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Kyle Busch Three-peats at Richmond

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Saturday, April 30, 2011

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Kyle Busch leads his Toyota teammate Denny Hamlin
Getty Images for NASCAR
It happens every spring. Just as surely as the azaleas bloom at Augusta National, NASCAR's best driver, Kyle Busch, celebrates his birthday with a victory at Richmond International Raceway.

That has been the case for three years, at least, after Busch, who will turn 26 on Monday, won Saturday night's Crown Royal Presents 400 at the 0.75-mile track. The victory was Busch's second in the Sprint Cup Series this season and the 21st of his career.

Busch beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.805 seconds as both drivers conserved fuel during an 86-lap green-flag run to the finish. Busch has won the last three spring races at Richmond, with Hamlin winning the last two fall races.

Kasey Kahne finished third, followed by David Ragan and series points leader Carl Edwards. Clint Bowyer, AJ Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart claimed positions 6-9 as the last cars on the lead lap.

Busch, who like Hamlin made it to the finish after pitting for the last time on Lap 293 of 400, ran out of fuel during his postrace burnout.

“We were late to the celebration,” Busch said after his car was pushed to victory lane. “This is pretty awesome. We had a really good car, and we knew that if we could play through traffic a little bit better than the 11 (Hamlin) that we had a shot at the win, and we did that tonight.

“I learned from Denny Hamlin last fall — and I’m not going to say what I learned, but he might know. We did a good job of doing what we needed to do early in the run, and once we got out (in front) and had to go through traffic, the traffic kind of fell our way, so we were able to pick our way through there.”

Hamlin acknowledged helping Busch on the short tracks but said it was a fair exchange for what he had learned from Busch about running intermediate speedways.

“Yeah, I opened my mouth — I never should have told him,” Hamlin said, though he, too, declined to reveal the secret he had shared with his teammate. “That’s the thing. If I don’t tell him the things I know on short tracks, and the crew chiefs don’t relay information, then it’s not a good team.

“We got paid back on the bigger intermediate tracks. I learned so much from him. Yeah, it might cost me a race here or there because he outruns me, but I think, in the grand scheme of things, it makes me an overall better driver.”

After surging to the front of the field during a 107-lap green-flag run to start the race, Busch and Hamlin owned the action — save for a four-lap foray by Jeff Gordon — until Martin Truex Jr. took Busch and Hamlin three-wide to the inside after a restart on Lap 245 and surged to the front on Lap 246.

A bump from Jimmie Johnson sent Joey Logano spinning off Turn 2 on Lap 256. That started a spate of cautions that scrambled the field by virtue of divergent pit strategies. All told, Laps 256-301 brought five cautions, the last of which flew because of a wreck on the backstretch involving Bowyer, Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Paul Menard and David Reutimann.

Gordon retired from the race after his Chevrolet slammed hard into the inside wall.

Busch was fourth and Hamlin fifth for a restart on Lap 315, but Busch charged into the lead around the outside and passed Jeff Burton for the top spot on Lap 317, with Hamlin quickly following into the second position. At that point, both drivers were conserving fuel, but they had enough of a lead over Kahne that they could maintain an even pace without fear of losing their positions on the track.

Notes: Edwards increased his lead in the Cup standings to nine points over Johnson. Busch gained three spots to third, 30 behind Edwards. … Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman were involved in a succession of incidents, with Montoya retaliating against Newman on Lap 237. NASCAR warned both drivers. … A late pit stop for fuel cost Dale Earnhardt Jr. a lead-lap finish. He came home 19th, two laps down and fell one position to fourth in points, 34 behind Edwards.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 20 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Pretzel 48/5 400 Running
2 11 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 43/1 400 Running
3 4 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 42/1 400 Running
4 27 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 40/0 400 Running
5 8 99 Carl Edwards Ford Scotts EZ Seed 40/1 400 Running
6 3 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 39/1 400 Running
7 18 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Nautica 37/0 400 Running
8 30 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 36/0 400 Running
9 31 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot 35/0 400 Running
10 37 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 34/0 399 Running
11 9 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 33/0 399 Running
12 12 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 32/0 399 Running
13 29 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Golden Corral 31/0 399 Running
14 5 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 30/0 399 Running
15 23 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 29/0 399 Running
16 25 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 29/1 399 Running
17 2 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 27/0 399 Running
18 17 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 26/0 399 Running
19 24 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 25/0 398 Running
20 13 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army Medicine 24/0 398 Running
21 33 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 24/1 398 Running
22 36 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 22/0 397 Running
23 35 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 21/0 397 Running
24 14 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Kingsford 20/0 397 Running
25 39 34 David Gilliland Ford Gander Mountain 19/0 397 Running
26 41 71 Andy Lally * Ford Interstate Moving Services 18/0 397 Running
27 21 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Ultimate Tune-Up 18/1 397 Running
28 15 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 16/0 396 Running
29 1 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 16/1 395 Running
30 28 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 0 395 Running
31 19 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 13/0 395 Running
32 38 32 Ken Schrader Ford H&B Railroad / Southern Pride Trucking 12/0 394 Running
33 43 37 Tony Raines Ford Front Row Motorsports 11/0 393 Running
34 16 30 David Stremme Chevrolet EchoStar Technologies 10/0 393 Running
35 42 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Fast Five / Speed Energy 9/0 393 Running
36 7 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 8/0 388 Running
37 10 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Libman / Menards 7/0 385 Running
38 34 09 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Thank A Teacher Today / Security Benefit 0 360 Running
39 6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 6/1 300 Accident
40 22 66 Michael McDowell Toyota K-Love 4/0 134 Electrical
41 32 60 Mike Skinner Toyota Big Red 0 61 Rear Gear
42 26 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 0 40 Brakes
43 40 46 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Red Line Oil 1/0 38 Electrical

* Denotes Rookie

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