Denny Hamlin labelled the race at Darlington Raceway as the “worst butt whooping we’ve had all year” in the 2021 season.
Hamlin initially felt that he had the best car in the last Cup Series race at Darlington but was proved wrong with Martin Truex Jr. showing that he was the main contender to win the race.
What proved costly for Hamlin was the decision not to pit in Lap 107 for caution due to a wreck involving Kurt Busch. Truex deceived to pit and on fresh tires took the lead while Hamlin fell behind on old tires.
“I honestly thought we had the best car for the first 150 (laps) and then we got off-sequence there by staying out, which we thought everyone was going to stay out to save tires,” Hamlin said. “I should have just (pit) when everyone else was coming, but I didn’t make the call and Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) made it too late.
“Either way, we stayed in the top-five and then we got third on that restart and I just didn’t have the car that I had before. Lost some grip. I think the track burned in a little bit and we just lost the advantage that we had for the first 100 (laps).”
Hamlin said that the team will look into why his teammate was a lot better than other teammates in Joe Gibbs Racing.
“We’ll dive through it. Myself and my crew chief are too tough of competitors to not dig into that,” Hamlin said.
“Honestly, it’s probably the worst butt whooping we’ve had all year and still (a) top-five. We expect to run a little better than what we did today.”
The No. 11 driver finished 5th in the race and is yet to register his first win of the season. However, he leads the series standings.