Denny Hamlin No.11 thought he was about earn his first victory of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series before teammate Martin Truex Jr. N0. 19 eventually got the best of him at Martinsville Speedway.
Even though Hamlin did to took the lead from Truex Jr on lap 459, with the last restart of the day, Denny Hamlin didn’t have a long run ride and couldn’t manage to put any distance between himself and Truex. With 25 laps to go,
“I thought it was a matter of time,” Hamlin said. “With about 25 to go or so, he already got into my rear bumper, kind of beating the back end off. It was just a matter of time. The only hope, we had an extra set of tires over everyone. Hell, we would have pitted, taken tires, restarted 20th. That wasn’t going to work either.
“Tough to say. We weren’t stuck in a box where we could make good in a long run. The reason we led so many laps is we had a lot of short runs, great starts in the middle of the race, not much green flag racing. When we had green flag racing, again, we were fast a little time, not a lot of time.”
“There’s just nothing I could have done I feel as a driver differently today,” said Hamlin. “I feel like I executed well on pit road. Obviously, we were the only car that could take the lead on the restart on the outside multiple times. Sometimes the cards are dealt to you where you got a short run car, and at the end of the race comes down to a 40-lap run. That’s just outside your window of greatness.
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Denny Hamlin was the class of the field by leading the most laps, 276, in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 on Sunday at the Martinsville Speedway.
“It’s just been amazing the execution that our team has had over the first eight races. Short of a pit road penalty I had on the last pit stop at Homestead, we finished top three every single week. It’s hard to be disappointed with that. We’re executing phenomenal. We just haven’t had that dominant car that we’ve had a few times last year that we just beat up on everyone. We just haven’t had that car yet. We’ve just been next best.”
The outcome was not only disappointing for Hamlin, who had a dominant car and led most laps, but also for Ryan Blaney, who won the first two stages and led 157 laps but dragged an air gun out of his pit after the final stop and was sent back to 19th in the field.