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In a stunning turn of events, Chase Elliott has been declared the winner of Sunday’s M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 after Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were disqualified following failed post-race inspections.
It marks Elliott’s fourth win of the season, including third in his past five races. With the latest result, he has not finished below second in any of the past five races.
After the disqualifications, Tyler Reddick was elevated into second place, while Daniel Suarez was moved up to third.
NASCAR managing director Brad Moran explained the reasoning for disqualifying Hamlin and Busch, saying it came down to the same equipment violation for both cars.
Bob Pockrass @bobpockrass
NASCAR’s Brad Moran describes the issue that DQ’d the Hamlin and Kyle Busch cars at Pocono. pic.twitter.com/76KncxfBql
Here’s a look at the top 10 finishers from the race plus a recap of the action.
M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 Results
1. Chase Elliott
2. Tyler Reddick
3. Daniel Suarez
4. Christopher Bell
5. Kyle Larson
6. Michael McDowell
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Bubba Wallace
9. Erik Jones
10. Austin Dillion
Full leaderboard available at NASCAR.com
The race track at Pocono was not kind to the drivers. The caution flag came out early and often as multiple cars had trouble handling the sleek track and tight turns.
Austin Cindric, Aric Almirola and Hamlin each had some early adversity.
After Kyle Larson won Stage 1 under caution, Busch asserted his Pocono dominance and took the win in Stage 2.
The final stage opened with Busch trying to hold off a hard-charging Ross Chastain for the front of the pack. Ryan Blaney’s hopes for clinching a playoff spot this week came to an end when he blew a back left tire.
But Busch relinquished the lead when he chose to pit with 37 laps to go. Chastain stayed out and managed to leapfrog him by pitting a lap later.
Hamlin then passed Busch for second place, but he was heard on his radio indicating he did not get enough fuel during his pitstop. However, he was able to get some time back when a caution was brought out with 23 laps to go after Blaney spun out on Turn 3 and took a huge hit into the wall.
The green flag was waved with 18 laps to go, and Hamlin and Chastain immediately went at each other for the lead. Hamlin took the inside position and refused to give Chastain any room, which led to the No. 1 car running into the wall on the first turn and brought out another caution.
Jeff Gluck @jeff_gluck
So…here’s my take. I don’t think that was an intentional takeout. That to me looked like Hamlin was going to race the shit out of Chastain and not give any room. Chastain wasn’t going to back down. But I don’t think that was Hamlin going “here’s my payback.”
Give me your take.
After the restart, Hamlin emerged as the leader with Busch on his tail. Elliott and Tyler Reddick battled for third place. The cautions allowed Hamlin to put his fuel concerns out of his mind and focus on the finish.
Hamlin managed to pull away and hold off Busch for the unofficial victory. But in the end, it was Elliott who walked away with the win.
Hamlin officially finished 35th, with Busch following one spot behind at 36th.
The 2022 season has been one of the best runs of Elliott’s career. With the playoffs on the horizon, the 2020 Cup Series champion looks to be the favorite to earn his second title.
There are still two playoff spots remaining as the drivers shift their attention to next Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET.
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