These days, Chase Elliott is in such excellent form that he can win a race without ever taking the lead.
That is precisely what took place. Elliott gave up the victory on Sunday at Pocono Raceway nearly two hours after the race had already completed. Due to improper changes made to the racing car’s front fascia, the top two finishers, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, were disqualified from the M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400 while an appeal is pending.
Despite having the fewest regular season points of any playoff contender (21st), Hamlin appeared to be propelled into the second-best playoff seed as a result. Now? This gives Elliott an advantage on the field, gives his local Dawsonville Pool Room in Georgia a chance to have some fun, and gives him 11 more playoff points than anybody else thanks to his fourth victory (pending appeal).
Elliott had a picture-perfect weekend, going 2-0 after winning the SRX season-ending race on Saturday night. However, in light of the first Cup victory disqualification in the sport’s contemporary period, where does this leave NASCAR and Joe Gibbs Racing?
Laws are laws. The issue is that, just as in every other sport, subjectivity increases as officiating involvement increases, which enrages a fan base. NASCAR’s initial justification was constrained because they wanted Joe Gibbs Racing to benefit from an impartial appeals procedure.
But how will spectators feel after watching one person win the race and afterwards learning that he had cheated to win?
And why can’t the specifics of what went wrong be condensed into a complete sentence or demonstrated on replay by the officials, like, example, a holding penalty in the NFL?
It’s a precarious time with NASCAR’s new NextGen regulations, which are strict on any modifications to the racecar. Brad Keselowski already received a crippling 100-point penalty earlier this season for improperly altering a single-source supplied item.