By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Erik Jones — who has been fired by Joe Gibbs Racing — was given team orders not to pass Denny Hamlin on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. As a result, Hamlin was able to clinch a spot in the Championship.
Jones could have easily passed Hamlin. However, due to the team orders, he stood down and let Hamlin keep his spot in the race.
“He’s blocking you because he needs the points.” the team communication said. “It’s really tight between the 11, 2 and the 4. Don’t pass him Jones.”
If Jones would have passed Hamlin, he would have been eliminated from the Championship 4. Kevin Harvick — who had nine regular season wins — would have replaced him.
As a result, Harvick fell out of winning it all, as now he has to settle for a fifth-place finish.
Now, it is Hamlin, Chase Elliott — who won the Xfinity 500 on Sunday — Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano in the final four for the Championship at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.
Harvick finished 17th in his Stewart-Haas Racing Mobil 1 entry at Martinsville. Hamlin finished 11th in his FedEx “Shop and Ship Early” entry, while Jones finished 12th in his Toyota Camry entry.
Jones was fired by Joe Gibbs Racing in August. He was replaced by Christopher Bell, who is departing Leavine Family Racing at the end of the season.
Leavine Family Racing was put up for sale in August.
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