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Chase Elliott wins Pocono after JGR duo caught tricking the triangle
Chase Elliott races in the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 24. (Photo courtesy of Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

While Chase Elliott has won at many venues and in many circumstances in his career, he found an entirely new way to the top this past Sunday — without leading a single lap.

By the last few laps of the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway, Chase Elliott was comfortably in third position, a solid place to be after running near the edge of the top 10 for most of the race.

Around two hours after the race ended, he was declared winner after both the winning No. 11 car of Denny Hamlin and second-place No. 18 car of Kyle Busch were disqualified following post-race inspections. Both cars are owned by Joe Gibbs Racing.

The morning after the race, Elliott responded to his retroactive first-place finish and the possibility of an appeal to the disqualification from JGR.

“I don’t know that it’s really a win that I'm going to celebrate anyway,” Elliott said. “For me, I don’t really feel right celebrating someone else’s misfortune. [The decision] could change by Thursday or Friday.”

Later on Monday afternoon, JGR stated that they would decline to appeal the decision. 

According to ESPN, NASCAR believes this the first time in 62 years that a race-winner has been disqualified.

After the decision was officially made by NASCAR and the final results were changed, Cup Series Managing Director Brad Moran explained the situation.

“There were some issues discovered that affect aero of the vehicle. The part was the front fascia,” Moran said. “We saw enough that the DQ was warranted and we are bringing the vehicles back for further evaluation.”

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What was going to be a record-breaking seventh Pocono victory of Hamlin’s career turned into a third win for Elliott in the past five races and fourth overall this season. 

Coming off four straight top-2 finishes, Elliott began Sunday’s race in third position, fared well and finished the 30-lap first stage in second position.

He would battle through a caution-filled second stage that lasted 65 laps, with his position ranging from 12th to 24th before gradually moving up again.

After a quick yellow-flag pit stop pushed him back within the top 15, Elliott traversed through the field in the final eight laps of Stage Two and managed to finish the stage in 9th position. 

During the final 60 laps of the race, Elliott found himself stuck between 8th and 12th position until another exchange of pleasantries between Hamlin and Ross Chastain caused a major incident with fewer than 20 laps left. 

At the restart, Elliott established his third position spot and kept it until the checkered flag. 

Little did he know his battle to fend off Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez for that track position would pay off so crucially. 

In the end, Elliott accrued all the points given to a race-winner and will benefit from that. Even so, he remains focused on future races and does not regard the Pocono victory as one he earned through his own merits.

"It’s not necessarily something I’m proud of or something I’m going to boast about,” Elliott said. “I thought we were very fortunate to run third, to be honest.”