Denny Hamlin was in contention to win Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway if not for an issue that forced him to make a late-race pit stop.
It was the third time in the last three weeks that Hamlin was in good form only for an issue to disrupt his charge for his first win of the 2o21 season.
At Pocono Raceway, Hamlin took the lead with just two laps remaining of the 140 laps. However, he had to pit in the next lap for fuels, thereby conceding the lead to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch who won the race. Hamlin, on the other hand, finished 14th.
Hamlin pressed his frustration after the race:
“Just do what I’m told: Don’t run when I’m not supposed to run, run when I’m supposed to run. The result is we pitted on the last lap for three weeks in a row,” Hamlin said. “That’s tough. I mean, I hate seeing the white (flag) coming to pit road. It’s just so frustrating.
“Fuel mileage has got us the last two weeks. Lug nuts the week before (at the All-Star Race). We’re running fast. We’re getting a little better. I think overall we had a little bit more speed this weekend than what we’ve had the past few weeks.
“Just can’t see the checkered right now.”
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While Hamlin might not have won a race yet, he still tops the NASCAR Cup Series standings. He is eight points above Kyle Larson in second place.
Speaking about his strategy, Hamlin said that he had to make a decision as he is still vying for his first win of the season.
“I mean, you’re trying to win or you’re trying to get the best finish that you can. But ultimately, we just didn’t save enough,” he said.
“(Busch) I think came in and got topped off (with fuel) because he had transmission issues. That was essentially the race.”
There are seven races left in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series regular season.