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Denny Hamlin Wins Pocono in Controversy

Image: Derik Hamilton/AP Photo

As the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series came home from Loudon, all eyes were on Martin Truex Jr. Truex claimed his third win of the season at his home track. That was Truex’s first win at Loudon after so many years of pain and agony at his home track. With everyone’s eyes now focused on Pocono, nobody knew what to expect. Most fans and drivers knew that it was going to be a chaotic race but didn’t expect what we saw this past Sunday. But as the bright July sun sets into the Pocono mountains, the big story is another Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

A Chaotic Race in Pocono:

As previously said, nobody expected this race at Pocono to be as chaotic as it was. This race had everything and more. There was drama, drama, and more drama. The first stage was calm with only one natural caution. Joey Logano would win the first stage at Pocono. As the second stage got underway, that’s when the chaos started. It would take till lap 51 of the race, lap 21 of the second stage, to get the first clean lap under green of the second stage. There were three incidents in a row in turn one to start the second stage, one including Kyle Larson. Thanks to pit strategy, Larson would win the second stage.  But the final stage is when the drama started to pick up.

With 54 laps to go, Austin Dillon made very hard contact with the turn-one wall. He and his old RCR teammate, Tyler Reddick, made contact with each other which resulted in Dillon hitting the outside wall hard. The result? A destroyed race car for Dillon and Dillon throwing his helmet at the Tyler Reddick machine. This was just the beginning of the drama. This drama was fueled by one driver who loves the drama and the attention. That driver is Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin.

Denny Hamlin vs Hendrick Motorsports:

Controversy has followed Denny Hamlin throughout his entire career. He has become one of the least popular drivers in the last three years. His opinions in his interviews and on social media have given him a bad reputation. On the other hand, Hamlin is one of the only drivers in the field that will call out NASCAR for changes to the sport. Dating back to Martinsville in October of 2021, Hamlin has had several run-ins with several Hendrick Motorsports drivers. During that race, Hamlin and Alex Bowman were racing for the lead late, and Bowman got loose into turn three, which spun Hamlin out. Bowman would win that race, and Hamlin made his displeasure loud and clear in his post-race interview. At Texas last season, Hamlin and William Byron had a run-in on track late in the race.

Earlier this season, Hamlin’s win at Kansas came at the expense of Kyle Larson that ended with Larson in the wall on the back straightaway on the last lap. Once again, Hamlin’s win at Pocono came at the expense of Larson. On a late race restart with Hamlin and Larson on the front row, Hamlin squeezed Larson into the wall coming out of turn one. This cost Larson a shot at the win. Larson would go on to finish in 21st while Hamlin celebrated his 7th Pocono victory, the most of all time. In his post-race interview, Hamlin denies that he and Larson made contact on the restart, but there is video proof that they did make contact with each other. Denny Hamlin very well could be the best driver to not have a championship, but racing other drivers without respect is not helping his case.

What to Expect from Richmond:

This coming weekend, the Cup Series is heading to a fan-favorite track in Richmond. Richmond is a fun short track that has speedway-like speeds but can bend drivers’ tempers right from the start. With that being said, Toyota is another track that is usually dominated by Toyota. In recent years, that has not been the case. Dating back to 2020, Toyota has won two of the five Richmond races. If there is anybody to keep an eye on at Richmond, it would be the two most recent winners in the Cup Series. That being Martin Truex Jr and Denny Hamlin. Truex has three wins at Richmond, all coming from the past five years. Hamlin has four wins at Richmond. Expect one of these two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers to be near the front of the field this coming Sunday at Richmond.

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