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Las Vegas track isn't getting rubber stamp

LAS VEGAS -- Jeff Burton nudged a spinning Kyle Busch across the finish line yesterday to win a chaotic, caution-marred Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Complaints about the reconfigured track and the hard tires Goodyear has provided then dominated the postrace conversation, as drivers warned the UAW Daimler-Chrysler 400 Nextel Cup race today could be a disaster.

Kevin Harvick, who finished seventh, criticized the construction. "The paving is awful. It's rough. They had some guys that pave parking lots out there doing it. It's pretty awful."

Las Vegas officials repaved the track during the offseason and increased the banking from 12 degrees to 20 as track owner Bruton Smith sought to improve the competition. But it made speeds extremely high, forcing Goodyear to bring a hard tire that Matt Kenseth called "treacherous" to the track.

Greg Biffle said it felt like he was driving on black ice, and Kasey Kahne said every lap is a fight to keep the car from wrecking.

The race winner defended Goodyear.

"I am not disagreeing with any of [the drivers]," Burton said. "The question is, 'What would you do different?' We don't live in a perfect world. I am not saying the tires are perfect. They are not. It is treacherous. Restarts are a mess. Driving underneath someone is very difficult.

"But what are you going to do? Put your head in the sand and pretend there's not a problem. They had to come here with a tire that could run a whole race without having a problem. You can't come to a racetrack knowing you are going to have tire problems and not do something about it."

The Busch race was marred by a record 12 cautions for 58 laps, and the postrace debate overshadowed a spectacular finish.

Contact between Burton and Busch as the two cars approached the checkered flag sent Busch into a spin, and he crossed the finish line backward before shooting up the track and into the wall. He still finished second.

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