NASCAR: Denny Hamlin leads the standings; his team doesn't

Despite the fact that Kyle Larson's No. 5 team leads the NASCAR Cup Series owner standings, Denny Hamlin is the points leader.
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin sits atop the point standings following his fifth place finish in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Hendrick Motorsports' Kyle Larson had led the standings ever since the race at Martinsville Speedway in early April. But after the Indy 500 was delayed by four hours due to rain, the driver who had set out to attempt the Memorial Day Double opted to remain at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and compete in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing".

That decision, coupled with the fact that the Coca-Cola 600 itself was reduced from 400 laps to 249 laps due to rain, led to the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet not being able to compete in the crown jewel event at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Concord, North Carolina oval.

Kyle Larson no longer the points leader

Justin Allgaier filled in for Larson at Charlotte. Though that meant Larson could not score any points, even if there had been no rain and he had taken over for Allgaier and been able to run the final 151 laps, the No. 5 team was still able to score points in the owner standings with Allgaier's result.

Allgaier, who is ineligible for Cup Series points himself since he is a full-time Xfinity Series driver, finished in 13th place, giving the No. 5 team 24 additional points.

As a result, the No. 5 team still leads the owner standings. Hamlin's No. 11 team sits 18 points behind in second place, and Martin Truex Jr.'s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team sits a further five points behind in third.

Larson, however, dropped to third place in the driver standings. He trails Hamlin by six points and Truex by one.

It is believed that Larson will be granted a playoff waiver, meaning that his missed start won't count against his playoff eligibility.

Given the circumstances surrounding his missed Coca-Cola 600 start, any other decision by NASCAR would be shambolic, to say the very least.

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