Chase Elliott was declared the winner at Pocono Raceway on Sunday after the cars of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch – who initially crossed the start/finish line first and second, respectively – were disqualified following post-race inspection.
The disqualifications also mean Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick will nab a second-place result, and Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez is third. JGR driver Christopher Bell (fourth) and Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson (fifth) complete the new top five.
Hamlin was involved in another high-profile incident on a restart with 18 laps remaining, colliding with season rival Ross Chastain while vying side-by-side for the race lead. And even then, Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart kept reminding him of a tenuous fuel situation in the closing laps. But Hamlin kept the field at bay on the ensuing restart with 13 laps remaining and crossed first before his car failed post-race tech.
As for the incident with Chastain, Hamlin did not hesitate to answer. The two drivers have been involved in several high-profile run-ins during races this season.
“What did you want me to do? What did you expect me to do?” Hamlin said. “I got position on him, and he just ran out of race track.”
Asked if it was now over between the two and if the feud was essentially settled now, Hamlin smiled and said, “We’re gonna just keep racing hard until we get the respect back from these guys. And it’s not just that. We’ve been wrecked four times, twice while leading in the last 10 months and I’m at the end of it.”
Chastain, a two-race winner in his first season driving for Trackhouse Racing, emerged from the Infield Care Center and acknowledged the situation wasn’t entirely unexpected.
“That’s something that’s been coming to me for a few months now,” Chastain said of expecting retribution. “I’m proud of the effort by Trackhouse. To keep bringing fast cars like that is a testament to GM and Chevrolet. It was a really fast one and we’ll be back at Indy.”
Asked if he thought the score was now settled Chastain just smiled.
“I’ve been owed that and probably some more for a few months now.”
Busch, who started on the front row with Hamlin, had led a race-best 63 of the 160 laps.
It was a significant day for 19-year-old Ty Gibbs, grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs. Gibbs was tabbed only a couple of hours before the race to fill in for 23XI Racing driver Kurt Busch, who was involved in an accident during qualifying on Saturday and not cleared medically to compete on Sunday.
Gibbs, who finished 16th in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota, was all smiles and gratitude after the race, even taking a moment to thank team co-owner, NBA legend Michael Jordan for the opportunity.
“I had a great time and Michael if you’re watching, I want to say, ‘thank you,'” Gibbs said. “I had a great time, and I learned a lot.”
With five regular-season races remaining, Elliott still leads the points standings with a 100-point advantage on Chastain and a 108-point edge on Ryan Blaney, who was involved in a late-race accident.
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course with 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.
NOTE: After concluding its post-race inspection, NASCAR disqualified the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch. Both cars, along with the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford of Michael McDowell and No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet, will be brought back to the NASCAR R&D Center for further inspection.
Contributing: Staff reports