Hamlin walls Chastain, wins NASCAR Cup race at Pocono
Denny Hamlin got two things he wanted Sunday – another NASCAR Cup Series victory and payback to Ross Chastain.
Watch: Hamlin scores win 49, seventh at Pocono Raceway
Hamlin started Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway on the pole and tagged the wall on the first lap. His march to victory remained eventful throughout all 160 laps.
He spun off Turn 2 on Lap 41 to bring out a caution and on a restart on Lap 143, Hamlin ran Ross Chastain up the track and into the wall in a battle to take the lead.
From there, Hamlin was able to hold off his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, by 0.927 seconds – while also trying to save fuel – to earn his third win of the 2022 season and seventh at Pocono.
The victory is also the 49th of his career, which leaves him tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart.
“It was the team. They had a great strategy there to get us back up front from a mistake I made,” Hamlin said.
Chastain and Hamlin have had multiple run-ins on the track this season with Hamlin promising payback was coming at a moment of his choosing.
Asked if it was payback, Hamlin said: “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.
“We’re going to just keep racing hard until we get the respect back from these guys. We’ve been wrecked four times – twice while leading – in the last 10 months and I’m just at the end of it.”
Hamlin said he never believed he would have such a successful NASCAR career.
“I just wanted to be a local short track racer in Virginia. That’s all I really cared about,” he said. “I was able to get a great break from J.D. Gibbs and that’s why I’m driving the No. 11 for Joe Gibbs Racing.”
Chase Elliott ended up third, Tyler Reddick was fourth and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 were Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace.
Xfinity Series regular Ty Gibbs finished 18th in his Cup Series debut. He replaced Kurt Busch on Sunday morning. Busch missed the race due to lingering effects from a concussion suffered in wreck Saturday during qualifying.
During the break between Stages 2 and 3, only a handful of cars elected to pit. Kyle Busch remained on the track and in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 101.
Ryan Blaney suffered a flat left-rear tire on Lap 108 and tagged the wall but no caution was called and he made it to pit road.
With 50 laps remaining, Chastain had closed to within half-a-second on Busch for the lead as Hamlin ran third.
On Lap 117, Chris Buescher kicked off a final round of green-flag pit stops to take new tires and fuel to make it to the finish of the race. Busch pit on Lap 123.
William Byron was penalized during his stop for equipment interference and had to make a pass-through penalty on pit road.
Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 128, Chastain led the way followed by Kyle Busch and Hamlin.
With 30 laps to go, Chastain maintained nearly a 1-second lead over Hamlin as Kyle Busch dropped to third.
On Lap 132, Hamlin was told by his team his No. 11 Toyota may be about 2½ laps short on fuel to make it to the end of the race.
Blaney got loose off Turn 3 and wrecked hard into the inside frontstretch wall on Lap 138 to bring out the eighth caution of the race.
Most of the lead-lap cars elected not to pit. Chastain remained in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 143. He was followed by Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Bell.
As the field raced into Turn 1, Hamlin ran Chastain up the track and into the wall. Chastain hit the wall and came back down the track and collected Harvick and Bell in the incident.
The race returned to green on Lap 147 with Hamlin out front and followed by Kyle Busch, Elliott and Bell.
Kyle Busch grabbed the lead on a restart with seven laps to go and held off Chastain to take the Stage 2 win.
Blaney finished third, Erik Jones fourth and Hamlin ended up fifth.
During the break between Stages 1 and 2, several lead-lap cars who had not yet pit elected to do so with Larson first off pit road. Harrison Burton was among those who stayed out and inherited the lead.
On the restart on Lap 35, Burton led the way followed by Joey Logano and Bell. Larson lined up 13th.
Bell quickly powered to the lead on the restart.
On Lap 36, Josh Bilicki had a tire go down and his No. 77 Chevrolet hit the wall hard to bring out the third caution of the race.
Bell remained in the lead when the race resumed on Lap 41 followed by Wallace, Burton and Kyle Busch.
Shortly after the restart, Hamlin spun off the exit of Turn 2 to place the race back under caution. The race resumed on Lap 45 with Bell still out front.
Again right after the restart, Corey LaJoie spun in Turn 1 to bring out the fifth caution of the race. The race returned to green on Lap 49 with Bell still in the lead followed by Wallace and Kyle Busch.
On the restart, Busch got past Bell on the inside with a shove from Chastain to retake the lead.
Logano became the first of the lead-lap drivers on Lap 56 to make a green-flag stop to take on new tires and fuel to make it to the end of the stage.
Burton and Wallace followed on Lap 57 and Alex Bowman on Lap 58. Harvick and Byron pit on Lap 62.
With 20 laps to go in the stage, seven cars still had to make a stop for fuel. Kyle Busch was the highest running driver who had completed the stop in eighth.
On Lap 83, Ty Dillon spun off Turn 2 to bring out a caution with a handful of cars still to make their stop for fuel.
Most lead-lap cars elected to pit with Kyle Busch first off pit road. Wallace stayed out and inherited the lead. On the restart on Lap 88, Wallace was followed by Blaney (who also stayed out), Busch and Chastain.
Kyle Busch went to the inside of Wallace off Turn 2 on the restart to reclaim the lead.
Larson clinched the Stage 1 win over Elliott under caution when Aric Almirola spun off Turn 3 with two laps remaining.
Hamlin was third, Kyle Busch fourth and Suarez rounded out the top-five.
Hamlin started on the pole but tagged the Turn 1 wall which allowed Kyle Busch to move into the lead.
On Lap 7, Austin Cindric spun off Turn 3 and down the frontstretch and tagged in the pit road wall to bring out the first caution.
Most lead-lap cars did not pit and Kyle Busch continued to lead the way on the restart on Lap 13.
Busch went high up the track in Turn 1 which allowed Larson to get by and take the lead. Busch dropped back to seventh.
On Lap 17, Chastain – among those who started from rear of the field – entered the top-10.
With 10 laps remaining in the stage, Elliott had closed to under a half-second behind Larson as Hamlin ran third.
Just as several teams elected to make a green-flag pit stops prior to the end of the stage, Almirola spun off Turn 3 to place the race under caution.
Six drivers started from the rear of the field – Chastain, Byron, Jones, Justin Haley and Cody Ware for unapproved adjustments and Gibbs for a driver change in the No. 45.
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