Who… should you be talking about after the race?
Well, then. As the NASCAR press corps wrote about Denny Hamlin leading 21 laps at Pocono Raceway en route to winning the M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400, officials were busy inspecting the No. 11. And due to a violation on front fascia aerodynamics, it failed hours after the race was completed Sunday (July 24). Hamlin was disqualified, as was second-place finisher and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for the same violation.
More than an hour after the checkered flag flew, Dawsonville, Georgia was in for a surprise when the siren at the pool hall blared for local hero Chase Elliott, who was declared the winner after originally finishing third.
— Dawsonville Pool Room (@DawsonPoolRoom) July 25, 2022
Elliott inadvertently made NASCAR history in the process; he became the first modern era driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race without leading a single lap.
He did finish second and seventh in the opening stages after the scoring was corrected for disqualifications. So it wasn’t that Elliott had a bad day… just a race nobody thought would be a winning one, let alone the driver himself.
Until it was.
And don’t forget Michael McDowell. He scored his eighth top-10 finish of 2022, a career high as Front Row Motorsports continues its steady improvement. The 2021 Daytona 500 winner is not contending for wins every week, though he’s certainly in the favorites conversation for Daytona International Speedway the end of August.
The key to McDowell’s success has been consistency. After a difficult start to 2022, he has only finished 20th or worse twice since a ninth-place run at Bristol. His average finish is 16.6, up four spots over last year and a whopping 12 over his 28.8 career average.
When there’s parity in the cars, some drivers will surprise, and McDowell is certainly one of those.
What… is the buzz about?
When Kurt Busch slammed the wall on Saturday during qualifying, it was a hard impact, but it didn’t look like it would sideline the driver. However, Busch was not cleared to race on Sunday with concussion symptoms.
That should be very concerning because the hit in question was not with the front of the car, but the back. That should be the safest impact because the driver’s seat supports the head and neck.
There were serious questions raised when the NextGen car was undergoing safety tests….