Chase Elliott was actually pretty satisfied after finishing third Sunday at the checkered flag at Pocono.
The news only got better from there. For the first time since 2019, NASCAR disqualified the original winner of the Sunday’s Cup race, Denny Hamlin, along with the second-place finisher Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.
That handed the win to Elliott, whose Chevrolet actually passed post-race inspection.
“Yeah, unfortunately we were doing our post-race inspections, which we do,” Cup Series managing director Brad Moran said. “There was some issues discovered that affect aero of the vehicle. The part was the front fascia. There really was no reason why there was some material that was somewhere it shouldn’t have been, and that does basically come down to a DQ. It is a penalty, both for the 11 of Denny Hamlin and the 18 of Kyle Busch have been DQed. Their vehicles are being loaded in the NASCAR hauler. They’re going to go back to the R&D Center.
“The final results have been changed to show that the two DQs were there, and they have the opportunity to appeal it, and it’ll be all sorted out by next week. ”
The team gave no indication Sunday night on whether they would appeal.
The disqualifications also moved Tyler Reddick to second-place result, and Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez to third. JGR driver Christopher Bell (fourth) and Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson (fifth) complete the new top five.
Michael McDowell, Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon round out the top 10 after the penalties.
Originally Hamlin took the lead for the final time from Ross Chastain on a restart after the next to last caution, number 8, that came out when Ryan Blaney spun while running inside the top 10.
Chastain had the lead but exiting Turn 2, Hamlin moved up, the two touched and Chastain’s Chevy was sent careening into the inside wall, and out of the race. The tangle comes after the two have feuded on track several times this season.
“I mean, what did you want me to do?” Hamlin said. “What did you expect me to do? We got position on him, and he just ran out of racetrack.”
For his part, Chastain was scored 34th with a DNF.
“That’s something that’s probably been owed to me for a month or two now,” Chastain said. “And he cashed in.”
From that point, Hamlin’s only competition was from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch who led the most laps on the day,63, and originally won Stage 2 (after the DQ awarded to Chastain) but struggled in the closing stages and had to settle for second.
“We were trending loose there that run where the 1 (Chastain) car was trailing me and keeping up with me.,” Busch said. “Figured that was our hindrance, and we snuck it up a little bit and overjumped it too far and was just way tight that whole last run.
“When the 1 and the 11 were out in front of us, I was falling back from those guys, so we were lucky to get a couple cautions there, lucky to keep pace like we did there at the end to the 11. We didn’t have a shot there. We were just too tight. “
Hamlin won the pole but after taking the green slipped up entering Turn 1 and scraped the wall on exit on the first lap. He slowed but stayed inside the top ten, though reporting a “wobble” on his Toyota.
Kyle Larson would win Stage 1, while Hamlin finished third (that third place was later taken away due to the DQ).
Late in the going fuel mileage strategy that Is typical at Pocono came into play. Hamlin was among those who pitted with 35 laps to go, but his crew chief reported after the stop that the crew didn’t get all the fuel in the car, and he needed to conserve. He took second with 25 to go but was told he was two and a half laps short and to continue to conserve.
Thanks to the lap 139 caution, and the one that followed on lap 144 for the Chastain incident, Hamlin was cleared to race hard, and he did just that originally winning by 0.927 of a second. It would have been the 49th win of his career leading all drivers with seven wins at Pocono and is tied for all time with his former JGR teammate Tony Stewart.
After the DQ however all that was erased. There are still 15 races left in the season giving Hamlin ample time to tie the 49 win record.
Ty Gibbs was a last-minute substitute for Kurt Busch who wasn’t cleared by NASCAR after a crash during qualifying Saturday. The Xfinity series driver, wearing Busch’s firesuit wheeled Busch’s 23XI Racing Toyota to an impressive 16th place in his NASCAR Cup series debut.
As for if the feud between Hamlin and Chastain is over:
“I mean, we’re just going to keep racing hard until we get the respect back from these guys,” Hamlin said. “It’s not just that, we’ve been wrecked four times, twice while leading in the last 10 months. I’m at the end of it.”
Elliott remains the top playoff seed with five races in the remaining in the regular season. He still leads the points standings with a 100-point advantage on Chastain and a 108-point edge on Blaney.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for next Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). A.J. Allmendinger is the defending race winner.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400
1. (3) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 160.
2. (16) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 160.
3. (9) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 160.
4. (11) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 160.
5. (4) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 160.
6. (25) Michael McDowell, Ford, 160.
7. (8) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 160.
8. (7) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 160.
9. (34) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 160.
10. (15) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 160.
11. (17) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 160.
12. (18) William Byron, Chevrolet, 160.
13. (12) Aric Almirola, Ford, 160.
14. (26) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 160.
15. (13) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 160.
16. (10) Ty Gibbs(i), Toyota, 160.
17. (32) Cole Custer, Ford, 160.
18. (19) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 160.
19. (23) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 160.
20. (14) Joey Logano, Ford, 160.
21. (30) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 160.
22. (27) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 160.
23. (28) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 160.
24. (22) Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, 160.
25. (29) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 160.
26. (36) Cody Ware, Ford, 160.
27. (24) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 160.
28. (33) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 159.
29. (5) Chris Buescher, Ford, 158.
30. (35) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 158.
31. (20) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 154.
32. (21) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Accident, 142.
33. (6) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 135.
34. (31) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 35.
35. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 160.
36. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 160.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 122.459 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 15 Mins, 59 Secs. Margin of Victory: .927 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 9 for 37 laps.
Lead Changes: 15 among 10 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Busch 1-12;K. Larson 13-30;H. Burton # 31-34;C. Bell 35-48;K. Busch 49-64;M. Truex Jr. 65-66;R. Blaney 67-73;E. Jones 74-84;B. Wallace 85-87;K. Busch 88-122;R. Chastain 123;D. Hamlin 124-126;B. Wallace 127;R. Chastain 128-142;D. Hamlin 143-160.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Busch 3 times for 63 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 21 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 18 laps; Ross Chastain 2 times for 16 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 14 laps; Erik Jones 1 time for 11 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 7 laps; Harrison Burton # 1 time for 4 laps; Bubba Wallace 2 times for 4 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 2 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 5,9,99,12,43,24,19,4,7,34
Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,12,43,4,24,99,9,5,20,19
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