Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott became the de facto winner of the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 on July 24 after NASCAR officials disqualified both Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. However, he has no plans to celebrate his fourth Cup Series win of the 2022 season.
Elliott met with members of the media early on July 25 and provided some thoughts about his surprising victory. He revealed that he only found out about the win once he landed after the flight home. He didn’t have cell service during the trip. Elliott then confirmed that he doesn’t have any big plans for this win.
“I don’t really feel right celebrating someone else’s misfortune,” Elliott explained during the media availability. “And it could change by Wednesday or Thursday or Friday [based on potential appeal]. I don’t know the details of what went on, I don’t know what made them make that decision. It’s not necessarily something I’m proud of or going to boast about throughout the course of this situation.
“I thought we were real fortunate to run third, to be honest with you,” Elliott continued. “We started off okay and struggled through the mid portion of the event, and I thought for us to get back into the top five was really a good day.”
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Hamlin Remains in Possession of the Trophy
With Hamlin crossing the finish line first, he took part in the celebratory moments. He did the burnout, posed for dozens of photos in Victory Lane, and walked away with the unique trophy showing the Tricky Triangle’s three turns.
Elliott could always ask for the trophy so that he could add it to his collection. He and Hamlin share the same agent, so the handoff would not be difficult. Based on Elliott’s comments, this exchange will not take place.
“If he wants to keep it, he can keep it as far as I’m concerned,” Elliott added. “He crossed the finish line first. I haven’t really thought about that — that’s a great question — but I didn’t feel like I earned it on track yesterday. So, if he wants to keep it, then I’m good with that. I’m not going to ask for it.”
Joe Gibbs Racing Made a Post-Race Decision
Even if Elliott had asked for the trophy, there was no guarantee at the time that he would get to keep it. An opportunity remained for Joe Gibbs Racing to appeal the disqualifications. If the organization had won, it would have gotten the points, win, and trophy back. This would have forced Elliott to give the trophy back to Hamlin.
JGR did not immediately reveal after the race if it would file an appeal. The team only chose to release a brief statement in the aftermath of the disqualifications, which noted that there will be an internal review. However, the deadline passed on July 25 without an appeal, so NASCAR officially awarded the win to Elliott.
“We were shocked to learn of the infraction that caused our two cars to fail NASCAR’s post-race technical inspection,” Joe Gibbs said in a statement, courtesy of SiriusXM. “We plan to review every part of the process that led to this situation.”