LONG POND, Pa. – Kyle Busch tossed his young son in the air twice in Victory Lane and sprayed champagne toward anyone dry within reach. The good times and NASCAR milestones keep piling up for Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Heck, Busch might even give his Pocono Raceway trophy to his wife for a birthday present.
Take Sunday: Busch matched Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace for ninth on the NASCAR Cup Series career victory list with 55. He won for the fourth time this season. And the season of JGR that already includes a Daytona 500 championship and a Hall of Fame nod for patriarch Joe Gibbs shows no sign of tapering off.
So, Kyle. Why so glum?
“Am I a positive person,” Busch asked. “It's rare.”
Busch's enthusiasm was tempered by another race where NASCAR's rules package put passing at a minimum and made it laborious to watch 400 miles of racing. Never one to back down from his opinion, Busch has put the package on blast all season and dodged a fine from NASCAR earlier this season for an expletive-riddled rant about the new rules.
“Stop asking me package questions! I'm done answering them,” he snapped at Pocono. “Next.”
NASCAR's current rules package was designed to increase side-by-side racing and manufacture competition. Busch made one competitive pass for the lead when he zipped past Clint Bowyer on lap 75 and never really looked back as he closed on his first win in nearly two months. Busch took off on the final restart with nine laps left and cruised to the finish line for his 13th top-10 finish in 14 races this season.
When NASCAR haters point fingers and say racing is just cars going in circles, Sunday at Pocono can be Exhibit A.
Busch, who topped 200 career wins across all three national series earlier this season, is certainly the rare talent who can make most wins look easy in any season or under any package. But Busch has been especially prickly and stood out as the most vocal critic among many drivers who have groused about the racing this season.
“There's days that I get ultimately frustrated because I don't feel like my true talents can show on the race track because I'm too limited by the air of everything that's kind of going around me,” Busch said. “I can't do anything. As a race car driver, when you can't do anything, and you can't showcase what your abilities are and how good you should be, then there's certainly some tense moments and high frustrations.”
And that's from the winner.
“Yeah, so?” Busch retorted.
It was still another wildly successful day for Joe Gibbs Racing: Busch won, Erik Jones was third and Denny Hamlin was sixth. Martin Truex Jr. had a fast car and looked like a contender until engine woes knocked him out of the race.
Hamlin opened the season with a win in the Daytona 500 in memory of J.D Gibbs, Joe's son who died this year after a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. JGR has been the class of NASCAR with a series-best nine wins, and Joe Gibbs was elected last month to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
But a rules package that overshadowed the finish stained one more celebratory day at JGR.
“It's not that it's hard to pass, it's impossible,” Hamlin said.
1. Kyle Busch Toyota
2. Brad Keselowski Ford
3. Erik Jones Toyota
4. Chase Elliott Chevrolet
5. Clint Bowyer Ford
1. Kyle Busch 568
2. Joey Logano 564
3. Chase Elliot 511
4. Brad Keselowski 509
5. Kevin Harvick 500