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Denny Hamlin bettors were paid out at some sportsbooks despite his DQ at Pocono (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The triangular track in the Pennsylvania woods has left some NASCAR bettors wondering if they got a square deal.

Things seemed settled enough when Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin crossed the finish line first to apparently win the M&M Fan Appreciation 400 on Sunday in NASCAR’s top series.

Teammate Kyle Busch was second. Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, the 2020 Cup Series champion, was third.

Things got odd when Hamlin’s No. 11 and Busch’s No. 18 Toyota both failed the requisite post-race inspection. Hamlin was disqualified and dropped to 35th, Busch to 36th.

Elliott was declared the winner, despite not leading a lap.

That’s how NASCAR handled it. For now.

Results could change again after further inspections of the car at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.

What won’t change is how sportsbooks handled it. Those rules are clear.

How Sportsbooks Handled This NASCAR Controversy

According to the rules at the following sportsbooks, NASCAR races are graded on unofficial results. That means that bettors who had Hamlin to win were paid out Sunday, and Elliott tickets did not cash.


These books grade NASCAR races based on post-race inspection, so Elliott bettors were rewarded as winners, while Hamlin bettors were the unfortunate ones:

DraftKings Pays Both Sides

On Sunday, both Hamlin and Elliott bettors at DraftKings were in Victory Lane. Per DraftKings rules, sporting events are settled once the governing body sends out its unofficial results.

NASCAR did. So Hamlin won, and DraftKings paid out all such bets, including props. But also per DraftKings rules, if the results change, those winners are paid out, too.


Elliott, the series points leader, entered Sunday as the favorite with odds in the +700 range at most sportsbooks. Hamlin and Busch were +800 picks. Good thing this doesn’t happen in NASCAR too often.

According to NASCAR, a winner hadn’t been disqualified for a failed inspection since 1960. The top two finishers hadn’t been disqualified in a top-series race since 1955.

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Missed Calls, Protests, Weird Finishes Rile Fans

Odd complications arise in other sports, too. Anger over perceived officiating blunders is one thing. Games being undecided when they were seemingly decided is another.

In 2019, then-Houston guard James Harden had a dunk not counted in an eventual 135-133 double overtime loss to San Antonio because he threw it down so hard that it wrapped the ball around the rim and spirited away.

The Rockets protested two days later, asking that the game be re-played from the moment of the mistake by officials. They were denied. But in the meantime, bettors in the 13 states where sports betting was legal got a lesson in reading the fine print from their sportsbook of choice. In that instance, FanDuel refunded about $20,000 in online money line bets placed on the favored Rockets as a public relations move.

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Brant James is the lead writer for Gaming Today canvassing events and trends in the gambling industry. He has covered the American sports betting industry in the United States since before professional sports teams even knew what an official gaming partnership entailed. Before focusing on the gambling industry, James was a nationally acclaimed motorsports writer and a long-time member of the National Hockey League media corps, formerly writing for USA Today, ESPN, and the Tampa Bay Times.

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