NASCAR: Denny Hamlin celebrates Chase Elliott victory

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Pocono Raceway, NASCAR (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Pocono Raceway, NASCAR (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

He didn’t know it at the time, but Denny Hamlin’s celebration in victory lane last year at Pocono Raceway happened after a NASCAR Cup Series race won by Chase Elliott.

The last time the NASCAR Cup Series visited Pocono Raceway was July 2022, when Denny Hamlin led Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2 finish ahead of teammate Kyle Busch to secure a record seventh victory at the track, passing Jeff Gordon in that category.

His victory at the Tricky Triangle was his 49th career Cup Series victory, and it tied him for 15th place on the all-time wins list with Tony Stewart. As expected, he celebrated the win with his No. 11 team in victory lane at the three-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Long Pond, Pennsylvania track.

But shortly thereafter, both Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota and Busch’s No. 18 Toyota were disqualified from the race, making Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott the winner.

Chase Elliott led zero of the race’s 160 laps en route to his first NASCAR Cup Series victory at Pocono Raceway.

The disqualifications of the two Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas came as a result of violations relating to the front fascia of each car.

While Elliott admitted he would be fine with Hamlin keeping the trophy, Hamlin did turn over the hardware to the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet after the results became official. Maybe the fact that he already owns six others had something to do with it — who knows?

Nevertheless, Elliott did not get the traditional opportunity to celebrate in victory lane.

The decision to disqualify a race winner was a historic one, as it hadn’t happened in the Cup Series since April 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis won at Wilson Speedway but was disqualified afterward because his car was found to have had a large fuel cell. Joe Weatherly was promoted to first place and declared the winner.

NASCAR made a rule change ahead of the 2019 season regarding post-race inspection procedures, and a number of drivers were disqualified and thus lost their race results from 2019 to 2021. Elliott himself was disqualified from a race in 2021.

But none of those drivers were race winners.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is now offering fans an instant $100 for placing a single $5 bet, lists Hamlin and teammate Martin Truex Jr. as the +500 co-favorites to win the 400. Elliott is listed in a 10th place tie at +1600, while Busch is listed third at +600.

Odds and availability are always subject to change, so lock in your $100 now!

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

The Pocono 400 is scheduled to be broadcast live on USA Network from Pocono Raceway starting at 2:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, July 23. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and be sure not to miss it!