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Larson drops from 4th to 20th after late-race contact with Hamlin

LONG POND, PA. — Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin’s late-race battle for the lead went very wrong for Larson at Pocono Raceway.

Hamlin shoved Larson up the track and into the wall, then took home the trophy in Sunday’s 400.

Meanwhile, Larson took home a 21st-place finish.

The crowd greeted Hamlin with a roar of boos, which the now-50-time NASCAR Cup Series winner embraced.

Larson embraced it for different reasons after a good day went bad.

“Thanks to the crowd here in Pennsylvania. I got a lot of support in P.A.,” Larson said.

The 2021 champ wrecked on lap 47 while running in the top 5. 46 laps later, with a differing strategy in play, Larson won stage two and got back into contention.

A caution on lap 144 shuffled Larson back to the lead which he held until he came together with Hamlin.

Under a caution for Justin Haley wrecking after their incident, Larson doored Hamlin into the wall to voice his displeasure.

After the race, Larson and Hamlin sounded off on each other.

“He does that stuff to people all the team so I didn’t feel too bad,” Hamlin said on the frontstretch.

“I’ve been cost a lot of good positions in my career, thanks to him. I don’t think I’ve ever had to say sorry but it’s whatever. We’re friends. This makes things s-itty and awkward but he’s always right. All the buddies know, Denny’s always right (laughs). I’m not gonna get let that tarnish a friendship but I’m pissed,” Larson said.

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson also bumped into each other while battling for the win at Kansas in May.

With the most recent contact at Pocono, Larson lost five playoff points that would’ve come with a win. He also lost 23 championship points and fell from from 5th to 7th.

If the regular season ended today, that would’ve meant Larson lost two playoff points.

Instead, Hamlin picked up his second win of the season and is solidly third in the regular-season points.

The NASCAR Cup Series races next July 30 at Richmond Raceway (3 p.m. ET; Broadcast: USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90)

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