Skip to main content


Thanks to DQ, Elliott tries to defend NASCAR win at Pocono earned without leading a lap

Chase Elliott Chase Elliott - The Canadian Press

LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — Chase Elliott had just landed from the plane ride back from Pocono when texts started coming in from friends congratulating him on his latest NASCAR victory.

Hold up.

What victory?

“No, we ran third,” Elliott said he replied.

Finished third, yes — but won the Pocono race, all because of a bizarre disqualification that stripped Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch of their 1-2 finishes and sent Elliott to victory last year.

And he never led a lap.

Hamlin was the first disqualified Cup winner since April 17, 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis’ victory at Wilson Speedway in North Carolina was thrown out because of an oversized fuel tank.

The NASCAR inspection team found issues in both JGR Toyotas that affected the aerodynamics and tossed out the finish.

Hamlin’s win gave him the career lead — for a few hours, at least — at Pocono with seven. Hamlin’s young daughter burst into tears of joy and he sent her to retrieve the checkered flag. Taylor Hamlin clutched the flag as she slid through the passenger’s side window and took a victory lap around Pocono with dad at the wheel.

Taylor Hamlin still owns the flag.

As for the winner’s prize, Hamlin shipped the Eagle trophy to Elliott, perhaps the least prized one in his possession.

“I didn’t want to celebrate it, personally,” Elliott said. “That’s not how I want to win a race. We all want to go win them outright and make sure we feel like we earned it. We want to earn it every week.”

NASCAR’s decision reignited the debate on whether winners should have wins rescinded because of rules violations.

Winning teams found in violation of the rules before 2019 were penalized with postrace fines, point deductions and/or suspensions. But drivers didn’t have victories taken away from them until then.

Busch said NASCAR’s decision was “a bit over the top” and used air quotes when he said the violation was blatant.

“Honestly if it was something missed, then that is the price we have to pay as a team. We win and we lose together,” Busch said. “So the cars have to be right, and more right now than ever because the rules and the infractions are just so stiff.”

When Hamlin was asked Saturday about his six Pocono wins, he quickly interjected “seven,” even though the record book says otherwise.

“I don't get too surprised about anything, but certainly that call at 8:15 p.m. (that he was DQ'd) was a surprising one,” Hamlin said.

Busch has moved on to Richard Childress Racing and has three wins this season. Hamlin was officially scored 35th in the race and did not win again the rest of 2022. He has one victory this season. Elliott, the 2020 NASCAR champion, had five wins last season but has yet to take the checkered flag this year. Elliott has missed seven races this season because of injuries and a suspension, putting him in position to have to win a race essentially to make the playoffs.

Elliott is not among the top 16 drivers in points. Pocono marked the first of six races left in NASCAR's version of the regular season that will set the playoff field.

“I think it has been in some ways enjoyable to find new challenges and kind of push yourself in different areas,” Elliott said. “It doesn’t really feel a ton different I guess than like a playoff run, like in the final 10 (races).”

Hamlin starts eighth on Sunday in the No. 11 Toyota and expects to contend for the record win that actually will count.

“I'm pretty optimistic that we can hopefully be part of the story when the day is over,” he said.


Martin Truex Jr. thought hard about the big decision he is facing and delayed it again — he still hasn't purchased a new fishing boat.

“Working on it. Going to look at it Monday,” Truex said.

Oh, as for that other big decision — Truex still hasn't decided if he will retire or return for another season at Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Still thinking things over, yes,” Truex said.

Truex followed up Monday's win at New Hampshire with a solid second-place run in qualifying. He'll start on the front row Sunday at Pocono with pole sitter William Byron.

Bryon, driving for Hendrick Motorsports, leads the Cup Series with four wins while Truex is second with three. Truex, though, leads the points standings by 17 over Byron.

Bottom line, Truex has no boat, no clarity on his racing future and no lobster dinner. The 2017 NASCAR champion has yet to receive his prize for winning New Hampshire.

“I don't know if they cooked it and somebody ate it but I damn sure didn't get any,” Truex said.


Justin Haley said economics played a pivotal role in his decision to leave Kaulig Racing at the end of this season and sign a multiyear deal to drive for Rick Ware Racing starting in 2024.

The 24-year-old Haley had his only Cup victory in July 2019 at Daytona, in just his third start. He’s had a full-time ride at Kaulig since 2022 and has five top-10 finishes this season. He is 23rd in points entering Pocono.

Haley said the deal with RWR had been locked up for weeks. Rick Ware Racing does not have a full-time driver in either of its two cars this season but banked on Haley to help improve the state of the organization.

“Maybe on the surface it might look like an odd move,” Haley said Saturday. “But there's a lot more depth to it than you might think.”

Kaulig Racing President Chris Rice said he hoped to name Haley's replacement in August.


Shane van Gisbergen will put his perfect NASCAR Cup Series mark on the line on the road course at Indianapolis.

The three-time Supercars champion, who won this month in the inaugural Chicago street race in his first career start, will be back in the No. 91 car for Trackhouse Racing when the series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 13.

Two-time Cup champion Kyle Busch said van Gisbergen should enter Indy as the favorite.

“I would say that the gap will be closer from Chicago to the rest of the field that he had,” he said. "He had us all beat by six- to eight-tenths of a second a lap. I would say going into Indy we should all be within two- to three-tenths, but he will still be the best guy.”


Hamlin and New Hampshire winner Martin Truex Jr. are the betting favorites to win Sunday, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.


AP auto racing: and