Denny Hamlin was disqualified at Pocono. Here's NASCAR racing history on winners and DQs
Eight times during its 74-year history, NASCAR has taken wins away from drivers and teams due to illegal parts.
That includes the ruling that disqualified Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch and their Toyotas Sunday at Pocono Raceway. Hamlin won the race and Busch finished second only to find out two hours later that both had been disqualified. That hadn't happened in over 60 years of NASCAR Cup Series competition.
Many times in the early years of NASCAR's storied history, drivers enjoyed victory lane celebrations only to find out later other drivers had been handed their wins. After Sunday's race, Chase Elliott, a driver for Hendrick Motorsports, enjoyed a surprise win, his fourth of 2022.
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Here's an interesting look back through time at wins that were taken away that involve many of NASCAR’s early stars.
1. First race in NASCAR history resulted in DQ
The first time a win was taken away actually came in NASCAR’s very first race on June 19, 1949. The race was held at the Charlotte Speedway, a small half-mile dirt track in downtown Charlotte that was different from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Glenn Dunnaway lost the win to second-place Jim Roper, a native of Kansas. Dunnaway’s car was found to have been equipped with illegal leaf rear springs. Roper drove his black Lincoln from Kansas, entered the race and drove it back to his home state.
2. Lee Petty awarded win at Daytona
On Feb. 21, 1954 on the Beach and Road Course at Daytona Beach, Florida, Tim Flock was stripped of the victory by NASCAR, giving the win to eventual season champion Lee Petty. NASCAR officials found that Flock’s carburetor had been polished and the butterfly shaft had been soldered, which was a violation of the rules. Flock was infuriated and quit NASCAR as a result. Flock had beaten Petty by one minute, 28 seconds to the checkered flag on the 4.1-mile course.
3. Fireball Roberts' hot engine fails inspection
On Feb. 27, 1955, NASCAR once again disqualified a winner for failing a post-race inspection. Glen “Fireball” Roberts won a race on the Beach and Road Course at Daytona Beach, but NASCAR took the win away for an illegal engine modification. NASCAR ruled that engine builder Red Vogt had altered the engine's push rods by 16/1000 of an inch. NASCAR gave the win to Flock, who had returned to NASCAR Grand National racing after cooling off from his heated exchange with NASCAR founder Bill France.
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4-5. Two months, two violations
On Oct. 6, 1955, at Greenville-Pickens (South Carolina) Speedway, race winner Jim Reed was disqualified for illegal cylinder heads. NASCAR deemed his engine illegal and gave the win to Flock. Two months later on Dec. 11, 1955, at Palm Beach (Florida) Speedway, race winners Joe Weatherly and Jim Reed were disqualified. Weatherly used a non-stock engine camshaft and Reed illegal valves in their engines, giving the win to second-place Herb Thomas.
6. Illegal engine pistons
Six months later on March 4, 1956, at the same track, race winner and California native Al Keller was disqualified for illegal engine pistons, giving the win to Winston-Salem native Billy Myers.
7. That tank's too big
Four years later on April 17, 1960, at Wilson (North Carolina) Speedway, race winner Emanuel Zervakis of Richmond, Virginia, was disqualified for an illegal fuel tank that was too large and not stock. NASCAR took the win away and named Weatherly as the race winner. In the photos, Zervakis is presented the trophy minutes after taking the checkered flag. He was later disqualified after his 1960 Chevrolet was inspected by NASCAR officials. He was the last driver to have a win taken away, 62 years before Hamlin at Pocono Raceway on July 24, 2022.
In 1961, Zervakis finished third in the final Cup series standing behind Champion Ned Jarrett and Rex White. He had two career wins in addition to the disqualification. Those wins came at Greenville and Norwood.
There were also drivers and cars disqualified after other incidents that did not amount to losing race wins.
During the inaugural running of the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on June 19, 1960, Tennessee native Joe Lee Johnson won the race. During the 400-lap event on the 1.5-mile speedway, six drivers were disqualified for making improper entrances onto pit road, namely Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, Bob Welborn, Lennie Page and Paul Lewis.
On June 8, 1968, at Birmingham (Alabama) Speedway, third-place finisher David Pearson was disqualified for illegal tires and finished the race with a different tread pattern than he started the race with. That same year on Sept. 13 at Beltsville (Maryland) Speedway, Pearson, the second-place finisher, was disqualified for a car found to be nearly 200 pounds underweight.
On May 7, 1972, country music star Marty Robbins was disqualified for running an illegal engine carburetor at Alabama International Motor Speedway, now known as Talladega Superspeedway. He finished 18th and openly admitted his car was illegal but wanted to see what it felt like to run with the leaders around the 2.66-mile Alabama track.
On Oct. 7, 1973, at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Buddy Baker was disqualified for not allowing a NASCAR engine inspection on his Nord Kraskopf-owned No. 71 Dodge following the race. Crew chief Harry Hyde ordered the car to be placed in the hauler after the race and NASCAR imposed the directive to disqualify the car. The cars of Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty and Bobby Allison were torn down in post-race inspection. Both Yarborough and Petty’s cars were deemed illegal but Allison’s third-place car was not. NASCAR allowed Yarborough’s win and Petty’s second-place finishes to stand. Allison filed a protest that was settled with NASCAR months later.
On June 9, 1991, at Sonoma (California) Raceway, Ricky Rudd crossed the start-finish line under the white flag to single the final lap but was black flagged for rough driving. Rudd was in second place when he made contact with leader Davey Allison before the final lap was complete and caused Allison to spin. Rudd crossed the finish line first but was not given the checkered flag. It waved for Allison as he passed under it. Such a finish had never happened before or has happened since that day.
Weekend racing TV schedule
At Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- 3:05 p.m. — Xfinity practice (USA)
- 3:35 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (USA)
- 4:30 p.m. — Trucks qualifying (FS1)
- 6 p.m. — ARCA Reese's 200 (FS1)
- 9 p.m. — Trucks TSport 200 (FS1)
- 9:35 a.m. — Cup practice (USA)
- 10:35 a.m. — Cup qualifying (USA)
- 3:30 p.m. — Xfinity Penzoil 150 at the Brickyard (NBC)
- 2:30 p.m. — Cup Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (NBC)