Denny Hamlin is of the opinion that he could have caught Martin Truex Jr. and won the race at Richmond Raceway.
Hamlin is having an excellent start to the 2021 Cup Series playoffs. After going winless in the regular season, he won the first race of the playoffs and finished second in the second race. However, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing driver is not happy with the result of the second race. In fact, he believes that he could have come out victorious in this race too if only the race was two laps longer.
“I heard him say, ‘just try to keep him honest’”, Hamlin said. “Which told me that I wasn’t going to get there. I just pushed as hard as I could and I got within shouting distance. I just needed two more laps to really get on his bumper and change it up.”
Given that Hamlin dominated the race, Hamlin’s claim is not very far-fetched. He won the first two stages of the race and led the most laps. It was in lap 269 that he lost his lead to Truex Jr due to green-flag pit stops. While he made his way back to second, he ran out of laps to catch Truex who eventually won the race.
“Our pit stops were a little slow there and we lost about two or three seconds, maybe four on pit road those two (green-flag) stops, and about a second and a half behind,” Hamlin said.
“We were coming, just we got off track with our car right there in the middle stage of the race, but overall Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) and the team made great adjustments there at the end, just needed a couple more laps, that’s all.”
Nonetheless, it is a great start for the No. 11 team. They are already locked to go to the next round of playoffs and with another good performance, they can further increase their lead over drivers below them in the standings.