Kyle Busch celebrated his 24th birthday with a trip to Victory Lane, winning Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
The win snapped a monthlong losing streak - an eternity by Busch's standards - and made him just the second NASCAR driver to win a Cup race on his birthday. Cale Yarborough did it twice, celebrating his March 27th birthday with wins at North Wilkesoboro in 1977 and Atlanta in 1983.
"You guys are awesome!" Busch radioed his crew. "May 2nd, baby! Thank you."
Busch celebrated the win with his trademark sarcastic bow to the crowd, then swan-dived into the arms of his Joe Gibbs Racing crew once in Victory Lane.
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"It's an awesome win for us," Busch said. "It's really exciting to win on my birthday and to have my team guys enjoy it as much as I do. They're having a good time. We struggled for four weeks. It's been a struggle for us - we haven't finished where we want to. We made it happen here."
The win was his third since arriving in Richmond: He drove to a victory in teammate Denny Hamlin's charity race at Southside Speedway on Thursday night, and used a pass of Carl Edwards with 22 laps to go to win Friday night's Nationwide Series race.
For the Cup win, Busch used a quick jump on a late restart to again pass Edwards, then set his sights on leader Jeff Gordon. Busch raced past Gordon on the next lap, then held on for the Richmond sweep.
It is Busch's series-best third Cup win of the season, and 50th of his career spanning NASCAR's top three series.
Tony Stewart was second, followed by Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman and Mark Martin. Burton and Martin both recovered from earlier accidents - Burton spun after contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Martin was involved in an accident with Martin Truex Jr. - for their strong finishes.
Busch credited one final caution-free run for being able to hold off Stewart, who had fresher tires.
"Those guys had to run us down," Busch said. "We took four tires and then we were going to stay out from then on out. We made the most of the effort. I didn't think we could do it. I knew we had a good car, not a great car.
"All you have to do is hang around with a good car and let the race fall your way."
Sam Hornish Jr. was a career-best sixth to continue a three-race upswing. He notched the first top-10 of his career at Phoenix, and he was running inside the top 10 at Talladega last week until he was part of the 10-car accident with 11 laps to go.
Jamie McMurray came back from a mid-race spin to finish seventh and was followed by Gordon, Casey Mears and Juan Pablo Montoya.
For the second consecutive year, Denny Hamlin led the most laps at his home track but fell short of the win. He led 381 of the first 382 laps last spring, only to finish 24th because of a late tire leak.
Hamlin, who grew up in Chesterfield about 20 minutes away from the track, led 148 laps Saturday night but fell from the front after his crew dropped a pair of lug nuts during a pit stop. Although he recovered to briefly run inside the top five, he faded late and finished 14th.