Chase Elliott Pocono winner after Hamlin, Kyle Busch disqualified
About an hour after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race ended at Pocono Raceway, race winner Denny Hamlin and runner-up Kyle Busch were disqualified after post-race inspection.
The disqualification of Hamlin – the first winner of a Cup race since the rule was put in place a few years ago – and Busch means Chase Elliott is the new winner of the race.
The last time a Cup winner was disqualified was in 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis was disqualified for a large fuel cell during a race at Palm Beach Speedway.
Violations on Joe Gibbs Racing cars were related to aero in the front fascia of the car.
“There have been issues discovered that affect the aero of the vehicle,” Cup Series manager Brad Norman said. “There really was no reason for there to be any material that was somewhere it shouldn’t have been, and it basically comes down to a DQ. It’s a penalty, both Denny’s 11 Hamlin and Kyle Busch’s 18 have been DQed. Their vehicles are being loaded into the NASCAR transporter. They will be returning to the R&D Center.
Norman said penalties can be appealed, so more details won’t be available until that process has been played out. There will be no suspensions or point penalties.
NASCAR later said the reason the infraction was not discovered during the pre-race inspection was that the car’s wraps had to be removed to find it.
Elliott, who has now won three of the last five races, has never led once in the 160-lap race.
Busch also had his Stage 2 win vacated, handing it to Ross Chastain.
In Stage 1, Hamlin finished third while Busch placed fourth. In Stage 2, Hamlin also finished fifth.
Following the disqualifications, the new top 10 consists of Elliott, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon.
Click here for updated results from the NASCAR Cup race at Pocono.
Hamlin’s disqualification delayed an eventful day for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
Starting from the post, Hamlin broke away coming out of Turn 1 and bounced off the outside wall. Later, on a Lap 11 restart, Hamlin’s left side tires went under the yellow line in Turn 2 and his #11 Toyota went for a spin to bring caution out.
Finally, on a restart with 18 laps to go, Hamlin starts second inside Ross Chastain. In the final chapter of their feud, Hamlin appeared to direct Chastain towards the wall. Chastain’s #1 car bounced off the wall, then slammed into Kevin Harvick’s #4 and ended Chastain’s day.
“I think it’s something that’s been due to me for a few months now,” Chastain told NBC Sports.
Hamlin had been as close as two laps of fuel before the caution that created this restart.
“That’s the team, they were able to come back with a great strategy there to put us back in front for the mistake I made,” Hamlin told NBC Sports on the straight as a mix cheers and boos rained down from the stands. This was noted by NBC Sports’ Marty Snider, who asked if his contact with Chastain paid off.
“What did you want me to do?” said Hamlin. “What did you expect me to do?” We got a position on him and he just ran out of racetrack. … We’re just gonna keep running hard until we get those guys’ respect back. It’s not just that, we’ve been wrecked four times, twice in the lead in two months and I’m just at the end.
CHASTAIN IN THE WALL! pic.twitter.com/WWZmlpQYGi
—NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 24, 2022
Before the disqualification, Hamlin led 22 of the 160 laps.
Busch had led a record 63 laps before losing what would eventually be Chastain’s lead in the green-flag pit stops. Chastain edged him with a pit stop streak of 36.5 seconds to Busch’s 38.1.
“We tended to let go on that run where (Chastain) was following me and trailing me,” Busch told NBC Sports. “I thought that was our hurdle so we tightened it up a bit and we did it and we were way too tight all the way through the last run.
“When (Hamlin) and (Chastain) were in front of us, I backed away from those guys. So we were lucky to get a few warnings there, lucky to keep pace.
The most notable finish outside of the top 10 was Ty Gibbs in 16th.
The 19-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs made his first career NASCAR Cup start as a relief to Kurt Busch, who was ruled out with concussion symptoms on Sunday morning after his tough wreck in qualifying on Saturday afternoon .
“The biggest thing right now is Kurt’s health and hopefully he can get back into that seat,” Gibbs said. “He drives way better than me, so he deserves it. He was awesome. He helped me so much. I want to say thank you to him. We had a fast McDonald’s Camry TRD.
Gibbs said the biggest surprise of his first Cup start was how the dirty air affected his car.
“I was a little tight all day so I was just trying to get a front bend and trying to get more center bend which would help me. It was a learning day. I felt like I learned a lot. I’m very grateful. It was almost a top 15. It was fun racing with Brad (Keselowski). I never thought I would race with these guys. It was just cool to be next to them on the track. So for Ty, 10 years old means a lot. I don’t think I would ever expect that.
For Michael McDowell, it was yet another top 10 for the 2021 Daytona 500 winner.
The Front Row Motorsports driver’s 6th place finish was the best result for Ford on Sunday, as he was the only Ford driver to finish in the top 12. McDowell now has a record of eight top 10 finishes in 21 races. His previous record was five.
“It was a good day. I had a couple of good restarts which got us into position on the track and then I had a really bad one where we got hit in the left rear and we made a spun and came back last,” McDowell said. “It hurt a lot for us. My guys had a good race and we tried different strategies to try to get track position. stayed on old tires but felt like if I had a good restart and got into the top 10 I could hold on We started 16th without tires and rode all the way to eighth place, so I’m really proud of that finish. It’s still not the day you want. You don’t want to be eighth, you want to win the race, but we’re doing a great job and I feel like we are getting closer.
With his 8th-place finish on Sunday, Wallace earned back-to-back top-10 finishes for the first time in his NASCAR Cup Series career.