to Vegas and being back in your hometown is exciting,” said Kyle Busch, who made history last weekend winning two NASCAR races in the same day in Fontana, Calif.
“After California last weekend, we feel we can come out and challenge here. Add in the home track and you always want to come out and try to get the win in front of your die hard fans.”
While Kyle might be the more famous driver with his recent success, on Thursday night it was the 30-year-old Kurt Busch that had a legion of fans, young and old, cheering him on his 18-horsepower electric-powered kart, capable of topping out at 45 mph.
“Oh my gosh, he’s just the best,” said 7-year-old Daniel Larson, who could barely see out of the oversized No. 2 Kurt Busch cap that covered his ears.
“He’s just the best driver ever, and it was so cool to meet him.”
Larson and his parents said they will be out at the speedway this weekend to watch Kurt “get his first victory at the speedway.” But the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion said he already knows whom the true champions are.
“Obviously we do this for the kids. It makes you really think about the big picture when you’re talking to these cute little guys and gals,” Kurt Busch said.
Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.