NASCAR: Pocono decision marks a Cup first since 1960

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

For the first time since 1960, an apparent NASCAR Cup Series race winner was disqualified and stripped of a victory on Sunday night at Pocono Raceway.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag to win Sunday’s M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway, giving him a record seven NASCAR Cup Series victories at the track.

He finished the 160-lap race around the three-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Tricky Triangle in Long Pond, Pennsylvania ahead of teammate Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 63 laps, in second place.

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Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott finished in third place without leading a single lap.

But following post-race inspection, the driver of the #9 Chevrolet was declared the official race winner.

The #11 Toyota of Hamlin and the #18 Toyota of Busch both failed post-race inspection, handing Elliott a series-high fourth win of the season — and his third in the last five races.

NASCAR Cup Series Managing Director Brad Moran explained the front fascia on each car was the source of what led to the disqualifications.

This marks the first time in over six decades that an apparent Cup Series race winner has been disqualified due to a rule violation.

It last happened on Sunday, April 17, 1960 at Wilson Speedway, when Emanuel Zervakis won the race but was disqualified afterward because his car was found to have had a large fuel cell. Runner-up Joe Weatherly was promoted to first place and declared the race winner.

Hamlin was officially scored in 35th place, with Busch in 36th (last) following the disqualifications. Neither driver was able to retain any stage points and/or playoff points they had originally earned prior to being disqualified.

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Hamlin sits in 21st place in the point standings with 12 playoff points, thanks to his two race wins and two stage wins, while Busch sits in eighth in the standings but with only six playoff points, thanks to his one race win and one stage win.