LONG POND, Pa. — Kyle Busch tossed his young son into the air twice in victory lane at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon and sprayed champagne toward anyone dry within reach.
The good times and NASCAR milestones keep piling up for Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing, but sometimes the driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry has trouble matching his mood to the moment.
Take Sunday: Busch matched NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace for ninth on the Cup Series career victories list with 55. He won for the fourth time this season, a year that for JGR already includes a Daytona 500 victory as well as Hall of Fame nods for the team owner and two of his former championship-winning drivers.
With Busch, the 2015 Cup Series champion, leading the way, JGR's run of success shows no signs of stopping.
So, Kyle. Why so glum?
"Am I a positive person?" Busch asked. "It's rare."
Busch's enthusiasm was tempered by another event in which NASCAR's aerodynamics 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 first-year setup on blast all season and dodged a fine from NASCAR earlier this month for an expletive-riddled rant about the new rules.
"Stop asking me package questions! I'm done answering them," he snapped Sunday. "Next."
NASCAR's current 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 the 75th lap 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.
Even Fox broadcaster Mike Joy threw up his hands as Busch took the checkered flag: "I don't want to say they made it look easy, but they certainly didn't give us a lot to talk about."
Busch, who topped 200 career wins across all three of NASCAR's national series earlier this season, is certainly the rare talent who can make most wins look easy in any season or under any package. However, he has been especially prickly and stood out as the most vocal critical 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 JGR: Busch won, Erik Jones was third and Denny Hamlin was sixth. The team's fourth driver, 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 earlier this year after a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. JGR has been the class of NASCAR with a Cup Series-best nine wins in 2019, and last month NASCAR announced Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart would be part of next year's Hall of Fame class.
Yet a racing package that overshadowed the finish stained one more celebratory day at JGR.
"It's not that it's hard to pass," Hamlin said. "It's impossible."
Team Penske's Brad Keselowski was second in a Ford, Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott fourth in a Chevrolet and Stewart-Haas Racing's Bowyer fifth in a Ford.