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via Getty

via Getty

Denny Hamlin, the veteran NASCAR driver, tantalizingly secured his milestone 50th NASCAR Cup Series victory just last week at the Pocono Raceway. The anticipation was palpable as he returned to Richmond Raceway, seeking to add win No. 51 to his illustrious career. The roar of the engines filled the air, and the stage was set for yet another exciting race.

Denny Hamlin’s quest for his 51st NASCAR Cup Series victory was nearly realized at Richmond Raceway, but a sequence of unfortunate decisions on the final restart cost him the win.

In a thrilling Cook Out 400 race, Hamlin finished second to Chris Buescher, who clinched his first win of the season. While the Joe Gibbs Racing driver had been consistent with four top-five finishes in the last eight races, it was his choices on the crucial restart that left him ruing what could have been a milestone victory at Richmond Raceway. Reflecting on his actions, he expressed regret for not making better decisions during the crucial moments of the race.

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Missed opportunities at victory: Denny Hamlin reveals costly mistake

In his Actions Detrimental podcast, Denny Hamlin revealed the series of events that led to his near-miss victory. As the final restart unfolded, Hamlin found himself on the outside of Chris Buescher, and despite believing he had a shot at the win, he made a mistake that proved costly. Hamlin explained that the top lane was challenging to restart on, and he had to react to Buescher’s movements.

Hamlin said, “I had a great shot at it but then I spun my tires. TV didn’t show it really great but the top lane is so hard to restart.”

As he saw Buescher go, Hamlin’s instinct was to prevent getting left behind, but this led to him spinning his tires, causing him to lose valuable ground. He emphasized, “he’s running me up, let me just try to go higher yet off of turn 4, I should have just cut it low because at the time I didn’t really realize he was only going up the racetrack.”

Hamlin’s analysis of the situation indicated that he missed a golden opportunity to take advantage of Buescher’s handling issues. In hindsight, he acknowledged that he should have cut low on Buescher in turn three, exploiting his car’s superior turning capability to gain an inside position for a potential lead change.

He mentioned, “If I had to do it all over again I would have just entering turn three I would have cut low on him.” The decision to try and go high off turn 4 proved to be a missed opportunity, and he regretted not capitalizing on his car’s strengths at that moment. He also said, “my car was turning great on that restart his wasn’t and so I would have cut low on him there.”

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The incident at Richmond was not the first time Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson found themselves in a contentious on-track situation. Just a week before, at Pocono Raceway, the two drivers had a controversial last-lap battle. Hamlin’s aggressive move resulted in Larson losing out on the win as he was pushed into the outside wall.

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The rivalry between the Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers seemed to escalate at Richmond. Larson’s decision to bump Hamlin while making his way through the field on fresh tires added fuel to the fire. NASCAR on NBC tweeted, Kyle Larson BUMPS Denny Hamlin! #NASCAR.

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At that moment, Hamlin was running in the third position, making the push all the more significant. Meanwhile, his rivalry with Kyle Larson continued to intensify, with both drivers engaging in aggressive on-track moves. The question remains whether this saga will have any further repercussions in future races. With the playoffs yet to kick off, anything can happen on the racetrack, and fans will undoubtedly be eagerly watching the drama unfold.

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