LONG POND, Pa. – NASCAR stripped Denny Hamlin of his win at Pocono Raceway when his #11 Toyota failed inspection and was disqualified, giving Chase Elliott the Cup Series win.
Joe Gibbs Racing had disqualified Hamlin’s car and second-place finisher Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota. Hamlin lost his record seventh win at Pocono and his third win of the season. Busch led a race high for 63 laps.
NASCAR believed the last time it disqualified an apparent winner was April 17, 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis’ win at Wilson Speedway in North Carolina was kicked out because of an oversized fuel tank.
The penalties are appealable, and both Toyotas were sent to NASCAR’s research and development center in North Carolina.
“Several issues have been discovered affecting the vehicle’s aerodynamics,” said Brad Moran, executive director of the NASCAR Cup Series. “There was really no reason why there was material that was anywhere it shouldn’t have been. And that basically amounts to a DQ.”
Moran said the parts in question are the front fascia – essentially the nose cone – and final decisions “should be settled by next week.”
Elliott, who finished third, celebrated his fourth win of the season. He never led a lap in the #9 Chevrolet.
Moran said inspection rules have tightened with the introduction of a new car this season. The latest version of NASCAR is essentially a kit car. Teams receive the same parts from different vendors and receive detailed assembly instructions.
“We don’t want to talk about this issue here,” Moran said. “But the teams and the owners and everyone were aware that this new car was going to be held to some pretty tight tolerances. There are some areas that all teams are aware of that we can’t go down the route we took with the other car over.”
The failures marred what had been a standout day for JGR.
Hamlin had apparently won for the third time this season, overtaking Hall of Famer driver Jeff Gordon for most wins at Pocono with seven. Hamlin won two races at Pocono in his 2006 rookie season, adding wins in 2009, 2010, 2019 and 2020. Now he remains linked to the four-time NASCAR champion.
Hamlin was busy from the start when the polesitter hit the wall on the first lap. He recovered – at 400 miles on the 2 1/2 mile tri-oval there is still plenty of racing ahead – and then watched as Busch led most of the race. Oh, then there was that thorny issue of settling scores with Ross Chastain.
Chastain destroyed Hamlin twice in a month earlier this season – Hamlin counted twice more from last season – and was fed up with the watermelon grower’s aggressive driving style. Hamlin refused to give his rival an inch advantage in the restart at Pocono, forcing Chastain into the wall with 16 laps to go. Chastain slammed into the wall, setting off a wreck that collected several riders including winless Kevin Harvick, who is fighting for a playoff spot.
“What did you want from me? What did you expect me to do?” Hamlin asked immediately afterwards.
Chastain, who has taken two wins for Trackhouse Racing this season, timidly understood compensation was due.
“I think that’s been owed to me for a few months,” Chastain said.
Hamlin also lost his tie with former teammate Tony Stewart on NASCAR’s career winners list at 49.
“We were just good friends and he’s certainly someone I look up to from a talent standpoint,” Hamlin told Tag.”
Hamlin is pretty close: He’s a three-time Daytona 500 champion and a 23XI Racing partner with Michael Jordan. The only blemish on his resume is the championship he failed to win – and the first DQ of his cup career.
Hamlin’s little daughter burst into tears of joy and he sent her off to get the checkered flag. Taylor Hamlin clutched the flag as she slipped through the passenger side window and, with Dad at the wheel, did a lap of honor around Pocono.
Ty Gibbs finished 16th for 23XI Racing in his first career Cup start, coming on for the injured Kurt Busch.
Busch suffered a head injury during Saturday’s qualifying session and was disqualified from racing by NASCAR’s medical staff. That opened the door for 19-year-old Gibbs.
In a pinch, Joe Gibbs’ grandson wore Busch’s firefighter suit and Hamlin’s shoes.
“I never thought I would race with these guys,” Gibbs said. “It was just cool to be next to them on the track. It means a lot to 10-year-old Ty.”
Grandpa Joe was pretty proud. “He was disheartened that he couldn’t make more of it,” Gibbs said. “I think he realizes how tough it is.”
Gibbs remained concerned that JGR has yet to reconnect with Kyle Busch.
“We had a few companies, we thought [were in] that ended up being a disappointment for us,” said Gibbs. “But it’s hard and it’s daunting.”
IndyCar and NASCAR share at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next weekend. IndyCar races on Saturday on the street; NASCAR races on Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
https://www.espn.com/racing/nascar/story/_/id/34290768/chase-elliott-given-win-pocono-denny-hamlin-kyle-busch-disqualified Chase Elliott given win at Pocono after Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch disqualified