NASCAR Cup Series

3rd-placed Chase Elliott promoted to Pocono win after Hamlin, Busch DQ’d

3 Mins read
Credit: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Wins in the NASCAR Cup Series can come in many ways. Doing so after finishing third, while exceptionally rare for obvious reasons, also counts.

Chase Elliott did not lead a single lap and finished a distant third to the Joe Gibbs Racing cars of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, the former of whom broke a tie with Elliott’s predecessor and current boss Jeff Gordon for the most wins at Pocono with seven while the latter scored a runner-up in the M&M’s car at the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 to celebrate the candy maker’s final year in NASCAR. Both JGR drivers’ stories were thrown out the window about an hour later when their cars failed post-race inspection, resulting in their relegations to thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth.

“There was some issues discovered that affect aero of the vehicle,” explained Cup Series managing director Brad Moran. “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.”

Hamlin is the first Cup race winner to lose his victory since NASCAR implemented its disqualification policy in 2019; the same fate previously struck Ross Chastain when he was a Truck Series driver at Iowa 2019, and Busch in the 2020 Texas Xfinity event. The last disqualified Cup winner was Emanuel Zervakis at Wilson Speedway in 1960 for an oversized fuel cell, while the 1955 Palm Beach Speedway event saw first- and second-placed Joe Weatherly and Jim Reed get knocked off due to an illegal camshaft and valves, respectively.

“We don’t want to be here talking about this,” continued Moran. “We just saw a great race. Last thing you want to do is meet here afterwards and talk about this problem. But the teams and the owners and everybody is well aware that this new car was going to be kept with some pretty tight tolerances, and there’s some areas that all the teams are well aware that we cannot be going down the path that we had in the past with the other cars.

“It is partly to do with the new car, and the rules have tightened up, and everyone has to kind of abide by our new rules, which everybody is well aware of. We saw enough that the DQ was warranted, and we are bringing the vehicles back for further evaluation, so we will look much closer at both vehicles. But as of right now, we are hopefully not going to find anything else, but we are going to inspect them further when we get them back to the R&D Center.”

Toyotas like Hamlin and Busch enjoyed substantial success on Sunday prior to their disqualifications, with the two combining to lead 84 of 160 laps while Busch won Stage #2. Conversely, the Fords struggled with only Michael McDowell finishing in the top ten. Adding to a difficult Sunday for Team Penske, whose NTT IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden was poised to sweep his series’ weekend at Iowa before crashing from the lead and eventually being hospitalised after fainting, Ryan Blaney spun off turn three and crashed into the pit wall.

Josh Bilicki and Chastain also retired due to wrecks. The latter, who has been going through a feud with Hamlin for much of the summer stretch, was squeezed into the outside wall by Hamlin and shot down the track. Hamlin was booed by the fans after the race, to which he defended himself by asking, “What did you want me to do? What did you expect me to do? We got position on him, and he just ran out of race track. We’re just going to keep racing hard until we get the respect back from these guys. 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.”

While his Toyota compatriots drop to the back, Ty Gibbs is promoted to sixteenth in his Cup début.

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
139Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet160Running
2168Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet160Running
3999Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet160Running
41120Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota160Running
545Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet160Running
62534Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord160Running
7819Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota160Running
8723Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota160Running
93443Erik JonesPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet160Running
10153Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet160Running
111748Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet160Running
121824William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet160Running
131210Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord160Running
14266Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord160Running
151314Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord160Running
161045Ty Gibbs*23XI RacingToyota160Running
173241Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord160Running
181947Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet160Running
19237Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet160Running
201422Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord160Running
213031Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet160Running
222742Ty DillonPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet160Running
232821Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord160Running
242216Noah Gragson*Kaulig RacingChevrolet160Running
252938Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord160Running
263651Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord160Running
27244Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord160Running
283315J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingFord159Running
29517Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord158Running
303578B.J. McLeod*Live Fast MotorsportsFord158Running
31202Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord154Running
32211Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet142Accident
33612Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord135Accident
343177Josh Bilicki*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet35Accident
35111Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota160Running (DSQ)
36218Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota160Running (DSQ)
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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