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Elliott won’t celebrate Pocono win after Hamlin DQ

Chase Elliott left Pocono Raceway in third place and when he arrived home in Georgia he learned that he had been declared the winner of the race.

For now, at least.

Joe Gibbs Racing can still appeal NASCAR’s decision to strip Denny Hamlin and teammate Kyle Busch of their victory Sunday after their Toyotas failed inspections. Hamlin was the first Cup winner to be disqualified since April 17, 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis’ victory at Wilson Speedway in North Carolina was thrown out because of an oversized fuel tank.

The Toyotas have been sent to NASCAR’s research and development center in North Carolina for further evaluation, and depending on potential appeals, it could take up to a week to resolve the winner or other penalties against JGR.

Elliott got his fourth win of the season, with the Hendrick Motorsports driver never leading a lap on Sunday in his No. 9 Chevrolet. The series points leader will take the win, even if it doesn’t feel right to get it without the checkered flag.

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“I was probably more surprised than anything,” Elliott said Monday. “I don’t think any driver wants to win like that. I certainly don’t.”

Hamlin, who had already pulled his young daughter across the track in a victory lap, and the rest of the field had long since left Pocono when NASCAR’s inspection team found problems in both Toyotas that affected aerodynamics.

“There was really no reason for there to be any material that was somewhere it shouldn’t be. And that basically comes down to a DQ,” NASCAR Cup Series general manager Brad Moran said Sunday night.

Team owner Joe Gibbs said Sunday he was “shocked” by the decision and that his organization planned to “review every part of the process that led to this situation.”

Pushing the limit of the rulebook, creatively or illegally, has been part of NASCAR’s culture since its inception. But NASCAR toughened its punishments going into the 2019 season in a bolder attempt to crack down on cheating. The biggest change came in the inspections, which nailed the JGR drivers on Sunday. NASCAR said post-race inspections will take place at the track instead of midweek at the sanctioning body’s research and development center outside Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Winning teams found in breach of the rules prior to 2019 were penalized with post-race fines, points deductions and/or suspensions. But the riders were not deprived of victories until then.

For example, Joey Logano held on to a 2017 win at Richmond even after a midweek teardown of his car at the R&D center showed his Team Penske team had broken the rules. Logano, however, could not count the win toward postseason consideration.

Hamlin won’t be so lucky. He missed out on this third win of the season, his record seventh victory at Pocono and a 49th career victory that would have tied him on the NASCAR career list with three-time champion Tony Stewart.

No matter NASCAR’s final judgment, Hamlin will likely be the winner among gambling sites. FanDuel Sportsbook said Monday that house rules bets determine the outcome of the podium presentation regardless of any subsequent disqualifications. Where things get murky is with fantasy players.

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FanDuel said all NASCAR fantasy contests are settled the next day.

The breakdown was as follows:

– Elliott was awarded 43 points for finishing first after post-race inspections.

– Kyle Busch received five points for finishing 36th due to failing post-race inspection.

– Hamlin earned six fantasy points for finishing 35th.

NASCAR could hit JGR with stiffer penalties and points fines than Zervakis faced in 1960. The Associated Press reported that officials withheld Zervakis’ $1,275 purse after he won the race without a pit stop and “brought about half a gallon of gas over is considered stock in the technical ratings of your 1960 Chevrolet.” Joe Weatherly earned the win.

Elliott, 27, the 2020 Series Cup champion and NASCAR’s most popular driver, said he was moving on from Pocono as if he actually finished third. And he said he’s not going to ask for the trophy.

“I’m not going to celebrate somebody’s misfortune,” Elliott said. “This doesn’t seem right to me. I crossed the line third. That’s how I see it.”

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Elliott won’t celebrate Pocono win after Hamlin DQ

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