Last season, like most drivers and crew chiefs paired together for the first time, Jeff Gordon and Steve Letarte struggled to develop a chemistry. But now that they are starting to think alike, it's showing on the track. On Sunday in Las Vegas, Gordon finished second, behind teammate Jimmie Johnson, and moved to No. 2 in the points standings. This is the first time since 1995 that Gordon has started a season with three consecutive top 10 runs, which is a good omen for the number 24 team: He won the first of his four Cup championships that year.
In the Busch Series race in Vegas last Saturday, Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch tangled on the final lap, causing Busch to wreck and costing him a chance at the win. Instead of heaving his HANS device at his competitor—a stunt he pulled after a crash last spring in Charlotte—the once notoriously hotheaded Busch, who is still just 21, calmly congratulated Burton on his victory. Busch's newfound maturity was evident in Sunday's race as well: He cautiously drove an extremely loose car to a ninth-place finish, the sort of performance upon which title-winning seasons are built.