LONG POND, Pa. — Denny Hamlin returned to Victory Lane on Sunday at Pocono Raceway a year after his first-place finish was thrown out, giving him a track-record seven wins and 50 overall in his Cup career.
Hamlin also gave Toyota its 600th NASCAR victory.
Hamlin passed Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon — for the second straight year — for most wins at the tri-oval track. Hamlin and his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch had their 1-2 finishes stripped a year ago by NASCAR for aerodynamics violations.
That made Hamlin the first disqualified Cup winner since April 17, 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis’ victory at Wilson Speedway in North Carolina was thrown out because of an oversized fuel tank.
But Hamlin does know the way to Victory Lane in the No. 11 Toyota.
Hamlin and Kyle Larson bumped and battled over the final laps before the three-time Daytona 500 winner pulled away on the final restart and won with the caution flag out, leading a sold-out crowd — Pocono’s largest since 2010 — to shower Hamlin with boos.
“I love it,” Hamlin said. “They can boo my rock out of here in a few years.”
Pocono paints rocks outside the garage to honor of some of NASCAR’s greats, such as Jimmie Johnson and Richard Petty.
Martin Truex Jr., who won last week at New Hampshire, was second and Tyler Reddick third. Kevin Harvick and Ty Gibbs rounded out the top five.
Larson faded to 21st and blasted Hamlin for making contact late in the race that sent the No. 5 Chevrolet up the track and cost him a shot at racing for the win.
“I’ve never had to apologize to him about anything, anything, I’ve ever done on the racetrack,” Larson said. “I can count four or five times where he had to reach out to me. At some point, you’ve got to start racing people a certain way to get the respect back.”
NASCAR heads to Richmond, Virginia, next. Larson won the race in April, while Harvick is the defending winner of last summer’s race there.