Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson collided for the second time this season with a victory in the balance, and NASCAR fans in the stands at Pocono were irate after a controversial finish saw Hamlin become the all-time wins leader at the track.
The race for the win appeared to be a shootout between Larson and Martin Truex Jr., but Alex Bowman spun with 11 laps to go after Hamlin got within inches of his rear bumper and upset the handling of Bowman’s car.
On the restart, Hamlin opted for the outside lane behind leader Larson, but took an opportunity to dive below Larson into Turn 1. Hamlin drove up the track and into Larson’s door, which sent Larson into the outside wall. Shortly after, Justin Haley spun to bring out another caution.
Larson was clearly upset, and ran into Hamlin under caution on the frontstretch.
It's Hamlin to the lead!!!
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 23, 2023
Hamlin, however, went on to win the race, while Larson dropped back to 21st with a damaged car. There was even more drama before the checkered flew, however, as Ryan Preece spin with two laps to go. Instead of throw a caution flag and give fans a sprint to the finish, NASCAR opted to wait until Hamlin saw the white flag and then throw a caution, ending the race.
Hamlin was showered with boos as he went down the frontstretch, and one fan even threw a bottle over the fence toward Hamlin’s car. In his post-race interview, Hamlin argued that Larson wrecked himself, and upheld that he left enough room for Larson during their incident.
Loudest boos for a winner in awhile. Crowd chanting “Hamlin sucks.”
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) July 23, 2023
Wow. Cliff Daniels to Larson: "Well, we didn't say a word on our radio but wait until you hear the sh*t they [@dennyhamlin] talked on their radio. I'll leave it at that."
Larson is saying he wants to be behind Hamlin, that lane "is not going anywhere" not pushing him#NASCAR
— Tom Bowles (@NASCARBowles) July 23, 2023