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Kyle Busch dials down Cup celebration

HOMESTEAD, Fla.– Kyle Busch casually collected the championship flag from his team and did a slow, subdued celebratory lap. The most polarizing driver in NASCAR had just won his second Cup title and wanted his true fans to enjoy the moment with him.

It was a lesson learned from his first Cup title in 2015 when Busch ruined the massive championship banner doing smoke-filled burnouts.

“It messed up the flag and everything and I wanted to get a good shot with the flag everywhere, make sure everybody could get a good shot of the flag because we’re the 2019 champions,” Busch said. “There are always your doubters. There are always your haters. You know what? This one’s for ‘Rowdy Nation’ because you guys are the best. Thank you so much.”

Busch emerged from the Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut as NASCAR’s latest champion, winning his second title Sunday after teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. were slowed by pit-road gaffes.

Busch won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to snap a 21-race losing streak and beat Hamlin, Truex and rival Kevin Harvick for the Cup. Busch joined seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson as the only active drivers with multiple titles.

“Ol’ two-timer out there,” crew chief Adam Stevens radioed. “I’m proud of you buddy.”

The 34-year-old Busch simply thanked his crew. He’s the 16th driver in NASCAR history to win multiple championships, and one of only five to win titles in both the Cup Series and the second-tier Xfinity Series.

The No. 18 crew climbed the pit wall and handed Busch the championship flag for his post-race celebration, and he was met on the frontstretch by 4-year-old son Brexton, who immediately asked: “Dad, are you going to throw me in the air again?” about their celebratory tradition.

“He was asking if he could get thrown up in the air because we won a race,” Busch said. “He’s a little lighter than the trophy, so I think I’m OK.”

Busch had raced for a second championship in each of the last three seasons and fell short a year ago in part because of his crew’s own pit error. This time, it was Truex and Hamlin bitten by silly mistakes. Truex dominated early but fell a lap back after his crew put tires on the wrong side of his Toyota.

“You’ve got to be perfect, one mistake probably cost us the championship,” Truex said. “I’ve never had that happen. I don’t even know what to say. It doesn’t drive good with the left front on the right front, though, I can tell you that. It’s very tight.”