Chase Elliott wins NASCAR Pocono race after Hamlin, Kyle Busch disqualified
Chase Elliott, who finished third on track, was named the winner of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway after Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, the one-two finishers, were disqualified after post-race inspection.
Denny Hamlin had won another confrontation with Ross Chastain late in the race to finish first, winning by .927 of a second over Busch. Elliott was not a close third.
But inspection resulted in the rare disqualification of a NASCAR race winner, giving Elliott his fourth win of the year, which leads the series. Oddly, Elliott won the race without leading a lap.
Chastain and Hamlin were first and second on a restart in the closing miles. Hamlin shot to the inside of Chastain and edged up the track, limiting Chastain’s lane. Chastain hit the outside wall, was hit by Kevin Harvick and slid into the inside wall and out of the race.
Chastain was running second to Kyle Busch with 38 laps to go when Busch pitted for fuel and tires. Chastain pitted a lap later. His pit crew’s work was about two seconds faster than Busch’s, and Chastain returned to the track in first place.
The race scenario changed with 23 laps to go when Ryan Blaney slid through turn three and sailed into the outside pit wall, bringing out a caution flag. That set up a restart with Chastain and Hamlin side-by-side, leading to anticipation that the two might have another on-track altercation.
Hamlin didn’t push Chastain into the wall on the restart, but he limited Chastain’s room to race. Hamlin had made it clear earlier in the season that he planned to get some revenge at some point for what Hamlin has described as Chastain’s rough driving. After Sunday’s incident, Chastain said it was “something I’ve been owed for a few months now.”
Hamlin said Chastain “just ran out of race track.”
The original finish order had Busch, Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez following Hamlin.
The track’s final stage began with Kyle Busch and Chastain on the front row, and with weather threatening.
Restarts were somewhat calamitous, a normal situation at Pocono, which has a wide frontstretch that funnels into a tight first turn.
Ty Gibbs ran well in his first Cup race, running as a replacement for Kurt Busch, who was sidelined by NASCAR protocol after a Saturday crash in practice. Gibbs finished 16th.
The race presented a series of spins virtually from the beginning. A couple of spins -- by Aric Almirola and Austin Cindric -- resulted in the relatively unusual circumstance of drivers doing U-turns on the inside of the track and traveling backward on pit road to reach the pits.
Stage 1 winner: Kyle Larson
Stage 2 winner: Kyle Busch
Who had a good race: Chase Elliott didn’t lead a lap but wound up with the race win. ... Ty Gibbs was under a considerable amount of pressure Sunday as a late replacement for Kurt Busch, but he drove well, moving up through the pack and finished a commendable 16th in his first Cup start. ... Daniel Suarez finished third and made several big moves over the closing laps. The top-10 run was his ninth of the year and fifth in the past six races.
Who had a bad race: Ryan Blaney had a day of adventure. He had a strong car despite numerous issues and was looking at a top-five run before losing control late in the race and sliding into the outside pit wall. He finished 33rd. ... Ross Chastain went from challenging for the win to a 32nd-place finish after a late-race altercation with winner Denny Hamlin. ... Kevin Harvick lost another shot at a strong finish in the aftermath of the Hamlin-Chastain incident and dropped through the finish order to 27th.
Next: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course) -- Sunday, July 31 (3 p.m. ET, NBC)