LONG POND, Pa. - After a controversial ending to the HighPoint.com 400 at Pocono Raceway, due to the caution coming out on the final lap for Ryan Preece's stalled car, Denny Hamlin survived late-race contact with Kyle Larson to score a milestone 50th career win in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Hamlin broke the tie with Jeff Gordon after picking up his seventh career win at the "Tricky Triangle," becoming the all-time winningest Cup Series driver at Pocono. Hamlin's first two Cup wins also came at this track in 2006 when he swept both races in Pennsylvania in his rookie year.
However, Hamlin's win didn't come without controversy, as the No. 11 Toyota was involved in multiple on-track incidents with Hendrick Motorsports drivers Larson and Alex Bowman.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver didn't let any of that phase him as he still celebrated win No. 50 unapologetically.
"I thought we had the best car and the strategy worked out," Hamlin said. "Just so happy we’re winning these races we should win.’’
While Larson ran inside the top five for most of the day and recovered from a spin, he had a choice of words for Hamlin after the contact that caused him to finish a disappointing 20th.
"I’ve been cost a lot of good finishes by him throughout my career, and I know he says that I race a certain way, but I don’t think I’ve ever had to apologize to him about anything, not that I’m sure he’ll say ‘I’m sorry’ after this but it is what it is," Larson said.
Toyota had the most dominant day among the manufacturers as TRD had four drivers inside the top five (Hamlin first, Tyler Reddick second, Martin Truex Jr. third, Ty Gibbs fifth) and all drivers inside the top 11 (Christopher Bell sixth, Bubba Wallace 11th).
Results from the 2023 HighPoint.com 400 at Pocono Raceway are listed below.
Other Race Facts
Toyota Racing earned its 600th NASCAR national series win with Denny Hamlin's 50th career win. This victory also puts Hamlin in a tie for 13th all-time on the Cup Series wins list with Hall Of Famers Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson.
The race for the final playoff spots widened after Pocono. Bubba Wallace sits 27 points above the cut line in 15th, while Michael McDowell sits 17 points above the cut line in 16th.
AJ Allmendinger in 17th, Daniel Suárez in 18th and Ty Gibbs in 19th are all within 11 points of each other entering next weekend's race at Richmond.
Suárez was involved in a race-ending crash on a restart that ended up costing him plenty of valuable points the driver of the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet finished in 36th place, only collecting a single point.
"Yeah, it’s not great; it’s not ideal," Suárez said. "But I have to control what I can control, and I cannot control some of the other guys. Like I said, in my mind, we shouldn’t be racing back there.
"We had a car capable of running in the top 10, top 15 at least, and we were running in the 20s because we missed the balance of the car in the first stage. We just have to be better.”
This Pocono race weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the crash that ended Kurt Busch's full-time racing career. He was replaced by Gibbs, who made his Cup debut here a year ago and picked up his first career top-five finish on Sunday.
“It’s really cool," Gibbs said. "We had a really fast He Gets Us, Monster Energy Toyota Camry. It’s great to come home in the top five. Thank you to everybody supports me at JGR and Toyota, TRD.
"What a great day. We were up front all day. Solid day with good track position. It was nice to stay out of the mess back there. We just have to keep fighting.”
To this day, Busch has yet to be cleared to return to racing.
The 2023 GRID Ranking is the seventh year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 2.
Drivers in the seven racing series participating in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) have earned GRID Ratings, which helped determine their seeding during Week 16 of the 2023 GRID Ranking.
MOST RECENT FINISH
Martin Truex Jr.
Week 17 of the GRID Ranking:
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series will be a second trip to Richmond Raceway on Sunday, July 30. Coverage of the Cook Out 400 will begin on USA Network at 3 p.m. ET.
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