By AL LEVINE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Justin, Texas -- Nextel Cup rookie Brendan Gaughan has a big belt buckle engraved "4-Time Winner" for winning four consecutive truck races at Texas Motor Speedway. Now he'd like to add the wood-carved boots trophy that goes to the winner of today's Samsung Radio Shack 500.
He may come from Las Vegas but he's a big fan of the cowboy lifestyle.
His family owns a ranch in nearby Weatherford, where his mother and sister board their cutting horses.
"Rodeos and racing have been in my family for a long time" Gaughan said. "I never rodeoed. Riding a bucking bull or a bucking horse ain't difficult. Anybody can do it. Just try getting off the dang thing. My dad always asks me before every race the last seven years: 'tell me who's a cowboy?' "
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who leads the voting for most popular driver after a record 400,000 votes were cast in the first seven weeks of the contest, admitted this weekend that talking about his deliberate spin at Bristol wasn't too brilliant. His candor cost him a $10,000 fine and 25 points.
"When [NASCAR] makes the calls, you find a way to live with it," he said. "They have a point. What I did wasn't necessarily the best plan. My [step-]mom even admitted that, but it was the best one I could think of at the time."
Most competitors admired Junior's spin. They just believed he should have kept it to himself.
"If he had said nothing, nothing would have been said," veteran Kyle Petty said. "He topped one of the smoothest moves of the year with one of the dumbest.
"It's like getting acquitted for murder, then high-fiving your attorney and saying 'I knew we could get away with it.' "
Matt Kenseth took the lead from Bobby Hamilton Jr. just before a caution flag with six laps left, and went on to win the Busch series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
As Kenseth was passing under Hamilton in the third turn on the 195th lap, Tracy Hines spun out on the frontstretch, taking out Kasey Kahne.
By the time the caution came out and the field was frozen, Kenseth had completed the pass in his Ford. NASCAR reviewed replays to confirm the pass that gave Kenseth his first lead in the O'Reilly 300.
After a red flag, Kenseth was strong on the restart with three laps left and went on to his 15th Busch victory. His average speed was 126.865 mph, and he finished ahead of pole-sitter Kyle Busch in a Chevrolet.
"I had a really pushing car all day, I'm surprised we won it," said Kenseth, who took a Cup race at Texas two years ago. "It's always cool to win in Texas."
Busch, the 18-year-old brother of Cup driver Kurt Busch, led 147 laps in his third runner-up finish in 13 career starts. Robby Gordon was third.
Hamilton had an engine glitch on the restart after the red flag and slipped to fifth, behind Johnny Benson.