AVONDALE - Kyle Busch spun his wheels at the start/finish line for a few extra rotations, filling the track and grandstand with a fog of white smoke.
After waiting so long to win on the Nationwide Series again, it felt like the first time and he was going to enjoy it.
Overcoming a mid-race gaffe on pit road with a dominating performance, Busch led 142 laps at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday to end a 24-race Nationwide winless streak.
"It was a phenomenal day for us to get back to Victory Lane, feel the taste of it again," said Busch, whose last Nationwide win was Sept. 9, 2011 at Richmond. "I was almost nervous, feeling like it was my first win even though it was, I think, No. 52 in the series.
"It's nice to be back."
(Tucson's Alex Bowman, who started 18th, finished 31st out of 40 drivers, completing 142 laps. The Ironwood Ridge High grad was involved in an early crash and had to drive a damaged car after that.)
Busch had a rough 2012 by his own high standards, finishing 13th in the Sprint Cup standings with just one victory despite leading the second-most laps. He also failed to win in 22 Nationwide races for his own team and came up empty in three trucks races.
Busch signed a deal to stay with Joe Gibbs Racing to drive the No. 18 Sprint Cup car this season and agreed to race for the team on the Nationwide circuit.
He bounced back from a rough start at Daytona in the season opener by earning the pole at Phoenix and was clearly the fastest car all day during the 200-lap race around the mile oval.
Despite a penalty for entering pit road too fast, Busch eclipsed 11,000 career laps during the race and picked up his 52nd Nationwide victory, extending his own record. He's won seven times at Phoenix, including five in the Nationwide Series.
It also was Toyota's 75th Nationwide victory, 41 of those coming with Busch at the wheel.
"He's just gifted behind the wheel, so we're excited about that," JGR president J.D. Gibbs said. "Cup, Nationwide, truck, whatever he races, he's got a gift."
Brad Keselowski was second and Justin Allgaier overcame body damage on his car from an early wreck to finish third, followed by Trevor Bayne and Elliott Sadler .
Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers each led laps.
The Phoenix race had a crash involving six cars on the fourth lap and 38 laps were under caution during the race on the slick track.