Monday Morning Pit-Stop: Denny Hamlin Skirts Rules, Jones ‘Raced Like A–hole’, Kyle Busch Is Icy, Elliott Never Leads

Congrats, Denny Hamlin!

You successfully punted Ross Chastain after weeks of yapping about it, scored your seventh career Pocono win, tied Chase Elliott for most wins (3) on the season and built some nice momentum for your team heading into the stretch run.

All in all, a good day at the track!

Wait, what? Come again? NASCAR did WHAT!?

“Everyone has to abide by our new rules,” said NASCAR Cup Series Managing Director Brad Moran. “We saw enough that the DQ was warranted and we are bringing the vehicles back for further evaluation.”

Tisk, tisk, tisk.

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA – JULY 24: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 24, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Hamlin, Kyle Busch try to pull a fast one

OK, let’s dive in.

What in the world actually happened late Sunday that forced NASCAR to strip someone of the win for the first time in decades?

Well, as they say, it all starts with the aero (I don’t actually know if they say that or not).

“There was some issues discovered that affect aero of the vehicle. The part was the front fascia,” Moran explained. “There really was no reason why there was some material that was somewhere that it shouldn’t have been, and that does basically come down to a DQ.”

So Hamlin and teammate Kyle Busch – more on Rowdy a little later, by the way – lost their first and second-place finishes, and NASCAR handed the Pocono trophy over to … Chase Elliott!

Cue the, “He’s the Golden Boy, of course NASCAR gave him the win” hot takes. I’m sure they’re coming!

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA – JULY 24: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, finishes third place in the NASCAR Cup Series M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 24, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Chase Elliott would win after Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, winner, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&Ms Toyota, runner-up, were disqualified after post-race inspection. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott wins race, doesn’t lead a lap

So Chase was gifted his fourth win of the season despite not leading a single lap.

That’s right. The winner of an actual automobile race won despite never leading one single lap.

And for those wondering, this was the first time NASCAR’s pulled something like this since April 17, 1960 at Wilson Speedway. On that day, it was Emanuel Zervakes who was DQ’d for having an oversized gas tank, giving Joe Weathery the victory.

By the way, because I know you’re all wondering … Richard Petty finished seventh in the race, Junior Johnson finished 10th and Ned Jarrett brought ‘er home 13th.

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA – JULY 24: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&Ms Toyota, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 24, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin wrecks Ross Chastain

Before all the post-race drama, we had actual on-the-track mayhem that, once again, involved Hamlin and his buddy Ross Chastain.

After weeks of talking payback for the Gateway (and Atlanta) incident, Hamlin made good on his promise on a late restart Sunday.

And, frankly, it was pretty easy to see coming, folks.

Hamlin and Chastain both started on the front row late in the final stage, the two entered Turn 1 side by side, and Hamlin started slowly drifting up the track …

… and he kept drifting, and drifting, and drifting some more until poor Ross had nowhere to go but in the fence.

“It was something that has been owed to me for a few months now,” Chastain said.

Denny, we all square now?

“What did you want me to do? What did you expect me to do? We got position on him, and he just ran out of race track,” Hamlin told the (booing) Pocono crowd.

“We’re just going to keep racing hard until we get the respect back from these guys. It’s not just that, we’ve been wrecked four times. Twice while leading in the last 10 months and I’m at the end of it.”

Did unsigned Kyle Busch and boss Joe Gibbs share an icy exchange?

Before we motor off to Indianapolis, let’s first check in with Erik Jones, who was in a SPICY mood all afternoon on Sunday.

First, this gem early in the race while going at it with Ryan Blaney …

“F–k this guy,” Jones said.

I like it. Clean, crisp and straight to the point.

Later in the day, Jones asked a very poignant and fair question when he was shuffled back to eighth on a restart.

“Is there a reason I’m being raced like a f—–g asshole?”

No idea, Erik!

On our way out, let’s do some investigative work on Twitter courtesy of a tweet from NASCAR that showed and exchange between Joe Gibbs and Kyle Busch after the race.

Take a look for yourselves:

Normally, I wouldn’t think anything of this. Rowdy is always mad, and that’s why we love him around these parts.

However, Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing have been in the public eye for weeks now as the two try to come up with a new deal ahead of next season. Frankly, I’m not sure how hard both sides are trying at the moment, though.

If you read the tea leaves – and love a good conspiracy, like I do – you would notice that Ty Gibbs – Joe’s grandson – filled in for Kurt Busch at Pocono and is obviously going to drive for his granddad someday soon at the Cup level.

Couple that with this video, which isn’t exactly a heartwarming interaction between driver and boss, and, well, it ain’t THAT crazy to think Rowdy could be on the move after this season.

All right, enough of that. We’re off to Indy.

Congratulations, Chase! Anybody who can manage to win a race without leading a single lap is an instant legend around these parts.

Written by Zach Dean

Zach grew up in Florida, lives in Florida, and will never leave Florida ... for obvious reasons. He's a reigning fantasy football league champion, knows everything there is to know about NASCAR, and once passed out (briefly!) during a lap around Daytona. He swears they were going 200 mph even though they clearly were not.

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