UPDATE: Sunday, July 24th at 8:15 PM ET —
The top-two finishers from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway — Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch — have been disqualified following post race-inspection.
As a result, third-place finisher Chase Elliott is the official race winner.
Elliott is now a four-time winner in 2022.
According to Brad Moran, the NASCAR Cup Series Managing Director, the No. 11 and No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing cars failed post-race inspection due to some issues with the front facias of their cars that affected the aerodynamics on the car.
“There really was no reason why there was some material that was where it shouldn’t have been,” Moran said.
Both cars will be sent to the NASCAR R&D center for further evaluation. Joe Gibbs Racing does have the ability to appeal the ruling, but at this time the infraction will count as a DQ for both teams and they will be credited with finishing 35th and 36th in Sunday’s race.
NASCAR’s Brad Moran describes the issue that DQ’d the Hamlin and Kyle Busch cars at Pocono. pic.twitter.com/76KncxfBql
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) July 25, 2022
While JGR is able to appeal the penalty for both Hamlin and Busch, there has been no official statement of intent from the team to do so, as of yet. Team owner Joe Gibbs did issue a statement of shock regarding the infraction that led to the DQs.
“We were shocked to learn of the infraction that caused our two cars to fail NASCAR’s post-race technical inspection. We plan to review every part of the process that led to this situation,” Gibbs said.
Tyler Reddick officially finished second, while Daniel Suarez, Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five finishers in the race.
Michael McDowell, Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon made up the rest of the top-10 finishers.
ORIGINAL STORY: Sunday, July 24th at 6:59 PM ET —
Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway was nowhere near perfect for Denny Hamlin, but at the end of the race, the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry was lighting up his tires in celebration of his third win of the 2022 season.
Hamlin, who started from the pole, slapped the wall in turn 2 on lap 1 of the race, which caused him to lose the lead and drop to the back half of the top-10.
Hamlin would then spin on lap 41, which sent him to the rear of the field.
As Hamlin and his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team fought hard back to the front of the field, things got a bit sketchy again. On the final pit stop of the day, his No. 11 car did not get all of the fuel it needed to make it to the finish, which led to some nervous moments.
However, a caution when Hamlin made contact with Ross Chastain, his rival, which sent Chastain crashing on lap 143, gave Hamlin a chance to save fuel, which ensured he’d have enough fuel for the finish.
Here is video of the incident between Hamlin and Chastain:
How was Hamlin able to overcome all of these obstacles to score his 49th-career win and seventh win at Pocono Raceway? In a word: Teamwork.
“It’s the team,” Hamlin explained in his post-race interview. “They just were able to come back with a great strategy there to get us back up front from the mistake I made.”
Hamlin took the lead for good in the incident with his rival Chastain. Did Hamlin initiate contact as retaliation for recent incidents?
“I mean, 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,” Hamlin explained.
On whether this puts him even with Chastain, Hamlin says he’s going to keep doing whatever it takes to gain respect from those who have not raced him with respect since the end of 2021.
“We’re going to just keep racing hard until we get the respect back from these guys,” Hamlin lashed out. “It’s not just that, I’ve been wrecked four times — twice while leading — in the last 10 months and I’m at the end of it.”
With this win, Hamlin is now tied with Chase Elliott for the series lead in wins this year and he has matched Tony Stewart’s mark for wins on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list.
Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 63 laps, wound up finishing runner-up to Hamlin, while Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez made up the rest of the top-five finishers.
Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Ty Gibbs Cup Series Debut
Another big story in this race was the NASCAR Cup Series debut of Ty Gibbs.
Kurt Busch, who had crashed in Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series qualifying was not cleared to race on Sunday by doctors, which led to 23XI Racing selecting Gibbs to fill in for Sunday’s race.
Gibbs started at the rear of the field in a backup car, and he was a non-factor for much of the day.
But after running all of the laps in the race, Gibbs came home with an 18th-place finish after flirting with a top-15 in the closing laps of the race. All-in-all it was a successful debut for Gibbs.
“It was a learning day. I learned a lot and I’m very thankful,” Gibbs said following the race. “It was close, almost top-15. It was fun racing with Brad [Keselowski]. Never thought I’d race with these guys. It was just cool being next to them on the track.”