Denny Hamlin shared just one brief thought about his disqualification from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin thought he had tied Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott atop the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series wins list with his third win of the season, a record-breaking seventh victory at Pocono Raceway. He even had his daughter, Taylor, celebrate the win with him on the race track.
Instead, the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 race “winner” was officially scored as the 35th place finisher, as his #11 Toyota failed post-race inspection.
Runner-up and teammate Kyle Busch, however, did not become the race winner, as his #18 Toyota also failed post-race inspection. He was scored in 36th (last) place.
The source of the issues which led to both disqualifications was the front fascia on each car, according to NASCAR Cup Series Managing Director Brad Moran.
Instead, it was third place finisher Elliott who was declared the official race winner.
This win was Elliott’s series-high fourth of the 2022 season, and it came after he led exactly zero of the 160 laps around the three-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Tricky Triangle in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.
Hamlin, who remains tied with four-time series champion Jeff Gordon atop the all-time Pocono Raceway wins list with six, had just one thing to say about the disqualification on Sunday night.
It had to do with his daughter celebrating what everyone had once believed was a race win.
NASCAR, then believing that Hamlin was the legitimate winner themselves, tweeted a picture of Taylor holding up the checkered flag at Denny’s car.
Denny, following confirmation that the win didn’t count, quote-tweeted NASCAR’s tweet and let everyone that the checkered flag probably isn’t going anywhere.
With just two points scored on Sunday thanks to a 35th place finish, Hamlin fell to 21st in the point standings. But he does have two legitimate wins at Richmond Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway which have locked him into the playoffs. He has 12 playoff points, including five from each of those wins and two from two stage wins.
Because of the disqualification, the five playoff points he would have earned on Sunday instead went to Elliott, who now has a series-high 25 and is on pace to score 15 more with the regular season championship. He owns a triple-digit lead in the point standings following his third win in the last five races.